Sono lo SPID e il software libero sufficienti per una partecipazione deliberativa elettronica comunale in larga scala?!

Con la conquista di 2 grandi città, il Movimento Cinquestelle ha finalmente l’occasione e le risorse per realizzare la promessa democrazia diretta, online e non, in larga scala. Il programma prevede un forte consolidamente e estenzione degli istituti di partecipazione e la progressiva estenzione a tutti i cittadini di strumenti online di partecipazione in larga scala e deliberativa – invece che meramente consultiva – al processo deliberativo dell’amministrazione comunale.

La presidente degli Stati Generali dell’Innovazione, Flavia Marzano – da 15 anni una dei leader italian delle battaglie per il software libero, formati aperti e dati aperti nella pubblica amministrazione – è stata invitata ad essere il nuovo Assessore alla “Roma Semplice” da parte della nuovo amministrazione capitolina M5S. Avrà l’onere, onore e sfida di sviluppare tecnologie e processi ICT che – non solo supportino una radicale trasparenza per combattere la malapolitica – ma vadano realizzare l’agognata democrazia diretta digitale.

La maggioranza degli esperti e giornalisti del settore pensano che l’utilizzo di software e open source della parte server, e l’applicazione del livello 3 dello SPID (Sistema Pubblico di Identità Digitale – ovvero i sistemi di sicurezza comunemente usati per i servizi bancari – possano essere sufficienti per minimizzare sufficientemente i rischi.

As esempio, il vicepresidente di Stati Generali dell’Innovazione, Nello Iacono, ha fatto delle proposte in un post del 23 giugno:

“Alcune riflessioni sulla spinta possibili per Spid: una sua diffusione rapida consentirebbe di renderlo fattore abilitante della cittadinanza digitale e della partecipazione dei cittadini, consentendo di ridurre drasticamente costi e tempi”

Similarmente, il progetto Parelon, sviluppato da volontari del M5S Regione Lazio con risorse solo volontarie e limitate, ha centrato la sua sicurezza su l’utilizzo e sviluppo in sofwtare libero (e.g. open source) e sistemi di autenticazione con chiavetta bancaria (one time password generator). Cionostante, essi ammettono come il loro sistema debba rinunciare alla confidenzialità del voto per offrirne sufficienti livelli di sicurezza. Cosa che può essere accettabile, epr scelta, per un partito, ma è costituzionalmente vietato per il voto politico e amministrativo.

Molti fanno riferimento al voto elettronico online della Estonia (patria dell’attuale Commissioner IT della EU) oppure in qualche zona della Svizzera a livello semisperimentale.

Gli obiettivi e l’idea di base sono di tali proposte sono encomiabili: far si che il desiderio di alcune nuove amministrazioni di espandere in larga scala le possibilità di partecipazione civica online dei cittadini, deliberativa e non solo consultiva -utilizzando i nuovi standard per transazioni e comunicazioni informatiche private e sicure, lo SPID, Sistema Pubblica di Identità Digitale – possa essere sfruttata inoltre per: (a) rendere più semplice ed economica l’interazione del cittadino con l’amministrazione; (b) diffondere fra i cittadini tale SPID, in modo da possa rendere più efficienti le transazioni economiche ed realizzare risparmi potenzialmente enormi di denaro pubblico derivanti dalla dematerializzazione di servizi della pubblica amministrazione.

Tale obiettivi, d’altronde, si scontrano con il fatto che vi è un largo consenso fra i massimi esperti di sicurezza informatica al mondo che anche il terzo e massimo livello dello SPID – come anche ogni altro standard di sicurezza esistente, finanche quello per l’ICT abilitato a trattare segreto di stato – forniscono livelli di sicurezza o privacy che sono ad oggi molto lontani dal fornire garanzie sufficienti contro abuso di larga scala di sistemi di voto online o partecipazione deliberativa online dei cittadini, come ad esempio quello di propossa e sottoscrizione di una proposta di legge ad iniziativa popolare. L’associazione Verified Voting, che aggregò gli esperti sopramenzionati, spiega bene perchè le tecnologie e metodi di sicurezza che usiamo per le transazioni bancarie, controintuitivamente, sono radicalmente inidonee per proteggere il voto dei cittadini.

Ogni report di organi riconosciui delle elezioni in Estonia, ha rivelato un’enorme quantità di vulnerabilità, che porta a concludere che attori con capacità anche moderate possano aver alterato i voto esperssi via internet in tali elezioni, e possano ben farlo in futuro dato che l’Estonia ha preferito investire in pubbliche relazioni che non invece, prendere atto pubblicamente dell’entità della sfida, ed investire adeguatamente nella ricerca di soluzioni adeguate.

