Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Special Sunday’s today and I wasn’t going to post anything because some drama (which was generally my fault, I admit) came up and it’s been messing with me. But doing nothing, which is always the easiest way out, is also the most destructive. One day becomes two, two become three, three become a whole week, and before we know it I’ve quit writing and started doing cocaine.
No, thank you.
Instead I’m just going to take it easy and check out (and share and comment on) Reddit’s top 5 posts in the technology subreddit from this week. For the uninitiated, Reddit‘s a famous link aggregation website where users post links or threads of stuff they find interesting online and then other users leave comments and up/downvote the links/threads. What you’re left with in the end is a community-curated list of interesting stuff.
A subreddit is a sub community of sorts where all links and threads are related to the subreddit’s main interest.
Today we’re going to check out /r/technology, which is a technology-oriented subreddit. I have not read the top posts from this week as I’ve been fairly busy, so I have no idea what I’m getting. Exciting!
What a shitty post to start with. This does not bode well for our little adventure, reader, because I’m already getting pissed off and we’re still in post number one. With 6635 net karma (upvotes minus downvotes), what we’ve got here is a reminder that everything you do online is being tracked. Many redditors commented that this was nothing new, that AVG and most other antiviruses have been tracking user activity for ages, but still, that does not make it okay. Seeing it so clearly laid out in black and white also helps to truly grasp the severity of the situation.
We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including: Advertising ID associated with your devices Browsing and search history, including meta data; Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products; and Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.
Some redditors suggested getting a new antivirus with the highest suggested one being BitDefender. I have not tried it out so I can’t really speak to its effectiveness but it apparently has “no ads, non-intrusive interface and it’s not a memory hog.”
This news comes right after Windows 10’s keylogging brilliance (if you haven’t deactivated Windows 10’s key/voice/activity logger, I’ve written a quick tutorial on how to do that).
This 6462 karma post is a link to an article by TechCrunch concerning the installation of Google Fiber as it expands its operations into other cities. More specifically, this article is about the people who install Google Fiber, and how they’re on time for 96% of appointments. Compared to other installers of similar products, such as Comcast, this is quite the accomplishment but let’s not kid ourselves here: that is really how it’s supposed to be.
Sometimes I wonder if we’ve lowered the bar so much when it comes to service providers that everything looks like an accomplishment. Let’s see what Reddit users think.
“i love how basic customer service and being punctual in this industry is front page news.”
“Let’s be honest, they could say “The installer will be there between 8AM Monday and 5PM Wednesday”, and people still wouldn’t give a shit, because fiber.”
“They haven’t really had to scale support up yet. So it’s a little premature to celebrate.”
“Yeah of course it’s good for all 15 customers.”
The EFF provided evidence in two of its cases that it was not just AT&T that helped the NSA collect phone records for millions of Americans, but also Verizon Wireless and Sprint.
Did you know that a bunch of phone companies help the NSA collect records of who you’re talking to, when, and how long, and it’s been kept secret by the government under the guise of “state secret”? Because if you haven’t, then I sure have some bad news for you.
At this point it’s becoming clear that it’s safe to assume that all phone companies have assisted or are assisting the FBI and the NSA in monitoring and collecting what they call metadata. Metadata is a fancy word that basically means data that does not contain actual content. So for example, they might know that you called your mother on September 20th, 2015 at 14:23 and you talked for 17 minutes, but they don’t actually know what you said.
This might sound okay, because not collecting the content of your communication and calling it metadata seems like it’s not that much of an invasion of privacy, until you understand one very scary concept:
Your metadata can reveal a lot about you. Because a lot of organizations have a narrow focus, you can infer a lot about a person based on who they’re calling. For example, if you call a political campaign, it can be safely assumed that you support that candidate. A similar inference can be made if you’re calling a religious organization. What if you call a suicide hotline? If you suddenly start calling your sister every day, and then you call a Planned Parenthood clinic, what can we deduce from that?
Netflix and Amazon users sue to stop Chicago’s 9% streaming tax – Local governments are taxing popular cloud services to make up for lost sales tax revenue. But they face a legal problem.
Have you ever seen a slippery slope? No? Then look no further, coz we’ve got one brewing right now.
Enter: Chicago. Stage left.
It all started with Chicago making the decision to start taxing cloud streaming services like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu. This 9% tax, called the “Amusement” levy is currently only applied to “brick and mortar” entertainment businesses, such as shows and baseball games but now Chicago aims to extend that to include internet services as well.
Luckily for everybody (maybe not Chicago), a group of Netflix and Amazon Prime users have taken to court to combat this decision. Their claim? That the so-called “Netflix tax” is illegal as it violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act which “forbids states and cities from imposing discriminatory internet-only taxes”.
But this is not the only problem with this new tax. Because of the way the system works:
“[Tech] companies in Chicago that use cloud services like AWS are also getting an additional 9% tax. While this might not seem like an issue because it’s companies getting taxed, they will either start paying employees less to make up for it or just move from Chicago in general. So it ends up hurting residents even more by removing jobs from Chicago.”
And, last but not least…
In a spectacular failure of a “back door” designed to give law enforcement exclusive access to private places, hackers have made the “master keys” for TSA-recognized luggage locks available to anyone with a 3D printer.
This one’s simply magnificent. I honestly don’t know what to say about it other than read this article and rejoice that, yet again, it’s been proven that adding backdoors to any sort of security system does little more than weaken the security of said system.
Also, that the TSA, the people we trust with security, have again shown they know nothing about the thing they’re entrusted with.
OMG, it's actually working!!! pic.twitter.com/rotJPJqjTg
— Bernard Bolduc (@bernard) September 9, 2015