Open Source Legal System

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phillipsjk
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby phillipsjk » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:51 pm UTC

stevey_frac wrote:Congratulations on demonstrating that there are security flaws in software. This is about two orders of magnitude less significant then your original claim of:

"Basically, an attacker changes a compiler binary to produce malicious versions of some programs, INCLUDING ITSELF. Once this is done, the attack perpetuates, essentially undetectably."



No, It is only about one order of magnitude less significant that the above quote. I was using the quote as an extreme example.

The attacker does not need to embed secret vote-changing instructions in the code: they just have to leave a "hook" or back-door. Every 'bug' is undocumented (sometimes documented in an errata) behavior that can possibly lead to a security exploit. If hardware and software is routinely developed in an 'ad-hoc' manner (it is), we have to give the organizations involved the benefit of the doubt that high-profile vulnerabilities are just oversights and not deliberate. If hardware and software was routinely proven correct; such vulnerabilities would be 'bright line' evidence of malice.

The Core 2 Duo had so many security-related vulnerabilities in its errata that Theo de Raadt of OpenBSD fame recommended against purchasing systems based on the chip until the problems were resolved, presumably by BIOS-applied Microcode updates.
Many of the bugs lead to potentially dangerous buffer overflow in which write-protected or non-execute bits for a page table entry are ignored. Others involve floating point instruction non-coherencies or memory corruptions. Intel is aware of the security implications, but has yet to disclose them, he said in an interview.
- Core 2 Duo: Intel's insecurity blanket

The WMF vulnerability was widely considered a design flaw rather than coding error per se. However, the way the exploit worked was so suspicious that Steve Gibson decided that it was an intentional back-door. Mark Russinovich explains in his blog why it may be just a conventional slip-up.
Mark Russinovich wrote:The vulnerability is subtle enough that the WINE project, whose intent is to implement the Windows API for non-Windows environments, copied it verbatim in their implementation of PlayMetaFile. A secret backdoor would probably have been noticed by the WINE group, and given a choice of believing there was malicious intent or poor design behind this implementation, I’ll pick poor design. After all, there are plenty of such examples all throughout the Windows API, especially in the part of the API that has its roots in Windows 3.1. The bottom line is that I'm convinced that this behavior, while intentional, is not a secret backdoor.


I don't think we will ever know if those problems mentioned above were intended to be NSA or PRC back-doors. Such vulnerabilities can be triggered by posting the correct sequence of bytes on a website such as a wiki. Most image processing libraries have had similar problems; and most Wikis allow image posting.

I suppose the real problem with my assertion that computer security cannot be resolved in the near future is that it sort of short-circuits the discussion. I think the discussion is still worth-while, even if it doesn't move beyond the "thought experiment" stage.

Edit: I am not sure if Slashdot stories belong in Serious business, but it is relevant and timely. D.C. Suspends Tests of Online Voting System
Under pressure they ran a test vote. The site was compromised within two days.
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Me321
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby Me321 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:44 pm UTC

One think people always forget is that in order for 49% of the people to not hate the 51% you need local laws and local controll with large national laws only in cases where they are needed.

drunken
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby drunken » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:51 am UTC

phillipsjk wrote:Edit: I am not sure if Slashdot stories belong in Serious business, but it is relevant and timely. D.C. Suspends Tests of Online Voting System
Under pressure they ran a test vote. The site was compromised within two days.

more details of this

While it is clear the technical security issues are huge and will make or break this idea, I do not think they are insurmountable. As I have mentioned earlier in the thread a certain amount of plasticity allowing users to change their votes would go a long way to mitigate coerced votes and some types of hacking. The whole concept needs work but I think it is worthwhile. Experience leads me to believe that there is a solution to every problem, sometimes it is just very difficult to find.
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

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phillipsjk
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby phillipsjk » Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:10 am UTC

Oh, I think such a system is possible as well. Just not within 7 generations.
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Dark Avorian
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby Dark Avorian » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:21 pm UTC

I like the principle and ideals, sort of like I like the principle behind communism (or some of the principle). But in reality, it wouldn't really work.

