#AxisOfEasy 191: Canada Wants To Censor Insults Against Politicians, Implement Internet Killswitch

Weekly Axis Of Easy #191

Last Week’s Quote was  “The people will believe what the media tell them they believe” … was George Orwell. Lonny Simmons was there first but he’s already won this year, winner goes to Paul E.R. Packbier 

This Week’s Quote: 
“A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud”… by???

THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted to the blog – the place to post the answer is at the bottom of the post, in the comments section.

The Prize: First person to post the correct answer gets their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.


In this issue:

  • New easyDNS Network Status Page is now live
  • Amazon warehouse workers vote against union (suspect much can prove nothing)
  • New attack can lock you out of WhatsApp
  • FBI arrests man plotting bomb attack against Amazon AWS data centre
  • WEF on the Risks of Attacks on the Global Financial System
  • ANT Group converts to bank holding company under Chinese central bank supervision
  • Chinese regulators fine Alibaba 2.8B for market abuse (rap across the knuckles)
  • Canada wants to censor insults against politicians, implement internet killswitch
  • Israel accused of cyber-attack against Iranian nuclear facility

New easyDNS Network Status Page is now live

The Easter Sunday outage gave a stark reminder of the need to have an out-of-band status channel to keep people up to date on network status. We used to have this via the blog when it was on a different hostname and hosted offsite. Somewhere along the line we ended up consolidating the blog under the main easydns.com domain (for the SEO and lols) and we’ve gotten a kicked in the butt a couple of times because of it.

So bookmark https://status.easydns.net which is offsite and tied into our monitoring.

Amazon warehouse workers vote against union (suspect much can prove nothing)

The much anticipated unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse facility in Alabama has gone Amazon’s way, with workers rejecting the move by a margin exceeding 2-1, with 1,798 voting against and 738 voting for. A total of 3,117 votes were cast, 76 were voided and 505 were contested by either Amazon or labour reps. Nearly 6,000 workers were eligible to vote, giving it a slightly higher than 50% voter turn out.

Union leaders are alleging widespread voter intimidation tactics and fraud, something that Amazon categorically denies.  

Read: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/amazon-alabama-union-vote-outcome-1.5981771

And: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/11/amazon-alabama-workers-union-vote

New attack can lock you out of WhatsApp

A new denial-of-service attack has emerged against WhatsApp wherein an attacker who knows nothing more than the phone number you use on the Facebook-owned app can lock you out of access to it, and not even having 2-factor authentication enabled can protect you from it.

The attack works by combing two weaknesses in the WhatsApp system:

  1. You can install it on a device and tell it any phone number you want, WhatsApp begins sending out 6-digit PIN codes (to the target device), the attacking device is prompted for the pin-code, and you enter that in incorrectly enough times for the brute force protection to kick in and lock apps for 12 hours
  2. Attacker then emails WhatsApp support (from any email address) pretending to be from target phone asking for password reset, support then freezes the real WhatsApp account

At no point in this process has the real user of the account initiated any of these measures and has no real opportunity to stop it. The security researchers who discovered these flaws demonstrated proof-of-concept against the Forbes reporter who filed this story. As he noted, in some countries/locales, WhatsApp is the de facto standard communications methodology amongst the populace.

Read: https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2021/04/10/shock-new-warning-for-millions-of-whatsapp-users-on-apple-iphone-and-google-android-phones/?sh=3b0f64657585

FBI arrests man plotting bomb attack against Amazon AWS data centre

The FBI has arrested a 28-year old Texas man, Seth Pendley, who was plotting to blow up an Amazon Web Services data centre in Ashburn, VA. Ashburn is a major internet routing point and his intention was to “blow up 70% of the Internet” by taking out a major AWS hub.

He talked about his plan on a website called MyMilitia, and through another source was connected to a man who could purportedly procure C-4 explosives. Pendley explained to the source that he wanted to destroy computers used by the FBI, CIA and other US Federal Agencies, and his goal was to bring down the oligarchy that runs the USA (there’s an easier way to do that, it’s called Bitcoin).

Anyhoo, the source was actually an undercover FBI agent and the plan ground to halt right there.

Read: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/fbi-arrests-man-for-plan-to-kill-70-percent-of-internet-in-aws-bomb-attack/

WEF on the Risks of Attacks on the Global Financial System

The World Economic Forum is alerting policy makers and the banking community to the rise of systemic risk to the global financial system. In a joint paper with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released in November 2020, numerous threat vectors to the global financial system, along with warnings of convergence between nation state actors and the cyber-criminals were enumerated.

Among the recommendations were a framework for influence operations to “amplify” central bank talking points in social media during any financial panics to overpower “fake news.”

(The way I remember it, back during the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-09, the most dangerous piece of literally fake news was “Sub-prime is contained.” And it didn’t come from the bowels of 4chan, it came from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and was dutifully “amplified” by the mainstream press.)

The report concludes on a “when not if” theme that such cyberattacks will occur. Given the inevitability of this, its recommendations include greater integration between the government and the financial sector. In that peculiar WEF-y innocuous sounding cadence, it describes merging the financial system into the government regulators and intelligence agencies that oversee it (hold that thought, see next item).