I cittadini, sono per lo più tenuti all’oscuro di tali rischi del “voto online” ed anche della grande probilità di abusi già avvenuti e non scoperti, con ricorrenti richiami a migliorare la democrazia attraverso un semplice “voto dal tablet” di vari politici, incluso il M5S, eccetto per qualche sporadico articolo che sottolinea le grandi sfide che prima bisogna affrontare. Anche dopo un battage pubblicitario gigantesco e planetario, nella Estonia E-residency, centrato sulla sicurezza e confidenzialità offerta, hanno creduto in sole 10.000 persone.

A differenza di altri in SGI, Flavia Marzano ha mostrato di essere ben cosciente delle sfide tecniche, organizzative e procedurali che comporta l’offrire in larga scala le possibilità di partecipazione civica online dei cittadini, deliberativa e non solo consultiva. Fu la Marzano, nella primavera del 2014, in qualità di Presidente degli Stati Generali dell’Innovazione (SGI) – la primaria NGO del settore IT solidamente in area PD – che accettò di partecipare all’iniziativa della Open Media Cluster di convocare 2 incontri in Regione Lazio con i capogruppo di PD, M5S e SEL, o loro diretti delegati, per una campagna di legge per il “software libero, hardware documentato, partecipazione e servizi telematici trasparenti”.

Tale proposta di legge, ad oggi nemmeno discussa dal consiglio a maggioranza PD, prevede che ogni servizio critico al cittadino, come e-health o partecipazione online, debba obbligatoriamente essere offerto in rispetto di “servizi telematici trasparenti“, derivato dal concetto di telematica trasparente (evoluto ne concetto di trustless computing della Trustless Computing Initiative) – che prevedono requisiti di verificabilità e livelli di verifica estremi in relazione ala complessità per ogni tecnologia o processo critico coinvolto – dal lato server e dal lato utente – nella fruizione o nel ciclo vita della soluzione, dalla definizione degli standard, an design del CPU, al monitoraggio della fase di fabbricazione. Dopo settimane di enorme pazienza e solleciti da parte di Davide Barillari, portavoce del M5S regione Lazio, il PD e SEL continuavano a comunicarci come fossero in attesa di coinvolgimento di loro esperti per valutare le nostre proposte.

Negli stessi giorni, come risultava evidente che il PD non avesse ne la volontà politica e ne la capacità tecnica di proporre una seria legge sul tema, la direzione generale degli Stati Generali dell’Innovazione bocciò ogni coinvolgimento della SGI stessa nella campagna, nonostante il suo successo e il fatto che Richard Stallman stesso, investore del software libero, fosse venuto a Roma per promuoverla, e ripetuti solleciti da parte della loro presidente. Come sempre in Italia, è difficile concludere quanto dichiarazioni gravemente erronee circa temi assolutamente vitali per la democrazia e la società, da parte di soggetti coinvolti nell’ICT per la PA, siano dovuti a sottomissione politica o a grave impreparazione tecnica.

Molto del silenzio che si è sentito (il silenzio fà un rumore tremendo) su questi temi da parte del M5S, con pochissime eccezioni di Davide Barillari e pochi altri, rischia di trasformare un’enorme opportunità di rilancio del paese in un incubo di votazioni manipolate e, nella misura in cui se en potrà comprovare la comprommissione, una conseguente forte delegittimazione del M5S nella sua capacità di realizzare responsabilmente il suo primario obiettivo di sempre.

Come disse bene George Orwell: “In un tempo di universale inganno, dire la verità è un atto rivoluzionario“. Sono ben cosciente dell’enorme costo di dire la verità, per quasi tutti in questo paese, ma è venuto il momento di dire la verità sull’entità della sfida tecnologica, socio-tecnica ed organizzativa della democrazia diretta online.

“Head of NSA’s Elite Hacking Unit: How We Hack” by ABC News

ABS News come out with this article:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/head-nsas-elite-hacking-unit-hack/story?id=36573676

In assessing the veracity and completeness of what the head of NSA Tao says here we should consider it’s important part of its agency mission that hundreds of thousands of potential mid-to-high targets, legit or not, overestimate the manual (as opposed to semi automated) resources and efforts they need to devote per person to continuously compromise them. See NSA FoxAcid and Turbine programs.

So these targets will think NSA “endpoint target list” is small and does not include them, and therefore are fine with end-2-end encryption, and merely moderate or high assurance endpoints, like Tor/Tail, Signal on iOS, or an high end cryptophone.