(Is it bad that my first reaction was the following: *shudder* that means anonymous will be able to quickly influence the laws!)
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drunken
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby drunken » Mon Oct 11, 2010 3:41 am UTC

Dark Avorian wrote:(Is it bad that my first reaction was the following: *shudder* that means anonymous will be able to quickly influence the laws!)


Kind of, it is doubtful that anonymous would be granted an account as you would need to be enrolled to vote and that means no anonymity
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

furyguitar
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby furyguitar » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:06 am UTC

Putting aside all the scary issues of what could happen from a technological stand point, let's imagine what would happen if people were suddenly allowed to collaborate on the laws of immigration tomorrow. What would they vote for? What likely outcomes could we predict?

The "right" choice isn't always the popular choice. For example, when the Supreme Court ruled that separate was not equal in Brown vs. Board of Ed, segregation was extremely popular, and the decision was met with a lot of resistance. Sometimes, the laws are ahead of the people. Maybe you can argue that this is not relevant - the law was already existing and it was the Supreme Court's ruling on a law, not the Congress creating a new law. I do trust that, at some point, the Supreme Court will have to deal with the way we treat homosexuals, for example, and that current treatment does meet our existing laws. But, I imagine, were we to have Wikilaws, there would be active legislation against homosexual rights in general.

stevey_frac
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby stevey_frac » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:48 am UTC

That's a really good point Fury.

There would be nothing standing in the way of the majority abusing the minority. Imagine all the general anti-muslim sentiment, put to work crafting anti-koran laws.

Also, this system would tend to polarize a country even further then it already is. Most people aren't going to take the time to have honest, reasoned discussions about the issues, such as happens on these boards. Instead people are going to split down existing political lines, except, the stakes are even higher because it is the general populace directly crafting and voting on the laws. When Bush. Jr. did stupid things, at least you could tell yourself, Bush is an idiot and leave it at that. But what happens when you know a neighbor down the street voted on the law?

And what happens to lobbying? I bet it just moves into advertising. All the company or organization has to do is convince a couple of uninformed rednecks to vote on a law, instead of having to convince seasoned politicians. Instead of solving problems, this tends to amplify them, IMHO.

The way to fix politics is to get the average person informed, and interested. The more, and the larger the telescopes pointed at the government, the better things will be.

Also, the more transparent we can make governing, the better things will be. Perhaps we should get existing politicians to craft bills available in Wiki form, viewable, but not editable, by the public?

khanofmongols
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby khanofmongols » Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:29 am UTC

Also, the more transparent we can make governing, the better things will be. Perhaps we should get existing politicians to craft bills available in Wiki form, viewable, but not editable, by the public?


That is a very good point and hopefully it would shorten the bills. Social Security was only about 35 pages whereas healthcare reform was over 1,000 pages. If bills were shorter and written in plain English it would be much easier for the public to be informed.

markop2003
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby markop2003 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:52 pm UTC

It would work better if the voting method sent the propposed edits through to an elected body for discussion. Direct democracies are too prone to scare tactics, unrealistic idealism and abuse of the minority (i'm sure in your system you could easily get an act passed to sieze all the assets of the rich for a tax break for the poor).

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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby MiB24601 » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:08 am UTC

khanofmongols wrote:If bills were shorter and written in plain English it would be much easier for the public to be informed.


If computer programs were written in plain English, it would be much easier for the public to create their own programs. Unfortunately, like computer programs, laws sometimes need to be written to cover a large number of very specific circumstances. This is why many laws require a large number of subsections and involve terms which are rigidly defined.
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electriczap4
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby electriczap4 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:56 pm UTC

In my opinion, it would be a good idea concept-wise. However, it would be near-impossible to implement. Unless we had a 100% secure system, totally informed people, and some sort of way to prevent stupid laws that everyone would vote for like "The government gives everyone $1,000,000,000", ect. It would be possible.

Hemmers
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby Hemmers » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:04 pm UTC

I haven't had a chance to read all the previous posts ... then you should take this opportunity to do so. Also, please add the rules for the forum and the Serious Business section to you reading list.

