* Posts by Slx

153 posts • joined 5 Jun 2010

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Ideal solar system for SECOND EARTH found – and it's just 186 light-years away

Slx

Can we point SETI in that general direction and pick up their TV from 186 years ago?

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Bring on the Music, Apple: Spotify ups the ante - and money pot

Slx

Re: Interesting...

Banning Spotify retrospectively from iOS would undoubtedly unleash a European Commission fine that could run into massive amounts of money as it would be a % of Apple's revenues and don't think they wouldn't do it either, the EU Competition Commission has taken on huge players both local and international.

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Romanian rozzers round up alleged $15 MILLION ATM cybercrim gang

Slx

Why oh, why are banks still processing transactions with easyclone™ magnetic stripe cards when every European bank card has an EMV chip ?

ATMs can all read chips, since they can process the pin change and unlock functions, so why are they capable of accepting skimmed cards?!

The banks should be able to encode cards so that the ATM knows it should be seeing a chip and refuse to process magstripe transactions ?

I know a few primitive places like the U.S. still insist on using magstripe for hysterical or religious reasons or because it's a dangerous alien Euro technology that wasn't invented there but, why are European banks not using the technology they heavily invested in rolling out ?!?

The only explanation I can come to is the banks just don't care because they've a big slush fund of our money so basic security doesn't matter to them.

It's scary to think that my Facebook, Twitter and email accounts have far more sophisticated security than my bank accounts - protected by a 4 digit pin and a magstripe card in 2015....

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Evil Wi-Fi kills iPhones, iPods in range – 'No iOS Zone' SSL bug revealed

Slx

I can see public Wi-Fi nodes becoming a major problem in the coming years...

Same with public USB chargers.

Thankfully ubiquitous, fast, unlimited 4G will probably ultimately render them as obsolete as payphone and fax machines in the future.

I already find a lot of public Wi-Fi that I've been forced to use tends to be slow, insanely over priced for what it is and exploiting a captive audience (certain hotels etc) full of annoying restrictions (blocked ports, ads or pop up ads being served etc.

Quite a lot of them also still seem to be using bog-standard ADSL2+ or something similar as you often get horrendously bad speeds, even though FTTC, Cable and even FTTH in some places are pretty widespread in urban and even small town areas. My 4G phone tethering is often a vastly superior solution.

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Samsung's bend blame blast: We DEMAND a Galaxy S6 Edge do-over

Slx

Despite what some fanbois think, neither Apple nor Samsung can defy the laws of physics.

Big, flat, thin things tend to be more bendable than stubbier things.

If we want wafer thin devices, we are just going to have to treat them a little more carefully.

Personally, I'm getting a bit fed up with Apple's approach to MacBook Pro. Portability's great and thinness looks fantastic, but I'd actually appreciate an option of having the same technology in a slightly chunkier case with ports and expandability.

For the actual "pro" market, having an ultra thin case isn't the be all and end all!

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Don't be stiffed by spies, stand up to Uncle Sam with your proud d**k pics – says Snowden

Slx

Clip works fine in Ireland oddly enough, despite Sky's large presence here, someone mustn't own the rights.

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Studying humans for science? Wrap your eyeballs around our fine print, says Apple

Slx

Does this mean that fart apps could now take on a whole new purpose?

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iTunes snafu: DNS fail borked Apple's app & iTunes stores for 10 HOURS

Slx

I'm not going to get into iOS vs Android or any other platform argument ... Google isn't exactly a land of love and hugs either. All these companies either wall you in or slurp your data or a bit of both.

I'm not impressed with how long Apple waited before admitting that they had a problem. They left a lot of people high and dry without any explanation until opening of business in the US!

It's portraying iOS as a premium product with top class support yet didn't even bother to update the service status page until well into the fault and well into the afternoon in major markets like Europe!

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Bite my shiny metal Ask: Java for OS X crapware storm brewing

Slx

It'd be amusing if OS X simply trashed it as malware.

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'Hi, I'm from Microsoft and I am GOING TO KILL YOU'

Slx

The simplest solution to this would be to start blacklisting the telcos that are providing them with gateway from VoIP to the PSTN.

