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Clever Workaround: Visual Cryptography On Austrian Postage Stamps

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the stamp-everything-with-tlldr dept.

Censorship 74

An anonymous reader writes Have you heard of personalized postage stamps? You pay the value of the stamps plus a fee and the post office prints official stamps usable for postage which show (almost) anything you can put into a jpeg file. An Austrian Tibet supporter found out what 'almost' means. He submitted a picture of the Dalai Lama with the text 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama,' but the Austrian post office refused to produce these stamps. Stampnews and the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (autotranslation) reported that this had been due to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Vienna. Now there is a video showing how visual cryptography has been used to get around this attempt at censorship [caution: organ music] .

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Caution - that was complete shit! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643493)

How about doing a goatse stamp instead and mailing it to the Chinese embasy?

Help - I burned my girlfriends cooter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643629)

ok this is what happening,
my parents are out with family friends, and theyll be back any minute so i need your help
Heres some background:
see, i volunteer on my sisters softball team (im 22, the girls are 15)
and whatever yea i met this girl, her name is Alison, and were going out for a while. We have alot in common, sometimes i help her with homework. I hepled her on her english essay and she still got a D. This is because the teacher is a noob ... anywayz
So she came over like an hour ago, and i really want to lose my virginity, so i ask her to have sex
"no, no i cant, its not right" she said, but i told her "dont worry i know what im doing, ill be done in like 10 seconds, pluss ill give you 2 xbox games if you say yes"
So I gave her Halo 3 and Need for Speed Rivals, and then she goes to my room. Shes a bit confused and scarred.
Then i think to myself - yo I need lube right? Cuz i saw on reddit some girl saying you need to lube up her clit otherwise it wont fit in properly.
Ok so i have no lube, but i really want to lose my viginity - so i grab some butter from the fridge, but its cold, it wont melt - so I microwaved it for 8 minutes, and then i put it in a glass and poured it on her cooter, now shes saying i burned it.
I dont know what to do, my parents are going to be back any minute and shes crying in the bathroom plz help you guys are really smrat and please help me.
Any idea how to shut her up? Should i give her another xbox game?

Re:Help - I burned my girlfriends cooter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643681)

^ pics or it didnt happen

Re:Help - I burned my girlfriends cooter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47645011)

Nah, Halo sucks. I think you should give her diddy kong racing and ken griffey jr baseball, for n64. And go back to IGN.

Re:Help - I burned my girlfriends cooter (1)

zwarte piet (1023413) | about 4 months ago | (#47645843)

Brainsurgery might help.

Looks like a magic eye picture (2)

charronia (3780579) | about 4 months ago | (#47643501)

I had to squint really hard to see anything at all.

Re:Looks like a magic eye picture (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 months ago | (#47643657)

Damned organ music, I missed it because I was waiting for something dramatic to happen!

Re:Looks like a magic eye picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47644813)

> I was waiting for something dramatic to happen!

Yeah, like someone saying "Fools!" out loud followed by a Phantom of the Opera laughter. I'm disappoint.

Hmm, maybe the burnt girl starts using a mask... well, maybe two masks...

Re:Looks like a magic eye picture (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#47645215)

why the fuck did the austrian post office ask the chinese embassy if it was OK to print these stamps?

Re:Looks like a magic eye picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47645903)

For the same reason they ask the US if Australian laws are ok?

Perhaps that is why the Governor General has a bee up his ass about putting 3 strikes laws, data retention laws and fingerprinting everyone at the airport. Because America owns us. Or rather they will own us when US organisations can sue the Australian government after the TPP passes.

Re:Looks like a magic eye picture (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47646021)

I'm not sure what a story about the Austrian Postal Service has to do with Australia.

Re:Looks like a magic eye picture (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#47662445)

All it takes is for Australia Post to lose a few letters and it's Austria Post.

mind blown! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643515)

Now the ineffectiveness of their censorship is so conclusively destroyed they will surely lament and not censor anymore.

Look at me! Look at me! (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 months ago | (#47643521)

Sure, but the post office could still reject this custom crypto-stamp based of the fact that it's obvious something covert is going on. And you can bet that when that envelope arrives in China, they will take great interest in it, and its unfortunate recipient.

