2019/02/10: Libertà di voto. Ciascun elettore è libero di votare senza condizionamenti e pressioni esterne. Tale principio viene rispettato più facilmente quando la procedura è soggetta a controlli, come avviene nei seggi elettorali. Ciò non può dirsi nel caso del voto online, quando la scelta si effettua con un click, seduti comodamente a casa. L'Estonia, tuttavia, consente ai suoi elettori di votare online più volte, fino al giorno ufficiale delle elezioni. Solo l'ultimo voto viene però considerato e va ad annullare quelli precedenti, eventualmente estorti con violenza. L'elettore ha quindi la possibilità di correggere il suo voto qualora non corrisponda alla propria volontà. Inoltre, il voto nei seggi elettorali viene preferito a quello online.
2019/01/29: Stingrays (AKA IMSI catchers) are a widespread class of surveillance devices that target cellular phones by impersonating cellular towers to them (they're also called "cell-site simulators").
IMSI catchers are so easy to build and operate that they have leapt from police agencies to criminals, and foreign and corporate spies, exposing us all to potential surveillance from all quarters.
That's why it was so important that the new 5G mobile protocol be designed to foil IMSI catchers, and why the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP (the body standardizing 5G) updated the Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA) to resist IMSI catching techniques.
But new research from ETH Zurich and Technische Universität Berlin has revealed a critical flaw in AKA, a defect that not only allows attackers to track the number of calls and texts being sent while a user is connected to the fake tower, but also a count of calls and texts from before the device was compromised. More importantly, the attack allows for fine-grained location tracking.
In addition we're concerned with WhatsApp's web app. WhatsApp provides an HTTPS-secured web interface for users to send and receive messages. However, as with all websites, the resources needed to load the application are delivered each and every time you visit that site. So, even if there is support for crypto in the browser, the web application can easily be modified to serve a malicious version of the application upon any given pageload, which is capable of delivering all your messages to a third party.
2018/12/20: If the point of Musk’s overly complex system is to move actual people, not cars (which he also happens to sell), this is a very bad idea. Some quick math shows why: Musk claims the tunnel will have the capacity of moving 4,000 cars per hour at 155 mph — that would require having cars enter and leave the tunnel via an elevator once every 0.9 seconds. But existing underground freeway alternatives (aka subways) can move 30,000 passengers an hour, more than if every 5-seater Tesla was full and Musk somehow figured out the capacity issues.
Musk says his new underground highway idea, if fully realized, would feel like “teleporting within a city.”
Musk isn’t just looking below ground for new superfast transportation methods. He is also currently developing a goddamn passenger rocket to take you from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes. And yes! That rocket will be a whole lot more efficient than present-day rockets, but it’s still a ROCKET.
If you make flying faster and make driving in the Los Angeles area less painful, you’ll likely just end up with more flights and more cars on the road. We see this whenever a city tries to alleviate traffic by adding more lanes. More people start driving. And rocket flights and more cars on the road will eat up an awful lot of our planet’s remaining carbon budget.
Musk is embarking on a philosophy of ecomodernism — the idea that doing what we’ve been doing (except more so!) will lead society down to a techno-fueled decoupling of the economy from environmental constraints. Musk’s bet is that by radically increasing efficiency of mundane industrial tasks — building cars, digging holes, making batteries — it will help usher in a carbon-free utopia.
If Musk’s goal is (as he says) to save the world from climate change, many of his “innovations” are not helping. Decades of evidence shows that making more cars and building our cities to accommodate them are bad ideas for almost everyone. Even factoring in the additional time cost of walking or riding your bike, it’s nearly always cheaper compared to driving.
All of these greener transportation technologies have been in use for more than 100 years — it’s the cars that have been the problem, not the answer. Musk’s tunnels could be a game changer, but only if they’re digging more subway lines.
2018/03/12: The basic appeal of the internet of things, or IoT, is that it will make all your objects “smart,” in much the same way your cell phone is.
By imbuing other objects with the ability to access the internet, the invention opens the door for a number of other breakthroughs, all of which differ depending on their field. For instance, a smart refrigerator might reduce the amount of food waste a family commits, which could have an impact on the way grocery stores stock their shelves and farms grow their products. A smart washing machine, however, might optimize water usage and communicate that data to an area’s water source, which can improve regions’ environmental efficiency.
2018/12/03: a letter to MEPs from big film industry associations and sports leagues is raising eyebrows. Their message: They believe both the Parliament’s and the Council’s versions of Article 13 would end up benefiting the big online platforms – and they’d rather prefer to be left out of this mess altogether. They urge that their sectors be explicitly removed from Article 13’s scope, except in the highly unlikely case that both institutions drop all their work and return to the original Commission proposal from 2016.
In doing so, they are disavowing those in the media industry who ahead of the September vote in the European Parliament swayed MEP’s opinions by loudly claiming to be speaking for “European creators” when they asserted that the law, including Parliament’s version, was necessary to “save culture”.