- Az

Spoiler:
...but there are limits to such direct democracy systems.

I sat on the Student Union Council at University. Not elected as it happens, but seconded as a rep from the Sports Union COuncil (to which I had been elected). Any student could sit in on council meetings and could also speak or bring forth proposals. However, obviously they couldn't vote.

A proposal was brought forward that any student should be able to vote.

This was debated for a surprisingly long time given that it was put down by everyone except the proposer.
The main objections were:

(a) We have elected reps for a reason. To represent. There were 20k students at the uni. If all of them had the inclination to vote, we would have to rent the local soccer staium every three weeks to hold council meetings!

(b) Since most students would not have the inclination to vote, there was the risk of a minority forcing through policies and motions.
For example, a neo-nazi could put forward the proposition that the union should expel any black or jewish members.
They would only have to get together about 100 students (0.5% of the student population) to guarantee outvoting the 50-60 members of the Council.
An extreme example sure, but nevertheless a valid one (although such a proposition would not stick as it would breach UK equality laws).

Although direct democracy does work in Switzerland, I think a simple voting up/down system would be very hard to police or make secure. Most countries have a lot of laws - many of them unbelievably dull and technical. Where there is no wider interest, these could easily be swayed by relatively small pressure groups, to the detriment of the nation as a whole.


It's a nice concept though, and Switzerland gets a lot of things right IMO. Developing this idea as a form of direct democracy would be an interesting proposition. The main thing is that it needs padding out with checks and balances.

inhahe
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Re: Open Source Legal System

Postby inhahe » Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:47 am UTC

Entropy wrote:Proposal for a legal system:

1) The law is an online wiki-like collection of documents.
2) Edits to these documents do not immediately change the documents: rather they are listed as 'proposed edits' at the bottom of the relevant pages.
3) Proposed edits can be upvoted or downvoted, and are sorted accordingly.
4) When support for an edit reaches critical mass, a notification regarding it appears on the main page. If it subsequently maintains it's critical mass of support for 30 days, it goes through.
5) Laws are phrased in a logic-predicate like language that can be machine parsed.
6) This allows complex queries to be made about whether a specific scenario is legal, and whether it would be legal under any proposed edit
7) Moderators would be elected for limited terms to prevent system abuse (from spammers, hackers, etc...)

The main motivation behind this idea is it puts the power to vote directly on issues into the hands of the people, and people who know more about or care more about specific issues can focus on legislation that matters to them personally.

Could a system like this work?


A couple of contentions I have.. first, the idea of making it machine-parsable. It's interesting and all, but searches on laws probably won't involve a lot of queries that depend on semantics being in place in a versatile way. AND, it'll probably make the whole thing a little bit more new-speakish and god knows how the republicans will freak when they see that the government is supposedly being taken over by computers. [that'll be their excuse since they hate the power of collective thinking when it goes against their death-grip-bound ideals.] Anyway, it'll look a bit like newspeak, maybe.. and i just don't think it's necessary. Here's what we do: simply use a keyword system [and use logical operators and grouping in searching for keywords and maybe * wildcards], and possibly even extend the keyword system with machine-parsible optional grammatical summaries. I call this part optional because if you make average citizens speak in a human-computer-hybrid language they'll mostly instantly hate you and the rest will just figure it's too advanced for them.

The second contention.. well.. it's just too revolutionary -- first, who's gonna take over the government & rewrite the constitution and the three-part political system and pretty much democratic republicism itself, and when they do it, how do we know the new system will fall into place in a good way.... and also that we won't be taken over by Japan, China or North Korea in the process. and not only that, but the idea isn't that well-defined for proposing to categorically define the new legal system. how is it effected, who effects it, how are the laws made that decides how, who, and how it's enforced, and how the laws are changed, and how they're voted on, etc. etc. etc.

So I think an ideal half-way step might be my solution, in which it's the current government, and beloved <3 president Obama, and an agency or just a website to handle the kinds of things you're talking about, but just in an auxiliary way. Of course, if you were starting a new government/society/civilization [i'm not sure where..] it might be interesting to contemplate the more revolutionary idea and also to fill in the details..


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