* Posts by dan1980

2905 posts • joined 5 Aug 2013

Uber slapped with $9m fine for letting dodgy drivers pick up punters

dan1980
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Re: Land of the free

@AC

"Curiously, there's no obvious link between low crime rates and the penal system being reformist or punitive, or even policing levels. Probably the three lowest crime countries in the world are Singapore, Switzerland. and Bharain, which have a spread from the nasty punitive police state of Bahrain, through to liberal, lightly policed Switzerland."

It could be that a liberal country like Switzerland, where quality of life and democratic freedoms are amongst the highest in the world, doesn't need heavy, punitive policing while Bahrain, an authoritarian regime and one of the less awesome places to be born, does need a strict and harsh penal system to keep the rate that low.

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dan1980
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Yay disruption!

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Giza geezers' muon-geyser visor reveals Great Pyramid's hidden void surpriser

dan1980
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Re: Do not disturb

@Big John

Or a simple f%$k up. So yeah, possibly a few dead engineers and workers there . . .

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Fine, OK, no backdoors, says Deputy AG. Just keep PLAINTEXT copies of everyone's messages

dan1980
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Re: Lots of criminals in here

Whether you've got something to hide or not really revolves around a big question: "from whom?"

There is information about me that I am happy for the government to have; it is necessary and I think it helps keep everything working well. They need to know my financial and employment details to asses my tax obligations, for example.

Likewise my doctor knowing my medical information. It is to my benefit that he knows my medical history (though I strongly believe this should be 100% in the patient's control, should they wish it) and I am likely to get a more accurate diagnosis and more relevant, effective care if I provide it.

That doesn't mean, however, that I am happy to have any of that information stored in plaintext and (more) vulnerable to being stolen because, while I don't want to "hide" it from the those who need it, I most certainly want to "hide" it from spammers and scammers and identity thieves.

That said, there is PLENTY I want to "hide" from the government because it is, quite simply, absolutely none of their business and I shouldn't have to justify my right to privacy.

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dan1980
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Absolutely.

They (all of them) know that there has been - at least this time - enough of a stigma built up around the concept of a 'back door' and at least some education on the utility, necessity and ubiquity of encryption for day-to-day processes.

Thus, they are reframing the conversation by focusing on discussion of obtaining information legally authorised via a valid warrant. No 'snooping' you see? Nothing nefarious or clandestine. Nothing to abuse or worry about: just familiar, uncontroversial warrants to help catch pedos and terrorists and murders and drug barons and rapists.

The public knows warrants - those are the things the trustworthy officers and agents on The Bill or CSI arrive with in the denouement when the forces of good triumph over the villain.

That's all our governments want: to allow those always upright exemplars of civil service to enforce the law and protect us. But the tech companies don't care about protecting us, you see; they are trying to protect the terrorists and the paedophiles instead!

Those men and women in blue know who the bad people are and they know what they've done but Apple and Microsoft and the rest won't let them bring the dangerous criminals to justice.

Our politicians have learnt their lesson. They avoid talking about the process of getting the data they want and instead plead the case of the data itself, claiming agnosticism about the technical issues.

They are doing an end-run around all the complaints and consequences.

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dan1980
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@veti

That's the problem - he is OF COURSE talking about (and specifically about) hosting companies and ISPs and also mobile vendors and developers.

That has always been the focus: the data transmitted, hosted and controlled by these third parties. It's never been about the data stored on a random person's home laptop or a corporation's e-mail server.

Accessing that data requires the authorities to actually approach the owner of the data because the owner controls where and how it is stored.

Accessing data a user stores in Dropbox or Gmail is different, however, in that this data may, in theory, be accessed remotely without the knowledge of the subject. It can be collected en masse and sifted for relevance post hoc.

THIS is what they want and has more in common with 'tapping a phone' than executing a search warrant. With a search warrant, the authorities have to actually go and obtain the data (or at least the hardware) physically while tapping a phone allows them to eavesdrop - to spy on - the target unknown.

What these agencies are asking for is actually even MORE than tapping a phone because the stored data and communications of the digital world are frequently historic and so one can sift through for previous wrong-doings.

Will this help them catch criminals and threats? Quite possibly. Is it proportionate? I don't believe so. It's open to MASSIVE abuse, MASSIVE oversteps and puts EVERYONE - man woman and child - at significant risk due to the inevitability of weaknesses in process, technology and execution, not to mention the weakness inherent in those in charge of it all.

If the justification is that it will make everyone a bit safer from the terropedos then why stop there? Install cameras and microphones in everyone's houses and cars and offices, all fed back to the government.

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dan1980
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"I simply maintain that companies should retain the capability to provide the government unencrypted copies of communications and data stored on devices, when a court orders them to do so."