2018/11/29: If two-parent families could support themselves with only one parent working outside the home in the past, then something is wrong with “growth” that imposes a de facto need for two incomes.
There needs to be a return to the notion of the oikos, or household, or marriage, as unit, rather than atomized Jane (or as Obama and Orwell both put it, Julia). Matrimony was always intended to be a shared division of labor that would protect the mothers long term interests while raising family. And that marriage needs a rebuttressing by the church in the face of today's pressures.
2018/06/04: are our smartphones actually listening?
According to Dr. Peter Hannay—The senior security consultant for cybersecurity firm Asterisk, and former lecturer and researcher at Edith Cowan University—the short answer is yes, but perhaps in a way that's not as diabolical as it sounds.
For your smartphone to actually pay attention and record you, there needs to be a trigger, like Hey Siri or Okay Google for example . Without these triggers, there's no recording, with just some general metrics being sent to your service provider. This might not seem a cause for an alarm, but when it comes to apps like Facebook, no one knows what the triggers are. In fact, there could be thousands.
“It’s just an extension from what advertising used to be on television,” says Peter. Only instead of prime time audiences, they’re now tracking web-browsing habits. It’s not ideal, but I don’t think it poses an immediate threat to most people.”
2018/11/28: In 2012 people generated 2.8 trillion GB of data worldwide, or enough to write 10 million Blu-Ray discs. By 2030, that figure is expected to multiply nearly forty times. The rapid expansion of the so-called Internet of Things, or IoT, is the spark behind this explosion of user data.
In 2010 there were 12.5 billion internet-connected devices in the world. By 2020 there will be 50 billion, incorporating any and all devices that can connect to the internet – such as smart home appliances, smart phones and in the not too distant future, smart cars. But of all the data generated by the 12.5 billion internet-connected devices in 2010, only 0.5% of it was processed.
2018/11/21: There are more than 12 million smart meters operating across Great Britain, but only around 138,000 of these – 1.2% – are 'second generation' meters or SMETS2s – the type which are guaranteed to continue sending readings if you switch away from the supplier which installed them.
The information was revealed in the House of Lords by Business Minister Lord Henley yesterday afternoon.
It has long been planned that first generation meters will be upgraded remotely, so that they have the same capabilities as second generation meters and continue to work when a customer switches supplier, but the Government has now said this may not be complete until the end of 2020.
2018/11/16: Now, the directive is in the final leg of its journey into law: the "trilogues," where the national governments of Europe negotiate with the EU's officials to produce a final draft that will be presented to the Parliament for a vote.
The trilogues over the new directive are the first in EU history where the public are allowed some insight into the process, thanks to a European Court of Justice ruling that allows members of the European Parliament to publicly disclose the details of the trilogues. German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda has been publishing regular updates from behind the trilogues' closed doors.
It's anything but an orderly process. A change in the Italian government prompted the country to withdraw its support for the directive. Together with those nations that were already unsure of the articles, this means that there are enough opposing countries to kill the directive. However, the opposition remains divided over tactics and that means that the directive is still proceeding through the trilogues.
The latest news is a leaked set of proposed revisions to the directive, aimed at correcting the extraordinarily sloppy drafting of Articles 11 and 13.
These revisions are a mixed bag. In a few cases, they bring much-needed clarity to the proposals, but in other cases, they actually worsen the proposals—for example, the existing language holds out the possibility that platforms could avoid using automated copyright filters (which are viewed as a recipe for disaster by the world's leading computer scientists, including the inventors of the web and the Internet's core technologies). The proposed clarification eliminates that possibility.
To get a sense of how not-ready-for-action Articles 11 and 13 are in their current form, or with the proposed revisions from the trilogues, have a look at the proposals from the Don't Wreck the Net coalition, which combines civil society groups and a variety of small and large platforms from the US and the EU, who have produced their own list of the defects in the directive that have to be corrected before anyone can figure out what they mean and even try to obey them.
2018/11/02: Shipping and Transit is the poster-child for sloppiness at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The company owns a suite of patents for using GPS exactly as it was designed to work: to figure out where stuff is, and then to log and/or transmit that location. The people who filed these patents didn't invent GPS: they just took someone else's widely used invention and patented the most obvious way to use it. The US Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent, Shipping and Transit bought it, and then used it to harass and soak people who were making products and providing services (including city bus services!), while Shipping and Transit made nothing (except lawsuits).
2017/10/19: this is a logical consequence of Brexit. You’re now blaming the French for the logical consequences of Brexit. About as logical as initiating a divorce and then complaining about not seeing your children every day. Typical of the muddled, self-pitying arrogance of the typical Brexiteer.
2016/06/03: Ultimately, is paper the gold standard we should stick to?
Yes. Paper has some fundamental properties as a technology that make it the right thing to use for voting. You have more-or-less indelible marks on the thing. You have physical objects you can control. And everyone understands it. If you’re in a polling place and somebody disappears with a ballot box into a locked room and emerges with a smirk, maybe you know that there is a problem. We’ve had a long time to work out the procedures with paper ballots and need to think twice before we try to throw a new technology at the problem. People take paper ballots for granted and don’t understand how carefully thought through they are.
