Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2021)

traveling with a passport and boarding pass

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing Bill Maher rip through a bunch of websites and people looking for new ways to track users now 3rd party tracking is on its way out?

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with more nuanced privacy depth being discussed, participating in Mozilla’s challenges moment and hearing Solana talk through the internet health report.


The background story of Tony Abbotts boarding pass

Ian thinks: We all heard the story about the former Australian minster who was hacked after posting his boarding pass on instagram but here is the incredible background story, told by the hacker.

Vaccine passports are not as simple as the media are suggesting

Ian thinks: Heather gives plain and clear reasons why vaccine passports are not the panacea its being made out to be. Its also great to hear Lillian Edwards framework mentioned (May 2020 newsletter) as a way forward.

Gamestop? Rethinking the whole rigged system

Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff’s monologue about gamestop needs a listen for a different view, but stay around for the interview with Yaël, previous head of political advertising at Facebook. She tells all and I like the approach of trying to fix it before criticising.

Lets talk about Sharenting

Ian thinks: Shareting is when parents share their kids photos and private information without their consent. Its become a real problem now the millennials are growing up with a digital footprint without knowing.

How Facebook joined the splinter-net while Google throw the open web under the bus?

Ian thinks: Hearing about the absolute mess over news in Australia, its easy to point fingers. But its important to look deeper at whats really happening for the sake of profits not people. I’m with Shoshana Zuboff and others, but I know many people get their news from these massive corps.

A big step for gigworkers, but lets be diligent of next steps

Ian thinks: The Uber case is great news but in a similar legal play to Facebook & Google with Australia, there might be more going on that most are reporting? We got to look a little deeper as monopoly is Uber’s end game.

Ian thinks: This is a devious way to force a take-down of a live stream or any recorded footage. Theres got to be a better way and I think its related to using alternative platforms or self hosting with syndication.

The centralisation of power is the problem

Ian thinks: I like this summary of so many of the problems with Facebook, but it misses the important point of centralisation. It also highlights Noam Cohen’s quote “Mark Zuckerberg is deluded by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world”

Public value and purpose into the future

Ian thinks: Mariana is on fire and this summary of work around the BBC puts value under a microscope. I love this line “Value is not just the income generated at the end of the innovation chain–– it is also the creative input at the upstream end, the vital investment in talent, content creation, digital innovation and R&D at the early stages

Google fires another outspoken AI research, who will be next?

Ian thinks: Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru show there is something going on with Google AI research. It doesn’t take a lot to guess what is actually going on behind close doors.


Find the archive here

Bumble, their retention policy and my GDPR

Bumble launches "Dating Just Got Equal" campaign
I’m sure I have said this multiple times, I really want to like Bumble but every-time I try it again, I’m left with a bad after taste (like poor chocolate). I must learn dating apps don’t get better just worst.
Out of frustration, not with the people on the site (thats a whole different story). The mechanism was painful and annoying to say the least (not because of the females pick first).
So I deleted the app and requested my data from Bumble under GDPR law, as I have done for others previously.
Sent the request on 21st Jan, got the first reply on 23th Jan with the usual identity check. I replied on 24th Jan with the credentials which was made easy with my emails asking Bumble to change a profile element in late 2020. Then on 26th Jan I got this…
Hello,

Just to let you know, I have passed your email on to my supervisor here at Bumble who will get back to you as soon as possible.

We’re currently experiencing an incredibly high volume of emails, so it might take a little while longer than normal to get a response from a supervisor.

While we are working super hard to get to everyone, it may be tempting to send a chase regarding the status of your query. However, please bear in mind that we work on a queue-based system here. This means that sending an additional email may push your query further down in the queue and create a longer delay than we’d like.

Please know we haven’t forgotten about you and we really appreciate your patience during this busy time!

Joel
Bumble Feedback Team

Usually I would be on this like a hawk but I kind of forgot as I lost faith in OKCupid and others too. So Bumble sneaked under my radar till the 26th Feb when I finally received this email.
Hello,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for our response.

We’ve been dealing with an incredibly high volume of emails recently and have been working hard to get to your query.

Unfortunately, we are unable to proceed with your request as it appears as though your account was deleted more than 28 days ago.