So what does this really mean?

For the moment, let's ignore companies and individuals storing their own information on their own equipment and focus on what these proposals are focussed on: online 'cloud' providers and mobile device/software vendors which store and transmit data on behalf of end users.

The upshot is that Rosenstein's proposal would prevent such companies from offering real 'zero knowledge' encryption either in transit or at rest.

Rosenstein (and the rest of the mob around the world) know full well that asking companies to store the plaintext copies is unacceptable and I am sure they know why that is the case. This is not a serious proposal: it is simply a doubling-down on their stance: they demand access to plaintext so if the providers won't agree to facilitate decryption, they must store data in such a way that it doesn't require decryption.

It is not a clueless attempt at a compromise: it is an ultimatum.

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Submarine builder admits dismembering journalist's body

dan1980
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@Alister

Yes, he is to be presumed innocent unless and until found guilty but he is no longer to be presumed to be trust-worthy and that means that the defence he provides is of low value.

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Australia's IoT security rating might work, if done right

dan1980
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Australia's IoT security rating might work, if done right ...

Ahh, so it won't work.

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Congress battles Silicon Valley over upcoming US sex trafficking law

dan1980
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Re: Nothing will change until this is changed ...

@The Nazz

'And as for free speech, and other amendment "rights", if it's not acceptable to falsely shout "Fire" in a cinema . . . .'

Setting aside the rest of your comment - which I admit I don't fully understand - the above statement is just not correct.

Well, it depends on what you mean by 'acceptable', of course. If you mean that to do so is stupid and irresponsible and therefore not acceptable socially then sure. But if you mean that it is not acceptable legally then you are misinformed - at least so far as the US Constitution is concerned. (The situation is different elsewhere but this story is about the US.)

The simple fact is that yelling 'FIRE!' in a crowded theatre most assuredly is protected speech. Moreover, much speech that is far more inflammatory is also protected.

Indeed, the only speech that is excluded from the protections of the First Ammendement is such speech as is both intended and likely to cause imminent criminal action.

How that fits into your argument is another matter - I just wanted to clear up this point as it is repeated far too often.

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dan1980
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". . . would make an exception to the blanket protection given to online platforms over what their users get up to.

You CAN'T just carve out a single exception because that's not how a blanket protection works - it's all or nothing.

The protection exists because the platforms can't be expected to monitor and police the actions of the users. If you make an 'exception' then what you are really doing is saying that the platforms MUST monitor and police the actions and content of the users and once this is being done, the entire justification for the 'blanket protection' disintegrates.

If a platform must have monitoring in place to detect content and communications that are involved in sex trafficking, then why can't that be used to detect and police communications involved in drug dealing? Or copyright infringement? Or libel?

Take an analogy such as, say, a car hire company.

Car hire companies are, obviously, not held responsible if someone hires one of their cars and uses it in a sex trafficking operation because, beyond asking for agreement to standard terms, they don't concern themselves with what the car is used for.

This proposed law is not meaningfully different than expecting a car hire company to identify just such a situation. They would need to implement more technology to do so - such as cameras and microphones in all vehicles - but the end result is the same: you now have a situation where the service provider is expected to monitor and know how their service is being used and to police whichever actions they are told to.

Or what about hotels - should they be forced to monitor what occurs inside their rooms to prevent sex trafficking?

Saying that this would reduce instances of the targeted crime and lead to prosecutions is well and good but the question is: which freedoms and protections are you willing to destroy to achieve that end?

Again, the very basis of the 'blanket protection' is that the platform providers don't - and can't be reasonably expected to - monitor and identify the activity of users. Once that is gone, how can the protection remain?

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Apple's 'shoddy' Beats headphones get slammed in lawsuit

dan1980
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@Boohoo4u

I've been thinking about the 'false advertising' side of this and I feel that charging such a high price for such a cheaply-made product is a form of false advertising. (Not necessarily in the legal sense, of course, which is really all that matters to Apple.)

One can talk about fashion and perhaps use the argument that Apple sells fashion items and so slapping a funky styling and a prestige logo on a cheaply made set of headphones and charging hundreds of dollars for it is clearly not unique.

The big difference between (say) a $200 t-shirt and these $200 headphones is that, when buying a $200 cotton t-shirt, you are not under any misconception that the item is made from some different material than the $20 shirt in the next store. And, if you are under that misconception, a quick glance at the tag will disabuse you of that. You have likely bought, owned and worn hundreds of t-shirts and similar items of clothing made from the same material and have a pool of experience and knowledge about how such a shirt will perform. You will also likely have a fair idea of the construction as, even if you have never seen a commodity t-shirt being made, you can intuit the process well enough.

