"sarah jeong"

Infosec vs. its predators

Pundits suggest the "Weinstein moment" — a broader, deeper awareness of abusive conduct, sexual harassment and criminal sexuality — is already fading without significant change. Few of the offenders face consequences worse than losing a gig, and yesterday we learned The New York Times isn't even up to that, letting its celebrity groper keep his job and trotting out Executive Editor Dean Baquet to dismiss his admitted behavior as merely "offensive." Sarah Jeong looks at another example: the hacker community, which did a surprisingly good job of outing its "missing stairs" but has trouble banishing them for good.

In information security, as in many other industries where the accused is a prominent figure, accusations can turn into a competition of social capital, and the accused almost always wins out over their accusers. But in this community, giving an accused rapist a pass has often been framed as a moral imperative with four words: “He does good work.” The assumption is that talent is scarce and sexual misconduct must be tolerated for the good of society. Little to no consideration is given to what we lose from disbelieving victims — their technical and social contributions, any future contributions by people who quite reasonably decide to avoid a toxic culture, and even beyond that, the quiet erosion of trust among bystanders. Complicity leaves a stain on us all.
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Rogue One is a movie about internet freedom

Sarah Jeong is right (as usual): Rogue One is about internet freedom, a movie about the struggle to upload a large file under time-constraint in a post-Net-Neutrality dystopia where Dropbox is a distant memory and you can't just email a file to yourself for later reference. Read the rest

Motherboard's excellent, accessible guide to internet security

The Motherboard Guide To Not Getting Hacked is an excellent adjunct to existing guides (I like EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense and The Cryptoparty Handbook) to defending yourself against criminals, stalkers, cops, and other potential intruders into your digital life. Read the rest

Mastodon - like Twitter, without Nazis

Sarah Jeong of Motherboard says Mastodon is a "kinder, nicer, decentralized open source version of Twitter." I hope she's right! (I'm frauenfelder at Mastodon.cloud.)

Snip:

Privacy settings are more flexible than they are on Twitter—privacy is set on a per-post basis, a little similar to how it is on Facebook.

I could make it so all of my posts are private by default, but I don't have to choose between having a public or a private account.

The really interesting nuance here is between "Public" and "Unlisted." An unlisted post is viewable to the public, but it doesn't post to the local or federated timelines.

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Echoing Infowars, Trump lies that 'very dishonest' U.S. press are covering up terror attacks

President Donald Trump went full Alex Jones Infowars conspiracy theory wingnut today, saying the American news media are conspiring to cover up a vast series of Islamic terrorist attacks in which innocent God-fearin' Americans have been killed.

Statements like this from authoritarian leaders are the sort of thing you hear when a regime is preparing to institute martial law. Perhaps that is where America is now headed. Hope not.

Today's wackadoodle Trump camp statement was yet another nutty lie, just like Trump's long-running racist birther campaign against President Barack Obama, whom we miss terribly, please for the love of God make this descent into national insanity stop.

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How defunding Planned Parenthood killed Star Wars' Old Republic

Sarah Jeong continues her brilliant, obsessive tear through the Star Wars canon (here's yesterday's post on the difficulties of the Warsverse's storage media and IT systems), this time looking at the outsized role that the lack of obstetric care plays in the collapse of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire. Read the rest

Why are the data-formats in Star Wars such an awful mess? Because filmmakers make movies about filmmaking

Sarah Jeong's long, terrifyingly thorough analysis of the data-formats in the Star Wars universe is both hilarious and insightful, and illustrates the difference between the burgeoning technological realism of shows like Mr Robot and the long tradition of science fiction media to treat computers as plot devices, rather than things that audiences are familiar with. Read the rest

Malware delivered by bad ads takes over your home router to serve more bad ads (for now)

Proofpoint has identified a new version of DNSChanger EK, a strain of malware that changes your DNS settings so that the ads on the websites you browse are replaced with other ads that benefit the attackers -- and which can also be used for more nefarious ends, because controlling your DNS means controlling things like where your computer gets software updates. Read the rest

