Tag Archives: Information technology

Weird excuses for raid at Forskningsavdelningen

This is totally insane. The Malmö police accuse the raided hackerspace “Forskningsavdelningen” of preparing grand theft. Insane, me tells ya!

I can understand the misunderstanding by the police and the accusation of “preparing illegal data access” (…or cracking security, I should say). Calling a workshop “hackerspace” doesn’t neatly define the actual meaning of the term hacker for uneducated people. Many thus confuse it with “cracker”.

It’s not excusable, but I’ve never had much faith in IT competence within the law enforcement agencies. So the misunderstanding is understandable and could be totally innocent. At least if it weren’t for some actual, hardcore slander and libel:

Brottsrubriceringarna är brott mot alkohollagen, brott mot speciallagstiftning – brandfarliga och explosiva varor, föreberedelse till grov stöld och dataintrång, säger kommissarie J-B Cederholm vid länskriminalpolisen.

Sydsvenskan.se 30 november

The text in italic translates from Swedish to “The crime classifications are […] preparing grand theft and illegal data access  […] says commissary J-B Cederholm at the county detective agency” (county police).

And what is this based on? Lock picking devices and key cutting machines. Forskningsavdelningen explain this themselves with having the lecture/workshop Hacknight in July this year (2009). That as well as simply the general interest of lock mechanisms. It’s not preparing for anything, it’s just general knowledge for the heck of it.

Some might even say it’s good that people learn this, so that for example ASSA [Abloy] can’t keep selling expensive locks which are cracked in a matter of seconds (for which you don’t need a lock picking device anyway). Heck, there are even large, international championships in lock picking.

Further on, key cutting machines are in no way illegal to possess or use. There are licenses in Sweden for certain types of blank keys that are used for higher security locks. None of the licensed key types were available at Forskningsavdelningen though. Nothing has been mentioned about the legality on the issue by the police either.

So this just reeks of bullshit. Forskningsavdelningen did not plan any crimes. Merely reading about making a chokladboll doesn’t mean you’re actually going to. Even if you have the ingredients in your cupboard. Even if you have an urge for something sweet.

This is what we call morals.
This is what society relies on.

It’s the simple fact that law enforcement should not be engaged unless an actual crime has been committed. Innocent people should not be treated as criminals. Forskningsavdelningen have clearly been harassed by the Swedish police. The sooner an apology comes, the better.

And if they also get their equipment back, they can keep making disco lights.

Ubuntu on school laptops in Umeå

Wouldn’t it be awesome if open source software was the de facto standard in state-funded organisations? Not only because of costs and easy licensing, but mostly the general idea of an open and free infrastructure. Something which is especially necessary within information technology – and principally even more so within government related work. Transparency is a keyword for trust.

So I thought, yesterday when I fiddled around with a school laptop, that “wouldn’t it be neat to run Ubuntu on these?”. The laptop I played around with was a Lenovo Thinkpad 7440 something running the official Umeå school configured Windows XP install with access to a heavily filtered wireless network and stuff. Interestingly enough the machine also had a Vista Basic license tag with a CD key underneath… (have they paid for Vista Basic licensing as well?)

To run Ubuntu you have to be able to boot a USB key or install somehow, for example with Wubi. Booting is practically impossible since Lenovo has delivered the laptops with TPM chips and thus you can’t select another boot device without the correct password. And unfortunately you can’t merely reset the CMOS… When installing with wubi there was a random error I didn’t bother looking into more closely. Instead I figured it might be more fun to actually install it with a legitimate reason and official support from the schools…

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