* Posts by Pseu Donyme

248 posts • joined 10 May 2011

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How Apple is taming the ad biz. Just don't expect Google or Zuck to follow

Pseu Donyme

Re: What about...

Thanks, I tried to be very careful with them; a joke of a sort (to a retired (C-)programmer sometimes struggling to balance his parentheses to the satisfaction of (g)cc, anyways) seemed to be emerging as I was writing my short missive, which seemed to ((((perhaps) almost) reasonably) legitimately) call ever more nested parentheses. [Per above I can confirm that unbalanced braces are jarring. :/ (Although I'm not sure if it is (undiagnosed) OCD or merely a result of decades of nagging by cc and her relatives; these may amount to the same thing (or close enough) in practice (?).)]

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Pseu Donyme

Re: What about...

Indeed. No third party cookies. In fact, no cookies other than session cookies. These should be the default settings of any browser (by law (with draconian punishment for violations (and something even worse for anything that could be construed as an attempt to circumvent (the letter or (especially) the intent of) the law))).

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First big Privacy Shield review has ended – and yep, it's great! Just don't ask about mass spying

Pseu Donyme

I'm having mixed feelings as to whether I would like to try some of what those responsible for the EU side of this 'deal' have been smoking.

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Shock: Brit capital strips Uber of its taxi licence

Pseu Donyme

Oh dear, oh dear

Too bad. (not)

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Apocalypse now: Ad biz cries foul over Apple's great AI cookie purge

Pseu Donyme

Humbug

Session cookies only. Separate session for each tab.

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Social media vetting for US visas go live

Pseu Donyme

Re: 15 years of history?

This could be meant to be impossibly onerous in practice without being strictly impossible in theory i.e. a de facto travel ban (v 3). As a bonus, if someone still manages to get visa approval, they have most likely left something out in the application and this can be used as a pretext to jail and/or deport them at will (neatly working around pesky legal constraints that might apply to a person physically in the US with a valid visa).

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Pseu Donyme

> In fact, any country can ...

I suppose any country can also put anyone against the wall when there, or have someone assassinated while in another country. That something can be done doesn't make it right. For this reason most countries have chosen to limit what they can do by domestic law and by signing international treaties. In this context the US used be an ardent proponent of human rights; sadly, this has given way to seeking legalistic loopholes to work around them* in the sense that human rights apply simply because one is a human being.

* e.g. Gitmo, drone strikes, entirely unfettered mass surveillance of foreigners

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Sick of Java and C++? Google pours a cup o' Kotlin for Android devs

Pseu Donyme

Re: Noob question

I suppose args has a similar purpose to argc and argv in C main(): the program gets the arguments it is invoked with (if any) trough this. In your example they are not used for anything, but they could be so they are part of the interface / function signature of Kotlin's main().

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EC fines Facebook €110m for 'misleading' data on WhatsApp deal

Pseu Donyme

Re: EU Competition Commissioner said:

Indeed. 110 M € in this context is too small by two to three orders of magnitude. In general, I suppose fines to companies should be such that getting several within a few years would result in bankruptcy. If they are meant to have an effect, that is.

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Republicans go all Braveheart again with anti-net neutrality bill

Pseu Donyme

re: "Obama!"

!Obama morelike?

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Your internet history on sale to highest bidder: US Congress votes to shred ISP privacy rules

Pseu Donyme

weaken Privacy Shield?

Fear not, for Privacy Shield is about shielding US corps from having to give a hoot about the privacy of us EU plebs.

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Pseu Donyme

Re: WTF?

>I'm curious to know how this was argued.

"Now Mr Congressman, about that campaign contribution ..."

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That CIA exploit list in full: The good, the bad, and the very ugly

Pseu Donyme

I'll have to object to the idea (a tautology, really) that being a spy organization legitimizes spying: in civilized countries this is illegal without a warrant (for a good reason). Moreover, a spy organization operating outside its native country / jurisdiction cannot legitimately have such a warrant.

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Pseu Donyme

Re: WhatsApp / Signal

I don't think any app is safe against local root access, never mind an exploit that allows running code in kernel mode i.e. unfettered access to the hardware: with these the attacker has access to everything the user has (and more).

