Impending "Fake News" Bill Brings Censorship, Free Speech Concerns

Weekly Axis Of Easy #53

This week’s quote: “Sooner or later, everybody sits down to a banquet of consequences”. —by ????

Last Week’s Quote was “The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed” by William Gibson. Winner: Marc Dacey
THE RULES: No Googling the answer, must be posted to this blog post below
The Prize: First person to post get their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.

In this issue:
  • More Facebook foibles, including that they lied to congress, again
  • Cambridge Analytica CEO “borrowed” $8 million just before it collapsed
  • ICANN loses first round against Europe’s GDPR
  • 92 Million records from DNA testing service found online
  • France’s impending “fake news” bill brings censorship, free speech concerns
  • Florida neglected to gun background checks for over a year because….
  • What you should know about statistical methods
  • Introducing easyDNSSEC: Set-and-forget DNSSEC signing

Facebook foibles, including that they lied to congress, again

Democratic congressman David Cicilline (RI) tweeted last week “Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to congress” when he told them users have “complete control” over who sees their data after the New York Times broke a story that Facebook gave at least 60 device manufacturers “unprecedented access” to user data, including it seems, a Chinese company that was flagged by US intelligence agencies.

In a separate incident Facebook also changed the privacy settings of 14 million users who had their default posting preference set to private, to public. It apparently happened while they were testing a new feature (the feature was tentatively called “broadcast your secrets!”) Bug has been fixed.

Cambridge Analytica CEO “borrowed” $8 million just before it collapsed

The Financial Times has written an in-depth piece detailing how Cambridge Analytica’s attempted resurrection (which we reported on back in #AxisOfEasy 49) seems to have been impaired owing to a shortage of cash. FT further outlines that said cash shortfall stems largely from the fact that Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica CEO, upon learning that the media was getting ready to blow the whole Facebook data harvesting story open, including his role in it, immediately helped himself to $8,000,000 USD of the company’s cash. The company collapsed shortly thereafter.

The attempted resurrection of CA under the name “Emerdata” and those involved in it (including two of billionaire Robert Mercer’s daughters) are not amused, and are bringing pressure to bear upon Nix to cough up the dough.

The original FT story is behind a paywall, Zerohedge has the rundown:


ICANN loses first round against Europe’s GDPR

GDPR continues to cast uncertainty. Recall how last we mentioned how EPAG, a Tucows subsidiary in Germany stopped collecting Whois data to remain onside with the new privacy rules. ICANN immediately filed an injunction in an attempt to compel EPAG to continue collecting Whois data. ICANN lost. Court ruled in favour of EPAG.

In case you missed it:

92 Million records from DNA testing service found online

Israel-based MyHeritage disclosed, through its website, that an Internet security researcher found a file containing the email addresses and hashed passwords of 92 million customers.    “MyHeritage says it has no reason to believe other user data was compromised”.  The technical term for that is a category of logical fallacy known as “Appeal to ignorance”.  But do change your password, according to them.


France’s impending “fake news” bill brings censorship, free speech concerns

The French government is preparing to pass so-called “fake news” laws which will require social networks to provide mechanisms to flag “fake news” and immediately halt publication of information “deemed to be false” ahead of elections. Critics of the law worry that this could be used to squelch opposition and censor unpalatable real news. I’ve said it before, “fake news” is the biggest doublespeak scam ever put over on a credulous public. “Nobody changes their vote based on fake news. They just double-down on their pre-existing confirmation bias”. Then there is the trillion dollar question: who decides what is fake? My take is in an unfiltered internet, fake news will be surfaced and exposed, and people will gradually get better at smelling it and systems will emerge to score or rate it.


Florida neglected to run gun background checks for over a year because…

It turns out that the state of Florida failed to run background checks on over ten thousand concealed weapon carry permits because they were not able to log in to the FBI federal background check database. The issue seems to boil down to two employees mishandling the fact that they couldn’t log in and casts light on why one of them was even tasked with this function.


What you should know about statistical methods

More along the lines of fascinating and germane than being topical current-events news, but I stumbled on a fantastic podcast series called The Jolly Swagman when I found their three hour interview with legendary short seller Marc Cohodes. After listening to that I started going through their back episodes, one stuck out as particularly relevant, if not somewhat alarming.

