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Sensing Technology As Open Source's New Frontier 51

destinyland writes "Christine Peterson coined the term 'open source.' Now she's proposing the same collaborative sharing approach to sensing technology 'to improve both security and the environment, while preserving — even strengthening — privacy, freedom, and civil liberties...' The Open Source Sensing initiative welcomes individuals and organizations, and warns that 'We have a short window of opportunity for guiding this technology to protect both our security *and* our privacy.' Peterson says that in the long term, 'open source defensive technologies will likely be the only ones capable of keeping up with rapidly-advancing offensive technologies, just as open source software is faster at addressing computer viruses today.' And the EFF's Brad Templeton warns that 'Cheap, ubiquitous sensing has the potential to turn the worlds of privacy and civil rights upside-down... It's not enough for governments to watch people; people have to watch governments.' His solution? 'Learning from the bottom-up approaches of the open source community.'
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Sensing Technology As Open Source's New Frontier

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  • Nuclear WMD Sensing? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:14PM (#28456011) Journal
    The proposal lists detection of nuclear WMDs via neutrons and gamma rays ... the proposal itself also correctly notes that places like NYC are trying to ban Geiger counters [] and probably wouldn't be too keen on this sort of data being opened up to the masses. So you find out your neighborhood has an irregular--perhaps even mildly dangerous--amount of radioactive activity. Watch the lawsuits roll in ...

    The proposal itself stays away from video and on their site they talk about who would have release rights to this video, I'm not sure why the EFF is commenting on that. It looks like they want to stay away from somone/group grabbing all the video and putting it up on YouTube to make the street in front of your house a public spectacle.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So you find out your neighborhood has an irregular--perhaps even mildly dangerous--amount of radioactive activity. Watch the lawsuits roll in ...

      I dislike barratry and other abuses of our legal system as much as anyone, but you know, we are a society of laws. Now, if my neighbor's house is in fact dangerous to me and my family, well, yes, I would like a legal remedy. The other options are (1) suck it up, do nothing, and suffer the consequences or (2) settle things outside of any legal framework. While in theory (2) sounds like a good idea, and can work well sometimes, it can also get nasty. I think the legal system often gets a bad rap, because

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...the nosetop!

  • I'll bet right before a large attack all of our technology will recieve a killall command.

    • A good starting point would be to implant an RFID chip in every elected politician. They might become slightly more privacy oriented then.

  • This is an interesting concept. However I think there's a major flaw:

    Open source software development works because it consists of people willing to sacrifice some of their spare time doing something that they enjoy. The actual cost is nil, or close to it. Distribution and collaboration are made easy via the internet.

    However here you're talking hardware. Hardware has to be manufactured. It has cost. Then it has to be physically shipped to where you want to install

    • by axlash ( 960838 )
      I guess that the assumption here is that the sensor devices are probably devices that most people own, like mobile phones. Perhaps the hope is that they can be enabled with special software to do the sensing.
    • Your point is valid, in that hardware has a higher cost of entry than software(and the relative levels of maturity of OSS vs. Open Hardware reflect this); but I'm not sure that it applies as much as you suggest.

      Designing, fabbing and installing specialized sensors is one aspect of "sensor technology" and one that OSS is, as you say, arguably of limited use as a model. However, co-ordination of sensor values, turning the data points into some meaningful picture of the world, is more or less completely a s
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      Only the design need be open source.

      • Very true, however I have yet to see a design that goes from paper to product and doesn't need significant feedback from the process of actually making one in order to hammer out all the bugs in the system. I think that's akin to saying it's possible to take a specification and write a bug free piece of software to it that needs zero feedback from higher level testing, such as system integration.
  • by Bakkster ( 1529253 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nam.retskkaB.> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:33PM (#28456281)

    But so can the smart good guys. More (and possibly better) penetration testing and verification also means that there are fewer exploitable holes. Sounds like a win-win, both from the standpoint of security and privacy.

  • by Ohio Calvinist ( 895750 ) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:57PM (#28456659)
    The problem is that a lot of the OSS community breathes the philosophy that "all information should and must be free... except for information about me, which should be confidential or not exist in digestable form at all." While an overstated and oversimplified sumation of reality... if those are two guiding principals, then where the rubber hits the road is quite difficult, if you're designing multipurposed software that doesn't have a very narrow scoped-purpose at design time, and you're really concerned that your work is going to be used in ways that violate either of those provlems. FOSS is a widget... if some company builds gears it has to know that one buyer might be using them to build hospital machinery and the other harpoon guns for whales. If OSS says you can use it, execpt for these purposes, it isn't very free as in freedom anymore.
  • TFA doesn't consider the problems of compulsion and access.

    The approach of "open source sensing" may have some validity in public places, but for the most part the interesting things that governments and other powerful entities do are either done in privacy or are already covered by news media of various kinds. There's no way to get access that would allow a discussion between police and prosecuting attorneys over the real reasons for a bust, there's no way to get access to the side discussions and dealma

  • So, how do you sense technology?

    "Technology sense...tingling!"

  • maybe we should be putting radio collars on our congresscritters.
    • Can I man the tranquilizer rifle we use to stun them in the wild? Or the pincers that hook the ID tags into their ears?

      Why are you looking at me like that?

  • whatever (Score:3, Informative)

    by jackspenn ( 682188 ) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @06:08PM (#28459609)

    Christine Peterson coined the term 'open source.'

    Oh no she didn't.

    It was Eric S. Raymond.

    • []

      They brainstormed about tactics and a new label. "Open source", contributed by Chris Peterson, was the best thing they came up with. []

      The group of individuals at the session included Christine Peterson who suggested open source.

      It wasn't Eric Raymond. He was just in favor of that term over all the others that came up. I'm pretty sure I remember himself saying that on<somewhere>, but I can't find that right now.

      • by steveg ( 55825 )

        I'm pretty sure that *he* claimed it was Christine Peterson when interviewed for the documentary "Revolution OS."

  • I read the article and watched the video and it set off my BS sensor. The video reminded me of the first time I heard the term "symbiosis" used in a merger meeting.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen