Weekly Axis Of Easy #101
Last Week’s Quote was “For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.” …by Niccolo Machiavelli (possibly one of the most misunderstood political commentators in history) Nobody hazarded a guess.
This Week’s Quote: “To undeceive men is to offend them” … by ????
THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted in the comments below:
The Prize: First person to post, gets their next domain or hosting renewal on us.
In This Issue:
- Youtube’s latest “hate speech” clampdown incurs much collateral damage
- Facial recognition systems gauging your emotions
- Microsoft deletes facial recognition database
- Square sends digital receipts to wrong people. Hilarity ensues
- China guidelines for ranking Sesame Credit scores on citizens
- Goldbrute: a new botnet attacking RDP servers worldwide
- Mountie broke law in using government database to dox protestor
- Update on Gmail snooping – how to encrypt your data at rest
Youtube undertook a sweeping clampdown on purported “hate speech”, with only the minor complication that numerous videos from scholars and historians who document things like World War 2 have also been included and their videos deleted. Romanian-based history teacher Scott Allsop, who has won awards for his documenting of the Nazi regime was chagrined to learn his Youtube channel comprising 15 years worth of videos, was shut down without notice.
Computers will be able to read your emotions based on your facial expressions. That is the claim coming out of the likes of MIT Media Lab offshoot Affectiva, which claims its software can already detect emotions of subjects from video 80% to 90% of the time. This opens the door to widespread scanning and mapping of your emotions by third-parties for a myriad of applications. Amazon, for example, wants to be able to scan your mood so that it can offer suggestions on how to better interact with other people. (Like I really need an AI with 20% margin of error to do that).
On a related note, the Financial Times (FT, Paywall) has reported that Microsoft has “quietly” deleted a facial recognition database containing 10 million images which was being used to train facial recognition systems. The data included images of 100,000 well-known people. The move comes after Microsoft urged lawmakers to take a more proactive stance in regulating facial recognition systems. It was believed that the database had been being used by governments and police forces to train their own internal facial recognition systems.
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on how Square, the payment processor also run by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, has a quirk for sending payment receipts of transactions to unintended recipients. This causes problems, from benignly tipping off spouses about surprise gifts to in one case, revealing sensitive information about doctors visits, and in one case cited, outing a woman who was planning a divorce.
My favourite totalitarian police state (China), has issued guidelines outlining optimal behaviours that will grant citizens “role model” status under that country’s “Sesame Credit” social control system. Those conferred with role model citizen status will be afforded 15 preferential policies, such as being able to query their own credit report for free a certain number of times per year, fast tracked approvals when applying for credit cards, personal loans, patents and qualifications assessments.
Anointed citizens will also be permitted 2 additional slices of cheesecake per year, one on their birthday and one at Lunar New Year.
RDP is Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol, the method one can use to access and monitor or operate Windows-based machines remotely. At the moment there is a large botnet targeting RDP servers worldwide. It’s called “Goldbrute”, each newly infected server is then recruited into the network by a C&C server which provides it with a list of further targets to attack.
The NSA issued an alert, which included some quick tips to defend including blocking port 3389 TCP at your edges and enabling Network Level Authentication.
An outside investigation has determined that a British Columbia Mountie broke the law when he accessed police databases to investigate a town council protester and then turned over background information to municipal officials.
The incident occurred in 2015 when a protester held up a sign reading “Pinko Commie” during a “rowdy” town meeting. The municipality became concerned after the sign-holding-up that the protester may escalate, and made their concerns known to the RCMP. “RCMP Insp. Al O’Donnell used PRIME — an electronic record management system used by police in British Columbia” and then turned background information over to officials. The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission has found the action to have been illegal in a “heavily redacted” report on the matter.
Last week’s article on how Gmail scans your email and catalogs your purchase history hit a bit of a nerve with some. Another common reaction was “this is not news. Everybody knows that’s Gmail’s business model”. This is the model, but this is also not widely known outside of tech circles. I would wager that most people don’t give it too much thought until they are made aware of it.
One thing which I neglected to mention in that article was that if you must use a third-party email service like Gmail, you already have the ability to encrypt your forwarded email. We’ve had this for a long time. You can enter a public GPG key into your email forwarding settings, and we’ll use that to encrypt any email coming in before it hits the next destination. This isn’t an end-to-end encryption, but it does protect your data at rest.