I can assure you they'd be off the phones in a few hours once a few major US or Euro telcos had barred whatever Indian or other operators are passing that scam traffic.

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EU governments are CRAP at cloud, moans Brussels' infosec watchdog

Slx

I wonder if this report is paid for by the European Association of Outsourced Cloud Computing?

It's worrying that I find a lot of policy makers are a little too excited about "the cloud" and when you ask them questions, they tend to have no real concept of what it is.

I'm not very comfortable with the idea of putting sensitive government information which could contain information like the entire population's financial / tax records, law enforcement databases, health and welfare records etc into third party outsourced data warehouses.

There are some services that are more suited to being 'cloud based' but there are others that are worryingly being pushed into the cloud by IT managers who are just enamoured by the buzzword.

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RIP Leonard Nimoy: He lived long and prospered

Slx

It's a shame we can't all live as long as vulcans in reality!

He portrayed a character that has become a true cultural icon of the late 20th through to the 21st century and he inspired many people to think differently about the universe and probably even to explore careers in aerospace, science and technology.

While people can be very critical and even mocking of Star Trek and Trekkies, I think it's a genre of science fiction that shows how humanity could put its best foot forward and really just get on with exploring the universe, developing technology. It sets out an extremely grounded, humanist, progressive, socially inclusive, non-greed driven world that is quite refreshing when compared to other genres of sci-fi that tend to be caught up in wars and conflict.

RIP Leonard Nimoy - A true cultural icon and a legendary actor.

I suspect that Spock & Leonard will live on and prosper in the great database of human culture for many centuries to come.

Also my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. He was one of the greats!

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EU net neutrality: Don’t worry, we’re now safely in the hands of … Latvia

Slx

They had to get rid of Steelie Neelie first though...

Once she's out of the picture they can get on with watering it down to suit the telcos...

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UK banks prepare for Apple Pay 'invasion', look to slap on bonking protection

Slx

As an added security feature you have to hold the phone just the right way to get a signal.

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White hats do an NSA, figure out LIVE PHONE TRACKING via protocol vuln

Slx

Also, remember that SS7 was developed in an era when there were highly controlled networks often run by a single monopoly provider, or a very select few telcos.

An era when there'd be tons of players and open competition wasn't really something that is likely to have crossed the minds of telecommunications engineers in the 70s/80s.

This is Ma Bell, Euro PTTs and Telecom companies stuff.

Security was all about having a good lock for the exchange building.

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Slx

I wonder if we're forgetting to patch these old-school 'non-sexy' systems because so much focus is on more modern purely IP technology.

SS7 emerged in the 1970s and got standardised officially in 1980. It's very old-school in many ways and is designed for handling telephone calls and ISDN data on digital telephone exchange networks. It has umpteen different national versions and proprietary extensions for various purposes.

It underlies a big chunk of how GSM and UMTS work too. LTE (4G) is all-IP based, but your voice and text traffic is still falling back onto older SS7 based traditional telephony technologies in most cases as VoIP type systems for LTE haven't been widely rolled out.

It's easy to forget that a lot of voice calls and data still get processed by some rather dusty old digital technology that developed quite separately from the internet and IP.

Also, a lot of those systems were built with "legal interception" capabilities from day one too. So, I'm sure there are plenty of things that could be spoofed, intercepted, or otherwise hacked by someone who really knew their way around those old voice and data networks.

I just always get the impression that 'the industry' and the equipment vendors thought that all of these old networks would have been shut down and replaced by something more modern like SIP and VoIP for voice by now. However, there are still loads of old telephone switchs like Ericsson AXE, Alcatel-Lucent's 5ESS (Bell Labs), E10 (Alcatel) and S12 (ITT), Nokia/Siemens EWSD and DX200, Nortel/Genband DMS, Marconi System X (UK only) and so on all still chugging away providing ISDN and Dial tones all over the world, they've been adapted and tweaked to sit on more modern networks, but the old school stuff's often still there in the local exchange / central office along side cutting edge fibre to kerb and everything else.

These older systems and protocols are also firmly embedded in modern IP networks and SS7 is used for many call handling functions even in much later generation networks and you'll find telephone switching systems running on modern blade servers etc etc..

