Brexit deal mentions Netscape

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Still a step up from the whole brexit ferry contract with pizza resturaunt terms and conditions hilarity…



With such a thoughtful plan in place, clearly this process will go smoothly.


Easiest deal in human history. They need our Netscape more than we need theirs. It can all be done in an afternoon over a cup of coffee.

If the Quitlings could ever understand what they’ve actually done, they’d die of shame.


Those who could feel shame don’t understand, and those who understand have no shame.


Very true.


Hey, it could come back. You never know.


Back in the year 2000, my employer at the time ( had a deal to provide health content to the portal. Even then it seemed like a waste of time. Two decades later, it’s relevant again!

…this DOES make it relevant, right?


What’s doubly pathetic is that just copy-pasting might well have been good enough; if only someone had known or cared to choose the correct documents. Team Tech produces standards and specs that can be cribbed from or incorporated by reference by the ton; and a lot of those age considerably more gracefully than references to specific implementations.

Worse than that, the business of picking the correct standards to incorporate by reference isn’t even alien to legislators; an awful lot of fire safety standards and building codes and such are the products of glomming standards produced by relevant expert bodies into law more or less whole and have been for decades.

It must be pretty grim indeed if they were too rushed, too ignorant, or too apathetic to fall back on that example and have the nerd intern come up with some applicable references to the IETF, IEEE; or just grab applicable national or EU standards; it’s not like the EU or UK lack people with up-to-date opinions on encryption and related fields.


Maybe they did what US politicians do: copy and paste legislation from ALEC.


Agreed. I have no problem cribbing from existing documents as long as they’re reviewed and updated. This is just sloppy and rushed and indicates that there will be plenty of loopholes for malicious actors (foremost amongst them the Tories and their real constituents).

This is like a divorce custody agreement that specifies that both parents must provide an adequate crib or bassinet when the kid is 9 years old.


Cribbing from existing material is actively the correct answer; there’s no possible reason to throw even the finest statesmen at a technical standards problem(and it seems unlikely that the finest statemen were at work in this case) when we have plenty of standards hammered out with considerable time and care by subject matter experts to draw on.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that just ignoring a vast body of competence there for the taking is exactly the plan; in what feels like the cryptographic sequel to Raab’s “But if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.” realization moment; but that’s what’s profoundly dispiriting about it.

I’m not expecting a room full of people who majored in Oxbridge studies and hardened Eurocrats to know a damn thing about cryptography or what an RFP is; but they aren’t even reaching the “when in doubt, adopt the nearest model code and hope for the best” level of competence that random state-level governments routinely reach to keep electrical wiring from setting everyone’s house on fire and whatnot.


It has so far!

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From a Guardian article today:

David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy

The climate change measures in the deal are new and welcome.

Reading trade deals is not for the unwary, written as they are in legalese drawing heavily on precedent to such an extent that there really is a reference in the UK-EU agreement to the software product Netscape Communicator 4, out of date since 2000. Even when it seems something is new in an EU deal, a check on a previous trade agreement will find something similar, or a fellow trade wonk will point out it has been lifted from some other obscure source.

Such a reliance on precedent partly explains why the rules governing trade at the WTO and in bilateral agreements have come to seem increasingly outdated with respect to modern trade, for example in having little to say about e-commerce. Thankfully, in at least one area the UK and EU have broken new ground, and that is in the battle against climate change. Previous EU trade agreements talked a good game without much substance; this one enshrines commitments on reducing emissions, including those from aviation, and implementing carbon pricing. There are also enforcement mechanisms, both domestic and through the trade agreement.

The EU is discussing implementation of a carbon border adjustment mechanism, essentially subjecting imports to a similar carbon-pricing regime as that in place domestically, to ensure no outsourcing of emissions. The details are likely to be complex, but the UK should be exempt when trading into the EU because it has already signed up to carbon pricing in the trade deal, and may even want to follow the EU’s lead in applying carbon emission analysis to imports into the UK. The US under President Biden is also likely to incorporate climate-change measures in new trade deals.

Climate change isn’t the only global issue where there is a strong case for ensuring imports meet domestic standards, and which trade deals are starting to address. Antimicrobial resistance, linked to the overuse of antibiotics in farmed animals, and animal welfare are others. Both are referenced in the deal, with the parties agreeing to cooperate, but on this occasion without firm commitments.

That’s another thing about trade deals: they rarely go far enough. They are, after all, predominantly about trade. But on all of these issues the UK can and should go further in future agreements.

There’a also this, more directly about technology fails in the agreement:

Other eagle-eyed observers noted how the agreement recommended the use of 1024-bit RSA encryption and the SHA-1 hashing algorithm, both of which are susceptible to cyber-attacks on account of their age.

Liz Truss kicked off trade talks with Japan in June with a promise that the UK could establish itself as a “global technology superpower”.


But of course! Brexit is a return to good old penny farthings, wife beatings, a bobby on every street and decades out of date software and encryption standards. It’s the will of the people! None of that foreign security software muck for us, thank you very much.


Thanks a lot, that is at least a silver lining on the utter madness that brexit is.

I’m a translator, and I’ve often received publishing contracts that include the stipulation that a manuscript be delivered on paper or “cd rom”. When I ask if they’re sure that’s what they want, they react with surprise and tell me to disregard that and send it by email. This happens after a long back and forth on every little term and detail in the contract.

It’s bad enough to sign something without reading it, but it’s surprising how often people write something without reading it.


Not sure whether my hot take from the writeup is “Wait, since when does Facebook own Netscape?” or “Wait, Netscape still exists to the extent someone can own it?”

(Typed in Firefox which is the descendant of Netscape via the intermediary Mozilla suite)

Reminds of me when I had a software job at our state road authority. Contracts for software engineers had standard clauses about the laying of concrete and asphalt.


Well, someone has to build that information superhighway…