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Using Adblock Plus to block ads is legal, rules German court—for the fifth time

Posted on March 31st, 2016 at 8:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


As a blog post by Adblock Plus’s Ben Williams explains, the court found that there is no contract between publishers and visitors to websites as a result of which users have “agreed” to view all the ads a publisher serves. “To the contrary, said the court, users have the right to block those or any ads, because no such contract exists,” Williams writes. “Additionally, the judge ruled that by offering publishers a way to serve ads that ad-blocking users will accept, the Acceptable Ad initiative provides them an avenue to monetise their content, and therefore is favourable, not disadvantageous, to them.”

In a significant rebuke to the company behind Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Munich regional court said that “the law does not exist to save or uphold publishers’ business model(s). Rather, according to the ruling, it is up to them to innovate.”

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The difference between urban, suburban, and rural

Posted on March 31st, 2016 at 8:56 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Trump rally

Posted on March 31st, 2016 at 8:51 by John Sinteur in category: News

orignal from facebook


Today I went to the Donald Trump rally here in Tucson out of sheer curiosity with three of my friends. The four of us went as neither supporters nor protestors, but merely bystanders. It was one of the scariest and most uncomfortable things we have ever experienced. I saw things that will be forever burned in my memory.

Multitudes of people were thrown out while Trump supporters yelled and booed at them, some with racial slurs, saying “fuck you”, “go back to Africa”, “go back to Mexico”, “get a fucking job”, the list goes on and giving them the middle finger. There were fights! Peaceful protesters were punched in the face! Every race was attacked by Jan Brewer, Joe Arpaio, and Trump himself. I was right in the middle of the freak show.

And on top of that, it was far from accessible for the disabled. Bernie’s rally in Tucson last night had an ENTIRE section reserved for the disabled and two ASL interpreters were provided. But Trump’s rally? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Very telling.

My friends and I became so uncomfortable that we left a little early. We were mocked by people as we walked up the stairs through the crowd to leave (“goodbye!”, “go back to your mommy and daddy’s house”, etc). We all are white and did not have a sign or anything to indicate that we weren’t Trump’s supporters but I think the disgusted look on our faces gave us away.

I have never seen so much hate and ignorance in one room. It was just horrifying.

I am utterly scared shitless of America’s and our future.

Please, please, do not vote for this disgusting, vile, hate-mongering human being (if you call that scum a human being).

[EDITED TO ADD: Ever since I posted about my simple yet honest experience at the Trump rally here in Tucson, I have received numerous hate messages from his supporters, some were sent to my work email (which is why I had to remove my last name and current work information). I have already gotten a death threat. I have been called stupid, loser, idiot, and a liar (even though there are countless photos and videos that substantiate what I wrote). I have been accused of being paid to do this (lol, what?) and of being a Muslim (how is that an insult?). I’ve had to block numerous harassers already.

I debated taking down the post, then I thought… that’s exactly what they want me to do so I won’t.

All the name-calling just shows how intelligent (or the lack thereof) and ignorant some of the conservatives are. It also shows that they’re unable to effectively communicate as civilized adults. I guess with no logic and education, they have nothing else to turn to.

Trump has created a very toxic atmosphere with an entire army of over-entitled, angry, violent bigots. He needs to be stopped.]

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  1. So, I assume the author will be voting for Bernie? He actually didn’t know this was occurring before hand? I assume that’s why he looks so confused.

Here’s a great idea: Let’s make a gun that looks like a mobile phone

Posted on March 30th, 2016 at 10:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


The genius that came up with this idea is one Kirk Kjellberg from Minnesota. He was “inspired” by the fear of a small child in a restaurant.

Kjellberg was carrying his own gun-looking gun when a seven-year-old noticed it and ran off to tell his mom.

“He saw me, and said, ‘Mommy, Mommy, that guy’s got a gun,’ and the whole restaurant, of course, turns and stares at you, and I thought there’s just got to be something better to do than this,” Kjellberg retells.

