1 Hour Ago Billionaire Goldman Sachs alum Robert F Smith made headlines when he donated enough cash to pay off the student loan debt of the entire Class of 2019 at Morehouse College; but Smith is also an ardent supporter of the carried interest tax loophole, which allows the richest people in America to pay little to no tax on the bulk of their earnings, while working Americans (like the Moorhouse Class of 2019 will be, shortly) pay their fair share.
1 Hour Ago TOSsed Out is a new project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that catalogs the myriad of ways in which Big Tech platforms' moderation policies backfire spectacularly, like the anti-terrorism policies that delete evidence of war-crimes needed by investigators and prosecutors.
2 Hours Ago Oliver Brotherhood is a British vlogger with over 3 million subscribers who has produced a string of very popular Minecraft-related videos under the name Mumbo Jumbo; yesterday, in the space of two hours, a quarter of his videos were claimed by music publishing giant and notorious copyright fraudsters Warner Chappell, who will now get revenues from those videos, and can take them down at will.
2 Hours Ago OG Users is a forum for people who steal login credentials for online services, mostly to sell desirable login-names for popular services like Instagram; it attained notoriety when Motherboard's Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai linked the forum to an epidemic of SIM-swapping attacks; a few months later, the Reply All podcast devoted an episode to the forum.
2 Hours Ago When Radio Shack released the Model 100 in 1983, it was a breakthrough for portable computing: an AA-battery-powered laptop that you could fit in a briefcase, with a built-in modem and an instant-on Microsoft OS that contained the last production code Bill Gates ever wrote himself.
3 Hours Ago Writing in Wired, Zeynep Tufekci (previously) echoes something I've been saying for years: that the use of Digital Rights Management technologies, along with other systems of control like Terms of Service, are effectively ending the right of individuals to own private property (in the sense of exercising "sole and despotic dominion" over something), and instead relegating us to mere tenancy, constrained to use the things we buy in ways that are beneficial to the manufacturer's shareholders, even
3 Hours Ago Google has published the results of a study of the efficacy of standard anti-account-hijacking techniques like two-factor authentication (2FA), secret questions, and passwords: the good news is that when these are used, they are incredibly effective at stopping both automated and targeted attacks, including "advanced" attacks of the sort that are often characterized as unstoppable.
3 Hours Ago Writing in Fortune, Beth Kowitt gives us a look inside the Googler Uprising, wherein Google staff launched a string of internal reform movements, triggered first by the company's secret participation in an AI/drone warfare project for the Pentagon, then a secret attempt to build a censored/surveilling search engine for use in China, then the revelation that the company had secretly paid off an exec accused of sexual assault, to tune of $150m.
Yesterday From 6PM-730PM this Thursday, May 23, I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what we can do about it.
Yesterday The 2019 Nebula Awards were announced and presented last night in Los Angeles: the prize for best novel went to Mary Robinette Kowal (previously for The Calculating Stars.
Yesterday Bernie Sanders has released A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, a detailed and bold suite of public education reforms reminiscent of the kinds of policy planks being laid down regularly by rival candidate Elizabeth Warren (I'm a donor to both Sanders' and Warren's campaigns).
Yesterday US District Judge Robert N Scola recused himself from a class action suit against Unitedhealthcare that alleges that Unitedhealthcare denied them promising proton beam cancer treatments by falsely claiming that they were "experimental." In his recusal, Scola revealed that he was a prostate cancer survivor who was cornered into accepting surgical prostate removal because his own insurer refused the proton beam treatments his doctors recommended; he also discussed a friend whom Unitedhealthcare de
Yesterday Wil Wheaton's 2017 standalone novelette Dead Trees Give No Shelter is a beautiful, spooky horror story in the vein of Stranger Things, following Jay Turner as he returns to the small Ohio town where his baby brother was murdered, 20 years before, to witness the execution of his killer.