From what I can see, these systems will be with us for a lot longer than anticipated and we'd really want to ensure they're locked down against modern threats!

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Hilton, Marriott and co want permission to JAM guests' personal Wi-Fi

Slx

I assume the hotels will be able to install special laws of physics overriding devices that prevent their jamming signals disrupting services in neighbouring buildings and adjacent areas?

We all know how easy it is to tell radio waves to remain within a particular building.

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Euro consumers have TOO MUCH choice – telco operators

Slx

Hmm... Correct EU response should be to launch an investigation into collusion.

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Microsoft tries to defend Irish servers from US g-men invasion, again

Slx

So could China do the same with Chinese companies' US subsidiaries?

Dangerous precedent.

Also it's not as if the Irish legal system wouldn't facilitate a normal criminal investigation.

It's actually insulting that they feel the need to just ride roughshod over another country's legal system. Ireland's rated as one of the most democratic countries on the planet and has an extremely effective and fair system of justice.

If they can't argue a case in an Irish court, then it suggests that there's something wrong with their case.

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Is EU right to expand 'right to be forgotten' to Google.com?

Slx

Does this right also extend to deleting information from more traditional sources like libraries?

Google's a bit easier to search than a microfiche library, but the information's there if someone wants to find it.

I still find this law is a bit like attempting to erase and revise history.

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UK slaps 25 per cent 'Google Tax' on tech multinationals

Slx

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!

I assume the banks, investment houses and hedge funds of the City of London will also be immediately brought into line and will immediately stop all complex tax avoidance systems too?

Or, is this only for sexy, well-known foreign companies with big consumer and tech brandnames like Google and Apple and maybe do a bit of bashing a few smaller EU countries along the way?

I think if the UK's going go hell for leather after Ireland and others, it seems only fair that we immediately push for a huge inquest into 'The City'.

If we're going to clean things up, let's clean everything up, not just do it selectively

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Apple’s $700 BEEELLION market cap makes it more valuable than Switzerland

Slx

Re: So depressing

They didn't nab Burberry's boss for nothing ya know!

Apple know they're a consumer product / fashion brand.

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Slx

It's a bit of a ludicrous comparison.

A country's value is a lot more than its economic output. It's actually somewhere to live, somewhere to be from, it has priceless assets like scenery and cultural resources that are just not comparable to raw GDP figures.

Same applies to any country really. They're all pretty special.

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Ex-EU digi supremo Steelie Neelie's net neutrality bid in tatters?

Slx

Wow! Such paranoia. Do you work for UKIP or something?

No, I don't work for the EU, nor do I want to work for the EU!

I'd call myself "Eurocritical" rather than "Eurosceptic" though. I don't buy into this just supporting it mindlessly nor do I buy into knocking it mindlessly either, it's all about critical engagement. It can do some good stuff, and it can do some lousy stuff. I think it made an unbelievable mess of the whole economic situation over the last few years, but it has been pretty good on telecoms and areas like privacy. That European Court of Justice ruling throwing out the data retention directive was a huge move and shows how the EU can be good and bad simultaneously depending on who's making the decisions!

I actually genuinely thought she did some good work in the area - particularly taking on the mobile phone operators, which was no small task as they're enormous lobbyists and some are even tied to states' vested interests either as huge companies that are 'national champions' or, in the case of Belgium and a few others, actually state owned.

I believe in giving credit where it's due and I think she did a decent job while she was in the seat. Comedy value? As in she has a bit of a personality and was willing to get out on blogs and Twitter? Don't really see what's bad about that!

She showed a bit of an ability to actually tease out the issues and a serious determination to get stuff done, even if it ruffled very powerful feathers, which is a lot more than can be said for many a technology tzar at national level.

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Slx

I miss Steelie Neelie - very few politicians have an understanding and passion for their brief. She seemed to be genuinely engaged with it and very much as a consumer and geek (and I mean that in a positive way).