Re:Look at me! Look at me! (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47644191)

I doubt they would bother. Stamps are not translucent and you need at least one of them to be if you ever hope to recombine them to see the message.

They would have probably been better of just having fhe letters printed in pairs and the end user just stack a few together in the right sequence. With this, you need to know what to look for, scan it into something with the ability to manipulate images to combine them and see the nessage.

It's rebellion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47644879)

Austria should have told China that Austria's stamps are none of their business, instead some politician overruled the Austrian post office, and this is a form of rebellion, not against China, but against the dick who overruled them.

Now he should be removed from office, and they should do the Dalai Lama stamp properly.

The idea that China can dictate what is on Austrian postage stamps is the thin edge of a wedge.

Re:It's rebellion (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 4 months ago | (#47647273)

Austria isn't a super power.

China is. As is US. In general, when you're dealing with super power while not being one, it makes no sense politically, economically or militarily to piss them off for no good reason.

It may be a difficult answer to swallow for someone who is used to live in a super power. But those of us who don't will understand this very well, simply because we have been bending over to US interests when really pushed for the same reason. Take a look at case Snowden. Surely, US has no right to dictate who governments accept as a refugee because that person is persecuted for politically motivated reasons?

In reality on the other hand, it does. The only one who could realistically take him was Russia. And look where it got them with US.

Re:It's rebellion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47647443)

So what China is going to march through the rest of Europe just to pick a fight with Austria over a postage stamp? They are their own god damned sovereign nation so screw what China thinks and just print the stamp.

Re:It's rebellion (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 4 months ago | (#47652499)

You're still thinking about it like a citizen of a super power, which is why you're wrong.

What they are doing instead is mess up your investments in their country and make it much harder for you to do business with them. See, when it comes to trade, small countries are the ones who need the trade far more than superpowers. Superpowers can limit trade in unofficial ways very easily with minimal damage for them and maximum effect for small countries targeted.

It took them 9 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643525)

To come up with this brilliant invention?

Re:It took them 9 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643627)

They have a better track record than you do, cuntface.

Organ Music? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643539)

No no, the organ music makes it better!!

China (2, Interesting)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 months ago | (#47643575)

He submitted a picture of the Dalai Lama with the text 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama,' but the Austrian post office refused to produce these stamps. Stampnews and the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (autotranslation) reported that this had been due to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Vienna.

And this is why we should refuse to do any business with dictatorships. Not only do we help fund the oppression of the Chinese by their government, but that oppression also spreads like a disease and infects our countries as well. And all for the sake of corporate profits, yet even those who reap them ultimately risk reaping Chinese-style political trials and subsequent executions as well.

Re:China (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643587)

You're already living in a dictatorship: try criticising Jews or questioning the 'holocaust' and see how long you keep your job. Oh, the humanity!

www.nazigassings.com

Re:China (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643625)

try criticizing obama and see how long you get to live

Eye of the beholder (1)

Livius (318358) | about 4 months ago | (#47643891)

When people call Obama a war criminal or a hypocrite, that's a criticism, not a compliment, even if some people's thinking is so warped that they think it's the other way around.

Re:China (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47645361)

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Michael Savage are all still alive. If the obama administration was secretly killing off it's critics, you'd think that at least one of those people would have an unfortunate accident.

Re:China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643633)

You're already living in a dictatorship: try criticising Jews or questioning the 'holocaust' and see how long you keep your job. Oh, the humanity!

www.nazigassings.com

I don't think you know what a dictatorship is...

Re:China (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#47644777)

Dictatorship.

That word.

You keep using it.

I don't think it means what you think it does.

Re:China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47645559)

dictatorship (n) - a seagoing vessel used to provide transport for one who engages in public speaking.

Re:China (1)

paintswithcolour (929954) | about 4 months ago | (#47643649)

My guess would be that even without the Chinese conspiracy theory, the stamps would be rejected.

Putting the Dalai Lama on a stamp surely constitutes the advocation of a religious figure. I'd be pretty surprised if they didn't have rules to stop you from doing that.

