Mexico

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Finally, a sensible increase in participation for Tor in Mexico!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 01/09/2019 - 19:23

/Known fact: Latin America's share of participation in different aspects of the free software movement is very low.

There are many hypotheses for this, but all in all, it's mainly economics related: Only a tiny minority of us in this geographic region can spare the time, energy and money needed to donate part of our work and life to a project, no matter how much we agree with it. Of course, this cannot explain it wholly; there are many issues that further contribute with this low participation. Free software development is mostly carried out in English (much more so even than programming in general, although basically any programing language "reeks" of English).

In mid-2017, the Tor project acknowledged this and created the Global South Initiative. At first, I heard about it when the global-south@lists.torproject.org mailing list was started, and started interacting there right away. Roughly a month later, we started to plan for what is now our research/documentation project. We even managed to somehow attract the Tor community at large for the Tor Meeting last September/October in Mexico City (which was a *great* opportunity!)

One of the issues we have been pushing for, with marginal success rate until very recently, is to get more people involved running Tor relays or, if possible, exit nodes. Of course, when I asked officially for permission to set up an exit node at the university (I want to do things the right way), I was right away slammed and denied.

But... Patience, time, hardware donation by Derechos Digitales, and some determination have led us to the fact that... 18 months ago, we only had one or two active Tor relays. Now, the reality is finally changing!

Thanks to many individuals willing to donate their time and resources, we currently have eleven relays (eight of them which I can recognize by name and thank their respective owners — The linked page will probably give different results, as it varies over time).

As for the diversity this brings to the network, it's well summed up by the aggregated search:

Four autonomous systems; the only ISP that's usable for home users we have been able to identify is Axtel, with which we have five relays currently running; three at UNAM, the biggest university in the country; one in CINVESTAV, an important research facility; finally, one in Mega Cable, which surprises me, as Mega Cable does not provide a reachable IP for any of the subscribers we have probed! (Maybe it's run by corporate users or something like that?)

And, very notably: I have to recognize and thank our friends at Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), as they have set up our –so far– only exit node (via the Axtel ISP). Wow!

Ten relays, mind you, is still a tiny contribution. Due to the bandwidth we are currently able to offer (and many many many other factors I cannot go into details, as I don't even know them all), Mexico as a country is currently providing approximately 0.05% (that is, one out of each 2000) Tor connections as a guard (entry) node, a slightly higher amount as a middle node, and a slightly lower amount as an exit node. But it is steadily increasing, and that's great!

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Letter to UNAM's Rector regarding the facts of September 3rd; omission, complicity and impunity are also violence

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/05/2018 - 13:09

Our university, among the largest in the world and among the most important in Latin America, had an unexpected and traumatic event last September 3rd: A group of students from one of the high schools our university operates, peacefully protesting, demanding mostly proper study conditions and better security for their area, were violently attacked by a large, organized group. Things are still very much in flux, and we have yet to see what this really meant, and what are its consequences.

But in the meantime, I cannot but take as mine the following words, by Comité Cerezo. I am sorry for not translating into English, interested people will be able to do so using automated services or human talent.

Original here: Carta al Rector de la UNAM por los hechos sucedidos el 3 de septiembre: la omisión, complicidad e impunidad también son violencia

Ciudad Universitaria 4 de septiembre de 2018

Enrique Luis Graue Wiechers
Rector de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Ante los hechos suscitados el día 3 de septiembre en la explanada de Rectoría de la UNAM y sus alrdedores, el Comité Cerezo México, cuyos integrantes en su mayoría formamos parte de la comunidad universitaria como egresados, estudiantes en activo, académicos y trabajadores, nos dirigimos a usted con el objetivo de manifestar que, como la gran mayoría de quienes se han pronunciado, repudiamos los hechos de violencia por medio de los cuales un grupo de sujetos atacaron violentamente a estudiantes que se manifestaban pacíficamente ejerciendo su derecho humano a la protesta. Sin embargo, consideramos que el repudio a la violencia y la promesa de investigación queda corta ante los hechos ocurridos. Por ello, maniestamos que:

1. Repudiamos con la misma fuerza la actitud omisa e indolente que en los distintos videos e imágenes se observa por parte del cuerpo Auxilio UNAM ante los hechos de violencia. Incluso nos preguntamos por qué elementos de esta corporación de seguridad se acercaron a los grupos de jóvenes que atacaban a los manifestantes e incluso los saludaron de mano en lugar de impedir que agredieran a los estudiantes.