A set of headphones is rather different; 99% of consumers do not understand how they actually work or how they are made or even what components are involved. Thus, they do not know why one pair might cost more than another. Also unlike t-shirts, there are large differences in actual, measurable performance beyond simple longevity and comfort - the latter of which can be subjective.

It is possible that a person buying a pair of headphones may have owned many other sets but the vast majority will be buying their first, second or maybe third set of headphones. Thus, not only will these people likely have little to no intellectual understanding of how headphones work, or what components are involved, they also have little in the way of personal experience.

Is that legally relevant?

Probably not, but I think it should be - at least in theory, if not specifically in this instance as $200 is actually not that expensive for a set of headphones. Generally, however, I think it should be recognised that the PRICE of an item carries an implication of the quality of that item, to a certain extent.

After all, if a $20 set of headphones were rubbish then everyone would be quick to point out that 'you get what you pay for' and would agree that no reasonable person would expect good quality at that price. Pricing a pair of headphones at $200 therefore sends a message that this pair is rather a lot better (not 10x, of course) than the $20 pair and it should not be considered unreasonable for an average consumer* - the target market - to say that such a message was conveyed to them by the manufacturer who gave the product that price.

The disclaimer is that I do not think there's a legal case unless Apple are refusing to give refunds. Even then, it's probably not going anywhere. My point is the price of an item forms part of the information being provided about the item and should be a consideration when deciding if the product has been accurately or inaccurately represented.

Again, that isn't the way it works, just the way I'd like it to work.

* - As above, I believe that the average consumer for a pair of headphones like this is not one who should be expected to be aware of how headphones are constructed or have a rich experience of audio reproduction to draw on.

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Facebook ran $100k of deliberately divisive Russian ads ahead of 2016 US election

dan1980
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Re: Where's the substance?

@Adam 52

"Some people bought adverts to affect the election. Either that's ok or it isn't, doesn't really matter who they are unless there are rules about limited spend or nationality."

That's the thing: it is illegal for foreign nations to do this.

No one (sane) expects that you can haul the Russian government into court for this but that is not the main issue. The main issue is whether US citizens assisted them in these activities - or even whether they knew because that is also a crime.

If, say, Jared Kushner and his fellows knew of these activities and provided targeting information to assist with the efforts then that is, legally, a big deal.

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dan1980
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Re: Just when you thought...

The real problem, for me, is Facebook's previous blanket denials that such a thing could ever have taken place.

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A furious think-tank boss, Google, and an academic 'fired' for criticizing ads giant

dan1980
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Re: Hmm

@Mark 110

"If normal practice was to run things through approval before publishing and he swerved it in this case then he is rightfully sacked."

Okay, but if seeking approval prior to publishing is required (rather than just a courtesy) then one can infer that Lynn was in the practice of doing this simply due to the fact that this didn't happen earlier.

Which raises the question: why did he (Lynn) deviate from past practice in this one specific instance? The clear answer is that he believed that, had he sought approval from Slaughter, there was a strong chance that he would have had to censor his piece.

Whether that censorship would have happened or not is up for debate but it is clear that Lynn was sufficiently convinced that it would - so convinced that he was willing to risk his job.

The other question that comes up is: why was the response so absolute from Slaughter? She claims that she wouldn't have censored the piece, which implies that the content was not inaccurate, misleading or in breach of their guidelines. So why terminate the relationship over a single* lapse in procedure?

Take a hypothetical parallel - a company employee commenting publicly via social media. Let's say a company is celebrating 5 years in business and a social media drone posts a tweet or whatever saying how proud the team are to be celebrating their 5th anniversary of selling high-quality widgets but, crucially, that drone doesn't get the required approval of the marketing manager before posting.

A response is needed, surely, to re-enforce that all staff must have public statements approved but nothing in the post would have violated any content rules and certainly would have been approved.

In such a situation, is it reasonable to fire someone for that?

Bringing it back to this case, the real test would be what the consequences would have been had Lynn done the same thing (in not seeking approval) but had published a piece that was supportive of Google and their interests.

For Slaughter to be believed, it must be shown that Lynn would have been let go in that situation, too.

* - One can strongly infer that this was an isolated incident and not a pattern as Slaughter would certainly have mentioned this history, painting it as the proverbial last straw. Had that been the case.

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Sonos will deny updates to those who snub rewritten privacy terms

dan1980
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"The most immediate consequence of nonownership is the long list of substantive rights we lose," they wrote. "The prohibitions found in most EULAs and enforced by most DRM contrast starkly with the default rules of private property. You can't resell a product you don't own. You can't lend it, give it away, or donate it. You can't read, watch, or listen on unapproved devices. You can't modify or repair the devices you use."

But, of course, obtaining a copy of such 'digital goods' without paying is entirely analogous to stealing a (limited) physical item.

(Not specific here to Sonos as they sell physical items.)

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To truly stay anonymous online, make sure your writing is as dull as the dullest conference call you can imagine

dan1980
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If this process is - or can be - automated, then I think we are missing the bigger picture: improving online posts.

After all, surely abysmal prose can be identifiable as well so to provide useful obfuscation any such tool must be able move a piece of text towards 'average' from either direction.

Going further, could such technology be packaged as a browser plug-in, enabling the viewer to translate Youtube comments into passable English on the fly?

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dan1980
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Re: Clever

Not to mention the assertion that one would not realise they were being carried to a tomb.

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G20 calls for 'lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information' to fight terror

dan1980
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The governments of the 'free' world want access to all communication occurring over the Internet

For this discussion, it really doesn't matter why they want this access or under what circumstances (e.g. whether directly or indirectly; whether with or without a warrant).

What matters is that they are asserting that such access can be achieved while maintaining the security of the communication being accessed and that is just a not truthful claim.

The tech industry has been pointing this out ad nauseam but our governments are, privately, undeterred. The reason they are undeterred is because they don't seem to care if they cripple encryption because they want access to this data more and view any detriment to public security and privacy as a lesser concern.

Our governments know (they must) that it isn't possible to provide this ad hoc, on demand 'illumination' without fundamentally weakening encryption as a whole so they are attempting to legislate their desired end-result, leaving the 'tech industry' to make it work.

The problem is that - as everyone should know - it can't work they way the governments are assuring us it will and the tech providers will have to cripple encryption to give the governments what they are demanding.

The tech industry will be forced to break encryption to fulfill the legal requirements the governments impose and the governments will then wash their hands of any responsibility - claiming that the decision to weaken encryption was all on the companies.

* - It really doesn't matter for this conversation.

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Microsoft drops Office 365 for biz. Now it's just Microsoft 365. Word

dan1980
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I don't think Windows 10 as a whole will be subscription only. Instead, I think that certain features will.

And this is the big issue with FORCED updates. Recall a recent update which removed the group-policy for disabling the Windows Store from Win 10 Pro, relegating it to the Enterprise version, which requires an extra license.

This license will now be available via subscription.

Cue the removal of more and more features from perpetual-license versions, no doubt, perhaps even culminating with the only perpetual-license version being the home edition, with all Pro/Enterprise functionality requiring a subscription.

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LHC finds a new and very charming particle: the Xicc++ baryon

dan1980
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Re: "are there any 2 or 3 quark particles that are not predicted?"

@Daedalus

"Since all quarks have a charge that is a multiple of 1/3, any three-quark particle has a whole number charge."

You mention the necessity of mesons having one quark and one anti-quark but skip that baryons are the opposite: they must have ONLY quarks or ONLY anti-quarks.

For example, if you start with a strange (-1/3) and an anti-charm (-2/3), you have -1 charge but no third quark or anti-quark you can add will leave the resulting 3-quark particle with a whole charge.

NOW, it is my understanding that the requirement of a whole charge is not what governs the combination of quarks but is instead 'merely' a result of some deeper rule. But that is a layman's understanding and when words like 'gauge' and 'symmetry' and 'iso-spin' and 'group' get thrown around, Dan is sorely out of his depth.

Of course, when you come to the charge of an electron being exactly (so far as is known) the same as that of a proton, things get profounding amazing and I am in awe of this wonderful universe (and those unravelling its secrets). But even then, if there is some 'grand unified theory' then there are real connections between the forces at play and so this is all, perhaps, to be expected.

Hence using the result of whole charges as a rule for me : )

The question I suppose at the heart of my earlier question is: do these underlying rules of combination preclude any combinations that would otherwise create a particle with a whole charge multiple?

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dan1980
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". . . observation of a particle comprising the two charm quarks and one up quark – something the researchers say is predicted by the standard model . . ."

Provided the constituents add to a whole charge, are there any 2 or 3 quark particles that are not predicted?

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Oz government wants its own definition of what 'backdoor' means

dan1980
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Standard fare - just recall all the verbal gymnastics from Brandis (et al) about what 'metadata' is and, specifically, attempting (not) to answer the simple question of whether a URL will be collected.

Just bluster through it all and keep pressing on in the background because - on issues like these - both sides are united in wanted more snooping on and control over the populace.

There's no battle for them to win because there's no real political opposition.

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Five-eyes nations want comms providers to bust crypto for them

dan1980
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Re: Breaking News: Water is wet

@Meph

I'm having genuine trouble believing that the leaders of multiple countries are thick enough to think that stamping their collective feet like petulant children is going to miraculously solve this problem for them.

Depends on what the 'problem' is. So far as our governments and their agencies are concerned, the 'problem' is not having on-demand access to any and all communication. I.e. - their problem is encryption.

They are smart enough, however, to know that demanding consumer software abandon encryption wholesale is not going to fly. They are also observant enough to know that the term 'backdoor' now carries a load of negative press (and rightly so), forcing them to use language that avoids - so far as is possible - any comparison or connection with a 'backdoor'.

They have been fought and, on these points, been beaten by the tech companies in the public mind. So what are they doing? Saying that they aren't going to dictate how the tech world runs itself and how they make their software - they will just insist on an outcome that they can frame in the most positive and reasonable light available to them: the ability to obtain information pursuant to a valid, legal warrant.

I believe that our governments understand that what they want isn't possible without either a backdoor or the complete removal of encryption and they don't care, so long as they can pass the buck.

For them, the problem is the existence of strong encryption - not how to access (strongly) encrypted data without weakening encryption; they couldn't care less about that.

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dan1980
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As I said in response to a previous story, our Governments are like transport companies setting impossible timetables for truck drivers and then claiming not to be responsible for their drivers speeding or taking dangerous stimulants to stay awake.

They are dictating an end result that REQUIRES certain processes and then disclaiming responsibility for those same processes.

"We're aren't asking for cows to be killed, we are just saying that you need to bring us a steak when we ask."

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Virus (cough, cough, Petya) goes postal at FedEx, shares halted

dan1980
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Re: If Only "Professional" IT Staff Updated Their Computer OS Software

Yes, everyone seems to expect agility, stability and security all at once. On the cheap, of course.

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Oz government says UK's backdoor will be its not-a-backdoor model

dan1980
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Re: Electric string

@0laf

Maybe.

It's always possible (some would say likely) that the politicians are clueless but I suspect there are many the world over who at least accept that securely crackable encryption is just not possible yet still push for this type of legislation.

When they say they are not asking for a 'backdoor', that makes me believe they do accept the impossibility of having such a thing and keeping encryption secure.

What they are doing instead is calling for the end result while wishing to claim ignorance or disinterest in how that end is achieved. I am sure that most know that what they are asking for is only possible by implementing 'back doors' - they are just trying to avoid the blame for that by making it the 'tech community's' problem.

They will say that they 'never insisted on or even asked for a backdoor' and that building them was entirely the choice and decision of the tech companies so they, and not the government, are to blame for their existence. The government, after all, only wanted access to communication as directed by a legal warrant - and that's totally reasonable, right?

It's like directing truck drivers to drive across the country in an unfeasible time-frame and then claiming that they never told the drivers to speed or or take dangerous stimulants to stay awake.

They are trying to insist on a result that can only be accomplished by taking certain actions while wishing to absolve themselves of responsibility for the consequences of those actions.

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dan1980
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Meh

Re: Mal and Geo

@Winkypop

I don't think they're "out of their depths".

I think they, like many politicians and nearly all senior law enforcement the world over, are strongly inclined towards state surveillance and general monitoring of the population.

The 'problem' for those folks in Australia is that we have not had any big attacks - indeed barely any attacks at all. Thus, there is no catalyst that can be leveraged; no public outrage or fear to exploit.

What they are doing in the absence of a direct catalyst is laying the ground work by trying to piggy-back off that of other countries - like the UK.

That won't necessarily get such measures over the edge right away but it primes the pump so that as soon as there is a hint of anything similar here, they come out swinging and urging.

The arguments will focus on the most extreme edge cases of violence and predation but the measures implemented will be broad in scope and unrestricted in application.

These powers will be used - regardless of whether the original catalyst and cause exists or not - and, once granted, the police and governments will resist any and all attempts to have powers they now view as their right curtailed.

So, business as usual then.

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dan1980
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Yes folks - this is what it apparently looks like to be brave and strong in the face of terrorism; to tell those who wish us ill that we won't change for them and that they can't beat us.

Thanks Malcolm and George - it's nice to know that you are out there protecting our freedoms and showing the world just how unafraid we are.

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Ex-NSA bod sues US govt for 'illegally spying' on Americans: We drill into 'explosive' 'lawsuit'

dan1980
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I am reminded of Close Encounters of the Third Kind when Richard Dreyfuss's character (Roy) joins a group of folk questioning the authorities about the strange events witnessed and reported.

In a nice bit of acting, you can see Dreyfuss's face drop and his fervour get replaced with disappointment and resignation as one of his fellow petitioners explains how he "saw bigfoot once".

The message matters, but the messenger can sometimes matter just as much.