Of course that “better thing” wasn’t to not actually carry a gun around in public, but rather to figure out a way to have a gun but not clue people into the fact.

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  1. I guess children don’t understand open-carry. It’s supposed to reassure them. Isn’t everyone reassured?

US says it would use “court system” again to defeat encryption

Posted on March 30th, 2016 at 9:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


“It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with cooperation from relevant parties, or through the court system when cooperation fails,” Melanie Newman, a Justice Department spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to Ars. “We will continue to pursue all available options for this mission, including seeking the cooperation of manufacturers and relying upon the creativity of both the public and private sectors.”

The government’s statement was not lost on the tech sector.

“While the DOJ consistently claimed its motion was directed at one company and one phone, the fine print reveals it believes it can coerce any company to disable its security to provide government access. This applies to any company that makes products with software,” said Morgan Reed, executive director of The App Association. “App makers and IOT device makers can be forced to undermine the security that customers demand. These companies don’t possess Apple’s legal resources and are targets for a government agency desperate for precedent that allows for universal access to connected devices.”

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The racist hijacking of Microsoft’s chatbot shows how the internet teems with hate

Posted on March 29th, 2016 at 19:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


In the 24 hours it took Microsoft to shut her down, Tay had abused President Obama, suggested Hitler was right, called feminism a disease and delivered a stream of online hate.

Coming at a time of concern about the revival of antisemitism, Tay’s outpourings illustrate the wider problem it is feeding off. Wherever the internet is not censored it is awash with anger, stereotypes and prejudice. Beneath that is a thick seam of the kind of material all genocides feed off: conspiracy theories and illogic. And, beyond that, you find something the far right didn’t quite achieve in the 1930s: a culture that sees offensive speech as a source of amusement and the ability to publish racist insults as a human right.

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I will take a Windows 10 upgrade, a french fries and a large coke please

Posted on March 29th, 2016 at 10:21 by John Sinteur in category: News



Of course Microsoft is fully aware many of its computers are running public facing displays. They’re smart enough. They clearly have envisioned this actual situation happening, thought about it, and decided to not give a fuck.


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Najib Razak 1MDB scandal: Malaysian Prime Minister’s accounts triggered internal money-laundering alarm

Posted on March 29th, 2016 at 10:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


So much money was pouring so rapidly into the Malaysian Prime Minister’s personal bank accounts that it rang internal money-laundering alarms inside AmBank, a major Malaysian institution part-owned by Australia’s ANZ.

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  1. A gift from a mysterious Nigerian Saudi prince? See? It can happen!

FBI has accessed San Bernardino shooter’s phone without Apple’s help

Posted on March 29th, 2016 at 9:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Justice Department declined to comment on Monday. In a statement, Apple said: “From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.”

The government will now be left to decide whether it will outline the method to Apple in keeping with a little-known process in which federal officials are supposed to consider disclosing security vulnerabilities they find.

Michael Daniel, special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator, wrote in a White House blog post published in April 2014 that “disclosing vulnerabilities usually makes sense,” given how much people rely on the Internet and connected devices.

“But there are legitimate pros and cons to the decision to disclose, and the trade-offs between prompt disclosure and withholding knowledge of some vulnerabilities for a limited time can have significant consequences,” Daniel wrote. “Disclosing a vulnerability can mean that we [forgo] an opportunity to collect crucial intelligence that could thwart a terrorist attack, stop the theft of our nation’s intellectual property, or even discover more dangerous vulnerabilities that are being used by hackers or other adversaries to exploit our networks.”

Agents and prosecutors were focused for now on the San Bernardino case, and no decision had been made on disclosing the vulnerability, said a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Mark Bartholomew, a professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School who specializes in intellectual property and technology law, said he expected Apple would fight to learn about it so the company could fix the problem.

