Weekly Axis Of Easy #72
This week’s quote: “He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool.” …by ????
Last Week’s Quote was “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do” by ….Michael Porter, winner was William Hanisch
THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted to the comments below.
The Prize: First person to post get their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.
In this issue:
- Why can media companies legally kick-in your door?
- Stats Canada obtains banking data on 500K Canadians without consent
- Nevermind television, screen time is rotting your kids’ brains
- TSA confirms facial recognition and biometrics to be mandatory on all US travellers
- Privacy expert quits Google’s “Smart City” project
- Twitter challenger Gab deplatformed on “hate speech” concerns
- ISCC Presents: AI and the Future of Employment November 20th in Toronto
I heard about this case when it happened but still didn’t know too much about it until this Motherboard article profiled Adam Lackman, the one-man-show behind “TVAddons”, a site that hosts unofficial add-ons for the Kodi Media Player.
One morning in June 2017, around 8am he answered the sound of pounding at his apartment door, and called police when he found several men standing there he didn’t recognize, demanding to be let in. Turns out, they weren’t there to rob him, as he had thought, they were lawyers representing Bell Canada, Rogers and Videotron, and they had court orders granting them the right to search his apartment and make copies of his laptops and computers. They demanded his passwords and logins, stayed for 12 hours “ransacking” the place, and then took his laptop to be copied.
Kodi is an open source media player designed to stream legal content. The Addons community creates various plug-ins to that media player. The big media giants say that it’s piracy. Lackman’s website was taken offline the day of the search and he still hasn’t been to trial.
The Global News network in Canada broke the story that Statistics Canada, a government division that counts stuff, has asked banks across the country for personal and financial data, including social insurance numbers and transaction details on 500,000 Canadian citizens. The citizens whose data was requested were chosen at random and were not informed. It is part of an initiative at StatsCan to create a “new institutional personal information bank.” Quoting an excerpt from a StatsCan document, Global reports that “Statistics Canada will be acquiring individual payments and income history information from financial institutions”, including: cash withdrawals from ATMs, credit card payments, electronic money transfers and bank account balances.
So far, not all of the big banks have signed off on it.
Years ago easyDNS was randomly selected to participate in the quarterly business employment survey. It has been ongoing ever since and it includes periodically submitting payroll and salary data to StatsCan. Once chosen, the program is compulsory and we are legally required to respond to the surveys and submit requested data. I guess that’s better than decimation (being randomly chosen by lot to be flogged to death by one’s peers), but it still feels kinda icky.
When we were kids, our parents worried that TV was rotting our brains. Nowadays, the ubiquity of “screens” makes the television look like tube radios. The New York Times is investigating why more and more Silicon Valley moguls from Tim Cook to Bill Gates are keeping their kids off smartphones and social networks for as long as possible. We already know from Facebook co-founder Sean Parker (covered in [#AxisOfEasy Issue 25) that Facebook was deliberately engineered to be addictive and deliver well-timed dopamine hits; it’s time to start wondering what growing up on these systems is doing to our kids.
The US TSA released their updated roadmap for “expanded biometric screening” which confirms what many knew was the direction things were headed: all travelers through US airports, for both international and domestic flights will be subject to automated biometric facial recognition via “mug shots”. “Currently, TSA manually compares the passengers in front of them to their ID photos, but it believes an automated process that can match facial images to photos from passports and visa applications will be more accurate and efficient.”
Ontario’s former privacy commissioner, Ann Couvakian, has resigned from Google’s Sidewalk Labs initiative to build a “smart city” in Toronto’s Quayside district. Couvakian was brought in as a privacy expert on the project and her one non-negotiable point, which was originally agreed to by Sidewalk Labs, was that all data collected must be “de-identified at source”. But she later found out that Sidewalk Labs had brought in third-parties and could not compel them to adhere to the same standard.
In other words, data collected in the City of the Future will be personally identifiable by third-parties. When she realized her one condition was off the table, she resigned. She’s not alone in her concerns about the project. Blackberry co-founder Jim Balsille calls the project “a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism.”
The self-declared “free speech” platform Gab has been widely deplatformed after the Squirrel Hill shooter was revealed to have an account on the system and posted anti-semitic diatribes there including one shortly before committing the atrocity. Stripe, PayPal dropped them from their respective payment systems, web provider Joyent kicked them off their network, Godaddy is forcing them to transfer their domain away or face suspension, and Shopify terminated their merchant services.
Is Gab in the same bucket as DailyStormer? (We refused to allow DailyStormer onto easyDNS after they were deplatformed last year), or is this situation different? Service providers are increasingly being called upon to walk a tightrope and I may be writing a longer post on this topic, please feel free to send me your thoughts in the meantime.
Save the date: Tuesday November 20th in downtown Toronto, the Internet Society Canada Chapter will be hosting an event on the topic of AI and the Future of Employment, “The ISCC advocates on behalf of Canadian citizens for an affordable, accessible, safe and fair internet.” and I’m currently on their board for this year. Drop me a line if you’re going and I’ll see you there.
That’s a wrap for this week. If you’re reading this on some place like Godaddy or Gmail, can you make it a point to whitelist our easydns.com domain in your email settings?
P.S. We are now offering co-location services in our Markham, Ontario facility. See the easyColo page for details.