2018/10/16: When security researchers report on the ghastly defects in voting machines, the officials who bought these machines say dismiss their concerns by saying that the tamper-evident seals they put around the machines prevent bad guys from gaining access to their internals.
But University of Michigan grad student Matt Bernhard has demonstrated that he can bypass the tamper-evident seals in seconds, using a shim made from a slice of a soda can. The bypass is undetectable and doesn't damage the seal, which can be resecured after an attacker gains access to the system.
Fred Woodhams from the Michigan Secretary of State's office dismissed Bernhard's warning: "the seal that is shown in the video was not affixed to anything, and the video does not represent a real-world scenario of how seals are used and affixed."
2018/10/05: Last year, Apple outraged independent technicians when they updated the Iphone design to prevent third party repair, adding a "feature" that allowed handsets to detect when their screens had been swapped (even when they'd been swapped for an original, Apple-manufactured screen) and refuse to function until they got an official Apple unlock code.
Now, this system has come to the MacBook Pros and Imac Pros, thanks to the "T2 security chip" which will render systems nonfunctional after replacing the keyboard, screen, case, or other components, until the a proprietary Apple "configuration tool" is used to unlock the system.
Apple does not tell its customers that the computers it sells are designed to punish them for opting to get their property repaired by independent technicians; the details of the T2 came from a leaked service manual.
“There’s two possible explanations: This is a continued campaign of obsolescence and they want to control the ecosystem and bring all repair into the network they control,” Kyle Wiens, the CEO of iFixit, told me on the phone. “Another is security, but I don’t see a security model that doesn’t trust the owner of the device making much sense.”
2018/09/25: DNA, these marketing campaigns imply, reveals something essential about you. And it’s working. Thanks to television-ad blitzes and frequent holiday sales, genetic-ancestry tests have soared in popularity in the past two years. More than 15 million people have now traded their spit for insights into their family history.
If this were simply about wearing kilts or liking Ed Sheeran, these ads could be dismissed as, well, ads. They’re just trying to sell stuff, shrug. But marketing campaigns for genetic-ancestry tests also tap into the idea that DNA is deterministic, that genetic differences are meaningful. They trade in the prestige of genomic science, making DNA out to be far more important in our cultural identities than it is, in order to sell more stuff.
First, the accuracy of these tests is unproven (as detailed here and here). But putting that aside, consider simply what it means to get a surprise result of, say, 15 percent German. If you speak no German, celebrate no German traditions, have never cooked German food, and know no Germans, what connection is there, really? Cultural identity is the sum total of all of these experiences. DNA alone does not supersede it.
Listening to 99 Luftballons or rooting for Germany in the World Cup is fairly trivial as these things go. But this wave of marketing campaigns encourages a way of thinking—that you can pick and choose which fractional parts of genetic identity to highlight when it makes for good cocktail-party conversation.
2013/03/07: A warning about the accuracy of the tests was made by the Sense About Science campaign group, which said "such histories are either so general as to be personally meaningless or they are just speculation from thin evidence."
The warning was backed by a number of leading genetics experts. Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics at UCL said: “On a long trudge through history – two parents, four great-grandparents, and so on – very soon everyone runs out of ancestors and has to share them.
"As a result, almost every Briton is a descendant of Viking hordes, Roman legions, African migrants, Indian Brahmins, or anyone else they fancy.”
His colleague Prof Mark Thomas said: "These claims are usually planted by the companies that provide these so-called tests and are not backed up by published scientific research. This is business, and the business is genetic astrology.”
2018/9/18: Times Newer Roman, a font from internet marketing firm MSCHF (which you may remember from the Tabagotchi Chrome extension). Times Newer Roman looks a lot like the go-to academic font, but each character is subtly altered to be 5 to 10 percent wider, making your essays look longer without having to actually make them longer. According to Times Newer Roman's website, a 15-page, single-spaced document in 12 point type only requires 5,833 words, compared to 6,680 for the standard Times New Roman. (That's 847 words you don't need to write, which is more than twice the length of this post!)
2018/09/12: Article 12a: No posting your own photos or videos of sports matches. Only the “organisers” of sports matches will have the right to publicly post any kind of record of the match. No posting your selfies, or short videos of exciting plays. You are the audience, your job is to sit where you’re told, passively watch the game and go home.
At the same time, the EU rejected even the most modest proposals to make copyright suited to the twenty-first century:
1. No “freedom of panorama.” When we take photos or videos in public spaces, we’re apt to incidentally capture copyrighted works: from stock art in ads on the sides of buses to t-shirts worn by protestors, to building facades claimed by architects as their copyright. The EU rejected a proposal that would make it legal Europe-wide to photograph street scenes without worrying about infringing the copyright of objects in the background.