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'You village peasants: Do you want broadband? Then give up your freedom'

Slx

Meanwhile over here in Ireland the state owned power distribution company ESB which owns the power lines overhead wires and ducts that connect to every building in the country got approval to enter a joint venture with Vodafone to build out FTTH mostly in smaller towns, villages and also outskirts of cities. They're avoiding areas with extensive cable broadband tho. They're also testing it in ribbon developments (Ireland has a lot of housing that's not in villages and is genuinely very low density and scattered)

The European Commission didn't take long to grant approval but it's just an interesting way of getting FTTH into non core areas at reasonable cost using existing and publically owned physical infrastructure to carry the fibres.

It's also going to be open to wholesale access for other telcos.

Fingers crossed we see more of this around Europe. I think we're obsessed with the notion that broadband needs to come from something built on top of PSTN infrastructure. There are lots of alternative ways of getting fibre into homes without ripping up roads and costing a fortune.

I'm also concerned when it comes to rural broadband that the European Commission understands that European patterns of housing development aren't remotely uniform across all EU countries.

Some have tightly planned, high density small towns and apartment type living others like Ireland, parts of the Nordic countries, parts of Britain and even rural France are much more scattered and tend to have individual homes that may not be in anything other than a vague cluster.

I think in the past the commission forgot that there are stark differences.

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Lights OUT for Philae BUT slumbering probot could phone home again as comet nears Sun

Slx

It's a shame it didn't have a small nuclear battery on board like the Mars rovers.

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Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'

Slx

The ESA has a significant but small budget compared to NASA.

€4.28 billion (about $5.51 US)

NASA has budgets of around $18.4 billion or so.

ESA Membership:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK are all the current members.

Canada's had associate membership since 1979 and the European Union itself is also a member and contributes quite a bit of the cash (slightly less than France and Germany though)

Total cost to Europeans on average €3.50 each or 20 cents per year for the duration of the Rosetta programme.

Seems like value for money, considering I lost many times more than that down the back of the sofa this week alone.

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Slx

It's actually not German, it's very much pan-European

It's very very much a product of European engineering.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philae_(spacecraft)

Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom all contributed pretty serious technology to it.

Europe has shed loads of technology when you bring it all together. We should be doing more of this kind of stuff and less wrangling with unruly banks that cost us hundreds of billions !

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Sky: We're no longer calling ourselves British. Yep. And Broadcasting can do one, too

Slx

Re: Pirate TV

Not quite true, Sky just broadcast from outside the UK in those days. They didn't need a license as it became a right to receive television from other countries via satellite.

BSB was overwhelmed with red-tape and over-regulation forcing it to actually own its own satellites and have duplicated satellites and use strange broadcast standards (DMAC). Meanwhile, Sky went on air with pretty straight forward PAL television and it rented space on satellites instead of owning them.

Sky's business model was FAR more successful.

I think the only reason they clung onto the BSkyB name for so long was because it's a legacy of keeping regulators happy in the early 1990s and pretending they were still nice, tame, sensible BSB.

It's easy to forget just how patriarchal the BBC was and how protectionistic the law was about broadcasting. Everything was about limiting competition and over regulating the industry which is why most European countries at the time had very limited choice on television.

Sky basically bypassed by making use of European Union regulations at the time and pulled the rug out from the old state monopoly setup.

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Slx

Seems like a reasonable move as BSkyB comes from the "merger" between the original Sky and BSB which in reality seems to have been a complete take over by Sky.

Nobody actually calls Sky BSkyB other than business journalists anyway.

Sky UK

Sky Ireland (recently split off from being just a marketing division of Sky UK's operations and now has a significant office in Dublin to support Irish customers for TV and broadband).

There are localised versions of a lot of Sky's content with Irish adverts running on them, but other than that they're pretty much identical to the UK versions.

Sky Deutschland

Sky Italia

There are several other Sky televisions that have nothing to do with them though like Sky in NZ had a minority shareholding by News Corp, no longer the case.

Sky in Japan, Sky México and Brazil are nothing to do with News Corp either.

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BEHOLD Apple's BENEVOLENCE! iMessage txt BLACK HOLE finally fixed

Slx

I'd still call this intercepting SMS messages as it's not transparent at all.

Many users don't realise they're sending iMessages and think they're SMS.

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Slx

Who said anything about "losing" them?

They are basically just intercepting and capturing texts.

I am surprised the carriers have been so laid back about it to be honest. I would expect Apple would go completely mental if a carrier were to intercept traffic to some iService in a similar manner.