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Senator blows a fuse as US spies continue lying over spying program

dan1980
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. . . or, more succinctly:

"Hey, NSA! Nothing to hide; nothing to fear, right?"

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dan1980
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As noted in the article, the take away is that this program must be collecting a whole load of data on a heap of US citizens.

If the program was operating as it should, within the limits specified and in the spirit of the authorisation, then the agencies have nothing to worry about and the program can be re-authorised because it's doing what it's supposed to within the boundaries proscribed.

If that is the case then the response from the NSA will show that and all nothing will be in jeopardy.

If, on the other hand, these powers are being abused then an accurate report, as requested, will show that and then the powers are in jeopardy.

In other words, extraordinary powers have been given and those powers come with the responsibility to use them as directed. If you abuse that then you should expect to have the powers removed or severely limited.

To the NSA et al: if these powers are really that essential for national security, why are you risking them by abusing them? Your abuses put the American people at risk!

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Cuffed: Govt contractor 'used work PC to leak' evidence of Russia's US election hacking

dan1980
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@Adam 52

I acknowledge your point but I did take that into consideration. The question I asked myself was: 'what new information has been revealed'? The answer was: 'not much'.

What was revealed was that Russia was actively trying to meddle in the election but were not successful in actually 'hacking' voting machines or changing votes directly. We already new this.

So what about the fact that it shows statements by Trump that there was no Russian meddling in the election to be false? Well, we already knew that too because every relevant agency in the US (and in several other countries) have come out and said, unequivocally that it did happen and yet Trump still maintains it didn't. We already know that he either doesn't trust the intelligence community on this matter or accepts the truth privately and lies about it publicly for his own ends.

The new information is that there were unsuccessful attempts that, were they successful, may have allowed the Russian government to influence the election more directly, but that whatever occurred does not change the agency's previous stance about the Russian influence in the election. They do not view this as changing the nature or severity of what they already know to have occurred.

And Trump does not care one way or the other because he continues to deny it all.

On the flip side, it is possible - though unlikely - that this leak has actually harmed an investigation trying to tie such attempts concretely to the Russian government rather than, as Putin suggests, 'patriotic Russians'. In other words, I think there was little - if any - gain for the public to offset the negative consequences to the contractor herself and the (small) potential complication of any related investigations.

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dan1980
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@Tom Dial

You are correct but I think there is a real difference not only in the volume but in the immediacy, with leaks coming out right from the start and no honeymoon period whatsoever. There is also a difference in what is being leaked, with some items leaked seemingly small and not overly consequential.

I think this last part is important because it speaks to a deep distrust in the honesty of this administration even when it comes to the smallest things. I mean, Trump lies uncontrollably about everything and his aides support him completely while almost all of his party make excuses, obfuscate, lie, avoid and ignore it.

There is just no honesty from the administration and no accountability from Congress so of course there is no faith in the government!

Of course, Obama was not at all immune and his administration saw the two largest leaks in recent times, courtesy of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. But these, I feel, are of a different sort because, first, the practices exposed were bipartisan and occurred across multiple administrations and second, concealing them was at least connected with national security.

To be clear, I don't think national security in any way justifies wantonly inhumane behaviour or the infringement of essential freedoms and liberties, BUT, it is a simple fact that a non-insignificant portion of the US population supported the measures that were exposed by Snowden and Manning.

I doubt any American citizen supports foreign meddling in the election process or having members of the administration working on behalf of foreign interests.

Thus, I think that the increase in the volume of leaks is related to a decrease in the trust in this Administration and in the Congress's willingness to even acknowledge the problems or do anything about it.

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dan1980
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I am pro-transparency and I believe that leaking can, in some instances, be in the best interests of the country as the country is not the government; it is the people. Too often our elected officials and the security services misunderstand that.

Leaks can undermine the faith in the government - the faith that they are employing trustworthy people who take their oaths seriously and have good judgement. BUT, that is only part of the story.

The truth is that people are leaking because they don't have faith in the government. These people are not malicious - they believe that the government will abuse its power and either misuse information or not act on it.

The former president and his team made the same call - they feared that the information that had been gathered would, under the Trump administration, be destroyed. They made a decision that drastic measures were required to protect this information and its value to the country.

Secrecy is important for these agencies and for the government. It is just a fact that it is in the best interests of the people for their governments to occasionally operate in secrecy and keep certain information hidden from the public.

The point is that the government and its agencies are granted this extraordinary power* solely so that they may use it for the good of the people. Patriots are supporters of their country; not its current government and when that government is acting in a way that benefits itself rather than its people, it is the responsibility of patriots to hold them to account.

