Blizzard's president apologized for suspending Blitzchung, but the suspension is still in force

When Blizzard Entertainment president J Allen Brack opened this month's Blizzcon with a carefully worded apology over the company's suspension of Blitzchung, the Hearthstone champ who was punished for his in-game support of the Hong Kong protesters, what he didn't say (the words "Hong Kong" or "China") was just as newsworthy as what he did. Read the rest

Make: a facial-recognition confounding "Opt Out Cap"

Mac Pierce created a simple wearable to challenge facial recognition: do a little munging to an image of a face, print it on heat transfer paper, iron it onto see-through mosquito netting, slice, and affix to a billed cap -- deploy it in the presence of facial recognition cameras and you'll be someone else. It's the kind of "adversarial example" countermeasure that fools computers pretty reliably but wouldn't work on a human. (via JWZ) Read the rest

Blizzard's corporate president publicly apologizes for bungling players' Hong Kong protests, never mentions Hong Kong

When Blizzard Entertainment ejected the Hearthstone champion player Blitzchung in retaliation for voicing a pro-Hong Kong message during a tournament, it kicked off a furious round of protests against the company, resulting in canceled events and more player action in support of the protesters. Read the rest

Interview with Kai Lan Egg, a Hong Kong protest artist who specializes in anime pro-democracy memes

Matteo writes, "Kai Lan Egg is an anonymous artist from Hong Kong. He started drawing illustrations of the Hong Kong protest primarily using a Japanese anime style to encourage the people around him to stand against the progressive erosion of the Hong Kong independence." Read the rest

Design fiction, politicized: the wearable face projector

In 2017, a group of Dutch design students created some fictional anonymity "products" that they displayed under the name "Group Anonymous" at Milan Design Week. Read the rest

Blizzard suspends college gamers from competitive play after they display "Free Hong Kong" poster

Blizzard has suspended Casey Chambers, Corwin Dark, and TJammer -- American University Hearthstone team players -- for six months after the trio displayed a "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz" sign in a streamed competition. Read the rest

Terrified of bad press after its China capitulation, Blizzard cancels NYC Overwatch event

Blizzard's cowardly decision to appease Chinese authoritarians by ejecting a champion player who expressed support for the pro-democracy struggle in Hong Kong has kicked off a global rebellion by the company's customers, who are furious that the firm has put its profits over an entire nation's right to self-determination and basic democratic freedoms. Read the rest

China's new cybersecurity rules ban foreign companies from using VPNs to phone home

For decades, it was a commonplace in western business that no one could afford to ignore China: whatever problems a CEO might have with China's human rights record could never outweigh the profits to be had by targeting the growing Chinese middle-class. Read the rest

Tim Cook's claim Hong Kong app was 'used maliciously to target individual officers for violence' sounds like BS, say Apple watchers

Apple can't seem to figure out how to kowtow to China without losing face in the US. Read the rest

Apple's capitulation over Hong Kong protest app isn't new; and the NBA is racing it to the bottom

When Apple caved to pressure from the Chinese government and yanked an Ios app that let users avoid being attacked by the city-state's murderous, rampaging police forces, it was merely continuing a long tradition of capitulation to Chinese authorities, who control access to some of Apple's most important customers as well as the factories that make the bulk of Apple's products. Read the rest

Gamers propose punishing Blizzard for its anti-Hong Kong partisanship by flooding it with GDPR requests

Being a global multinational sure is hard! Yesterday, World of Warcraft maker Blizzard faced global criticism after it disqualified a high-stakes tournament winner over his statement of solidarity with the Hong Kong protests -- Blizzard depends on mainland China for a massive share of its revenue and it can't afford to offend the Chinese state. Read the rest

World of Warcraft publisher suspends pro player for supporting Hong Kong

Blizzard Entertainment, best known for publishing World of Warcraft, suspended a pro Hearthstone player and pulled his prize money because he said, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” during a livestream.

Blizzard, which has a huge and lucrative market in China, determined that Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai's utterance was in violation of a competition rule:

2019 HEARTHSTONE GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o)

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.

According to Kotaku: "Blitzchung’s punishment is an immediate removal from Grandmasters, a withholding of prize money for his participation and a ban from taking part in Hearthstone esports 'for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020.'"

Image: Twitter Read the rest

Hong Kong protesters deploy a brick-throwing bamboo siege engine

The Hong Kong Free Press identifies the builders of this brick-throwing manganel fashioned from torn-down bamboo scaffolding as Hong Kong protesters, who deployed their siege engine in Mong Kok, Kowloon, home to narrow streets and night markets. The Free Press says it was "removed shortly after." Read the rest

Vans sneakers boycotted in Hong Kong after they pulled a protest-themed shoe design from public competition

In Hong Kong, a boycott has begun of skateboard lifestyle brand Vans after the company pulled the above design from their annual Vans Custom Culture competition. In the contest, the public is invited to submit their designs in competition for a cash prize and having their shoe design manufactured. This particular design is themed around the current anti-government protests in Hong Kong and it was apparently doing quite well in the competition. From CNN:

The design, attributed to a Canada-based user named Naomiso, features a red bauhinia, the flower on Hong Kong's flag, and one of the yellow umbrellas synonymous with the city's 2014 pro-democracy protests. Illustrations on the sneaker's side depict a crowd of protesters wearing gas masks, goggles and hard hats.

On Saturday, with over a week of voting still to go, the submission was removed from the competition website. In a statement posted on Facebook in Chinese and English, the brand said that "a small number of artistic submissions have been removed ... to uphold the purpose of Custom Culture."

"As a brand that is open to everyone, we have never taken a political position and therefore review designs to ensure they are in line with our company's long-held values of respect and tolerance, as well as with our clearly communicated guidelines for this competition," the statement said, without referring specifically to the protest-themed design.

The statement drew condemnation on social media from Hong Kong protest supporters, where a number of posts were accompanied by the hashtag #boycottVans.

Read the rest

Hong Kong bans makeup and masks so facial recognition cameras can identify protesters

Hong Kong joins the ranks of other autocratic nations that have banned face coverings in the name of national security: Sri Lanka, France, the Netherlands, Canada, etc (such bans have also been proposed in the UK, Australia, the USA). Read the rest

Apple reverses ban on HKmap.live app tracking Hong Kong protests & police

A bit of good news for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and the app developers trying to help them not get injured or killed by police. Read the rest

Apple bans an app because Hong Kong protesters might use it to avoid the murderous, out of control police

Hkmap Live is a crowdsourced app that uses reports from a Telegram group to track the locations of protesters, police, and traffic, as well as the use of antipersonnel weapons like tear gas, mass arrests of people wearing t-shirts associated with the protest movement, and mass transit closures in proximity to demonstrations (it's a bit like Sukey, the British anti-kettling app). Read the rest

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