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Brussels cunning plan to save the EU: No more Cookie Popups

Pseu Donyme

The only place that mentions "cookie" in 2009/136/EC* is (66):

"Third parties may wish to store information on the equipment of a user, or gain access to information already stored, for a number of purposes, ranging from the legitimate (such as certain types of cookies) to those involving unwarranted intrusion into the private sphere (such as spyware or viruses). It is therefore of paramount importance that users be provided with clear and comprehensive information when engaging in any activity which could result in such storage or gaining of access. The methods of providing information and offering the right to refuse should be as user-friendly as possible. Exceptions to the obligation to provide information and offer the right to refuse should be limited to those situations where the technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user. Where it is technically possible and effective, in accordance with the relevant provisions of Directive 95/46/EC, the user’s consent to processing may be expressed by using the appropriate settings of a browser or other application. The enforcement of these requirements should be made more effective by way of enhanced powers granted to the relevant national authorities."

From this I'd gather that cookies needed for shopping carts and such are ok, as are session cookies in general as they are not (permanently) stored on user equipment. "Analytics cookies", if they mean 3rd party tracking cookies, would seem to fall foul of this as they are stored on user equipment and are a privacy menace amounting to spyware. If anything, the latter should be more clearly and categorically banned (at least without explicit consent and a right to refuse without affecting the service).

* http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32009L0136

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Screw EU! Apple to fight back over €13bn tax bill

Pseu Donyme

Unless they have radically changed their ways recently Apple's claimed "26% tax rate on its worldwide earnings" doesn't seem credible or at least it is very much at odds with the findings of the 2013 US Senate investigation which found that Apple had managed to arrange to be tax resident nowhere for its earnings outside the US.

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FBI overpaid $999,900 to crack San Bernardino iPhone 5c password

Pseu Donyme

Re: I'm not sure how he thinks this will work on an iPhone 6

@Steve Todd: Well, I'd be delighted to be wrong about this if it means that things are better documented or at least better known by now (or always were). Last time what information was around (using an hour or three to look for it with the benefit of a background as a seasoned embedded systems SW engineer) left me with the above impression (admittedly with some of my own speculation having most likely blurred to the info by now). I wouldn't mind seeing a quote from the above link attesting to the secure enclave's nature as a physically separate, tamperproof* subsystem, in particular it having its own persistent, but mutable storage, physically separate from the general purpose flash (without which it is still vulnerable to this sort of attack); this is the main point where I had to rely on speculation (i.e. Apple very likely minding the BOM / extra size / complexity from an extra chip / ... too much to implement a feature the finer points of which the general public would be unlikely to appreciate).

* one aspect of this would be whether the secure enclave's firmware is immutable (failing which makes the kind of hack FBI was demanding of Apple possible)

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Pseu Donyme

Re: I'm not sure how he thinks this will work on an iPhone 6

Um ... as I seem to recall (from the time this was last an issue), the A6 already has the arrangement where a 256-bit constant is baked in the SoC only wired to the internal AES circuits (i.e. no direct software access). This means that cloning the flash and running the firmware in a VM won't work, but cloning the flash and running that with the actual hardware does (assuming that the only mutable storage in the device is the flash): this way at least the retry counter can be defeated by restoring the flash contents.

Unlike the A6, the A7 (and later) has the 'secure enclave'. However, rather than a physically separate processor with a dedicated mutable storage this appears* to be a virtual one sharing the system's flash chips as its only mutable storage. This is primarily geared at keeping someone with remote access (say, an exploit delivered via browser) at bay rather than someone with physical access (i.e. it keeps the iOS user and even kernel space isolated from the key storage, which is a worthy thing to have, of course). It seems Apple has not actually managed the latter; this would take your assumed separate tamperproof security processor with its dedicated mutable storage to keep the keys. This - afaik - Apple don't currently have. Hence, my impression is that there is no fundamental reason the technique (i.e. using a cloned flash with the original HW) wouldn't work on a iPhone 6 (or later).

* Apple seems to rely on obscurity for security here, afaik this is not properly (that is, publicly) documented

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When Irish eyes are filing: Ireland to appeal Europe's $15bn Apple tax claw-back

Pseu Donyme

A no-brainer ?

I wonder if Apple's lawyers and accountants knew full well that this could happen, but went ahead anyway: it seemed likely to work and the worst that could happen was that they'd have to pay the tax they owed in the first place.

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Making us pay tax will DESTROY EUROPE, roars Apple's Tim Cook

Pseu Donyme

re: Google and others

The Commission needs to start somewhere. Actually it started with Amazon, BASF, Fiat and Starbucks. I trust Google. Microsoft, ... will be dealt with as well.

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Pseu Donyme

re: tax deals

There should be none, really. Instead, corporations pay tax on their profits at the non-negotiable corporate tax rate, same for any and all, where the bookkeeping rules for calculating the profit are likewise non-negotiable, same for any and all. As far as I can see this is what EU Commission is after here so that competition is not distorted due to company specific deals amounting to state aid.