Welcome to Linear City 2.0, a social and human urban redevelopment concept

For my master thesis in Public Policy and Regional Planning at Rutgers University in 2000, I defined in fine detail an ethical vision I had in 1998 that convinced me to pursue that Master in that school: the technical, political and conceptual business plan for a LINEAR CITY (1.0), i.e. a large-scale intermodal urban corridor RE-development, heavily centered on public transport and light electric vehicles, to make cities social, human and ecologically sound. I even had full 3D animations done by myself with amazing detail:
www.linearcity.org

WELCOME TO LINEAR CITY 2.0

Fifteen years later – given all the advances in self-driving vehicles, and the fact that Linearcity that it will still take many years before they are authorized on the streets, and decades before they reach majority of cars – my Linearity concept could be amended by substituting all feeder systems to the main subway/train – which are in version 1.0 a mix of mixed-grade bus and automated guided buses (i.e. with driver!) – with pure self-driving small buses, but on a mix of separate-grade and mixed-grade. In some case, separate-grade may just be a preferential line well-marked on the asphalt, and sidewalk pedestrian warning, without physical separation.

Some comments on the Preamble of the Italian Internet “Bill of Rights”

Last July 2015, the Italian parliament approved, through a motion, an Italian Internet “Bill of Rights”. We greatly admire and support the motives of the drafters, many of which are friends, but we believe it necessary to highlight some serious shortcomings to its approach, starting with its Preamble.

PREAMBLE

It has fostered the development of a more open and free society.

This is very arguable. A large majority of digital rights activists and IT security and privacy experts would disagree that, overall, it has.

The European Union is currently the world region with the greatest constitutional protection of personal data, which is explicitly enshrined in Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

This is correct, although Switzerland may be better in some regards.Nevertheless, even such standards to date have not at all been able to stop widespread illegal and/or inconstitutional EU states bulk surveillance, until Snowden and Max Schrems came along. Furthermore, even if the US and EU states fully adhered to EU standards, it would significantly improve assurance for passive bulk surveillance, but it would do almost nothing for highly scalable targeted endpoint surveillance (NSA FoxAcid, Turbine, hacking Team, etc), against of tens and hundreds of thousands of high-value targets, such as activists, parliamentarians, reporters, etc.

Preserving these rights is crucial to ensuring the democratic functioning of institutions and avoiding the predominance of public and private powers that may lead to a society of surveillance, control and social selection.

“May” lead?! There is a ton of evidence available for the last 2 years that to a large extent we have been living for many years in a “society of surveillance, control and social selection.”

Internet … it is a vital tool for promoting individual and collective participation in democratic processes as well as substantive equality

Since it has emerged to be overwhelmingly a tool of undemocratic social control, it would be more correct to refer to its potential to “promoting individual and collective participation in democratic processes”, rather than a current actual fact.

The principles underpinning this Declaration also take account of the function of the Internet as an economic space that enables innovation, fair competition and growth in a democratic context.

By framing this at the end of the preamble, it makes it appear that privacy and civil rights needs are obstacles to innovation, fair competition and growth, which is not the case, as the Global Privacy as Innovation Network has been clearly arguing for over 2 years.

A Declaration of Internet Rights is crucial to laying the constitutional foundation for supranational principles and rights.

First, there have been about 80 Internet Bill of Rights approved by various stakeholders, including national legislative bodies. Second, a “declaration of rights” can very well be just smoke in the eyes, if those rights are not defined clearly enough and meaningful democratic enforcement is also enacted. There are really no steps towards proper “Supranational principles and rights”, and related enforcement mechanism, except a number of nations bindingly agreeing to them, similarly to the process that lead to creation of the International Criminal Court.

Richard Hawking on the great risks of the “default” scenarios for the future of AI

Richard Hawking, the great physicist, sees in the future of humanity like no one else. He sees our greatest risks related to the future of self-improving AI machines:

(1) Human exinction, if AI machines can be controlled at all. He said “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all”.

(2) Huge wealth [and power]  gaps, if AI machine owners will allow a fair distribution once these will take on all human labor. He said “If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed.” Hawking continued, “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”

Is meaningful trustworthiness a requirement of Free Software “computing freedom”?

In this youtube video excerpt (minute 8.33-15.55) from Panel 2 of the Free and Safe in Cyberspace conference, that I organized 2 weeks ago, in which Richard Stallman and myself debate about IT trustworthiness and free software. The entire panel video is also available in WebM format here.

