Laser Blog

Articles tagged "digital rights"

96 Microsoft updates Windows without users' consent

Thursday 13th September, 2007

There is a small storm in a teacup brewing over recent events in which it's been confirmed that Microsoft has updated copies of Windows XP and Windows Vista without the users' consent, even if auto-updates have been turned off. Obviously these folks don't read (or is it "understand") the Windows EULA which they clicked on and agreed to when they first started their newly-purchased PC (or when they actually paid for and installed the software.)

Most users of Microsoft Windows seem to have their collective heads buried in the sand. The thing the don't seem to get is that Windows users are just that, users. They don't own the software, they have just purchased the right to use it. Microsoft explicitly retain ownership and the right to update their system as and when they choose.

I don't understand why people are acting so shocked. Windows doesn't belong to you. If it bothers you having a third party changing files on the PC you use without your permission, you can always use an OS which you do own.


93 Shut Up I Hack You

Thursday 30th August, 2007

I still find this story hilarious.
Rob. April 2015.

This is an apparently true event which happened back in 2005. It is the (frankly hilarious) conversation which took place between an IRC user and self-proclaimed hacker named bitchchecker, who mistakenly believed that he had been kicked off an IRC channel by another user named Elch. The "hacker", childishly (ah!) refusing to believe that he had timed, threatened to hack Elch's PC, and dared Elch to give out his IP address. Elch told bitchchecker that his IP address was It's got to be read. :) This has been translated from the original German.

Edited 16/05/2010: I noticed the original link to was not working, so I replaced it with another link - this story has thankfully been preserved for posterity.


90 Vista protects users from their own multimedia content

Monday 13th August, 2007

Amazingly, Windows Vista's content protection will protect it's users from seeing their own multimedia content.

"If there was any threat modeling at all, it was really badly done," Gutmann, from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said while giving a talk on Vista content protection. "Once the enemy is the user and not the attacker, standard security thinking falls apart."

It's a strange world were people cannot play their HD-DVDs or listen to their own music:

While Microsoft's intent is to protect commercial content, home movies are increasingly being shot in high definition, Gutmann said. Many users are finding they can't play any content if it's considered "premium."

"This is not commercial HD content being blocked, this is the users' own content," Gutmann said. "The more premium content you have, the more output is disabled."

People actually pay money to be treated like this.


89 SCO loses!

Friday 10th August, 2007

Groklaw has the news which we already really knew in the SCO vs Novell case:

The court concludes that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights.

It's not quite over yet, but a big chunk of decisions which are due to be made depended on the outcome of this ruling. As Groklaw's PJ says:

That's Aaaaall, Folks! The court also ruled that "SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims against IBM and Sequent". That's the ball game. There are a couple of loose ends, but the big picture is, SCO lost. Oh, and it owes Novell a lot of money from the Microsoft and Sun licenses.

That's good news. Well done, Novell.


85 Vista sends data about users to MS

Monday 2nd July, 2007

You have to wonder how much of this sort of thing is down to the NSA.
Rob. April 2015.

Well, no surprise. Microsoft uses Vista to gather information about you. I've made many posts about this, just type "Vista" in the Quicksearch text field and press enter. So what? What can they tell?

... in excess of 20 Windows Vista features and services are hard at work collecting and transmitting your personal data to the Redmond company.

Geez, 20? That seems rather a lot. Those twenty features and services all use CPU and RAM on your PC, to snoop on you. You'll have to read the full article to find out exactly what those 20+ data mining techniques are (plus how you can bypass some of them). But surely Microsoft are a responsible company. (Actually, I couldn't type that last sentence without grinning.) Well, the Vista license agreement clearly states:

"By using these features, you consent to the transmission of this information. Microsoft does not use the information to identify or contact you."

And they say they're not going to identify you. All they say they want is your:

"Internet protocol address, the type of operating system, browser and name and version of the software you are using, and the language code of the device where you installed the software."

Heh, if they have your IP address, they have you. But they clearly stated that they won't identify you, so, problem over? Not quite.

"Microsoft may disclose personal information about you if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: (a) comply with the law or legal process served on Microsoft; (b) protect and defend the rights of Microsoft (including enforcement of our agreements); or (c) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, users of Microsoft software or services, or members of the public,"

The good faith belief? Microsoft? Come on.