2. Repudiamos el hecho de que, a priori, en algunos comunicados de las autoridades se afirmara que los agresores eran personas ajenas a la comunidad académica. De acuerdo a informaciones que circulan en redes sociales (y que por supuesto deben ser verificadas) algunos de los agresores forman parte de la comunidad estudiantil y de grupos que operan, al menos en CCH Azcapotzalco, CCH Naucalpan y CCH Vallejo. La condena a la violencia y la afirmación pronta de que los agresores no son integrantes de la comunidad es un acto incongruente con la promesa de investigar los hechos. En el mismo sentido afirmar que los hechos que se vivieron buscan enturbiar el ambiente sin tener una investigación clara de qué grupo operó, sin tener claridad en la cadena de mando y en la implicación de algunas autoridades no abona en nada a la resolución del conflicto.

3. Manifestamos nuestro extrañamiento por el hecho de que pese a que en los pronunciamientos de las autoridades se afirma que están abiertas al diálogo, no se haya mencionado que las demandas por las que los estudiantes se manifestaban en Rectoría serán atendidas y de qué modo.
Ante esto, exigimos a las autoridades responsables que a la brevedad:

a) Expliquen a la comunidad universitaria por qué el cuerpo de Auxilio UNAM, como en otros casos ya públicos, no detuvo a los agresores ni intentó contenerlos. Es necesario también que expliquen a la comunidad por qué un integrante de Auxilio UNAM afirmó ante un medio de comunicación en un video que “tenían órdenes de arriba de no actuar”. La comunidad universitaria exige claridad en la rendición de cuentas de cómo y por qué se operó de ese modo. Asimismo, deben aclarar quiénes eran los funcionarios que en los distintos videos están cerca o saludan al grupo de agresores y por qué en lugar de impedir los hechos se limitaron a mirar y en algunos casos a interactuar con estos grupos.

b) Que la investigación de los hechos así como sus avances se hagan públicos. Esa investigación implica una gran exhaustividad y claridad. Las autoridades deben explicar a todos ¿Quiénes eran los jóvenes, y muchos no tan jóvenes, agresores? ¿A qué grupo o grupos pertenecen? ¿Cómo se trasladaron a la Rectoría? Pero no basta con la aclaración de los hechos que componen el ataque, es necesario también que se investigue quién ordenó u orquestó tal ataque, la cadena de omisiones que lo hicieron posible así como la investigación de las autoridades involucradas o no en tales hechos, de tal manera que no sólo se investigue a los ejecutores de las agresiones sino a la cadena completa de mando que las planeó u ordenó.

c) Que se atienda y brinde todo el apoyo necesario para los alumnos atacados, sus familiares y amigos de manera integral y apoyándolos en todas las acciones que ellos necesiten no sólo en su atención médica y psicológica, sino en el acompañamiento jurídico en caso de que quieran proceder contra los agresores.

d) Que de inmediato se nombre un representante de Rectoría que se haga responsable de recibir a una comisión que presente el pliego petitorio o las demandas de los estudiantes y que de inmediato rinda cuentas de la manera en que se atenderán esas demandas. De lo contrario decir que el diálogo y la apertura es la solución sin establecer mecanismos concretos y claros de cómo se atenderán las demandas de los estudiantes es sólo una declaración que no alcanza a resolver el problema.

e) Vigilar que bajo ninguna circunstancia, los estudiantes que han decidido parar actividades y aquellos que están marchando y/o concentrándose en la explanada de Rectoría, como ejercicios del derecho humano a la protesta por los graves hechos ocurridos el 3 de septiembre en la Rectoría, sean intimidados, molestados, amenazados o agredidos por grupos porriles (ajenos o no a la comunidad universitaria) ni por autoridades o integrantes de la misma comunidad.

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Call to Mexicans: Open up your wifi #sismo

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 09/19/2017 - 16:52

Hi friends,

~3hr ago, we just had a big earthquake, quite close to Mexico City. Fortunately, we are fine, as are (at least) most of our friends and family. Hopefully, all of them. But there are many (as in, tens) damaged or destroyed buildings; there have been over 50 deceased people, and numbers will surely rise until a good understanding of the event's strength are evaluated.

Mainly in these early hours after the quake, many people need to get in touch with their families and friends. There is a little help we can all provide: Provide communication.

Open up your wireless network. Set it up unencrypted, for anybody to use.

Refrain from over-sharing graphical content — Your social network groups don't need to see every video and every photo of the shaking moments and of broken buildings. Download of all those images takes up valuable time-space for the saturated cellular networks.

This advice might be slow to flow... The important moment to act is two or three hours ago, even now... But we are likely to have replicas; we are likely to have panic moments again. Do a little bit to help others in need!

