Archive for the ‘legal’ Category

Storing Data in the Cloud Has Drawbacks

January 7, 2010



It’s not news to an old-timer like me who’s suspicious of all Internet services – especially “free” ones. See for example the posts on Google Public DNS and Google Wave. In the latter I list (most of) the Google services I use.

FTC LogoThe US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) document is at

Of course, as no less a person than Eric Schmidt says:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

That statement gave me the chills – but it is also a wake-up call to users worldwide. The amplification he gave is factually correct.

“But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And […] we’re all subject, in the US, to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.”

His apparent assumption that people only require privacy if they are doing something scandalous or illegal is mind-boggling.

There are two types of information that I will keep in the cloud:

  1. Encrypted information where I hold the key.
  2. Information that I don’t mind if it gets plastered over the front pages of the New York Times and the Bangkok Post.

Anything else is held in encrypted storage using a tool that I trust: TrueCrypt.

The Fight for Your Rights

December 8, 2009

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=statue+of+liberty&iid=7062008″ src=”8/b/f/a/TOURISM_2ef1.JPG?adImageId=8093134&imageId=7062008″ width=”234″ height=”176″ /]There’s a disturbing story on the Photo Attorney’s web site at It is about an amateur photographer being challenged by police officers at a public event in California.

It’s frustrating because she doesn’t allow comments on her site. I would have liked to have asked:

  1. What happened? The story just says the police officers demanded to see the pictures on his camera. Did he comply?
  2. It says the photographer was also an attorney. Therefore he likely had a good understanding of the law. What is the law in this situation? Did the fact that the photographer was on State property make a difference?
  3. The story does not quote any sources. How do we know it is complete and reliable?

It’s easy to get angry at stories like this, but I think we are seeing less than the full story. I thought the Photo Attorney would give her readers the full story and the legal facts behind it. Disappointing.

Nikon Camera GPS Patent Application

October 31, 2009

The Nikon Rumours web site collects information on patent applications Nikon has made. Here’s a recent post.

Searching patents is a good way to look at what companies are up to as they have to disclose quite a lot of information, albeit in legal jargon.

But patents are also about companies claiming technology territory and building a stock they can cross-license with others. And of course just because a company has a patent on something it does not mean they will make a product using it. Not soon, maybe not ever.

Having said that, Nikon filed an application recently for an integration of a GPS-enabled camera with digital maps. Here’s one of the images from the application:

The text of the patent is at the US Patent & Trademark Office site here. It’s application number is 20090268047.

I mention this one because it looks like Nikon is thinking the same way I was when I lamented here that my camera can show me where I am, but I am still lost. It’s some evidence that Nikon is continuing to invest in GPS enabled cameras. That’s good news.

Photo Attorney

September 15, 2009

From my time living in America I remember that it’s unwise to make any significant business or personal decision without consulting an attorney first. Life can be so complex there, especially with the multiple legal systems (Federal and State) and their relationships.

Carolyn Wright is the first attorney I have seen who specializes in matters photographic. She is a keen photographer too, which must help a lot.

She has a WordPress blog which mentions some interesting items like a New York City Council hearing on street photography and “rights grabs” by organizers when you submit your photos to a competition. I hadn’t thought about the latter, but it seems like a bloody cheek to me.

Many times I complained about the US legal system and the excessive complexity of life there. But I prefer the open-ness and willingness of the citizens (aided by ably attorneys of course) to challenge governments and companies.

In the UK that seems to be left more to pressure groups. For example the “I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist” group I mentioned before. I used to think that the UK was more relaxed and less legalistic than the States, but not, it seems, any more.

I’m not going to get into politics here, but I wish the UK had a written Constitution like the USA. Successive UK Governments have increased their powers and decreased freedoms without a “line in the sand” drawn by a constitution and an experienced Supreme Court to enforce it.

I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist!

September 7, 2009


I was pleased to see that some in Britain are pushing back against misuse of anti-terrorism laws to restrict photography in public places.

Like so much these days it is a difficult and complex area but I do feel that the “authorities” would like to operate under the principle that “whatever is not explicitly permitted is prohibited” whereas we prefer to think it the other way around.

Despite the plethora of “no photography” signs in Bangkok I have not had any issues with photography beyond the trivial. Certainly no involvement from the police. One of the many reasons I love Thailand is that they are more relaxed about these things. Long may it continue.