All governments have leaks because all governments occasionally operate for their own benefit rather than that of the people. The more faith people have in their governments operating as they should, the fewer leaks you will see.

To the specific issue, I think this was a silly thing to leak at the moment and I think the person who did it was misguided in the extreme. That Russian interests tried to hack into these companies is not, in my opinion, an overly salient piece of information and not one that I can see benefiting the American people by its revelation. But the same measure, I don't believe withholding this information harms the American people.

If the NSA had strong evidence that the Russians succeeded in these attempts and were able to actually directly tamper with the voting process then that is VERY important but, still not enough on its own to warrant leaking the information to the media.

Why?

Because I believe the threshhold for such a drastic action should be the combination of important information that directly impacts the people AND the belief (or, better yet - evidence) that the government/agency is not acting on that information in the best interests of the people.

That this people risked her job and her freedom to release something like this is evidence of either incredible naivety or a deep distrust of the government.

I suspect both; I think that there is a pervasive feeling (not unwarranted) that our governments in general and the current US Trump Administration + GOP Congress in particular are dishonest as a matter of course and are fundamentally unable to be trusted to operate in the best interests of the people. I think that this is the base from which this leak springs and the naivety of the contractor produced some rather poor judgement. She saw something about Russia and the elections and that was it.

I feel sorry for this young lady but she works in a very serious environment with serious consequences and bad judgement is not a catch-all excuse.

* - And it is high time that these people appreciate that this power - to affect the lives of millions without needing to justify or even inform them - IS extraordinary. It should never be considered to be just a given that governments and their agencies aren't answerable to the people.

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Uber bros pull out wallet, $32.5m later the 'Safe Rides' row is over

dan1980
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Re: The goal is safety

@DNTP

"So part of the settlement is that Uber has to start doing effective background checks, right?"

I would think not, considering:

"[Uber] will stop using the term "Safe Rides Fee" to describe the surcharge it passes on to customers for the cost of running background checks on drivers."

If I understand that correctly, Uber can simple collect the surcharge and change nothing except the name. Which seems the likely course of action for them. Maybe they change some part of the checks or who does them but any such changes would more than likely be cosmetic.

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Event horizons around black holes do exist, say astroboffins

dan1980
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Re: Clever Chap, Einstein

@Bazza

"It's remarkable how well both relativity and quantum mechanics describe the world around us."

As i understand it*, the modern theories of the fundamental forces (excl. gravity) are a synthesis of quantum mechanics and (special) relativity. In other words, the Standard Model arises when one takes quantum behaviour and constrains that with relativity.

At least that's a lay-person's interpretation of an exceedingly complex subject.

* - Imperfectly at the very best.

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US laptops-on-planes ban may extend to flights from ALL nations

dan1980
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Re: Work time

@Ole Juul

"Not being able to do that will add an hour or two to the time spend working, either before or after the flight."

And, as you have to send your laptop off with your checked baggage before you got through security screening, you won't be able to get that work done while waiting for your plane either!

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Microsoft court victory prompts call for data-grabbing regime

dan1980
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"The fact they didn't suggests to me that it might not have been fully legal in the first place."

. . . or that this was a problem that didn't exist used as atest case to attempt to set a precedent which, if they were unsuccessful, would be a catalyst for exactly what they are doing trying to do now.

The point is that they insist that what they are doing and want to do is right so having a court tell them they are wrong only sees them claim the courts are now wrong and need to be, effectively, circumvented by new powers.

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dan1980
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"In short, we want it both ways. We want a legal regime that both bypasses and respects privacy barriers, as the situation demands."

The problem with that is in who gets to decide which situations 'demand' which course of action and how.

And that's always the problem with these types of heavy-handed grabs - it's always about the government wanting to be able to deny rights and ignore due process at will, with only their say so as justification.

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UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

dan1980
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@AC

There is another dimension to this, which is the rhetoric or blaming the overseas tech companies and thereby attempting to frame this as big, rich, multinational corporations fighting against the UK. They are trying to instill an 'us-vs-them' mentality, with the absurdity that 'us' is the UK people and the UK government and 'them' is the easily-hated power of 'big tech'.

In fact, the opposite is far closer to the truth - it's the government vs the people with the tech industry, taking a stance that is for the good of people.

Sure, most of these big tech companies are doing it for selfish reasons because they are worried about losing business but that's fine by me - that's how the free market is supposed to look: companies that offer services people want make a profit and prosper while those who don't lose money and fail.

The reason is, really, beside the point - in opposing the government, it's the tech companies taking a stance that protects the people overall and in the long term.

92
5

FCC revised net neutrality rules reveal cable company control of process

dan1980
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"In some cases, it is embarrassingly transparent."