In such excerpt, Richard Stallman said that computing trustworthiness is a “practical advantage or convenience” and not a requirement for computing freedom. I opposed to that a vision by which the lack of meaningful trustworthiness turns inevitably the other four software freedoms into a disutility to their users, and to people with whom they share code. I suggest that this realization should somehow be “codified” as a 5th freedom, or at least very widely acknowledged within the free software movement.

How could the US government incentivize IT service providers to voluntarily and adequately provide compliance to lawful access?!

More news on Obama’s search for legislative or regulatory solution to lawful access to digital systems.

For some time now, the US government has been ever more often stating that there will not be a mandatory technical requirements to enable remote state lawful access, but that they expect provider to somehow come up autonomously with solutions that would allow for lawful access when needed by investigating agencies.

But any company that decided to come up with some techncial and organizational processes to do so, even with extremely effective safeguards for both the citizen and the investigating agency, would appear to be, and possibly actually be, less secure than competing services or devices that do not provide such access.

This problem could be solved if the US government provided very solid and reliable incentives to those that do, and do in a proper way, i.e., they comply to a minimum of citizen-accountable extreme safeguards, that guarantee both the user and the agency. The US government could approve some solidly enforceable policies that prescribe much higher personal economic and penal consequences for official of state agencies that are found searching or implanting vulnerabilities ONLY for high-assurance IT service providers that offer socio-technical systems to comply to government request, as certified by an independent international technically-proficient and accountable certification body. Such new policies would instead exclude IT service or device providers that do not.

To get 2 beans with one stone, such international body could also certify IT services and devices that offer meaningfully high-levels of trustworthiness, something that is direly missing today. One such certification body is being promote by the Open Media Cluster (that I lead), with the name of Trustless Computing Certification Initiative.

A Proposed Solution to Wikimedia funding problem …

… without introducing any undemocratic bias:

Introduce contextual ads made exclusively of product/service comparisons made by  democratically-controlled consumer organizations. In Italy for example there is Altroconsumo org with 100s of thousands of members which regularly produces extensive comparative reports.

In practice: for each new report that comes out, a request is made to the companies producing the product/service in the top 30% to sponsor it publishing inside Wikimedia portals.
Such formula could be extended to Wikimedia video, generating huge funds, arguably without any. Proceed are shared among Wikimedia and the consumer org.

(originally written in 2011, and sent to Jimmy Whale, which found it interesting)

“f no values-based standards exist for Artificial Intelligence, then the biases of its manufacturers will define our universal code of human ethics. But this should not be their cross to bear alone. It’s time to stop vilifying the AI community and start defining in concert with their creations what the good life means surrounding our consciousness and code.”

http://mashable.com/2015/10/03/ethics-artificial-intelligence/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-tech-link

” Now imagine that some fiendish crime syndicate were to steal such a car, strap a gun to the top, and reprogram it to shoot people. That’s an AI weapon.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/08/humans-not-robots-are-the-real-reason-artificial-intelligence-is-scary/400994/

The robots aren’t taking our jobs; they’re taking our leisure

But what about the bounty of digital technology that is in evidence all around us? Almost 30 years ago, the great economist Robert Solow quipped, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

An answer to the riddle might be that digital technology has transformed a handful of industries in the media/entertainment space that occupy a mindshare that’s out of proportion to their overall economic importance. .

http://www.vox.com/2015/7/27/9038829/automation-myth?utm_campaign=vox&utm_content=chorus&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

Blaming China for cyber attacks without any public evidence creates highly-perverse dynamics

Blaming China for cyber attacks without any public evidence creates highly-perverse dynamics: (1) breached entity, instead of paying in liability/blame for lack of security, can turn itself into victim of act of war; (2) increases support for requests by defense  agencies/contractors for huge funds and anti-privacy anti-privacy legislation; (3) any expert or media who challenges misattribution becomes enemy of the state; (4) no serious investigation in who really behind attacks, why they did it, and why they succeeded; (5) retaliation from China can just make all of this escalate.

Please, every expert go out there and challenge the actual evidence (and lack thereof) of China government responsibility in the attacks!