Siphoning off texts in a non-transparent manner isn't really something I think is very acceptable from a transparency or data protection point of view.

When you send an SMS you expect it to go by SMS unless you instruct the device to do otherwise.

iMesssge is handy and seamless but just very strangely implemented.

Also why do Apple still remove functionality like delivery reports (a feature available for over 20 years) from SMS. Every other handset except iPhone supports this very basic and fundamental GSM feature that has been around since the dawn of the GSM system.

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This 125mph train is fitted with LASERS. Sadly no sharks, though

Slx

It's just a pity that the UK (and also Ireland although the population density there excuses it somewhat) didn't put more investment into electrification of railways.

Seems daft that the governments are pushing sustainable energy policies while railways are operating significant numbers of trains on diesel instead of electricity.

Rail is the ideal platform for electric transportation and realistically all but the most underused rural lines should be electric.

Diesel Intercity shouldn't really have ever been necessary in Britain on busy lines.

In France and elsewhere that's the case because they've access to abundant locally generated power and they use it for ensuring they've alternatives to petrol, diesel and aviation fuel where possible.

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Russian internet traffic detours through China's Frankfurt outpost

Slx

I think though it could easily be an infrastructure test of some sort.

There's nothing conspiratorial about being prepared for possible sanctions that might mean routing through China instead of Europe.

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Slx

There could be two politically motivated causes that I can think of.

1. Russian ISPs might be trialling alternative routing should trade sanctions ratchet up to a level that it impacts their international connectivity.

It would make sense to test other routing options with live traffic.

Or

2. perhaps they're about to cooperate on the implementation of a "Great Firewall of Russia"?

Seems like the Russian state is moving towards increased censorship.

That being said plenty of other states seem to have those leanings towards censorship too. Russia certainly isn't in a small club. Even some western states like Australia dabble in network level content filtering.

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Sysadmins disposed of Heartbleed certs, but forgot to flush

Slx

And that's only the well administered servers...

It'll be a while before your could safely say it's been dealt with.

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Ericsson boss sticks a pin in Google’s loony Loon bubble

Slx

Until one of them ends up at the wrong altitude and gets sucked into an engine...

Aviation regulators are VERY conservative for a good reason.

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Slx

Wouldn't 20,000+ balloons carrying chunky radio gear be an extremely serious hazard to aviation??

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Russia to ban iCloud.. to PROTECT iPhone fiddlers' pics 'n' sh*t

Slx

The problem is that the NSA and GCHQ through their spying programmes have now given a whole load of regimes all over the world a very valid excuse to do some very bad things both in terms of snooping on their own citizens and restricting the flow of data beyond their borders for allegedly altruistic purposes, but in reality in some cases, particularly the likes of China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc etc, it will come down to a crack down on freedom of speech and spying on their own citizens.

The sad thing is that the big western intelligence agencies have basically given everyone else carte blanche by setting a precedent and then arrogantly pushing that notion that it's somehow OK to just override people's privacy and democratic rights on the basis of nanny-state protectionism.

These snooping organisations have also done the US IT industry a huge amount of damage by forcing it to be complicit in some of these spying systems through legislation.

Unfortunately, it's getting to the stage that you can't really trust IT equipment from anywhere anymore. If it's built in China, there's a risk, if it's using US designs/software or is from a US company, there's a risk, if your data's trafficking through the UK or even France there's a risk it's being tapped... the list is endless.

I can fully understand why you need to go after terrorists, pedophile rings, all sorts of organised crime and drug gangs and other terrible things, but there's an element of data-trawling just because we can and because the technology exists to do so.

The counter risk is that because there's no clear oversight over any of these agencies, you've no idea what's being read in terms of intellectual property, financial information, sensitive government communications that might give a state competitive advantage, personal emails that could be used to blackmail someone or sway political campaigns etc.

Also, where does national interest end? Many countries would see the success of their own businesses as in their national interest and legitimately so. Does that mean that it would be OK for a spy agency to provide information about competitor countries' commercial businesses for example? I'm not saying that the US necessarily does this, but there are many other countries where it's hard to know where the state begins and the corporate entities and businesses end and they run almost more like companies than countries, China in particular is a lot like this.

It's a total mess!

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Former Apple chief John Sculley says Steve Jobs 'never forgave him'

Slx

Re: John Who??

Apple actually have a pretty significant presence in Cork in Ireland. It's not a really what you'd call a 'brass plate' office, there are over 4000 staff there and it's been present there since 1982, before the Mac.

One thing that people forget too is that Apple's been present in Ireland through all sorts of phases of its business. It's been in Cork for 32 year and during periods when it was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in the 1990s. It hasn't always been super-profitable.

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RBS faces BIGGEST ever fine for THAT huge IT meltdown – leak

Slx

Banks basically do two things:

1. Provide a range of savings and loans products that allow them to act as a source for capital investment in a prudent manner so as not to crash the institution into a brick wall requiring multi billion bailouts by the state.

2. Run a secure, stable, reliable transaction processing and financial information system that provides users with infrastructure to send and receive payments and that manages the bank's accounting systems.

This institution failed to do either of these core functions that basically define a bank. Yet, they carried on like as if they were doing a good job.

Can you imagine say a large retailer doing this?

They'd have to accidentally order in creates of manure instead of food products then accidentally set fire to most of their stores to even come close to the levels of incompetence.

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France KICKS UK into THIRD PLACE for public Wi-Fi hotspots

Slx

Re: Who cares?

Your local network's 'insanely fast' in that area because the network's priced the data so high that nobody's using it for anything significant.

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How iPad’s soft SIM lets Apple pit carriers AGAINST each other

Slx

Spain is weird like that. You've got to produce passports, proof address and have all that photocopied to get a prepay SIM.

It was easier to get one in China!

Where as here in Ireland getting a SIM works like this: Hello! Can I have a SIM please? ... Here you go... Would you like me to top that up for you?

Aspects of Spanish bureaucracy seem to still be a throwback to the dictatorship era. It's odd as they're really, really laid back and liberal about most other aspects of life.

You'd probably still have to do all that to activate your Apple virtual sim.

It's to do with not allowing you to be anonymous online or on the phone, nothing to do with the technology or the shops.

Subscribing to a domestic ISP requires your passport or Spanish National ID number too.

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Slx

This sounds like Apple wanting to be able to curate a list of operators that can choose from.

I like the idea of a SIM card. It gives the end user total control over which carrier they want to use.

The SIM lock isn't anything to do with the SIM card. It's just a way of removing normal SIM functionality to reduce competition.

This seems like a move that will end up with Apple and their partnered carriers having absolute control over your device and it might potentially exclude disruptors like small MVNOs that aren't Apple Approved Carriers.

Spinning this as giving consumers more choice is utter nonsense.

The carrier's SIM card can be removed and replaced by any other carriers' card. It's the device's SIM lock that prevents that, not the technology behind the SIM card which was designed to allow ease of movement between carriers.

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Nokia France leak: Windows Phone DUMPED in Microsoft Lumia revamp

Slx

Nokia is very significant behind the scenes like Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent.

Nokia handsets were just a consumer focused division and that's all Microsoft bought.

The Nokia Company is predominantly an infrastructure development company and R&D house.

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'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster

Slx

They need to look more "super"

I want to see more LEDs and maybe clear tubes with circulating CO2

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Shh! Bose and Apple ink SECRET deal to settle 'noise-cancelling' suit

Slx

I would love a noise cancelling suit!

It would be absolute bliss on noisy flights or when my neighbour's 30+ old burglar alarm decides to ring incessantly all night because it's detected a slight breeze or a cat.

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'Encryption will make life very easy for criminals and terrorists'

Slx

You should also provide the police with a copy of your house keys, your car keys, the combinations for your safe and regular copies of your diary just in case you're one of those child molesting terrorists.

That's perfectly reasonable.

Also maybe just have your post/mail photocopied and maybe just agree to provide information about your location at all times.

You'd never know! I mean anyone could suddenly turn into one of those child molesting terrorists at any moment. So we need to all rush and throw away every democratic freedom just to ensure that we're all safe.

Nothing at all unreasonable about that

(To be read with sarcastic tone)

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