2 Days Ago Bad Hombre is an award-winning satirical game created by 16-year-old Jackie George. Two days after it won the Shortly Award and was recognized in her school newsletter, Bad Hombre was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play (George notes that her town of Naples, FL is very conservative with a lot of Trump supporters and is suspicious that one of her neighbors reported the app).
2 Days Ago Pangea was founded by Al Goldstein, a Deutsche Bank investment banker who quit to found a massive, intercontinental payday lending outfit; he tapped the investors that he enriched with his payday lending business to stake him $180 million and bought up thousands of low-rent buildings in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods (which are also Chicago's blackest neighborhoods).
2 Days Ago In 2014, Quentin Tarantino sued Gawker for publishing a link to a leaked pre-release screener of his movie "The Hateful Eight." The ensuing court-case revealed that the screeners Tarantino's company had released had some forensic "traitor tracing" features to enable them to track down the identities of people who leaked copies.
2 Days Ago Gilead makes a drug called Truvada -- AKA Prep -- that was developed at US taxpayer expense, whose patents are held by the US government; Truvada is on track to eliminating the spread of HIV forever (people who are HIV positive but take Truvada are seemingly not infectious), but taking Truvada in the USA (where the patents haven't expired) is incredibly expensive, running $1,780/month, whereas in Australia, it's available as a generic for $8/month.
2 Days Ago After a blizzard of state-level Republican attacks on the right of women to choose whether to carry a fetus to term, Elizabeth Warren has added another plank to her campaign platform: Congressional Action to Protect Choice, a four-point plan to rescue reproductive rights from religious extremists and misogynists.
3 Days Ago Margrethe Vestager (previously) is the EU Commissioner responsible for handing out billions in fines to Big Tech to punish them for monopolistic practices. Vestager and I both appeared on the bill at Republica in Berlin this month, and at the time, I pressed her from the audience on whether she thought that the ultimate answer to monopolistic abuses was to break up monopolies.
3 Days Ago Economist international editor Edward Lucas devotes 4,000+ words in the new issue of Foreign Policy to the changing landscape of state espionage in the 21st century; it's not particularly well-organized (if there's a reason for the order in which his thoughts are laid out, I couldn't find it), but despite that, it's well worth a read, even if there's lots I don't agree with here.
3 Days Ago Ross Anderson (previously) is one of the world's top cryptographers; the British academic and practitioner was honored by having his classic, Security Engineering, inducted into The Cybersecurity Canon; however, he was not able to attend the awards gala himself because the US government sat on his visa application for months, and ultimately did not grant it in time.
4 Days Ago Competition scholar Tim Wu (previously) is one of the most cogent, accessible voices in the antitrust debate; his recent book on the subject is a must-read; this week, he debated George Mason University scholar Tyler Cowen, proprietor of Marginal Revolution and one of the leading voices for the expansion of unfettered, unregulated capitalism -- he's the face of the notorious Mercatus Center, where rich donors choose the faculty and out pop arguments against universal health care and Net Neutrali
4 Days Ago This week's Christchurch Call event in Paris brought together politicians, tech execs and civil society to discuss means of "countering violent extremism" online; it was convened by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the wake of the deadly white supremacist terror killings in Christchurch last March.
4 Days Ago I love Hugo and Nebula-Award winner Jo Walton's science fiction and fantasy novels (previously) and that's why it was such a treat to inaugurate my new gig as an LA Times book reviewer with a review of her latest novel, Lent, a fictionalized retelling of the live of Savonarola, who reformed the Florentine church in the 1490s, opposing a corrupt Pope, who martyred him (except in Walton's book, and unbeknownst to Savonarola himself, Savonarola is a demon who is sent back to Hell when he is martyre
4 Days Ago Trump's initial appointee to run the EPA was Scott Pruitt, who resigned in disgrace in 2018 amid a massive corruption scandal in which he was found to have spent lavishly and assigned improper personal duties to government employees.