Weekly Axis Of Easy #199
Last Week’s Quote was “As information and voice amplification become the new symbols of power, those who would assume control of society have moved to hoard voice amplification and control the message received by the public in new ways.” ..was Heather Marsh, winner was Bob Aaron.
This Week’s Quote: “One of the greatest responsibilities for the people of our time is to accept everything that he hears in the pro-government media as a lie and to investigate the truth from independent sources personally!”… 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.
Canadian government blocks discussion on internet censorship bill
It almost sounds like a circular reference. Canada’s controversial Bill C-10, which would give the CRTC the ability to regulate the internet and open the path to content regulation and licensing requirements will have debate limited pursuant to a gag order. After the separatist Bloc Quebecois called for one, the federal heritage minister Steven Guilbeault was happy to oblige – introducing a motion to place a gag order on committee review of the bill.
Guilbeault, whose other pending bills include C-11, the one that would ban content ridiculing politicians and implement “an internet killswitch” to do it, tried, as Michael Geist observed, “defend the indefensible” in the House of Commons. Using an arcane method of Parliament called “time allocation” that hasn’t been utilized in over 20 years, any talk of Bill C-10 has been muzzled.
Geist’s coverage enumerates myriad falsehoods and omissions Guilbeault used to rationalize the move.
This from a Liberal government that virtue signals incessantly and sees no hypocrisy in calling out other governments when they clamp down on free speech, we give you, Bill C-10…
Docs show Google shares location data with other apps
I was pretty sure we covered in an earlier edition of AoE that Google Android devices were still tracking user location data, even when they had switched off location tracking in their settings (but I can’t find it).
The Attorney General of Arizona, Mark Brnovich has filed a lawsuit against the company because of this and newly unredacted documents in that case show that Google knew, employees knew and that there was anxiety within the company that the media might find out (busted!)
The Arizona suit is under that state’s Consumer Fraud Act and Brnovich is also taking part in the 48-state anti-trust case against Google. Many of the documents in the suit have been heavily redacted at Google’s behest and were themselves subject to another legal action wherein the AG was trying to get them unredacted.
The revelations in this article are part of the first trove of unredacted or partially unredacted documents and reveal concerns from among Google developers that location services were hard to understand even for their own devs. They were spread across numerous settings, turning them off didn’t seem to accomplish disabling location data gathering. One employee noted that the only way to truly shield location data from Google was to “flash the phone” which would wipe the o/s entirely and install something like LineageOS or MicroG.
Google also just agreed to settle an anti-trust case with French regulators by paying a $268M USD fine and changing the way they operate their ad network there.
Brave browser adding support for ENS and Unstoppable Domains
The privacy focused, anti-tracking browser Brave has announced a DNS strategy for supporting “crypto DNS.” These are selected Top Level Domains within the decentralized blockchain based DNS ecosystem like the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) .eth and Unstoppable Domains’ .crypto.
They will be implementing support in ways where support will not introduce name collisions, preferring legacy ICANN TLDs over crypto TLDs, and users will have granular control in their browsers on how to order them in their own browsers.
Recall that easyDNS supports ENS linking for .XYZ domains. It’s paused for maintenance as we adjust for the gas fee spikes of late, but it will be back very soon, and we’re told by the ENS team that ENS linking to any DNSSEC enabled legacy TLD will be available soon. When that happens, we’ll be right there with support for it.
How to opt-out of Amazon’s Sidewalk mesh network (which went live today)
We reported in AxisOfEasy 196 that Amazon will connect you and your neighbours devices together into a mesh network and share each others internet connectivity throughout the area.
It’s called Amazon Sidewalk, and it goes live in the USA today (June 8). It also enabled by default, if you want Amazon sharing your network across your neighbourhood you have to opt-out (best practices be damned). The articles linked below show you how to do it.
Check-out clerks first against the wall when The Automation comes
In this interview via Protocol.com, Standard CEO Jordan Fischer talks about “The Platform,” an API driven technology layer that sits atop a digitally surveilled space, like a store or a gym that enables the system to track, analyze and anticipate the needs of the
It’s similar technology to that behind Amazon Go, where people can just walk into a store, grab what they want and leave. A few minutes later a receipt shows up in their app.
This idea can and will be extrapolated everywhere, according to Fischer. In a gym you won’t need to juggle with those fitness apps on your phone between reps if The Platform is counting all your reps and weights for you. One could envision a system like that also sending you tips on your technique.
The interview has a mostly upbeat timbre to it but as I read between the lines it makes me realize the first people to go in this type of economy will be those front line workers: check out clerks, personal trainers, the hipster behind the counter in the record store.
In my mind, these are the people who infuse any business with its character and basically are “the customer experience.” I wonder what happens to all that when it gets replaced with badges and beeps on our mobile phones.
Case in point: This weekend I shopped for a new barbecue, and since we’re in Ontario, and we’re still effectively in year 2 of lockdown, it all has to be online and curbside. Two of the big box chains screwed it up: one cancelling my order after dinging my credit card because, contrary to what their inventory system said, it was out of stock. The other putting it on hold for unspecified “problem with your order” reasons. In the latter case I couldn’t get anybody on the phone, although the only resolution path in the automated email was a phone number. The other option was to just go online with the order number where the only available action there, other than to view my order, was to cancel it. So I did that and I probably have two extra barbecues on my credit card now that I have to sort out. .
So I called a smaller independent outfit (Dicksonbbq.com), some Kiwi sounding dude picks up the phone on the first ring. Talks to me about what’s in stock and which models have what I want. Tells me the turnaround time. Of course I ended buying from them and they will even assemble the damn thing and deliver it to my back deck. So.. fsck that platform. Let me deal with real people and indie business owners.
Big Tech platforms in China compete on proprietary censorship schemes
June 4th came and went again this year. That’s the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which you’re not allowed to call a massacre, especially in China. This year the usual censorship regime was a bit more multi-variant: users of social media platforms in China found that they couldn’t update their profile pics, Weibo users reported that the candle emoticon disappeared and those sharing pictures of candles, even without captions or verbiage, had their accounts suspended.
What’s interesting about all this is that it’s not the result of top down edicts about what is permitted and what isn’t. The way it works is each social media platform has to implement their own moderation and censorship policies. They do that by making inferences from official pronouncements, proactively taking action against things they think may be sensitive:
“It’s a mix of explicit directives from censorship authorities and self-initiation. For example, Douban recently suspended groups that are related to “lie flat” and the term is censored on other platforms as well. But in this case, they probably were just preemptively deleting content, instead of receiving any explicit directive to do so, because the degree to which the term is gutted is different across platforms.”
They also hire legions of social media censors to figure it al out and police content. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok employs over 10,000 censors in one city alone.
This Protocol article interviews one such former Weibo censor, Liu Lipeng, who is now an editor for the China Digital Times a US based bilingual outlet that covers censorship in China.
Coincidentally (or not) on June 4th, Microsoft’s search engine Bing suddenly stopped displaying image results for “Tank man,” the iconic image of a man standing in front of a column of tanks approaching (or leaving?) the square.
Bing blamed the missing image result on “human error.” Whatever that means.
Twitter removes Nigerian president’s tweet. Nigeria removes Twitter
Without any shred of irony or self-awareness, Twitter is crying foul that after removing a tweet by the president of Nigeria for violating community standards, Twitter has been banned in Nigeria.
The tweet by Mahammadu Buhari threatened to punish secessionist rebels who had been attacking government facilities and forces. While I can’t find the exact text or a screen grab of the tweet, The Guardian is quoting him as having said:
“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,”
I’ve seen a lot worse from blue checks. Be that as it may, Twitter took the tweet down and then the next day the Nigerian government announced via Twitter that the social media platform had been suspended indefinitely “for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
It’s almost as if trying to moderate content and selectively deplatform heads-of-state could lead to unintended consequences and blowback. Who could have guessed?
Anonymous calls out Elon Musk as faux environmentalist in new vid
It appears that at least a few members of Anonymous hacker collective were Bitcoin HODL-ers who didn’t take kindly to Elon Musk’s tanking the entire crypto space through his most recent public flip/flop on the crypto currency.
They released a video last week, the first communication from them in eight or nine months addressed directly at the ostensible environmental crusader. They called him “a narcissistic rich dude” who was running an otherwise money-losing company with a large carbon footprint that makes its “profits” on reselling regulatory credits.
The video listed a litany of sub-optimal behaviour including appalling workplace conditions, child labour in the lithium mines that supply Tesla batteries and the environmental impact of its supply chain in the third world. “Musk has destroyed lives” with his tweets and attention-seeking behaviours.
The video concludes with a veiled threat:
“You may think you are the smartest person in the room, but now you have met your match.”
We’ll see if anything happens. Because of the amorphous nature of Anonymous, it’s hard to say if this is a real message from Anonymous, or even if the phenomenon understood to be Anonymous still exists.
TikTok changes ToS, will now collect biometric data like face and voiceprints
“We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws, such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content. Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to any such collection.”
They also inspect messages sent and received through the Tik Tok messaging system:
“We collect and process, which includes scanning and analyzing, information you provide when you compose, send, or receive messages through the Platform’s messaging functionality. That information includes the content of the message and information about when the message has been sent, received and/or read, as well as the participants of the communication.
What about Canada? Well, on one page it says “if you are not in the US, UK, EEA, Switzerland or India” than this policy applies, which does not contain the provisions for collection of the biometric data. But on another page it says if you are not in the US, UK, EEA or Switzerland than this policy applies, which does contain the provisions.
Just assume it’s happening. Assume it’s happening everywhere.
Fauci emails reveal a lot of tin-hat conspiracies weren’t so debunked after all
Washington Post and Buzzfeed managed to get over 3,000 pages of Anthony Fauci emails released under the Freedom of Information Act and the mainstream media among others are in full damage control mode (Judicial Watch has been fighting this FOIA battle for nearly a year, Fauci’s team simply ignored early FOIA requests).
The emails, albeit heavily redacted, reveal that several themes which were dismissed by the media as “debunked conspiracy theory”, and that would get you deplatformed from Big Tech platforms for even talking about, were actually being talked about behind the scenes.
From my own admittedly cursory greps through the file, I note that multiple researchers were forwarding Fauci clinical studies about the possible use of Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine and others, like Sorosbuvir in combatting COVID-19 in Febuary and early March 2020, before Fauci, in a press conference with Trump on March 2020 responded to a question from ABC’s John Roberts that all reports of the efficacy of these drugs were “purely anecdotal.”
It has been remarkable how the tune has changed among the mainstream media even before the Fauci emails dropped.
Last week Canada’s National Post ran a story titled:
The (Very Strong) Case For Covid-19 Leaking from a Chinese Lab
With the sub-title: If it wasn’t a lab leak, the fact that a novel coronavirus just happened to emerge in Wuhan would be one of history’s greatest coincidences.
Although in Feb 2020 they categorically ruled it out citing an expert Trevor Bedford. We can’t really tell if they actually talked to Bedford or simply cobbled the story from a Twitter thread.
Bedford, for his part, is now engaging in more open minded terms, and does mention, almost in passing, that the 1977 H1N1 influenza pandemic was the result of a lab leak.
That was the Russian Flu pandemic that killed 700,000 worldwide (call it 1.4 million adjusted to today’s population). When it hit the US in 1978 the initial outbreak had a mortality rate of 70%(!) all of them students. You don’t remember that one? That’s because they didn’t shut off the entire planet and re-order civilization over it.
Meanwhile, Zerohedge picked up a few of additional curiosities over the weekend:
“Well, look, I think the challenge is that the side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come out of a lab has continued to expand. And a side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come from a zoonotic source, come out of nature, really hasn’t budged. And if anything, you can argue that that side of the ledger has contracted because we’ve done an exhaustive search for the so-called intermediate host, the animal that could have been exposed to this virus before it spread to humans. We have not found such an animal. We’ve also fully disproven the market, the food market that was initially implicated in the original outbreak as the source of the outbreak.” (Emphasis added)
It really is inexcusable how wrong the mainstream media got nearly everything about COVID-19 wrong, and how Big Tech was complicit in enforcing their politically motivated, anti-journalistic editorializing. Hence my obsession with it.
But just consider, it’s like this for everything not just COVID. Maybe it’s for the better in the long run because more people see this now than ever before. Noam Chomsky must be thrilled because his entire life’s work just got publicly validated over the last year.
The emails: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/20793561/leopold-nih-foia-anthony-fauci-emails.pdf
No, getting rid of Bitcoin won’t end ransomware, but eliminating Microsoft might
With the recent high profile ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipelines and JBS meats, a couple of “think pieces” came out before the weekend calling for a ban on crypto currencies in order to fix the ransomware problem.
It’s completely wrong headed to think that banning an effect would fix a cause. Ransoms paid in crypto currency are an outcome of companies running crappy software and having lousy security postures. If we really wanted to eliminate ransomware, we’d have a better shot at doing it by eliminating Microsoft (over 90% of all ransomware attacks), not Bitcoin.
I wrote it up over on Bombthrower….