Frontier, a terrible company, is going bankrupt

Frontier is the bottom-rung of the top-tier of US ISPs, serving customers in 29 states. Despite enjoying monopoly control over its customers' online lives, and despite massive government handouts and a lackadaisical approach to maintenance, and despite out-and-out theft from customers, the company is filing for bankruptcy, having accumulated $16.3b in debt through mismanagement. Read the rest

Schneier: "It's really too late to secure 5G networks"

Bruce Schneier's Foreign Policy essay in 5G security argues that we're unduly focused on the possibility of Chinese manufacturers inserting backdoors or killswitches in 5G equipment, and not focused enough on intrinsic weakness in a badly defined, badly developed standard wherein "near-term corporate profits prevailed against broader social good." Read the rest

Something Awful's "Fuck You and Die" forum went from freewheeling jokesters to Nazi shitposters, so it's dead

Long before 4chan and other anything-goes forums existed, every major online community had a similar community: the Well had its "weird" forum, Usenet had alt.syntax.tactical (among others), and Something Awful had the "Fuck You and Die" forum, where people were funny, mean, obscene, and gross, sometimes all at once. Read the rest

Kentucky's governor insisted that investment bankers could provide broadband. He was wrong.

When Steve Beshear was governor of Kentucky, he told experts to go fuck themselves and instead allowed the Australian investment bank Macquarie Capital to manage Kentuckywired, a program to build out broadband to rural Kentuckians. Read the rest

Distinguishing between "platforms" and "aggregators" in competition law

There's a lot of political will to regulate the Big Tech companies in both the US and the EU at the moment, which is a very welcome juncture to have arrived at after 40 years of antitrust inaction during which companies were permitted to grow by buying nascent competitors, merging with major competitors and cornering vertical markets -- all classic anticompetitive behaviors that Reagan and his successors legalized. Read the rest

Browser plugins from Avast and AVG yanked for stealing user data

The Firefox extensions store removed four plugins from Avast/AVG, including two that are supposed to keep users safe from malicious activity because they appeared to be stealing browser histories and other user data. Read the rest

Contract for the Web: Tim Berners-Lee calls on world governments (and us all) to make the web a force for good

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and the Web Foundation have launched a "Contract for the Web" for individuals, companies and individuals to sign onto, through which signatories promise to take concrete steps to make the web a force for good. Read the rest

How (and why) to become a tech policy activist

Caroline McCarthy is a journalist and ex-googler who now works as an ad-tech exec for a startup that Fox bought and they transfered to Disney when the two companies merged; in this great, impassioned Tedx talk, she lays out the case for being a "tech policy activist" and explains how the field of tech policy, though neglected by politicians and pollsters, is vital to many aspects of our daily lives, and how it fails to decompose neatly on left-right lines and nevertheless demands our close attention lest it be formulated in ways that disappoint or even harm us. It's a great talk, akin in some ways to Schneier's plea for "public interest technologists." Read the rest

Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy is looking for engineering, social science, law, and policy "visitors" for interdisciplinary one-year positions

Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy is a marvellous interdisciplinary research center, and it is advertising for "visitors" for one-year stints: postdocs, policy fellows and visiting IT professors. Read the rest

alt.interoperability.adversarial

Today, we are told that the bigness of Big Tech giants was inevitable: the result of "network effects." For example, once everyone you want to talk to is on Facebook, you can't be convinced to use another, superior service, because all the people you'd use that service to talk to are still on Facebook. And of course, those people also can't leave Facebook, because you're still there. Read the rest

Freedom House: Thanks to social media, internet freedom is down for the the ninth straight year

Freedom House, a US-government-funded nonprofit think-tank whose mission is to spread democracy, issues an annual "internet freedom" report; this year, for the ninth consecutive year, the report says that internet freedom has declined, and it's all thanks to social media. Read the rest

The far right is dominating the information wars through "keyword signaling"

It's an old story: someone searches Google for a common keyword -- "jews," "women," "black people" -- and gets back a bunch of far-right conspiracist/genocidal garbage; Google gets embarrassed, twiddles some search-weighting knobs, and the results change. Read the rest

A plugin to force Twitter to respect your settings and stop showing you "top" tweets

Twitter has a setting that (nominally) allows you to turn off its default of showing you "top" tweets (as selected by its engagement-maximizing, conflict-seeking algorithm), but periodically, Twitter just ignores that setting and starts nonconsensually eyeball-fucking you with inflammatory headlines. Read the rest

Demetrification: improving social media by removing public like/follower/repost counts

When social media was young, it was obvious that it had some pathologies -- perverse incentives that drove people toward antisocial behaviour. Back in those days, a company named Flickr did some radical things that made it (briefly) the best social network on the internet (until Yahoo bought it and all but destroyed it): among other things, Flickr did not publicly display follower or favorite counts, and it would allow you to export all of your data to any rival service, provided that the rival service would implement an export function that let you change your mind and switch back to Flickr, creating a kind of mutual network of anti-lock-in services. Read the rest

Gawker's new owners demand right to search journalists, ban encrypted email and institute dress code

After Deadspin's Laura Wagner published an incredible, brave, detailed look at how her new private equity masters -- Jim Spanfeller/Great Hill Partners -- were running Gawker now that they'd acquired it from Univision, the company (now called "G/O Media") struck back. Read the rest

Major corporations blacklist ads on news stories that include the words "Trump," "racism," "gun," "Brexit," "suicide" and more

The Wall Street Journal investigates major corporations' ad buyers' practice of blacklisting of ads on news stories that deal with the world's most urgent issues, including any news story that contains the word "Trump" or "racism" or "gun" or "Brexit" or "suicide" (so much for reporting on the opioid epidemic). Read the rest

Adblocking: How about nah?

For more than a decade, consumer rights groups (including EFF) worked with technologists and companies to try to standardize Do Not Track, a flag that browsers could send to online companies signaling that their users did not want their browsing activity tracked. Despite long hours and backing from the FTC, foot-dragging from the browser vendors and outright hostility from the big online media companies mean that setting Do Not Track in your browser does virtually nothing to protect your privacy. Read the rest

More posts