Read: https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/wef-warns-cyber-attack-leading-to-systemic-collapse-global-financial-system/

The WEF Report: https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Maurer_Nelson_FinCyber_final1.pdf

The WEF of course the people who brought you the “It’s 2030: You’ll Own Nothing and Be Happy” and “Lockdowns are Quietly Improving our Cities” – the latter of which they walked back and re-edited in a major way after public outcry.

ANT Group converts to bank holding company under Chinese central bank supervision

China’s enormous fintech and technology conglomerate ANT Group has “formed a comprehensive and feasible restructuring plan” that will see it convert to a bank holding company under the supervision of the People’s Bank of China.

Recall, ANT was on the cusp of a much anticipated IPO which was possibly to be the largest IPO ever.

What happened? Why do they need to restructure? Were they insolvent? Not really…

What happened was that a mere week before the scheduled IPO, ANT Group CEO Jack Ma gave a speech that included criticisms of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Then, as the line in a movie goes… “The whole thing turned political.”

ANT’s IPO was canceled, and Ma disappeared, literally, for over a month and speculation abounded on his whereabouts. He later resurfaced saying “everything is fine, but the IPO is on hold for now”, and this is the “for now” part. The IPO has been pushed out at least 2 to 3 years.

Read: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-ant-group-instant-view/chinas-ant-group-to-restructure-under-central-bank-agreement-idUSKBN2BZ1BS

Chinese regulators fine Alibaba 2.8B for market abuse

Also China, and perhaps another warning rap across the knuckles to ANT Group, given they own 1/3 of them, Alibaba has been fined the equivalent of $2.8B USD for

“For abusing its dominant position over rivals and merchants on its e-commerce platforms, a record penalty in the country that comes amid a wave of scrutiny on the business empire of company founder Jack Ma.”

The practice under scrutiny was Alibaba’s alleged penalization of merchants who sold goods on both Alibaba’s and rival platforms. It sounds analogous to scrutiny Amazon faces for the myriad ways they are alleged to abuse their market position against vendors selling through their platform.  

Read: https://www.wsj.com/articles/alibaba-hit-with-record-2-8-billion-antitrust-fine-by-chinas-market-regulator-11618018830

Israel accused of cyber-attack against Iranian nuclear facility

All indications are that a cyber-attack that was carried out against the nuclear plant in Natanz, Iran this past Sunday was undertaken by the Mossad. While the incident was first attributed to being “an accident”, Iran is now squarely blaming Israel and the latter is all but acknowledging it to be true.

The facility is thought to be a uranium enrichment facility to which the cyber-attack is said to have set the program back approximately 8 to 9 months.

Israel is reportedly not thrilled about recent revivals of  Iranian nuclear deals and reserves the right to act unilaterally to set back Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon.

Read: https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/incident-reported-in-iranian-natanz-nuclear-facility-664792

And: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/12/iran-blames-israel-attack-natanz-nuclear-plant

(Israel is widely believed to be one of three nuclear armed states who are undeclared as such under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The other two are India and Pakistan ).

Canada wants to censor insults against politicians, implement internet killswitch

Canadian Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbault is planning to bring forth legislation that would facilitate internet censors that would target “hurtful words toward politicians,” and, in extreme cases, shut down websites that purvey them via some manner of “Internet Killswitch.”

The 25+ year IT professional in me is very interested in the technical specifics behind “an internet kill switch” that could target websites that give politicians grief. The civic minded libertarian side of me is more interested in knowing who the hell this Jacobin thinks he is.

I felt duty-bound to write up a rant about this over on Bombthrower, especially because not one week earlier I had a pretty infuriating run-in with one of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s senior advisors who insulted and attacked me after I raised concerns around small business bankruptcies under lockdowns to my MPP.

The entire thing is just infuriating. These paid political hacks, whose salaries are guaranteed by the taxpayers can heap insults on their constituents when they raise a legit issue. They can chase after and troll them on Facebook, they can even mock their vocation, and that’s fine. That’s totally fucking kosher.

And then a Federal cabinet minister, who’s been hellbent on regulating internet content since the BTLR came out last year, comes up with this notion that it’s the political class that needs to be protected? And they’re going to tear up the Charter of Rights and start turning up Internet Killswitches when people speak up and hurt their feelings?

I don’t think so.

Read: https://bombthrower.com/articles/canada-to-censor-political-taunts-constituents-remain-fair-game/

And: https://bombthrower.com/articles/political-party-staffers-mock-constituents-concerned-about-small-business-bankruptcies/

This entire episode has me all but decided to run in the next provincial election in my home riding of Etobicoke Centre. Either as a Libertarian, an independent or perhaps an entirely new political movement built on the network state principles Charles, Jesse and I discuss in our AxisOfEasy salons. The margin between the PC’s and Libs was 8% in the last election, and Etobicoke Center has a lot of small business owners. I think I can at least beat that spread and shake things up a bit.


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