“They’re going to pursue this in the courts, and I don’t know where this will end up,” Bartholomew said.

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French journalist Florence Hartmann jailed by war crimes tribunal

Posted on March 28th, 2016 at 18:23 by John Sinteur in category: News


The journalist Florence Hartmann, a former correspondent for Le Monde, has been jailed at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, the body established to try the criminals she devoted her life to exposing. She was arrested ahead of the verdict handed down to former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić.


Hartmann was approached by UN police on a grassy area outside the tribunal on Thursday, where survivors of the war in Bosnia and victims’ families had gathered to wait for the verdict on the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić. The demonstrators attempted to close ranks around her to prevent her being detained, but later police managed to separate her, bring her into the tribunal building and drag her through the lobby as she shouted protests against her treatment.

So an “International Organization” who just happens to sit over here in The Hague is allowed to make arrests in public places?

W. T. F.?

Where does the jurisdiction of that IO begin? And where does the Dutch jurisdiction end?

The Hague is home to many international organisations, amongst which the European Patent Office in the borough of Rijswijk. It is by far the city’s largest IO employer.

The EPO has gone rogue under latest president, with a medieval labour policy. Union leaders have been sacked on fabricated charges, phones and computers are bugged throughout, and a Blackwater-style operator called “Control Risk” is in charge of “security” and conducts “interrogations”.

The Union has sued the EPO before national courts, arguing that there is no other forum where they can be heard. The first and second Dutch instances accepted the argument and assumed jurisdiction, and decided in favour of the Union.

The EPO doesn’t consider itself to be bound by ANY national decision, and on top of that the previous Dutch minister of Justice specifically instructed his officials not to implement the judgement!

The case is now before the Netherlands supreme court.

An EPO VP declared in so many words in a TV interview that it would disregard the supreme court decision if it ever came down against them.

Sure they have the same arrest powers? Perhaps it’s time to throw all of them out.

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  1. An “outstanding arrest warrant” by a war crimes tribunal for a journalist who hasn’t committed war crimes but has basically just been a nuisance?


Delete everything you have that owned by Adobe

Posted on March 28th, 2016 at 17:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


The goal, said Adobe Target Director Kevin Lindsay, is to “provide the ability, through all our marketing solutions, for marketers to be able to market to their consumers as people rather than as separate devices. Typically this is viewed as a cross-device problem. How do I take this group of devices and treat them as the person they actually represent?”

Adobe’s solution is to create a “co-op” from the businesses using its marketing solutions.

“Each of these brands has a piece of the puzzle,” said Lindsay. “Take two brands that will be members of the Adobe co-op. One brand sees a login, another doesn’t. The co-op communicates one piece of data alone, that those two devices are linked. The co-op can link up to 1.2 billion devices worldwide.”


Co-op members will give Adobe access to cryptographically hashed login IDs and HTTP header data, which fully hides a consumer’s identity. Adobe processes this data to create groups of devices (“device clusters”) used by an unknown person or household. Adobe will then surface these groups of devices through its digital marketing solutions, so Co-op members can measure, segment, target and advertise directly to individuals across all of their devices.


If I have three devices, but I have only logged in to the airline site on two of those three devices (say my phone and my laptop), the airline won’t recognize me on my third device (my tablet). This is where the Co-op comes into play. If I have logged in to other Co-op member sites from my tablet, Adobe will associate all three of my devices with the same individual (but we still won’t know it’s me personally). We call this association a “device cluster.” We will make the association between the devices and then pass that device cluster only to companies participating in the Co-op who have seen my device.

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  1. Deleting your Adobe apps won’t help. This is an Adobe Ad network where a “Co-Op” member will share your device ID (based from your http header data) and Adobe will map it with your login username used on the “Co-Op” member website on different devices.

    If it takes off, then you wont even have to ever have owned an Adobe application for them to start tracking you.

    Superficially it doesn’t appear to be that different from using your Google or Facebook account to log into a website.