Project Include cuts off Y Combinator because Peter Thiel is a part-time investor there

Project Include -- a "group effort to accelerate diversity and inclusion solutions in the tech industry" -- has announced that it will no longer work with the Y Combinator accelerator because of its ties to Peter Thiel, the billionaire Facebook investor who has backed Donald Trump and donated $1.25M to his campaign. Read the rest

"Nerds getting owned by normals" in Oracle v Google

Sarah Jeong's covering the Oracle v. Google trial, whereby the two companies are fighting over Java, copyright and the difficulty of explaining things like APIs to "normals." Most interesting is how the trial reveals not only how completely alien "nerd subculture" is, but that normal people -- judges! juries! -- are surprisingly good at spotting and exposing Silicon Valley's hypocrisy and narcissism.

The nerds struggle to be understood. It doesn’t help that towards the end of his cross-examination by Oracle, Schwartz became snippier and snippier, answering the Oracle lead attorney’s questions with passive-aggressive hostility.

Schwartz seemed less upset about being called one of the worst CEOs in America, and more put off by the sheer indignity of being cross-examined by a man who didn’t know what a blog is—enough that he broke a 10-month long Twitter silence to snark about it.

In public! With billions on the line! During the trial! Shades of Matthew Keys -- an almost supernatural level of arrogance before the people who, literally, are there to judge you. Read the rest

High tech/high debt: the feudal future of technology makes us all into lesser lessors

Sarah Jeong continues her excellent series of critical perspectives on technology with a piece on the way that technology is being used to let computers control their users, on behalf of the corporations who make and sell these tools. Read the rest

Former Reuters journalist Matthew Keys sentenced to 2 years for a 40-minute web defacement

On Wednesday, former Reuters.com social media editor Matthew Keys received a two year prison sentence for computer hacking. That's a sentence of 24 months, for a website defacement that lasted only 40 minutes, which Keys himself didn't even execute.

Earlier today in an unrelated high-profile case, the "affluenza teen" who actually murdered people also got two years in jail.

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A cashless society as a tool for censorship and social control

The Atlantic had the excellent idea of commissioning Sarah Jeong, one of the most astute technology commentators on the Internet (previously), to write a series of articles about the social implications of technological change: first up is an excellent, thoughtful, thorough story on the ways that the "cashless society" is being designed to force all transactions through a small number of bottlenecks that states can use to control behavior and censor unpopular political views. Read the rest

Jerks were able to turn Microsoft's chatbot into a Nazi because it was a really crappy bot

Microsoft Research deployed a tween-simulating chatbot this week, only to recall it a few hours later because it had turned into a neo-Nazi, and the next day, they published a bewildered apology that expressed shock that it had been so easy for trolls to corrupt their creation. Read the rest

Apple-FBI crypto hearing was surprisingly hostile to FBI Director James Comey

The House Judiciary committee hearing today titled, “The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy” ended up being full of drama, and riveting moments of confrontation--along with a cavalcade of inept analogies for encryption and hardware security.

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Sarah Jeong's Harvard lecture: "The Internet of Garbage"

Lawyer and journalist Sarah Jeong is one of the net's best writers, and her new ebook, The Internet Of Garbage, grapples with misogynist harassment and threats online. Read the rest

How Twitter "quietly banned" harassment and hate speech

Sarah Jeong reports on how Twitter has begun to take control of the hatred, harassment and general horseshit posted on its site.

Twitter talked some big talk, but it has buckled under both lawsuits and media outrage, tweaking and changing the Rules around speech whenever something threatened its bottom line. For a business, free speech can only be a meaningful value if it doesn’t really cost anything. … The Twitter of today strikes an uneasy balance between its old self and the unapologetic, ideologically-unburdened censoriousness of Facebook and Instagram. It remains yet to be seen whether the company has the vision and creativity to live out its new identity.

The "free speech wing of the free speech party" couldn't have done this but two years ago. They had to wait until the issues at hand were understood (at least by and large) not as abstractions to be dealt with on principle, but as practical issues of everyday human suffering. Read the rest

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