CFP 2002 Day One

CFP 2002 Day One

I’m not sure that “jet lag” is really properly named. I’m spending the next few days at the Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco, about an hour from home. The conference goes till midnight tonight and tomorrow, so I think I’m spending IBM’s money wisely by taking a hotel room instead of driving home at night — but I sure wish that I actually had gained some sleep by staying here.

Instead, I’m suffering from a severe case of hotel lag — it was very difficult to get to sleep last night. I’m sure it was partially due to having a big, late dinner at Stars (tasty, and good conversation…but big and late nonetheless), but it didn’t help that my room is noisy (looking over Van Ness Avenue) and it was difficult to get the temperature at all close to what I wanted.

It’s pretty obvious that this is an older hotel — the phone is hardwired to the wall by the bed, nowhere near the desk, and there aren’t many power outlets (and most of the ones are two-prong, something I thought was obsolete everywhere but my house!). But the location is pretty good, and it wasn’t too hard to make my way through afternoon traffic to get here.

CFP itself seems more predictable than in past years; the topics have changed slightly (there’s a lot of discussion of post-9/11 issues), but when someone goes up to the mike, I can bet what he or she is going to say. Maybe I’ll find it more interesting tomorrow if I’m more awake…I managed to escape the hotel for a few minutes during the last break, and that seems to have helped, already.

One last CFP note for now: tonight, Dan Gillmor will be receiving a well-deserved EFF Pioneer Award (as will Beth Givens and the DeCSS authors, but I don’t think they have weblogs). The Pioneer Award ceremony is open to the public, so if you happen to read this before 8pm Pacific today, come on by!

The last plenary session of the day, “Biometrics Face-Off: Can Biometrics Promise Better Security without Destroying Privacy and Civil Rights?”, didn’t answer the question in its title. The speakers mostly gave their prepared presentations and the audience gave their prepared questions (some of which were off the topic). But there were two presenters I found especially interesting: Captain Ron Davis of the Oakland Police, who would be a user of biometric technology (as a cop) and might well be a victim of it (as a black man), and Roger Clarke from Xamax Consultancy in Australia (a long-time CFP participant), who pointed out that if you don’t design your system to answer specific questions (for example, “should this person be allowed into an area?”), you will wind up with a system which probably is ineffective but probably is privacy-hostile.

At dinner, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer gave an interesting and funny talk; he didn’t go into depth on anything, but touched on spam, states’ rights, the Federal system, computers in the criminal justice system, and pecan pie, which he likened to George W. Bush: a sweet presentation hiding a low-value Texas nut. The latter point helped me a bit at the EFF Pioneer Awards dessert reception, by encouraging me to avoid the pecan pie…but I made up for hit by eating the chocolate cheesecake.

A few other sites blogging CFP: