May 12th, 2004

Reversing Redactions; Neoconomy.

Two interesting stories:
  1. David Naccache and Claire Whelan, in research published at EUROCRYPT, show how to un-black-out words from redacted documents. They take advantage of proportional fonts (where each letter has a different width) and the tendency of computers to black-out a word exactly, which reveals precisely how wide the word was. The memos used to be in Courier, a fixed-width font, but in January the State department mandated a "more modern" font... exacerbating this security problem. (Previously only the number of letters in the word would have been revealed; which, granted, might have been usable in the same way as described in this research.)
  2. An article in Slate by Daniel Altman describes the Bush administration "Neoconomists":

    While neoconservatives in the Bush administration remake American foreign policy, another cadre of ideologues—call them the neoconomists—is busy attempting to transform American society. [...] The neoconomists have one goal: to increase the rate at which the economy grows by changing how the nation uses its resources.

    [...] It sounds like a recipe for the kind of social unrest that can make an economy stagger, stagnate, or worse. A political backlash would seem almost inevitable. And something worse—like a riotous manifestation of anticapitalist sentiment—would become a real possibility for the first time in decades. And that's what could happen if the theory works.