Re:China (2)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#47643951)

Well, I have no idea what protections are in the Ozstitution, but you'd have to be nuts to see it as endorsement of a specific religion. As long as anyone can put the religious icon of their choice on the stamp, the government's clean IMO. At least in the US, there's no constitutional protection from ever being exposed to religion.

Now, I could see an objection to putting a foreign head of state on a stamp, but the Dalai Lama, cool guy that he is, declared himself no longer the ruler of Tibet years ago, and permanently dissociated the religious leadership from the secular government-in-exile of Tibet.

Re: China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47644105)

Ozstitution? AUSTRIA not Australia, dumbass!

Re:China (1, Troll)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#47643651)

How did you decide that the People's Republic of China is a dictatorship? Most consider it a representative democracy. It certainly considers itself such. Nominees for Local People's Congresses can be selected not only by the Communist Party, but also other parties, and even by individual voters, properly seconded. The popular election of same is then made by secret ballot. Recall elections are provided for. The Local People's Congresses in turn elect the National People's Congress, and the NPC in turn elects national leaders.

OK, it's not a pure democracy, but there are damn few of those.

If you want to match oppression for oppression, there are a lot worse than PRC, and a fair number arguably better. I submit it's around average.

Re:China (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643745)

So we define a democracy as something that calls itself such? Deutsche Demokratische Republik, Democratic People's Republic of Korea?

Usually its a damn good sign of what it is not...

Regardless of that, its not all that bad. I lived there for quite a while. And there is plenty of voting and such, as long as you adhere to the general party ideology. Officially there might be other candidates, but in practice, forget about that (like the US with its 2 party system).

  And if you want to be succesful, you more or less need to be a member of the party, and sign some sort of promise that most people cannot even recall. Candidates for any important post are usually picked by the powers that be. It is far more a Oligarchy compared to a Democracy, although you be right to question how many real democracies exist.

Re: China (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47644971)

Um, nobody considers China a democracy.

It's difficult to categorize the PRC. It's a single-party state, that much is indisputable. As a single party state, the party controls who gets to run for office. And the party is not run as a democracy.

Ergo it's not a democracy.

Its more like a syndicate. But really it's its own thing. It's huge and complex.

But democratic... not even remotely. That voting takes place is not evidence of a democracy.

Re: China (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 4 months ago | (#47647299)

By that logic, US is not a democracy. It's a one party state with two branches of the same party competing, and people only getting to vote for candidates pre-selected by elite of the each branch.

Re:China (1)

kbg (241421) | about 4 months ago | (#47645567)

So the "Federal Republic of Somalia" is a republic? Or "Federal Republic of Nigeria"?

Here is a hint to you. Any country that includes republic in it is title is not a republic. Any country that does not include republic in it's title is a republic.

Re:China (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about 4 months ago | (#47645707)

That's rather a sweeping statement. Republic of Ireland anyone?

Re:China (1)

kbg (241421) | about 4 months ago | (#47645737)

From Wikipedia:

"The Constitution of Ireland provides that "[t]he name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland". Under Irish statute law, Republic of Ireland (or Poblacht na hÉireann) is "the description of the State"[16] but not its official name."

Re:China (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about 4 months ago | (#47646437)

Now I didn't know that - I suppose that I'm just used to using Republic of Ireland (rather than "Southern Ireland", which really grates at me)

Re:China (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 4 months ago | (#47643683)

Try asking the US Post Office to print stamps with the flag of jihad and see what happens.

Re:China (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#47643889)

And this is why we should refuse to do any business with dictatorships.

That might backfire if other governments decide to do the same thing.

Anyway, if you look at the past 70 years, America just loves dictators. Most of them have luxury condos in Manhattan, anyway.

PoliSci (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 4 months ago | (#47644029)

Authoritarianism applies to democracies and dictatorships as well as communism, socialism, and corporatism (which Mussolini called Fascism which is not the same as Nazi Fascism which is not definitive Fascism.)

China is quite corrupt but they've long used the democratic process. Communism doesn't exclude using the democratic process; there are lots of ways it can be done, limited, etc. Look at religious states like Iran or arguably Israel who are democracies but have hugely powerful religious forces at play (officially or unofficially.)