  2. So, they’re reduced to this. Useless tossers…

How to send an ‘E mail’

Posted on March 28th, 2016 at 17:04 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Blimey! Rotary dial!

  2. Wow, this makes the Hayes modem AT command set look light years ahead!

  3. Good to see that the Beeb hasn’t got much further along the tech curve than that… 🙂

And the a-moral of the story is…

Posted on March 27th, 2016 at 0:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


The US pro-gun lobby is entertaining its younger members with its own take on classic fairytales, but they have a unique twist: firearms.

The National Rifle Association’s nrafamily.com website is featuring the pro-firearms stories. The latest Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns), written by Amelia Hamilton and posted last week, is accompanied by a picture of the titular siblings lost in the forest, as is traditional, but rather than being petrified of the story’s witch they’re supplied with rifles.

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  1. Ok, I’ve worked it out. Only good things can come of arming children & letting them wander around and shooting/threatening bad guys (because kids will never mistake who is, and isn’t, a bad guy) will only lead to them growing into fully-developed people.

    And yet, I don’t see the NRA, which is keen on having guns EVERYWHERE, shouting about getting guns into the Republican Convention this summer…

  2. Actually, a story broke this past weekend about a petition to allow open carry in the Quicken Loans Arena. That is the site of the convention, in Cleveland. Ohio is an open-carry state, but the Arena is a gun-free zone. Trump and Cruz have both identified gun-free zones as “bait” and “free reign for sickos”. The petition calls for RNC to pressure the Arena to allow open carry, or to move the venue. There were 35,000 signatures as of Sunday afternoon.


  3. Armed Trump supporters and the Republican establishment scheming to deny him the nomination? What could possibly go wrong?

Snoopers’ Charter: Only amendment politicians have submitted to controversial bill is to stop MPs being spied on

Posted on March 26th, 2016 at 21:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Investigatory Powers Bill – sometimes referred to as Snoopers’ Charter 2 – has been criticised by experts and tech companies, as well as by the government’s own watchdogs. But politicians have so far submitted only one amendment as it makes its way through parliament on its way into law, The Next Web reports.

As the law is currently written, it requires that the Prime Minister must be consulted if a warrant is to be issued allowing for the monitoring of an MP’s communications.

But the new amendment proposes that those requests must also go to the Speaker of the House of Commons, The Next Web points out. That is the only change so far submitted by politicians.

Clearly, laws are for little people.

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Alas, poor billy!

Posted on March 25th, 2016 at 21:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


Archaeologists who scanned the grave of William Shakespeare say they have made a head-scratching discovery: His skull appears to be missing.

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  1. Shouldn’t that have been “a head-snatching discovery”? 🙂

  2. Sigh. OK, Spaceman, you win the internet for the day-before-yesterday 🙂

Report: Apple designing its own servers to avoid snooping

Posted on March 25th, 2016 at 21:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


Apple has begun designing its own servers partly because of suspicions that hardware is being intercepted before it gets delivered to Apple, according to a report yesterday from The Information.

“Apple has long suspected that servers it ordered from the traditional supply chain were intercepted during shipping, with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration, according to a person familiar with the matter,” the report said. “At one point, Apple even assigned people to take photographs of motherboards and annotate the function of each chip, explaining why it was supposed to be there. Building its own servers with motherboards it designed would be the most surefire way for Apple to prevent unauthorized snooping via extra chips.”

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  1. Wasn’t there an article on here about the NSA doing that? About a year ago?

Microsoft deletes ‘teen girl’ AI after it became a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours

Posted on March 25th, 2016 at 11:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s not completely Microsoft’s fault, though – her responses are modelled on the ones she gets from humans – but what were they expecting when they introduced an innocent, ‘young teen girl’ AI to the jokers and weirdos on Twitter?