A definition of “Constitutionally-meanigful levels of trustworthiness” in IT systems

A proposed definition of “Constitutionally-meanigful levels of trustworthiness” in IT systems

An IT system (or more precisely a end-2-end computing service or experience) will be said to have “constitutionally-meaningful levels of trustworthiness” when its confidentiality, authenticity, integrity and non-repudiation is sufficiently high to make its use – by ordinary, active and “medium-value target” citizens alike –rationally compatible to the full and effective Internet-connected exercise of their core civil rights, except for voting in governmental elections.  In concrete terms, it defines an end-2-end computing experience that warrants extremely well-placed confidence that the cost and risks for an extremely-skilled attacker to remotely perform continuous or pervasive comprimization substantially exceed the following: (1) for comprimization of a single user, the tens of thousands of euros, and the significant discoverability, such as those associated with enacting such level of abuse through on-site, proximity-based user surveillance, or non-scalable remote endpoint techniques, such as NSA TAO; (2) For the comprimization of the entire supply chain or lifecycle, the tens of millions of euros and significant discoverability, that are reportedly typically sustained by advanced actors, for high-value supply chains, through legal and illegal subversions of all kinds, including economic pressures.”

Motives of the Hacking Team hack may have much in common with those that broughtin 1903 the British Mr Maskelyne – and possibly its UK corporate/state sponsors – to hack Marconi’s radio telegraph in 1903 …

… to establish their tech/service as the “secure” remote communications of choice for global corporations and governments:

Maskelyne followed his trick with an even bigger showstopper. In June 1903, Marconi was set to demonstrate publically for the first time in London that morse code could be sent wirelessly over long distances. A crowd filled the lecture theatre of the Royal Institution while Marconi prepared to send a message around 300 miles away in Cornwall. The machinery began to tap out a message, but it didn’t belong to the Italian scientist.

“Rats rats rats rats,” it began. “There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily …” Maskelyne had hijacked the wavelength Marconi was using from a nearby theatre. He later wrote a letter to the Times confessing to the hack and, once again, claimed he did it to demonstrate the security flaws in Marconi’s system for the public good.

Of course cable could be undetectably be “sniffed” then as fiber cable can be sniffed today …

if sousveillance tools do not have sufficiently extreme levels of security and user-accoutability, they become additional tool of the powers-that-be…

This article – “Indian cops want Bangalore’s citizens to help them catch criminals by using Periscope” – makes me think that if sousveillance tools do not have sufficiently extreme levels of security and user-accoutability, they become additional tool of the powers-that-be…

Even a Transparent Society – which could replace this one if we fail technically to find ways to provide meanigful priovacy to all – presupposes that we achieve extreme levels of user-trustworthiness of at least part of our IT system, so as to ensure effectively symmetric transparency.

Who sets the security standards for lawful access systems like Hacking Team team?!

After what came out of the Hacking Team scandal, we should consider if the standards for such techs, crucial for society – that many governments want extended as mandatory to other IP communications – maybe we have a problem at their origina, i.e. with their international governance by NIST and ETSI, the non-binding bodies that set their standards (which are then mostly updaken by national governments).  If we know NIST has broken crucial crypto standards on pressure fom NSA, here is the formal governance of ETSI, which is then deeply participated in its process by industry players :

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 10.12.15

Hacking Team on the relative morality of their general line of business

From Ars Technica post today. It does make sense in many regards:

Rabe argued that just as the United States and other Western countries routinely sell arms to allied countries like Saudi Arabia, so too should Hacking Team be able to sell its wares as well. After all, he pointed out, more than a dozen of the September 11 hijackers were from that country.

“Do you want Saudi Arabia to be able to track that sort of thing or would you rather have them be able to operate behind contemporary secrecy and the Internet?” he said.

“My point is not really to argue the various dangers of different kinds of equipment but just to say that if you’re going to sell weaponry to a country, it’s a little disingenuous to say that a crime-fighting tool is off-limits.”

Rabe ended the call with a forceful defense of the company’s entire business model, saying that there should be a controlled, appropriate way for governments and law enforcement to breach digital security.

“[CEO David Vincenzetti] started life in what we would call defensive security, to keep people out, and then he realized as more and more of the communications became inaccessible, that there was a need for a tool that gave investigators the opportunity to do surveillance. I don’t think that’s really that hard to understand, frankly. I don’t think any of us are against cryptography, but what we’re against is police being able to catch criminals and prevent crime, that’s what we’re worried about.”

Adi Shamir: ” “In the Second World War if you had good crypto protecting your communication you were safe. Today with an APT sitting inside your most secure computer systems, using cryptography isn’t going to give you much protection.”

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/01/post_cryptography_security_shamir/

“In the Second World War if you had good crypto protecting your communication you were safe. Today with an APT sitting inside your most secure computer systems, using cryptography isn’t going to give you much protection.

“It’s very difficult to use cryptography in an effective way if you assume that an APT is watching over the computer system, watching everything that is being done, including the encryption and decryption process.”

Panopticon sounds very much like the post-Snoden world for all of us

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon

The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly