Weekly Axis Of Easy #220
Last Week’s Quote was “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.”… There’s a challenger to this but we considered Mark Twain as the originator and as such Marcello Pavan is our winner.
This Week’s Quote: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”…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:
- Who will control the metaverse when it arrives?
- Despite the G7 deal, Canada plans to tax tech giants as planned
- Report: Palestinian activists’ phones hacked with controversial NSO Group tech
- Hackers accessed over 25,000 TTC employees’ information
- Microsoft issues emergency patches to fix Windows Server auth bug
- New Book on COVID-19 Lab Leak Hypothesis
- Avoiding Deplatform Attacks on The Finding Genius Podcast
- Google’s New Business Profile: When Search Becomes a Political Tool
- Microsoft will now snitch on you at work like never before
- Watch out as new PhoneSpy spyware hits Android devices
- Virginia school board member says removed books should be burned
- Porch Cameras and Facebook Groups Are Turning Streets into Surveillance States
- European Parliament’s Plans Of A Digital Services Act Threaten Internet Freedoms
Who will control the metaverse when it arrives? There are a few good options
As soon as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his company’s new name, “Meta,” and announced that the concept would happen, it didn’t matter how odd he looked in a fake setting, the push on who’s going to control the metaverse will begin.
Though it is envisioned as the next evolution of the internet, the metaverse will be born in a completely different context. The internet was created through universities and public money, with a sense of common benefit weaving its way through each step.
Metaverse will develop in the unbridled surveillance capitalism of the present, where corporations will try to create the rules and own the monopoly. Governments will try to regulate it to limit potential harms – sometimes to citizens, sometimes the economy.
Rather than a consortium for the metaverse, decisions about its future will be made in boardrooms, and the alternatives look rather bleak.
Given the track record of Facebook and the opportunity for Meta to own the device used to access the metaverse, having it take the shots would worsen the situation.
The seed might already be present in Microsoft’s Minecraft, Epic Games might have it with Fortnite or Unreal Engine, or even NVIDIA could have it with its Omniverse.
As long as a very determined unicorn persists in resisting massive buyout offers, the usual suspects will have an enormous impact on how the metaverse operates.
Despite the G7 deal, Canada plans to tax tech giants as planned
According to Canada’s Finance Department, the North American nation will tax digital services providers from 2022. This tax will remain in place until significant countries develop a coordinated tax policy.
In the face of the Coronavirus hammering budgets, Canada expressed concern about the slow pace of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s agreement to ensure that digital giants pay their fair share of taxes.
The G7 plan aims to stop giants such as Amazon and Facebook from avoiding taxes through cross-border operations. According to this plan, multinational companies could be taxed in every country to make a profit exceeding 10%.
As for the new Canadian tax, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, and remain in place until a joint approach could be agreed upon. Starting in 2021-22, the measure would augment federal revenues by C$3.4 billion ($2.6 billion) over five years.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Finance Minister, has praised the decision and asserted that Canadians want a fair tax system that works for everyone. According to the Finance Department, the new rules will generate about C$200 million in federal revenues.
The government will also start collecting taxes from foreign vendors in the coming months, including mobile app developers, online video game companies, and streaming services. The measure is expected to raise C$1.2 billion over five years.
Report: Palestinian activists’ phones hacked with controversial NSO Group tech
Israeli cyber-surveillance firm NSO Group is reported to have supplied its Pegasus software to spy on cellphones belonging to Palestinian human rights activists.
Most notably, NSO Group’s export license is supposed to prevent customers hacking Israeli numbers, indicating either that domestic actors carried out the attack, or could be the first documented case of the technology used to target inside Israel.
An NSO Group spokesperson issued a statement noting that “contractual and national security considerations” prevented them from revealing the identity of their clients.
As noted in last week’s issue, NSO Group has been blacklisted by the United States for developing and supplying “spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers,” according to a US Commerce Department statement.
Hackers accessed over 25,000 TTC employees’ information
Personal data of over 25,000 Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employees was hacked through a cyber security incident on October 29.
“Based on the investigation so far, it now appears that personal information of some TTC employees, former employees, and pensioners may have been stolen,” said the transit agency during investigations into the ransomware attack.
It was reported that hackers could access personal information like names, addresses, and social security numbers of the affected employees.
TTC CEO Rick Leary said the agency is taking all necessary steps to ensure those impacted are protected from identity theft by providing three years of credit protection through TransUnion.
Microsoft issues emergency patches to fix Windows Server auth bug
Over the weekend Microsoft issued an emergency patch, outside of their normal “Patch Tuesdays” regimen (wherein they issue streams of patches every tuesday to fix the endless software flaws and security holes in their software). This patch fixes a bug in their Windows Server Kerberos single-sign-on in Active Directory environments (including Azure).
The bug prevents users from being able to authenticate to the service, it was introduced in a security update from last week’s “Patch Tuesday.”
New Book on COVID-19 Lab Leak Hypothesis
Matt Ridley and Alina Chan’s new book “Viral” comes out this week and does a dispassionate in-depth dive into the evidence for a lab leak of the COVID-19 virus. Ridley, who’s previous works include ‘The Rational Optimist’ and ‘How Innovation Works’ studied evolutionary biology himself, and he teamed up with Canadian molecular biologist Alina Chan to look at the facts and evidence.
Both were guests on Demetri Kofinas’ Hidden Forces podcast this week and if you don’t have time to read the book, set aside an hour to listen. No real big surprises in terms of the duplicity shown by Ecohealth’s Peter Dsazak who was neck deep in funding and carrying out gain-on-function research in Wuhan, then being the most vocal critic of the “lab leak conspiracy theory.”
By the time you finish listening to it, you’ll probably lean toward thinking if there is any conspiracy theory in any of this, it is to cover up what actually happened in order to preserve reputations, funding and relations with China.
I don’t think the lab leak was intentional, I don’t subscribe to the “Chinese bioweapon” narrative. This was very simply a shit-show bourne of the characteristic arrogance of our technocratic age: by undertaking gain-of-function research to study coronaviruses in hopes of preempting a future pandemic, we set off a pandemic (similar to how central bankers “manage” monetary policy in order to forestall the next financial crisis, they create a rolling sequence of financial crises of increasing magnitudes).
Demetri Kofinas was also a guess on salon #32.
Avoiding Deplatform Attacks on The Finding Genius Podcast
I was a guest on Richard Jacobs’ “Finding Genius Podcast” (he made an exception in my case) to talk about defending from cancel culture and deplatform attacks.
Google’s New Business Profile: When Search Becomes a Political Tool
Microsoft will now snitch on you at work like never before
Watch out as new PhoneSpy spyware hits Android devices
Virginia school board member says removed books should be burned
Porch Cameras and Facebook Groups Are Turning Streets into Surveillance States
European Parliament’s Plans Of A Digital Services Act Threaten Internet Freedoms