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  1. I think there are already a bunch of these bots working in the comments sections of most of the internet, especially media sites 🙂

  2. And isn’t it amazing that after all these years they have (mostly) steered clear of this wonderfully enriching port of call?

  3. Everyone on the internet is clearly a bot, ‘cept me and thee…an’ I’m not all that certain about thee…

These two books contain the sum total of all human knowledge

Posted on March 25th, 2016 at 11:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Rage Against The Machine-Killing In The Name(Less Angry Version)

Posted on March 25th, 2016 at 10:39 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Slaughter at the bridge: Uncovering a colossal Bronze Age battle

Posted on March 25th, 2016 at 9:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can’t be found in any history books—the written word didn’t become common in these parts for another 2000 years—but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology.

Struggling to find solid footing on the banks of the Tollense River, a narrow ribbon of water that flows through the marshes of northern Germany toward the Baltic Sea, the armies fought hand-to-hand, maiming and killing with war clubs, spears, swords, and knives. Bronze- and flint-tipped arrows were loosed at close range, piercing skulls and lodging deep into the bones of young men. Horses belonging to high-ranking warriors crumpled into the muck, fatally speared. Not everyone stood their ground in the melee: Some warriors broke and ran, and were struck down from behind.

When the fighting was through, hundreds lay dead, littering the swampy valley. Some bodies were stripped of their valuables and left bobbing in shallow ponds; others sank to the bottom, protected from plundering by a meter or two of water. Peat slowly settled over the bones. Within centuries, the entire battle was forgotten.

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Netherlands great Johan Cruyff dies of cancer aged 68

Posted on March 24th, 2016 at 14:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


Netherlands footballing great Johan Cruyff has died of cancer aged 68, his official website has announced.

Cruyff, who made his name as a forward with Ajax and Barcelona, won the Ballon d’Or three times.

He won three consecutive European Cups with Ajax and went on to manage Barcelona to their first European Cup win in 1992.

Cruyff helped his country reach the World Cup final in 1974, where they lost to West Germany.

In February, Cruyff said he felt he was “2-0 up in a match” against lung cancer and he was “sure I will end up winning”.

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  1. R.I.P. Johan. He was a big piece of my youth, which is remarkable because I had, and have, nothing with soccer. I remember being in France as a small boy, not speaking French, my communication was limited to “My name is…” and “What is your name?” Later I learned to say, “I am Dutch,” and the answer always was, “Ahh! John Cruyff!”

Pluto’s Wonders Come into Focus – Scientific American

Posted on March 23rd, 2016 at 10:56 by John Sinteur in category: News


The biggest surprises have been Pluto’s surface and atmosphere, which are restlessly active and diverse despite average temperatures of only tens of degrees above absolute zero. Some scientists expected New Horizons would find Pluto to be little more than an inert, sunlight-starved orb. Instead, the spacecraft encountered a world where nitrogen glaciers flow down into plains of frozen methane from towering mountains of water ice. Sunless half-frozen oceans lurk deep beneath the surface, and multiple moons tumble overhead through hydrocarbon-hazed red skies that tinge to blue at sunrise and sunset.

But beyond celebrating the visceral thrill of the Pluto flyby itself, or the intellectual frisson of gazing on full-color close-ups of a place so alien and faraway, most of these discoveries from New Horizons have so far found a muted public reception. The story has simply been that we went to Pluto, and witnessed wonders. What those wonders actually mean – for our understanding of Pluto, for planetary evolution, and for the broad history of the solar system – is something that the mission scientists themselves are still working out. They summarize their latest thoughts in this week’s edition of the journal Science, with a quintet of papers that constitute the synthesis of our current understanding of Pluto.

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Andy Grove

Posted on March 23rd, 2016 at 9:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


A survivor of the Nazi occupation of Hungary and a refugee escaping the brutal Soviet response to the Hungarian Revolution, Andrew Stephen “Andy” Grove has died at the age of 79. Grove was Intel’s third employee, the first person to be hired by company founders Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce. He became company president in 1979, CEO in 1987, and served as chairman of the board from 1997 to 2005.