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Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that golden backdoor keys are a terrible idea

Pseu Donyme

re: von Neumann

What I'd recall was that von Neumann got involved in the US war time computer programs (most importantly EDVAC as far as the eponymous computer architecture is considered) and put together an excellent memo of what he learned as a result. As the memo got somewhat wide distribution despite being about a secret wartime program and was about the only source of such quality right after the war, von Neumann got pretty much all the credit, much of which should have gone to John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, at least. (Actually, for a long time, the Americans got all the credit, despite Konrad Zuse's earlier work and that in the UK on the Colossus. Sadly, these are still rather poorly known.)

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European Commission straps on Privacy Shield

Pseu Donyme

re: protects EU citizens, their privacy

Humbug. US corps, morelike, from having to give a hoot of the same.

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Facebook crushes Belgian attempt to ban tracking of non-users

Pseu Donyme

re: jurisdiction

It seems strange that a Belgian court would not have jurisdiction of what physically happens in Belgium: if the user / browser / computer (or other device) is in Belgium the hard disk (flash chip, ...) on which the cookie is written is also in Belgium.

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Apple pollutes data about you to protect your privacy. But it might not be enough

Pseu Donyme

re: "Modern data protection legislation which assumes that metadata is anonymous would need to be rewritten."

Re-writing would be ideal, of course. Then again what there is in the EU already covers this if interpreted with the law's purpose (privacy, self-determination) in mind. In this sense the the Schrems decision is very encouraging: the ECJ actually considers privacy and data protection fundamental rights to be protected as such.

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Get ready for Google's proprietary Android. It's coming – analyst

Pseu Donyme

>This goes against the entire reason Android was created. ...

Probably. Google bought Android Inc. in 2005, though.

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Pseu Donyme

Re: If it works for Apple...

While I wouldn't (at all) mind the wall around Apple's walled garden to suffer a fate akin to the structure that once circled West Berlin there is a crucial difference between Google and Apple: Google has a dominant market position in the EU (with Android, search, ...) while Apple doesn't (of course, Apple has monopolies within its own ecosystem, but then that isn't the dominant one within the general market(s), so, while I wish this could be acted upon it might not be possible under EU law ?).

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Pseu Donyme

In effect Android is proprietary already ...

... because GMS is. Most importantly Google's stranglehold is cemented by GooglePlay, which at this points enjoys an unsurmountable advantage due to network effect*. (Not that coming up with the other components (browser, maps, ...) would be trivial, never mind something phone manufacturers on razor thin margins were likely to pull off or even try.)

* i.e. the value of a product or service to an user increases as the number of users increase, which in this case happens because of the feedback loop of: more GooglePlay users -> more developers using GooglePlay (exclusively) -> more GooglePlay users -> ...

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Top EU data cop slams Safe Harbor replacement as inadequate

Pseu Donyme

Indeed. Like its predecessor "Privacy Shield" simply amounts to US firms being exempt from EU data protection. This is plain unacceptable as data protection is a fundamental right. Also, being exempt gives US firms a rather unfair competitive advantage.

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Pseu Donyme

Quite. The US to needs to adopt proper data protection legislation like just about any other advanced country. In the meantime I suppose the only realistic solution is to keep EU citizens' data out of the US.

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Google is the EU Remain campaign's secret weapon

Pseu Donyme

"It is vital that people should realise Google's potential (or actual) power." Quite. I don't think Google is actually under an obligation to be evenhanded and changing this would require something quite drastic. One such thing could be having the only permissible business model for search to be fully paid by its end users by micropayments, the idea being that a straightforward buyer-seller market* with competing vendors would keep search providers honest.

* instead of Google's constellation of interlocking, cross-subsidized markets amounting to the mother of all multi-sided markets (where a viable competitor in the combined market ought somehow to scale multiple barriers of entry at once)

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SWIFT finally pushes two-factor auth in banks – it only took several multimillion-dollar thefts

Pseu Donyme

How can this happen?

What I find puzzling is that substantial amounts of money can be stolen with fraudulent bank transfers. Or not that so much, actually, but that it can remain missing with the perps uncaught.

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One ad-free day: Three UK to block adverts across network in June

Pseu Donyme

>Some might argue...

There is that. At the same time ads are commercial propaganda (i.e. designed not to inform, but to manipulate). At any rate there is a better way on-line: search paid by its users (with, say, micropayments).