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WTF @omarfayad — Should *all* computer activity be illegal now? #LeyFayad

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/05/2015 - 14:12

Last week, Senator Omar Fayad presented one of the prime examples of a poorly redacted law that, if enacted, will make basically any way of computer use illegal. And yes, even if he states this is merely a draft, it has so many factual and conceptual errors that there is no way to trust sanity can be regained at any point. Oh, and before I continue with this rant: If the topic interests you, I suggest you to read the 10 key points about Ley Fayad, the worst Internet initiative in history, published by r3d.mx.

[update] An English equivalent of the work at r3d, at revolution-news.com: #LeyFayad: The Worst Bill in Internet History

The full text (in Spanish, of course) for the law initiative is available at the Senate webpage; the law will be called Ley Federal para Prevenir y Sancionar los Delitos Informáticos (Federal law to prevent and punish informatic felonies<) — A bad name to start with, as there are many laws already in that contested area. I started reading with the preamble (Exposición de motivos), which already shows bad signs of imprecise redaction and is plagued with factual errors (i.e. asserting that the real danger stems from the Web migrating to the Web 2.0, from which stems that this migration and not any previous one. Or by stating that (quoting+translating a full paragraph):

Activities such as electronic commerce, digital periodism, publicity and the opinions, messages or elements written in social networks can lead to patrimonial, reputation, honor or professional activity losses for people.

He continues by stating that only 16% of the countries have some kind of cybersecurity strategy (and, of course, Mexico doesn't). That... Well, is very hard to believe, as Mexico has two separate policial groups devoted to cybersecurity, and laws regulating from electronic signatures, commerce, identity, privacy, use and abuse, and a long list.

Of course, as most law proposals go, it quickly decays into a dry, boring document... And I must admit I didn't fully read it, but picked here and there. I won't copy in full the note I mentioned at the beginning at r3d.mx, but will continue with some strange points, such as:

Article 16
Every person that, without the corresponding authorization or exceeding the authorization confered, accesses, intercepts, interfers or uses an information system, will be punished by one to eight years of prision and fined by 800 to 1000 days of minimum wage

So, yes, borrowing your computer without getting explicit permission, or playing around with the options in kiosks, or tons of whatever we curious people do with systems we encounter are basis for jail. (And yes, fines in this country are expressed in "days of minimum wage", which goes at ~MX$70 per day, which is ~US$4). But it gets funkier quickly:

Article 17
Whoever fraudulently destroys, disables, damages or in any way alters the working of an informatic system or any of its components, will be punished by fice to fifteen years of jail and fined by up to a thousand minimum wage days

The same punishment will be given to whoever, without authorization, destroys, damages, modifies, divulges, transfers or disables information contained in any Informatic System or any of its components.

The punishment will be ten to twenty years in prision and a fine of up to a thousand days of minimum wage if the effects here mentioned are done by the creation, introduction or fraudulent transmission, by any means, of an informatic weapon or malicious code

This law is meant to protect against cyberfelonies, if such a thing exists. However, here we are putting at risk people even for accidental equipment destructions. I dropped your portable hard disk with my elbow off the table? Accuse me of acting fraudulently, and I'm up for a serious jail time. And yes, laws are meant to be interpreted... And I don't want to be at the receiving end of this one!

In this last article, Fayad mentions informatic weapons, which are defined in the preamble as any informatic program, informatic system, or in general, any device or material created or designed with the purpose of committing an informatic crime. So the very next article makes me, as it should make all of my fellow students and researchers, very uneasy:

Article 18
Whoever uses informatic weapons or malicious code will be imprisioned by two to six years, and fined with 200 to 500 days of minimum wage.
Article 19
Whoever builds, distributes, commerces with informatic weapons or malicious codes will be punished by three to seven years of prision and 200 to 500 days of minimum wage.

If we need to analyze malware for our classes (or for paid work, or as a hobby), we clearly fall in article 18. If we write something that can be classified as malware (without even releasing it, as an academic excercise only!), we are covered by article 19. If I give my students code that's known to be malicious (which could be as inofensive as linking to a well-known Web comic), I'm also covered by article 19.

I'll jump all the way to article 31 (reproduced only partially):

Article 31
Whoever, by any means, creates, captures, records, copies, alters, duplicates, clones or deletes the information contained in a credit or debit card (...) will be punished by 8 to 14 years of prision and 300 to 500 days of minimum wage. (...)

This clearly disincentivates any way of e-commerce. When I try to buy anything online, I have to capture+copy my (rightfully owned) credit card data. The services provider has to copy, process and then delete said information. Any e-transaction is punished by jail!

Well... But thinking about this again, maybe I shouldn't be so worried about the malware distribution issue at my classes. There are clearer and more contundent articles. Say...

