Not just Yemen: Canadian cyberarms dealer Netsweeper also helped censor the net in Bahrain

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Netsweeper is a litigious cyberarms dealer that threatened to sue the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab when its researchers outed the company for its work in helping Yemen's despotic regime censor the internet; later, the company dropped its lawsuit. Read the rest

Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices)

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Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. Read the rest

Jigsaw: "wildly ambitious" Google spin-out aimed at tackling "surveillance, extremist indoctrination, censorship"

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Technologists have a dismal pattern: when it comes to engineering challenges ("build a global-scale comms platform") they rub their hands together with excitement; when it comes to the social challenges implied by the engineering ones ("do something about trolls") they throw their hands up and declare the problem to be too hard to solve. Read the rest

HP detonates its timebomb: printers stop accepting third party ink en masse

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On September 13, owners of HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X began contacting third-party ink vendors by the thousand, reporting that their HP printers no longer accepted third-party ink. Read the rest

US religion is worth $1.2T/year, more than America's 10 biggest tech companies, combined

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The largely tax-free religion industry is one of the biggest in America, worth $1.2 trillion/year, a number that includes religious "healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations." Read the rest

Republican election officials block restrictions on foreign spending in US elections

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Once I got my green card this year, I was allowed to make the same campaign contributions as any US citizen: $2700 per candidate. But thanks to the three Republican members of the Federal Election Commission, who refused to even allow an agenda item to begin discussions to commence planning for limits on wholly-foreign-owned corporations making unlimited donations to super PACs, offshore oligarchs living abroad can go on spending tens of millions to influence the outcome of US elections. Read the rest

Criminal entrepreneurship in Mexico's high-tech drug cartels

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Dr Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez is a research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, studying "criminal entrepreneurship" in drug cartels, who beat Amazon to using drones for delivery by years, use modified potato guns to shoot cocaine and marijuana bundles over border fences, and represent the "true libertarian, Ayn Rand capitalism." Read the rest

What technologists can do about climate change

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Bret Victor complained on Twitter that technologists were wasting their imaginations, energy and talent on things that wouldn't matter after climate change reduced the world to a drowned cinder; his followers pushed back and asked what they, as technologists, could do about climate change. Read the rest

In a leaked "weaponized information" catalog, Indian cyberarms dealer offers blackest-ever SEO

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In 2014, an Indian company called Aglaya brought a 20-page brochure to ISS World (AKA the Wiretappers' Ball -- the annual trade fair where governments shop for surveillance technology): the brochure laid out the company's offerings, which ranged from mobile malware for Ios and Android to a unique "Weaponized Information" selection that combined denial-of-service with disinformation to "discredit a target" online. Read the rest

Class action suit: smart sex toys spy on their owners and transmit their masturbation habits

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An anonymous woman has filed a class action suit against Standard Innovation, a company that makes We-Vibe "smart" sex toys that record exactly how their owners masturbate and transmit detailed dossiers, along with personally identifying information, back to the company. Read the rest

Wells Fargo won't claw back $125m retirement bonus from exec who oversaw 2m frauds

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Carrie Tolstedt is the Wells Fargo executive who presided over a titanic, multi-year fraud through which at least 5,300 of the employees who reported to her opened up fake accounts in Wells' customers' names, racking up fees and fines, trashing the customers' credit ratings, and, incidentally, pulling in record revenues for Tolstedt's department, which Wells' management recognized by giving her a $125M parting gift when she left the company at the end of July, just weeks before the scandal broke. Read the rest

Bloated U.S. management costs over $3 trillion annually

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"The cost of excess bureaucracy in the U.S. economy amounts to more than $3 trillion in lost economic output, or about 17% of GDP," write Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini in Harvard Business Review. Their recommendation? Cut management in half. The don't specify if that's crosswise or lengthwise. Read the rest

Why Facebook's "It's too hard" excuse for Vietnam war photo takedown is bullshit

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On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing "The Terror of War," Nick Ut's photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway. Read the rest

Top Russian anti-corruption official had $120M in cash in his apartment

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Dmitry Zakharchenko, the deputy head of the Energy Industry Department of the General Administration of Economic Security and Combating the Corruption, also had €2m in cash. Read the rest

Leaked catalog from UK surveillance arms-dealer full of gadgets sold to US cops

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Cobham PLC is a surveillance vendor who sells to some of the world's most egregious human rights abusing governments; in 2014, they provided a catalog of cyberweapons and spy tools to Florida Department of Law Enforcement, from whom it leaked. Read the rest

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives

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I've been writing about the work of Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil for years: she's a radical data-scientist with a Harvard PhD in mathematics, who coined the term "Weapons of Math Destruction" to describe the ways that sloppy statistical modeling is punishing millions of people every day, and in more and more cases, destroying lives. Today, O'Neil brings her argument to print, with a fantastic, plainspoken, call to arms called (what else?) Weapons of Math Destruction.

Apple told to pay €13bn in back taxes to Ireland

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Ireland offered Apple huge tax breaks, but didn't give other companies the same deal. The European Commission concluded this was illegal and the company must pay up the €13bn it would otherwise have owed in taxes.

The Commission said "selective treatment" allowed Apple to pay tax rate of 1% on European Union profits in 2003 down to 0.005% in 2014.

The findings are a result of the culmination of a three-year investigation by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager into tax arrangements for Apple, dating back 25 years.

In a statement, the EC said the benefit is "illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid."

That's 5 cents for every thousand dollars made. Read the rest

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