Weekly Axis Of Easy #93
Sorry for an abbreviated issue this week. Barbados was a amazing, but hectic. I gave a short talk on how to achieve 100% DNS availability at CaribNOG, and I’ll get the video up when I can. My wife did a book signing and thanks to an appearance on CBC TV (Caribbean Broadcast Corp), sold right out at the event.
- Amazon employees are listening to recordings of your conversations
- UK wants to regulate all “harmful content”
- Hackers deface Ecuador government sites after Assange bust
- How China uses technology to turn an entire city into a virtual prison
- EFF article on overzealous takedown now a target of overzealous takedown
Amazon bills its Alexa and Echo digital assistants as “living in the cloud and always getting smarter”. One of the reasons that happens is because the company has a team of employees around the world who listen to conversations captured by your devices and analyze them to sharpen the voice recognition algos of the service. “The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software”. People wonder why I refuse to have any of these things in my home or office “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear” Right?
One of the most pithy rebuttals I’ve ever heard to that one is that when you hear somebody say it, you instantly know who has never read a history book. (Start with this one, it’s the biography of Joseph Fouché, inventor of the modern police state. He ran Napoleon’s secret police and cast the deciding vote leading to King Louis’ beheading. A remarkable survivor, who did it by making it his business to know everybody else’s private machinations).
Hot on the heels of the UK’s passage of age verification rules that require all British subjects to supply identification and pay an unblocking fee in order to view adult content websites, the UK government is now spearheading an initiative to become among the first to require a “Duty of Care” for all ISPs to regulate “illegal of harmful” Internet content.
I really love the “or harmful” part because that provision looks built specifically to allow scope creep. One man’s literature or poetry is some other snowflake’s idea of “harmful content”. No grey area there.
Julian Assange’s 7+ year stint as a political refugee within the Ecuadorian embassy came to an end last week as British police were allowed into the embassy to arrest and remove the Wikileaks founder. He now faces extradition to the US to face charges of egregious truth-telling including revealing US military misdeeds in Iraq. The sudden shift in stance on the part of the Ecuadorian government occurs after a change in president in 2017, the incoming one more receptive of US interests and who landed an IMF loan package worth over 4 billion in February.
On the same day Assange was arrested, Facebook deleted the former Ecuadorian president’s page and account. I’m sure none of these dots are connected and that this is all coincidence.
What is not coincidence is that the hacker group Anonymous took to the web and targeted various Ecuadorian government websites under the moniker #OpFreeAssange.
I meant to run this one last week, a New York Times video essay captures how the Chinese government uses technology to turn Kashagar, a town inhabited by predominantly Uighur Moslems into a veritable prison based on China’s “automated authoritarianism”. This is the type of full spectrum dominance that their nationwide Sesame Credit inevitably points toward. (Here in the west we will never have automated authoritarianism. We will have privatized authoritarianism. We’re probably about 10 years behind the Chinese, but I’d say the course is irreversible).
Follow closely: Torrentfreak, a website that is not BitTorrent search engine nor is it a site that distributes torrents covers the space. It writes about events within the space, such as when Starz network’s TV shows were leaked. Starz then sent Bittorrent a takedown notice to remove their article reporting on, the leak. Then the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reported on Starz attempted takedown of TF’s article.
Now Starz has sent a further takedown notice to EFF.
Reminds me of the hold hacker jargon joke:
Recursion [ri-kur-zhuh n]: noun. Mathematics. Computers. See recursion.