Weekly Axis Of Easy #42
- Should you delete your Facebook page?
- Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian
- Confessions of a Data Hitman
- US Congress slips CLOUD surveillance provision into spending bill
- CBC backs Bell’s Web content blocking initiative
- City of Atlanta crippled by ransomware attack
The Facebook implosion continues to gather momentum. WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, whom Facebook made into a billionaire by acquiring his company tweeted, simply and ominously: “It is time. #deletefacebook”. Elon Musk followed suit by deleting the Tesla and SpaceX Facebook pages. The company has lost over $50 Billion in valuation since last week, albeit against the backdrop of a possibly overtired bull market in stocks in general finally starting to roll over.
There’s so much ground to cover around the implications of the Facebook data sharing scandal and the historical abuses of that platform that I found it necessary to write a separate post about it. Go here to read it.
Apologists lament “it was bound to happen” and the Kool-Aid drinkers enthuse a few lives lost now are worth it given how many lives will be saved by autonomous cars in the future. A spokesperson for Uber tweeted about it as if it happened to a professional stunt driver who “knew the risks” and not some completely unrelated woman who was simply trying to walk her bike across a road, but it’s happened. An Uber self-driving car that was being live tested in real world Arizona has killed a pedestrian.
As Starcircle security’s (and easyDNS member) Darrin Nowakowski observed:
“The implication is that self driving cars might kill slightly fewer people so that’s good. I think that self driving vehicles shouldn’t kill anyone -especially as part of a beta test. That would be progress.”
Following on a theme of rapacious data harvesting in the spirit of the seminal John Perkins book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” (if you haven’t ever read it, get it and read it), “The Dark Side Of Data” was written by somebody who was “uncomfortably close” to the underworld data brokers and scrapers. He describes the three big sins of data mining: #1) data leakage #2) aggregation & de-anonymization which finally leads to #3) psychographic profiling.
I’ll admit I haven’t been following the US “CLOUD Act” (“Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act”) too closely, until now. The earlier legislation was stalled in the Senate, it provides rules for US authorities to obtain US citizens’ data stored anywhere else in the world, provided a US judge issues a subpoena. What happens next depends on the entity housing the data, and the jurisdiction involved. The US tried this against Microsoft for data stored in Ireland and given that Microsoft has deeper pockets than most, a legal battle ensued.
The framework also provides for the US to enter into bilateral agreements with foreign governments to end-run these legal battles and facilitate data handover. I mention all this because that spending bill that just passed last week, thus avoiding another government shutdown, snuck the provisions of the CLOUD Act in on page 2,201 (the entire bill is 2,232 pages long, came out on Wednesday night, and was passed the next day).
As we’ve been following here (mainly through University of Ottawa Law prof Michael Geist’s commentary on it), Bell Canada continues to advance its Orwellian flavoured “Fair for Canada” initiative, dubbed “FairPlay”; where “fair play” includes elements of warrantless web blocking, violation of true net neutrality and threats to human rights norms.
It is quizzical then, that contrary to what most publicly funded broadcasters are doing (usually joining coalitions to fight against censorship and web blocking), the CBC has thrown in with Bell to get behind “FairPlay”.
Atlanta, Georgia (Love that town…“Too busy to hate”) has found its municipal computer systems severely impacted by a ransomware attack. The perpetrators have sent a ransomware note demanding roughly $50,000 payable in bitcoin for the decryption keys.