Well, it would be embarrassing for anyone with a sense of shame but, as has been proven time and again, politicians are not amongst that number.

Does this man* look like he has any shame:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBYWFAKl1bQ

No, politicians - the successful ones - are a special breed and are almost defined by their shamelessness.

* - Sure, he isn't part of the FCC but you get the point. Possibly.

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Republicans' net neutrality attack written by… you guessed it, the cable lobby

dan1980
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"But the fact that their own briefing documents are being written by a special interest group is extraordinary even for Washington, DC."

Really?

Haven't there been instances of entire bills being written by lobby groups?

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Proposed PATCH Act forces US snoops to quit hoarding code exploits

dan1980
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For any politicians (the world over) who oppose this - on the grounds that to enact this law would cripple law enforcement agencies and remove necessary tools - I would ask a simple question: what happens if software gets released WITHOUT any relevant, exploitable bugs?

Surely that is an aspiration, no?

If the US agencies RELY on software being buggy then does that mean they are useless without such (unwitting) external assistance?

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Virtual reality upstart UploadVR allegedly had in-house 'kink room,' drugs, rampant sexism

dan1980
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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Is there are a new sheriff in town?

Okay, yeah, there was some intolerant stuff but why remove that wonderful alt-right, arm-chair philosopher bingo board? (The one with Marxist rabbits and so forth.)

I figured someone was just using amanfrommars' world-famous Word Salad recipe.

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dan1980
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Re: Sour grapes

@Chairman of the Bored

You are correct - 'fighting fire with fire' can indeed curtail such behaviour.

BUT, no part of this is made okay by the victim not loudly, openly ridiculing the offenders. Their behaviour cannot be made blameless simply because it was not challenged and an employees right to respect shouldn't depend on their ability and/or willingness to hit back.

An employee does not need to somehow earn the right to work free of harassment and sexual advances.

I know that's not what you're saying - this comment is more an addendum to your own to point out something I feel is important to note: it is the COMPANY's RESPONSIBILITY to provide a harassment-free workplace, not the employee's responsibility to fight for it.

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dan1980
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Re: Sour grapes

@Adam 52

"Would anyone complain about being moved so that a husband and wife could have privacy?"

In what context?

If someone at work, whom I am friendly with - whom I see socially - invited me to a party at their house and a guest (whether my colleague or not) asked me to move to another room so that there could be some privacy for a bit of naked fun them so be it. If it made me feel uncomfortable that that was occurring or that it was the general mood of the party then I might leave.

But that was NOT the context. This was an official company event which employees were expected to attend. The event in question was described as 'mandatory', which means that it was an event at which the company is almost certainly legally responsible for the employees in attendance. If one of the employee at that party tripped and hurt themselves, the company would be responsible for costs and could even be sued. That might sound beside the point but it highlights that this situation was, by any relevant sense, a work event.

"You know what; I'm a pacifist so I don't work in the military, I'm a liberal so I don't work for Rupert Murdoch. If you're sexually repressed then don't work for a sexually liberal company."

The first part follows because the military's function is to project and use force - or the threat of force. The second part follows because Murdoch's companies - at least the TV and print organisations - function is to promote a partisan political view, to a partisan base, for profit.

The last part does not follow because, in this instance, the function of the company ("UploadVR") is to "[bring] virtual reality technology to the consumer masses".

If the company was involved in producing pornography or sex aids or running BDSM clubs or escort agencies then yes, someone who is 'sexually repressed' shouldn't apply. BUT EVEN THEN, those are businesses that have a responsibility to their employees and it is unacceptable for the owner of a porn studio to make overt sexual advances towards to, say, an accountant. That employee's job is to perform the standard functions of an accountant and no part of that role depends on the sexual attitudes or proclivities of the staff member.

The employee in question applied for and took a job at a VR startup.

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dan1980
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Re: Sounds like a fun place to work !

@AC (the 'rabbit' one)'

Irrelevant.

Ignoring whether what you say has any merit or not (for my money, not) this is about behaviour in the here and now, by people living in the here and now, affecting people living in the here and now. To suggest that the women negatively impacted by this would be happier if society was restructured is not of much use.

In fact, it's worse. Much worse.

You are asserting what people should want, effectively saying that those of us who believe women and men are equal and can play equal roles in society are wrong. You are saying that women will be happier if they don't seek equality with men and, instead, let me be the ordained leaders and women the humble homemakers. You are saying that this reprehensible behaviour is the fault, not of those people, but of the problematic arrangement of the society they are forced to live in.

The people who engaged in this conduct did so in the society we have right now and, in that society, that conduct is unacceptable. WANTING to live in a backwards, patriarchal society is not an excuse for acting as though you are.

You're blaming the victim.

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