Intel announced his death on Monday. No cause of death has been specified.

Overclock as you will, the non-maskable interrupt will eventually trigger.

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Legalize It All

Posted on March 23rd, 2016 at 9:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

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Government keeping its method to crack San Bernardino iPhone ‘classified’

Posted on March 23rd, 2016 at 9:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Justice Department made headlines on Monday when it postponed a federal court hearing in California. It had been due to confront Apple over an order that would have forced it to write software that would make it easier for investigators to guess the passcode for an iPhone used by San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook.

The government now says it may have figured out a way to get into the phone without Apple’s help. But it wants that discovery to remain secret, in an effort to prevent criminals, security researchers and even Apple itself from reengineering smartphones so that the tactic would no longer work.

Let me guess – they DON’T actually know how to crack the phone, but they’re sure they’re going to lose this one and don’t want to set the precedent. They will retry with another phone another time. Perhaps an Android.

What are the odds that some mysterious third party showed up, right at he buzzer, to help the FBI with Just This One Phone, as if the FBI really was after an unlock of Just This One Phone.

Because if the flaw they claim to have found actually exists, they would not reveal that, as it is bound to scare away bad guys from using iPhones. So, guess 2: they’re lying that they’ve found an exploit just to hurt Apple, and they’re telling Apple privately never to do that again or next time the hurt will be bigger.

I hope there’s some legal way for Apple to force the issue. I suspect they’ll petition the judge to disallow the FBI to drop the case.

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  1. Why is it that so many people think it is ok for a private company to decide over the safety of a nation and it’s people? Isn’t it the whole idea of having a government that decides to balance these things? There’s no such thing as an absolute right to privacy, nor an absolute right to free speech. If what you plan to say or do hurts others in disproportionate ways, these rights can and have to be limited. It’s not up to Apple or any company to decide over these matters. That is the prerogative of the legislator and courts.
    Apple taking the stance it should not help the FBI is put into a frame of ‘public interest’. Please do not forget Apple does NOT serve public interest, but it’s own private economic company interest, whichever way they frame their argument.
    Serving the public interest means balancing privacy of every smartphone user against providing measures to keep everyone safe. When you take a peek at crime figures, you’ll know this is not an easy task, and there is no quick solution to the problem at hand. Never providing access to a phone is an absolute, and absolutes will not work when you have to balance freedom against protection.
    Why the FBI is using this argument is unclear, it could be to put pressure on Apple indeed. It is unfortunate that it may have the effect that there will be no court ruling, but the legislator will still have an obligation to provide for a well balanced answer to the question at hand if old and possibly obsolete legislation doens’t seem to do that effectively.

  2. here’s no such thing as an absolute right to privacy, nor an absolute right to free speech.

    The problem is that in this case, yes there is. Choice behind door number 1: phones are encrypted and no government or hacker can get into it, and behind number 2: phones have a backdoor and every government and every hacker can get into it.

    You used to be right, that there’s a balance between conflicting interests. The problem is that the way this particular technology works is that there is no balance possible. It’s either encrypted and secure or it is not.

  3. You are talking about technical possibilities. I was talking about rights. Even though it may technically be possible to create an absolutely secure device (which from a scientific point of view is very arguable), this might not be a desirable thing from a rights point of view, as it makes balancing rights impossible. And yes, when balancing you have to take into account all sorts of misuse, and decide whether or not such misuse is an acceptable risk or not given the interests involved. This is something not for Apple or any other company to decide, as they are a private party acting in their own private interests, but something that is about public interests.
    So the choice is not about which is technically possible and/or what risks are involved, but which is socially acceptable. That is decided in legislation and through the courts. They should decide whether or not a phone that cannot be opened by government in view of their efforts to keep people safe is acceptable, given the risk that it may aid those of ill will. Or that there should be a way in, even though this might be abused by those of ill will.