Article 35
Whoever convenes, organizes, is part of, or executes a cibernetic attack, will be punished by 20 to 30 years of prision and fined with 100 to 1000 days of minimum wage

Of course we have convened, organized, been part of and executed cibernetic attacks at the computer security lab at ESIME. Why would there be such a lab otherwise?

Then, there are clear indications that the Senator didn't understand the topic his team was working on:

Article 37
Who manipulates the digital seals used by command of the public authority will be punished with 240 days of community work

Now... What is a digital seal? It's not a phisical one that does not allow opening the doors to a business found at fault, but something that just proves a document is legitimate and pristine. How can I manipulate them? Of course, if the seals are MD5-based, I can easily forge them (and SHA1-based, it seems they will be broken enough soon to be considered no longer trustable)... But that's about it!

And there is more, lots more. I'm swamped with work, and have to get back to it. But chapters the following chapters have a lot of potential for finding holes.

PS - And yes, the only use I do of Twitter is via the headlines in my blog ;-)

[update] Ley Fayad is dead, yay! \o/ The senator withdrew the proposal.

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Everybody seems to have an opinion on the taxis vs. Uber debate...

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 05/13/2015 - 23:46

The discussion regarding the legality and convenience of Uber, Cabify and similar taxi-by-app services has come to Mexico City — Over the last few days, I've seen newspapers talk about taxi drivers demonstrating against said companies, early attempts at regulating their service, and so on.

I hold the view that every member of a society should live by its accepted rules (i.e. laws) — and if they hold the laws as incorrect, unfair or wrong, they should strive to get the laws to change. Yes, it's a hard thing to do, most often filled with resistence, but it's the only socially responsible way to go.

Private driver hiring applications have several flaws, but maybe the biggest one is that they are... How to put it? I cannot find a word better than illegal. Taxi drivers in our city (and in most cities, as far as I have read) undergo a long process to ensure they are fit for the task. Is the process incomplete? Absolutely. But the answer is not to abolish it in the name of the free market. The process must be, if anything, tightened. The process for granting a public driver license to an individual is way stricter than to issue me a driving license (believe it or not, Mexico City abolished taking driving tests several years ago). Taxis do get physical and mechanical review — Is their status mint and perfect? No way. But compare them to taxis in other Mexican states, and you will see they are in general in a much better shape.

Now... One of the things that angered me most about the comments to articles such as the ones I'm quoting is the middle class mentality they are written from. I have seen comments ranging from stupidly racist humor attempts (Mr. Mayor, the Guild of Kidnappers and Robbers of Iztapalapa demand the IMMEDIATE prohibition on UBER as we are running low on clients or the often repeated comment that taxi drivers are (...) dirty, armpit-smelly that listen to whatever music they want) to economic culture-based discrimination Uber is just for credit card users as if it were enough of an argument... Much to the opposite, it's just discrimination, as many people in this city are not credit subjects and do not exist in the banking system, or cannot have an always-connected smartphone — Should they be excluded from the benefits of modernity just because of their economic difference?

And yes, I'm by far not saying Mexico City's taxi drivers are optimal. I am an urban cyclist, and my biggest concern/fear are usually taxi drivers (more so than microbus drivers, which are a class of their own). Again , as I said at the beginning of the post, I am of the idea that if current laws and their enforcement are not enough for a society, it has to change due to that society's pressure — It cannot just be ignored because nobody follows the rules anyway. There is quite a bit that can be learnt from Uber's ways, and there are steps that can be taken by the company to become formal and legal, in our country and in others where they are accused of the same lacking issues.

We all deserve better services. Not just those of us that can pay for a smartphone and are entitled to credit cards. And all passenger-bearing services require strict regulations.

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Great UNAM logo

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Great UNAM logo

On the wall of the Central Library. Note that it still mentions "Universidad Nacional de México" (not mentioning "Autónoma")

Central Library, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Central Library, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Selene, Regina and Michelle

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Selene, Regina and Michelle

Having a nice walk in Ciudad Universitaria

Quetzalcóatl bas-relief in the entrance to the Central Library

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Quetzalcóatl bas-relief in the entrance to the Central Library

Siberian dogs strolling in Ciudad Universitaria

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Siberian dogs strolling in Ciudad Universitaria

Siberian dog strolling in Ciudad Universitaria

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Siberian dog strolling in Ciudad Universitaria

The Conquest of Energy (detail)

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
The Conquest of Energy (detail)

Mural on the Antonio Caso auditorium (originally, Sciences Faculty)

Revolutionary figures

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Revolutionary figures

On the Central Library walls, Ciudad Universitaria

The atom and nature

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
The atom and nature

On the walls of the National Library

Selene snaps a picture

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Selene snaps a picture

By the bike road in Las Islas, Ciudad Universitaria

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