Even without explicit collusion, pricing algorithms converge on price-fixing strategies

Literally the only kind of monopolistic behavior that the US government is willing to prosecute is price fixing, and that's why it's so important to read Artificial intelligence, algorithmic pricing, and collusion, a paper by four Italian economists from the University of Bologna who document how price-fixing is an emergent property of pricing algorithms -- the systems online merchants use to price-match with their competitors. Read the rest

Sony won't let you post "crap recordings" of a few seconds of your own Beethoven piano performance

Back when Sony's fraudulent copyright claims resulted in a 47 second recording of pianist James Rhodes playing Bach, apologists argued that Sony and Youtube's copyright bots couldn't be expected to tell the difference between a highly skilled Bach performance and the ones in their own catalog. Read the rest

Tumblr's porn filter blocked Tumblr's images illustrating what Tumblr's porn filter won't block

Yesterday, despite the manifest, glaring problems with its porn filter, Tumblr turned on mandatory porn-blocking for all its users' content, so that anything that its bots identified a pornographic would be invisible. Read the rest

A bot has been finding bugs and submitting patches for them, successfully masquerading as a human

Repairnator is a bot that identifies bugs in open source software integration and creates patches without human intervention, submitting them to the open source project's maintainers under an assumed human identity; it has succeeded in having five of its patches accepted so far. Read the rest

New York Attorney General expands law-enforcement investigation into the bots that killed Network Neutrality

The FCC justified its Net Neutrality-killing order by claiming that comments it received showed strong public support for dismantling the rules that stop your ISP from deciding which parts of the internet you get to use; but it was widely reported that the comments in the Net Neutrality docket were flooded by bots that opposed Net Neutrality, using names and personal information from stolen identities of dead people, sitting US senators, journalists and millions of others. Read the rest

A year later, giant Chinese security camera company's products are still a security dumpster-fire

A year ago, Chinese white-label CCTV/DVR vendor Xiongmai announced a recall and security update for its devices, whose weak security meant that they had been conscripted into a massive, unstoppable botnet. Read the rest

US governmental requests for comment are routinely flooded by pro-corporate bots

Last year, the FCC was only able to ram through a repeal of Net Neutrality by refusing to reject the millions of comments sent by bots that used the stolen identities of regular internet users, dead people, and even sitting US Members of Congress. Read the rest

Survey: corporate execs vastly overestimate customers' satisfaction

A (somewhat dubious) survey of 850 business executives for firms of 500 or more employees "with involvement in the decision making process regarding customer experience in their organization" and 4,500 consumers "who have contacted a brand during the last six months with an enquiry or issue to be resolved" found a vast gap between how satisfied the executives believed their customers were and how the customers felt about their interactions. Read the rest

Sony: OK, OK, we don't own Bach

When pianist James Rhodes uploaded a recording of his own performance of a Bach composition to Facebook, it was immediately blocked thanks to a match with a recording that Sony had claimed copyright in; Facebook uses an automated filter of the sort that the EU voted to make mandatory for all content types and services yesterday and it can't distinguish any competent rendition of Bach from any other competent rendition. Read the rest

Interview with a cryptocurrency scammer

Adam Guerbuez is a cryptocurrency evangelist whose Youtube channel is full of videos promoting cryptocurrency trading; when he got a Twitter message from a scammer promising to send him free Ethereum coins, he asked the scammer if they could talk about the scam. Read the rest

Cornered FCC admits that its website was never hacked

When the FCC announced its intention to kill Network Neutrality, it had to accept public comments, and what followed was bizarre even by Trump-era standards: first, millions of living, breathing Americans sent so many pro-Net Neutrality comments to the FCC that the website crashed; then bots spammed the FCC with millions of obviously fake anti-Neutrality comments, stealing the identities of real Americans (including two US Senators!) to do so; despite the overwhelming evidence that humans loved Net Neutrality and bots hated it, the FCC declared that it would give the bot comments equal weight with the human ones; and then it stopped accepting comments, claiming that its website had been hacked. Read the rest

Twitterbot mines Venmo's public-by-default transactions and tweets presumably sarcastic drug buys and sexual services

When Hang Do Thi Duc published her work on the privacy implications of payment processor Venmo's "public-by-default" directory of payments, she did not release her dataset out of respect for the privacy of the Venmo users whose personal lives were on display in the data. Read the rest

In two days, an EU committee will vote to crown Google and Facebook permanent lords of internet censorship

On June 20, the EU's legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive, and decide whether it will include the controversial "Article 13" (automated censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and "Article 11" (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site). Read the rest

FBI sinkholes a key domain used by the malware that infected 500,000 home routers, declares partial victory and Russian attribution

VPNFilter is a virulent, sophisticated, multistage worm that has successfully infected 500,000 home routers, leaving them vulnerable to both surveillance (the malware snoops network traffic for passwords) and region-wide internet shutdowns (VPNFilter can brick the routers it infects, and an attacker could shut down most or all of the home/small business internet access in a region by triggering this). Read the rest

DoNotPay bot launches a cheap airline ticket that automates the nearly impossible business of getting refunds when prices fall

The DoNotPay bot (previously) is a versatile consumer advocacy chatbot created by UK-born Stanford computer science undergrad Joshua Browder, with its origins in a bot to beat malformed and improper traffic tickets, helping its users step through the process of finding ways to invalidate the tickets and saving its users millions in the process. Read the rest

Exiled Cambodian opposition leader sues Facebook in California over allegations of collusion with Cambodia's dictator

Cambodian dictator Hun Sen has ruled since 1998, and when an opposition leader used Facebook to challenge his election in 2013, Hun Sen teamed up with a fake news outlet called Fresh News to deploy a Facebook-based strategy to consolidate his control and neutralize democratic opposition. Read the rest

The latest IoT botnet displays evidence of a halfway clever botmaster

The amazing and frightening thing about the Mirai botnet's reign of terror wasn't that it was a super-sophisticated cyberweapon: rather, it was a clumsy, amateurish fuggly hack that turned out to have been produced by a couple of dum-dums with a Minecraft racket. Read the rest

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