>"Google-dominated ad market"

DoubleClick's (=Google) ad servers market share of 69 % * seems dominant to me; this seems the most relevant single figure to the freedom of speech -angle mentioned above - maybe along with a global search market share of 71 % / 95 % (desktop / mobile) **.

* https://www.datanyze.com/market-share/ad-servers (as of 26MAY2016)

** https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0 / https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=1 (April 2016)

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Pseu Donyme

Micropayments or some other scheme amounting roughly to what sites get from adverts would be vastly preferable for a number of reasons:

- the current ad business model is a privacy disaster (for a typical user, at least)

- ads are commercial propaganda designed to manipulate and mislead; they undermine the key premise of an efficient market economy i.e. that of transactions between well-informed parties

- the Google-dominated ad market is a market failure / disaster in its in its own right: this is essentially not a market, but a set of interlocking multi-sided markets (search, Android, Google Analytics, Google Maps, ... and the ad distribution itself) where even some of the component markets are practically uncontestable monopolies due to the network effect

- a single company's de facto control of funding for news and other content is a freedom of speech disaster waiting to happen

- ad funded is not really free: the cost is added to the price of products and services; content providers could actually be paid somewhat more if the admen in the middle were cut out

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French authorities raid Google's Paris HQ over tax allegations

Pseu Donyme

Re: Google doesn't have sales in France

> ... it does appear to be legal.

Presumably the French authorities disagree (hence the raid at dawn).

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Half of EU members sidle up to EC: About the data-sharing rules. C'mon. Chill out

Pseu Donyme

Re: More barriers please

I quite agree, although instead of mere barriers I would insist on insurmountable bulwarks against any commercial use of personal information* without freely given, informed consent, revocable at any time; business models must be compatible with data protection (i.e. privacy), not the other way around.

* any data about a natural person, unless it is strictly impossible ever, under any circumstances for the holder of the data or a third party to identify the person to whom the data is related

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EU mulls €3bn fine for Google

Pseu Donyme

While this is a worthy pursuit in its own right - Google has a dominant market position* which it is busy abusing - the really big deal is Google's business model of, essentially, privacy violation for profit on massive, unprecedented scale. For the latter I wouldn't, at all, mind seeing them driven out of the EU (if not existence) by humongous fines (or whatever means, really)**. It is worth noting that the issues are intertwined: ignoring EU privacy / data protection law has given Google a substantial and rather unfair competitive advantage to EU-based outfits having to abide by the same.

* not only with search, but with Android and web advertising, at least

** sadly, the likely outcome is that current arrogance and foot-dragging is replaced with enthusiastic bootlicking once it dawns to Google that serious monies are at stake and with this they emerge relatively unscathed, just a couple of $ billion poorer

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The EU wants you to log into YouTube using your state-issued ID card

Pseu Donyme

From a privacy point of view the idea of using national id cards for logging on to the likes of Google (=Youtube) or Facebook is remarkably clueless. Instead there ought to be an explicit ban against letting them anywhere near the real identity of their users, or, actually, any information which could possibly be used to deduce the same by them or a third party (possibly with a narrow exception to enable investigation of serious crime by allowing IPs to be kept for a limited time for that sole purpose, only to be disclosed by a court order).

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Microsoft, Google bury hatchet – surprisingly, not in each other

Pseu Donyme

Re: encourage government regulators to investigate each other

>Sell them all naked, and make a pile of OS disks available.

Or maybe have Windows pre-installed, but have it ask for an activation code on the first run that'd be on a separate scratch card or somesuch, which could be left at the store for a refund in the amount the OEM pays Microsoft. (I don't see any compelling reason to keep OEM prices secret, on the contrary, requiring all Microsoft-OEM contracts to be public in their entirety would help to keep Microsoft - a de facto monopolist - (a bit more) honest and hence be in the public interest (in particular if the price of Win 10 is supposed to be zero)).

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Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods

Pseu Donyme

Re: Bull

> ... ALL information ...

Indeed. While in the US the concern may be only PII in the sense of information sufficient in itself to identify a person (such as name, phone number, ...), the EU data protection regime deals with any and all information about a person even when that information doesn't directly identify a particular person. In practice I'd think it is enough if a such information could be tied to a person by a third party for it to become 'personal information', the collection, distribution or even 'processing' in the most general sense of which is subject to restrictions, a key one among them being that this requires consent of the person about whom the the information is. Hence, e.g. collecting IP addresses so that they can associated with other information such as pages visited is verboten - or at least this is the German data protection authority's stance (with which I quite agree).