  4. Nope – it’s decided in actual practical use. Imagine country X deciding through legislation that government must be able to read iMessage content. Let’s ignore for the moment that this makes all iMessage content worldwide readable to all government and crooks. How would that work out in reality? Everybody worldwide stops using iMessage and moves on to yMessage, an app from a company who has no presence in country X so the fresh legislation has done nothing to solve the problem the legislation is supposed to solve.

    As a result – if it is socially acceptable to do full secure encryption in one country, all countries will see more and more people use it until legislation is irrelevant.

    So the real choice isn’t if a secure device should be created – it will be. The real choice is if you want your own citizens at least partially vulnerable to hackers and foreign governments or not.

    It used to be “people have the rights the government grant them” and it’s turning into a “people have the rights they bother to take”. The only thing left to government and legislation is what kind of decryption attempts are acceptable. Or, more specifically, if rubber-hose cryptanalysis is socially acceptable or not.

  5. “There’s no such thing as an absolute right to privacy, nor an absolute right to free speech.” simply means there is ONLY an absolute right for governments to take them away and that is absolutely WRONG.

  6. All of this would be true, if it weren’t for the fact that Apple, a US based company, is selling their products on the US market and a US government agency asked a US judge for access. US politics may decide that creating products for the US market is unlawful when there’s no possibility of US agencies to access these devices in specific cases, such as when a court order has been issued. A judge can order Apple to aid in giving access to the phone, the same way a phone company can be told to give access to a phonecall.

    This is a battle about who makes the rules: can a company make the rules on privacy protection? I should think not. The EU has forced Google, a US based company, to abide by EU law on the right to be forgotten. Apple wants to prove to customers it doesn’t easily bend over when asked by the FBI. The question of whether they should or should not cooperate is one of balancing rights of privacy vs protection. Apple sells products, period. It does not in the market of protecting rights, the way can be expected of governments. Of course Apple will not give up easily, most likely because they think it is in their best commercial interest.

  7. question of whether they should or should not cooperate is one of balancing rights of privacy vs protection.

    You keep missing the point. If I use a non-US app that uses OTR, the feds can go piss up a rope, there’s no way they can get to the content, no matter how much they get Apple to roll over and play dead, no matter how eagerly or not they cooperate, no matter what the law says.

    All this so-called “balancing” you mention does is drive people to use OTR apps instead of iMessage, and it then does not matter where the “balance” ends up.

    So: either support full encryption without backdoor so that everybody has it, or find a “balance”, and only the technologically ignorant won’t have it.

  8. Knowing our government, it will either be a pick or a hammer.

Before We Even Know The Details, Politicians Rush To Blame Encryption For Brussels Attacks

Posted on March 23rd, 2016 at 8:54 by John Sinteur in category: News


“We do not know yet what role, if any, encrypted communications played in these attacks,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

“But we can be sure that terrorists will continue to use what they perceive to be the most secure means to plot their attacks,” he added.

Okay, if you don’t know, how about shutting the fuck up until you do know?

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  1. Ah John, a politician shutting their mouth? Like asking in a lawyer to plug is butt. Oh wait, not much difference. 🙂

NYPD: Teacher Killed by Cop in Crosswalk “Assumed Risk” by Crossing Street

Posted on March 22nd, 2016 at 23:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


NYPD and the city Law Department are fighting a lawsuit filed by the family of a Brooklyn man who was killed in a crosswalk by an on-duty officer, on the grounds that the victim behaved recklessly by crossing the street.

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Posted on March 22nd, 2016 at 15:22 by John Sinteur in category: News

The problem is that moderates of all faiths are committed to reinterpreting or ignoring outright the most dangerous and absurd parts of their scripture, and this commitment is precisely what makes them moderates. But it also requires some degree of intellectual dishonesty because moderates can’t acknowledge that their moderation comes from outside the faith. The doors leading out of scriptural literalism simply do not open from the inside.