Then you have the USA which uses the democratic process but is no longer a functional democracy. So officially it has the label but practically it is too dysfunctional to really be one. Direct democracy is for annoying strict constructionist types who think there is only 1 kind of democracy.

Re:PoliSci (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 4 months ago | (#47644719)

Strict constructionists (in the US) know that the Constitution promises that each state will have a republican form of government, not a democracy. It sure doesn't promise that everyone will be allowed to vote, as most of the founding fathers believed that only men (i.e., not women) who owned property should be allowed to vote, and some of them wanted the restrictions to be tighter than that. (I'm not sure what their stance was on free Negroes that owned property. I've never encountered any direct quotation. Many of them, however, didn't believe that Indians should be allowed to vote.)

Re:PoliSci (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 4 months ago | (#47665017)

Plus senators are elected by the state and not the voters. I'm not sure that it was such a good idea to let the voters decide. Doesn't seem like much changed other than it became more typically political; with a state appointee the political game is significantly different because it's all internal. A divided state gov would elect interesting senators-- while a 1 part state gov would elect insiders who are likely corrupt... which is why it was switched to a public vote. But arguably a proper selection system would have the state do a better job than the ignorant voters... and perhaps get people to pay more attention to their local reps?

Re:China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47648685)

NOT A TROLL

Censorship not avoided (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643589)

It says

HH THE
DALAI
LAMA

when you overlap the two stamps (and it's pretty difficult to see that). That's neat and all, but you would have to know to remove the stamps, remove them cleanly, overlay them, and shine a light through them to even see it. And there's no message at all if you have only one stamp. I think the censorship was still basically achieved.

Re:Censorship not avoided (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643637)

Exactly...
What about a "Fuck You Chinese Gov." stamp?

Re:Censorship not avoided (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 4 months ago | (#47643715)

Wasn't "HH" forbidden in Germany? Arguably Austria too?

Re:Censorship not avoided (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 4 months ago | (#47645447)

You can see HH on all license plates from Hamburg (it stands for Hanseatic city of Hamburg)

Re:Censorship not avoided (5, Interesting)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47643833)

I think it would have been simpler to just make a QR code to the DL's wikipedia page. And probably as successful.

Re:Censorship not avoided (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#47645069)

I would say the QR code would be mush more likely to deliver the message. Many people recognize them and know how to read them. Few would guess about the stamps even if they happened to have one of each handy.

Re:Censorship not avoided (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#47645161)

I would say the QR code would be mush more likely to deliver the message. Many people recognize them and know how to read them. Few would guess about the stamps even if they happened to have one of each handy.

Given that they're personalized stamps that you have made for yourself, I'm pretty sure those who get those stamps might know to do something interesting with them.

If it was a general issue stamp, yes, most people won't get it. But it's specially designed stamps for individuals who can choose to use them instead of regular stamps, so I think those would be used for special occasions.

Re:Censorship not avoided (1)

bluegutang (2814641) | about 4 months ago | (#47645629)

Do you think the DL's wikipedia page is accessible in China?

Re:Censorship not avoided (1)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47646483)

I'm sorry, I missed the part that said these stamps were either made in or used in China. Could you point me to the relevant part of the article?

Re:Censorship not avoided (1)

complete loony (663508) | about 4 months ago | (#47645277)

Could you place the stamps next to each other and focus behind them? Like looking at a 3d stereo-gram?

Re:Censorship not avoided (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47645405)

You would still just be superimposing the images on top of each other. You would just be doing it by crossing your eyes like one of those magic eye books. Check it out, if you superimpose the magic eye image on top of itself you can do the exact same thing as in this visual crypto example. You can cheat at magic eye puzzles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdjZHl-6cpo

Re:Censorship not avoided (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47645417)

Just to clarify one thing in case it's not clear, the magic eye images contain both halves of the visual crypto right next to each other in the same image so you don't have to cross your eyes as far as if they were two separate images.

Seems it's censored at YT too (1)

no-body (127863) | about 4 months ago | (#47643741)

At least initially: Video not available, click here to see why (or similar) - this BS happens often.

Now it works.

censorship? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47643793)

really stretching the definition here...

Erm okay? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643875)

Is it a slow news day? The two linked articles are from years ago and don't actually mention anything about this design your own stamp attempt.