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Tweak Privacy Shield rules to make people happy? Nah – US govt

Pseu Donyme

The real problem is that the US (govt and companies) ought to take the issue - right to privacy in general and its modern aspect data protection in particular - seriously, but obviously they don't; ultimately the solution is for the US to adopt proper data protection legislation like just about any other advanced country, for US companies operating in the EU the solution is simply making a sincere effort to abide by the law there.

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Prof squints at Google's mobile monopoly defence, shakes head

Pseu Donyme

Re: Clarification please

>does Google enforce this in some way?

The beauty of it (from Google's point of view) is that it doesn't need to: at this point the network effect* alone results in a practically unsurmountable competitive disadvantage for other app stores.

* i.e. the value of a product or service (to a user) gets higher the more other users there are (which happens because of the self-amplifying cycle of: more Google Play end users -> more apps distributed via Google Play -> more Google Play end users -> ... )

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So you’d sod off to China to escape the EU, Google? Really?

Pseu Donyme

>The West could make its own alternatives...

In theory yes, but in practice not really. The linchpin is the app store, which affords Google a stranglehold on the mobile market akin to what Microsoft has with PCs*. This is because of the network effect, where the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it; in practice this means that once a player in a market gains some advantage to competition this will snowball into a self-amplifying cycle of increasing advantage resulting in a (de facto) monopoly, which also tends to be persistent because of the massive advantage from the network effect is also results in a practically insurmountable barrier of entry.

* the more people use Windows software [Google Play], the more sense it makes to develop software for Windows instead of other platforms [distribute via Google Play instead of other app stores], which results in more people using Windows software, which results in more Windows software being developed, which results in more people using Windows software, ...

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Panama Papers hack: Unpatched WordPress, Drupal bugs to blame?

Pseu Donyme

re: US connections, relative lack of

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/panama-papers-why-arent-there-more-american-names

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US govt says it has cracked killer's iPhone, legs it from Apple fight

Pseu Donyme

>Okay, who called this off?

A possibility is that both Apple and FBI did i.e. there was an agreement behind the scenes to Apple to continue unlocking its devices as it has until recently and the FBI to back off from the court case with a mealymouthed explanation: stakes were high for both and the outcome was unpredictable (not only from the courts, but potentially from the legislators as well). I suppose this is unlikely and I would like to think better of Apple*, but then they were among the other prominent US tech corps on the PRISM slides courtesy of Ed Snowden. Also, in this case Apple seems to have found its zeal for privacy advocacy only after asking the FBI to issue its application for the unlock tool under seal**.

* a trivial reason being that I'd like to eventually replace my Blackberry with something decent, privacywise, of course it is great to see a big tech player putting emphasis on privacy, but then doubt towards tech from the US is not without reason

** http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/technology/how-tim-cook-became-a-bulwark-for-digital-privacy.html

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London's $40m 'flash crash' trader is to face extradition to the US

Pseu Donyme

Re: Fix

Indeed. As far as I can see a stock market would work perfectly well if the highest bids were matched with the lowest asks (where bid >= ask, of course) at the end of the day and where the price paid would be the mean of the two ((bid+ask)/2) for each match: after all, stock markets are closed overnight and during weekends so the need to have a current price by the nanosecond simply isn't there. (The bids and asks should also either be final (no canceling) and/or only published at the end of the day after the trades are final to further avoid manipulation.)

(re: free market, a bit of an oxymoron, really, as anything free in the sense of lacking enforced rules ceases to be a market in a practically useful sense. A fair market, in the sense of a level playing field, would seem like a more pragmatic goal.)

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Apple tells iPhone court 'the Founders would be appalled' by Feds

Pseu Donyme

Re: @ Pseu Donyme

> How do you come to that conclusion? The SCOTUS ...

While a pragmatic summary of the Citizens United decision might be "money = speech" it is still not "code = speech". Also, Citizens United was in the context of campaign (advertising) financing intimately tied to political speech, whereas Apple's 'speech' here is software i.e. algorithms for computers to carry out, not disseminating and/or discussing facts and opinions between people. (Also, the crux of Citizens United was elsewhere: whether campaign financing may give rise to corruption or the appearance thereof. The implausible finding was that it doesn't )

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Pseu Donyme

If the best Apple('s lawyers) can do here is to invoke free speech, the odds of them prevailing don't look very good: this is quite a stretch at best, not made any better by a corporate entity claiming what at its core is an individual right.

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Hand in hand, TSMC, ARM head to 7nm server chip land

Pseu Donyme

Somehow this reminded me of the boast: "In the USSR we have the biggest microchips in the world." (a mock one making fun of their propaganda, of course)

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