In the 21st century, the moderate’s commitment to rationality, human rights, gender equality, and every other modern value, values that are potentially universal for human beings, comes from the last 1000 years of human progress, much of which was accomplished in spite of religion, not because of it. So when moderates claim to find their modern ethical commitments within scripture, it looks like an exercise in self-deception. The truth is that most of our modern values are antithetical to the specific teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And where we do find these values expressed in our holy books, they are almost never best expressed there.

Moderates seem unwilling to grapple with the fact that all scriptures contain an extraordinary amount of stupidity and barbarism, that can always be rediscovered and made wholly anew by fundamentalists, and there’s no principle of moderation internal to the faith that prevents this. These fundamentalist readings are, almost by definition, more complete and consistent, and therefore more honest. The fundamentalist picks up the book and says, “Ok, I’m just going to read every word of this and do my best to understand what god wants from me – I’ll leave my personal biases completely out of it.” Conversely, every moderate seems to believe that his interpretation and selective reading of scripture is more accurate than god’s literal words.

  • Sam Harris

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  1. We tend to define ‘moderates’ based on how much of their religion they’re willing to abandon in order to adopt a more reasonable position. And it never seems to occur to them that the more of it they stop believing, the more reasonable they become. And they never seem capable of following that through to its logical conclusion.

  2. Good point, well made.

    The moderate position is undermined by what exactly is being believed. If you believe in a sky god who is all-powerful and demands certain behaviours and tributes from us, how is it possible to be anything other than fundamentalist? The fact that believing such tosh is lunatic delusion makes the lip service paid to it by moderates really hard to understand. Not least because their position acts to empower and enable the fundamentalists.

  3. @John: What a concise statement! Perfect! So, what solution is suggested?

  4. Do I look like I have solutions for millennia old problems?

  5. Exactly, there is no solution. The US and Europe already know the violent attacks will continue. The futile attempts at protection give the people a false sense of security so business can continue as usual.

Five prisons to close as falling crime rate leaves cells empty – DutchNews.nl

Posted on March 21st, 2016 at 23:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


he Telegraaf says it has obtained internal documents revealing that the government plans to shut five prisons, with the loss of 1,900 jobs. A further 700 staff will be given ‘mobile’ positions, though the exact meaning of this is unclear.
The downward trend in crime, which has fallen by an average of 0.9% in recent years, is expected to mean 3,000 prison cells and 300 youth detention places will be surplus to requirements in five years’ time.
Van der Steur also said that judges were imposing shorter sentences, meaning criminals were spending less time on average in jail. More serious crimes are also becoming less common, he added.

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  1. This sounds like good news!

The Risks Digest Volume 29: Issue 37

Posted on March 21st, 2016 at 22:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


911 is the phone number for emergency services in the US and Canada, but because of fears that someone might not be able to “find the 11 key”, it is sometimes spelled 9-1-1. (Apparently there is no concern for people who might not be able to find the hyphen key.)

Last night in Toronto the father of a 3-month-old baby stepped out of his car and left the engine running, and the car was stolen with the child inside. In due course the police issued an AMBER Alert, which included an automated announcement broadcast on radio stations, and the baby was found safe, asleep in the abandoned car.

Now I never listen to radio if I can avoid it, but my wife told me about this this morning: the AMBER announcement on the radio was not recorded, but voice-synthesized. And in the part where it said to call the police if you had information, it gave the number to call as “September 1, 2001”.

(But if it had been entered as 911, would the synthesized speech have pronounced it “nine hundred eleven”?)

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  1. I heard the alert on CBC Radio. The whole message was so distorted that we couldn’t understand any of the details. I searched for “Amber Alert Ontario” on the computer.

    During the last Amber Alert issued March 8, some people complained that their TV viewing was interrupted. The response from the police was, “Too bad.”

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