Most places won't allow you to generate products like these stamps with pictures of famous people on them as they don't want to get sued by said person. Royal Mail definitely won't as they've got two explicit rules that cover it so should be start screaming about censorship there also? "2.2 you have obtained the permission of any person (or their parent or legal guardian) who appears in the material, for their image to be reproduced." and "4.5 it promotes any particular religious beliefs or may offend against any person’s religious beliefs;"

Anyway, does it even count as getting around censorship when you need to do something obscure to see the result? Just writing under the stamp would have been easier and much easier to read than the final result. This is like a schoolkid method of trying to get one up on somebody else. "Tee hee. They don't know that if you combine my two stamps then you get something that they don't like!"

Re:Erm okay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47644263)

[...] or may offend against any person’s religious beliefs;"

Pretty much gives them the ability to reject anything.

Search and Destroy (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#47643901)

I want a postage stamp with a portrait of Iggy Pop.

In fact, a series of 70's punk rockers would be great. Iggy Pop, each of the four Ramones, Johnny Rotten and maybe a group photo of the New York Dolls.

I wonder if this has already been done by some Micronesian country where these guys are worshiped as gods. That would be cool. Easter Island statues in the likeness of Iggy.

Re:Search and Destroy (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 4 months ago | (#47644725)

No. But a stamp series featuring KISS would be interesting. I doubt, however, that I'd pay extra for it.

Re:Search and Destroy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47646167)

Some countries allow you to submit your own images for stamps. so this is certainly doable there (copyright issues aside :) see for example http://alturl.com/462zo (shortened horribly long posti.fi link)

Austrian censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47643915)

How is it possible? That kindly, neutral, perfect European nation is censoring free speech critical of a totalitarian regime? Say it ain't so!

Re:Austrian censorship? (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 4 months ago | (#47644501)

That kind, neutral European nation brought you Hitler.
Then again it brought us Wittgenstein as well.
Then again, Freud....
Usw., zu ewigen Ende.

Royally Fucked: Censorship and Scientific Fact (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 4 months ago | (#47644471)

Here's a nice anecdote for all you 'dotal subversives.
Used to be that the Royal Cunt of The Netherlands (the one possessed by you [didn't] know whom) was 'off limits'. Taboo. Verboten. As in burn the entire edition.
These days however that concept is nearly a physical impossibility.

Clever is the way... (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 4 months ago | (#47644639)

Censorship creates clever communications.

There are many clever ways to override the censors. It's an arms race the governments never win.

Re:Clever is the way... (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 4 months ago | (#47644727)

This depends entirely on their purpose. If the purpose is to have an arbitrary reason to harass people it works fine.

Censorship? (1)

jandersen (462034) | about 4 months ago | (#47645463)

Groan. Something about this reminds of the scene in Monty Python's 'The Holy Grail', where a rather pestilential peasant is yelling 'I'm being oppressed'. Look, it's not always censorship when some company or government service refuses to be the medium for somebody's political propaganda; or if you insist on calling it censorship, then I have to say that not all censorship is bad.

But I don't think it applies in this situation - nobody has a right to have things printed for them, not even in a news paper. And just like a paper can refuse to print an article or an advert for any reason they like, the postoffice can do the same, of course. They have to make a business decision - why should they print a postage stamp, if they have reason to believe it may harm their business or their reputation? Freedom of speech doesn't mean that everybody has to help you spread your opinions, it only means that the state guarantees that they will not punish people for doing so.

Maybe a dumb question (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 months ago | (#47647367)

This may be a stupid question, but why is the Austrian government calling up the Chinese embassy in Vienna to ask permission to print an Austrian citizen's image on a custom postage stamp?

The CCP is facing extinction. (1)

moneybabylon (2226376) | about 4 months ago | (#47654525)

The chinese communist party is on its last straw of survival, facing stress from: 1. external opposite forces from all other countries in the world. 2. internal pressure from all chinese places e.g. mainland, hong kong, taiwan, xinjiang, macau etc. 3. its own economy no more development from absence of law and moral. 4. its inner problems all surfacing e.g. debt, lack of soft power, no morals whatsoever.
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