The Shape of Probability with Harry Crane peels back the veneer of unassailable credibility that accompanies statistics and much scientific research. The reasons why they have names like The Replication Crisis and the Linda Effect. For what I thought was going to be a dry, medicinal yawning foray into eye-glaze territory, I was rapt, rapt I tell you. It was fascinating and brought to life a joke easyDNS co-founder Colin Viebrock used to make that “86% of all statistics are made up on the spot”. He was closer than he thought.


The rest of the series is also great, this pair of Aussie blokes are the most well prepared interviewers I’ve come across in forever.

Introducing easyDNSSEC: Set-and-forget DNSSEC signing

We’ve released a new version of our DNSSEC zone signing system and if we may say so ourselves, it rocks. It does everything from generating your keys, signing your zones, getting your DS records into the parent, maintaining your zones when it changes and even rolling your keys. Everything. One click. Done. The thing is, love it [or hate it][URL:], DNSSEC is more necessary now than at any time in the past. I’ll be posting a follow up blog on why soon, but in the meantime, start testing it out with some non-critical domains and then migrate any of your version 1 signed domains over.


10 thoughts on “Impending "Fake News" Bill Brings Censorship, Free Speech Concerns

  1. Robert Louis Stevenson – One of my favourite quotes. Not googled but I do have this quote in the Notes app.

  2. Well, CERTAINLY NOT R.L. Stenenson, as the book “Old Mortality” was written by Sir Walter Scott.
    And actually the quotation is a corruption of “…game of consequences to which we all sit down…” etc.
    And I sir, do NOT use Google Books! Not when open source Gutenberg is freely available! And they do not spy on you!

    1. Tony are you saying the quote is apocryphal, inaccurate, and/or that Sir Walter Scott said it? I do see that RLS may not have actually said it the way it is frequently attributed to him.

  3. “Florida neglected to run gun background checks for over a year because…” as a headline is both factually incorrect and misleading.

    As noted in the article, Florida DID conduct extensive background checks on concealed carry permit holders on TWO different criminal databases, including one national database. While failing to search NICS (the same database searched every time a firearm is purchased) is a gross negligence, only 291 out of the “tens of thousands” not checked were revoked once the negligence was detected and corrected.

    And neither the Parkland nor the Pulse shootings cited in the article had anything to do with the lapse in NICS background checks.

    If we want to get somewhere in the national gun debate, we all have to stop believing (and echoing) inflammatory and misleading click-bait headlines and demand that the media give us full and honest information about which we can civilly debate important public policy.

    This article isn’t it. We deserve better.

    1. You’re right I should have read it more closely. The subject was originally submitted by a user who referenced a URL that I couldn’t source (page changed or something) and I went looking for another source.

  4. For a long time there was a “quote” going around the internet-
    “If all the bees were die tomorrow, mankind would only have another two years to live” -Albert Einstein
    Not sure if the above is the exact quote, but something like it. Google it. You may still see it attributed to Einstein.
    Einstein knew SFA about bees, but that didn’t stop people re-quoting it until “Hey, it’s on the Internet. It MUST BE TRUE!”
    Same goes for the “banquet of consequences” – apocryphal? NO. Inaccurate? YES, Sir Walter Scott said it. NO. My bad.
    It WAS Stevenson, and an inaccurate quote.
    See to wit-
    “8) ‘Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences’
    This (and its variants) are mostly attributed to Stevenson on internet pages. The sentence, though not found in his works, is based on a genuine quotation from the essay ‘Old Mortality’:
    ‘Books were the proper remedy: books of vivid human import, forcing upon their minds the issues, pleasures, busyness, importance and immediacy of that life in which they stand; books of smiling or heroic temper, to excite or to console; books of a large design, shadowing the complexity of that game of consequences to which we all sit down, the hanger-back not least.’
    In contrast to the thousands of hits for spurious version, Stevenson’s actual quote gets only 4 hits. ”

    Alas, a book titled “Old Mortality” was written by Scott, as well an essay by Stevenson! This is where the confusion started. For the actual quote, see
    OK- seems Stevenson said it, not Scott. Mea culpa, but in my defense, there was never any banquet.
    Why did I become intrigued? Well, one of the first search hits was Snopes. This always piques my interest.
    —– Hey! Install a edit feature and some BBCode tools! 😉

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