A comment on Skype’s outage-related official statement

So, at the end of the day, Skype explained the reason for the outage that broke its P2P network. To make a long story short, the point is that Skype relies upon a closed source approach (that slows the bug finding process) and on Microsoft technologies that, in that specific case, create the problem. This reinforces my early assumption, that crash cause was Skype design instead of a unpredictable problem. It simply unacceptable that an outage of that dimension has been provoked by the inability of an operating system to patches itself without always rebooting. And who did that choice should account for it.

Right, Skype is very clear in repeating that Microsoft has nothing to do with the Big Crash. Nevertheless, it raises some suspect, to me, reading statement such as: “The Microsoft Update patches were merely a catalyst – a trigger – for a series of events that led to the disruption of Skype, not the root cause of it.” or “Microsoft has been very helpful and supportive throughout.” or, again, ? “In short – there was nothing different about this set of Microsoft patches.”, “The Microsoft team was fantastic to work with”. But this PR stuff doesn’t change the basic stuff: Skype is the next component of a “vulnerable society”, where problems, risks and damages are created mainly by the ICT companies – instead of the “dangerous criminals” that fall under than unspecified label of ? “hackers”.

An answer to Arstechnica.com and Dslreports.com about the Skype outage issue

A dslreports.com article – bounced by Arstechnica.com – quotes my Skype outage recent post as contributing to of the “list of the evil-doers who all had a chance to get blamed for Skype’s problems”.

The scope of my post was to raise a general issue – distributed vs centralize network design and legal consequences – and not blame Skype “per se”.

They just are an IT company, and they do their business as usual. Closed source software, hype and cheers to users but no “real” communication. To put it in other words: Microsoft might maybe “lead the way”, but – as Skype shows – there are a lot that can “perform” better than Redmond giant.

Does cyberspace exist?

 

This is an interview I gave to connected.org that I casually re-discovered. It is an old text, while still up-to-date.

The following interview of the Italian lawyer Andrea Monti
took place in Prague during the APC Europe Internet Rights Workshop.
My thanks to Karen Banks and Chris Bailey of APC for inviting me to speak at the workshop. See also the other interview carried out in Prague of the philosopher, Giancarlo Livraghi entitled “Souls writing on the Net“.

Continue reading “Does cyberspace exist?”

Italian Democratic Party’s Competition: faxes aren’t good enough to support a candidate

The Italian online daily magazine Repubblica.it announces that Furio Colombo (S-DS) will not run for the future Italian Democratic Party board (the new political entity that next October will merge Margherita and Democratici di sinistra into one, big party.)

The reason is – Repubblica says – that Mr. Colombo got his votes by fax – an unreliable communication device that doesn’t grant non-refutability, integrity and authenticity of the message. Mr. Colombo then claims that since he ain’t a political structure working for him, it was impossible to ride the whole Italy collecting the originals documents containing the “electoral” whishes.

But if only Mr. Colombo – and his supporters – had used digitally signed certified e-mail, he could have run for this competition with no particular problem. Digital signature is “around” since almost ten years, while Certified e-mail (Posta Elettronica Certificata – PEC) is widely available since at least a couple of year. Then it would have been entirely possible to run for the Democratc Party board by handling a digital electoral campaign. Why, then, Mr. Colombo didn’t use it?

Complex answer for a simple question. The deadly mixture of legislator’s lack of competence and Certification Entities wrongly aimed lobby efforts created a poisoned cocktail that almost killed the possibility to have these technologies at handy for the “average” citizen. BTW, nobody seemed really care to actually enhance the use of digital signature and certified e-mail through the citizenship.

And now, we face the early consequences of this non-culture: this is the very first case, in Italy at least, where the technological ignorance had the direct effect of banning a person from the active political life of a country.