In line with our retention policy, we begin to erase or anonymise your information upon the deletion of your account, following the safety retention window.

Please see our Privacy Policy for more information about how we use your data and your rights. You can read more about our privacy policy at: https://bumble.com/privacy

Please note that this only pertains to the profile registered to the email address you’ve contacted us from. If you have any profiles registered on Bumble with different contact details, please contact us using the relevant methods linked to those accounts.

Hila
Bumble Feedback Team

This answer absolutely drove me to rage because Bumble are hiding behind their retention policy. The only reason their retention policy kicked in is because they left it over 28 days. Its outrageous and I’m not standing for it.

I have given them 3 days to change their stance before I report them to the ICO. Although I still didn’t hear anything else from the ICO about Houseparty.

Expect to hear more soon!

The Australia Facebook wake-up call

There is so much I want to say about Facebook removing Australian news media from their platform, but I’d rather let things shake out a little because I’m sure it will change everyday in the next week. Similar to not really talking about the Gamestop news last week.

However I mainly agree with Prof Zuboff about Facebook. As soon as it doesn’t suit there business model they will forcefully remove it from their platform. This is wakeup call for all not just the Australian government.

This has been super clear for years and having just finished Adam Curtis’ Can’t get you out of my head. Its once again clear, this is a important point for democracy and freedom.

Unfortunately I think its clear where I think this will go…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2021)

Survillence everywhere
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, seeing the de-platforming and even the royals snubbing social media.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this the privacy first search engine duck duck go surpassing 100 million daily searches, the move to Signal messager from Whatsapp causing it to fall over temporarily and Facebook forced to rethinking their strategy.


Its the Internet’s health check up time!

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s well researched look at the state of the internet is a one of those reports which spurs thought and action for the coming year. Its been a tricky year with lots of up and downs, nicely documented in this massively detailed report/playbook. You might recognise someone in the report.

How can we achieve public spaces online?

Ian thinks: on 11-12 March a online conference by a number of partners including BBC R&D bring together organisations and vendors who are interested in the development of a public stack in line with the principles of democratic, sustainable etc. This is all part of the Mozilla Festival 2021 which is in Amsterdam for the next 3 years. Tickets are now available for Mozfest. and the publicspaces conference.

The new state of the self sovereign internet

Ian thinks: A deep dive but also accessible look at the current state of decentralised technology like self sovereign identity. Maybe one of the better summaries.

Some of the challenges to decetralisation

Ian thinks: The post has quite a few errors within it, like how they keep referring to Mastodon as a single network and missed the memo how Gab removed themselves off Mastodon. BlueSky sounds only slightly interesting, but the core of this post is focused around the risk of extreme groups using decentralised technology.

Imagine a Buddhist-inspired AI

Ian thinks: A truly real rethink of AI ethics based around Buddhist ethos is something worth pursuing. There is a lot of modern life which could be re-thought with a eastern view.

Do Facebook really think we won’t notice?

Ian thinks: Will the name change from Libra to Diem make any difference? Its still got Facebook behind the scenes and almost all the original backers have left.

The future of shopping faces the same dilemma as everyone else

Ian thinks: Its later in the video when Ian talks privacy and luxury but also luxury and personalisation. Its good to hear these discussions happening in the retail world too.

(How) will Public Service survive Silicon Valley?

Ian thinks: Although this well written paper focuses on public service broadcasting, I would consider the wider question of publicservice full stop.  Its clear the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook etc are aiming to replace public utilities  Of course I think so but publicservice needs to double down on things which break silicon valley

How eXistenZ, Pizzagate, Qanon and Augmented reality all fit together?

Ian thinks: Mark Pesce is interviewed by Douglas Rushkoff for team human, and its quite a fascinating interview linking all these topics together.

Ring doorbells get on the E2E train

Ian thinks: Well its about time, but expect more E2E and Zero-knowledge buzz words to be thrown around this year. Question will always be, are they actually doing what they say they are? Looking at you Zoom.


Find the archive here

Inequality and the Covid19 vaccine

Here it is again, inequality is in full affect around the Covid19 vaccine.

The figures of the vaccine buying in richer nations is insane, and on the other side I really hope the Covax scheme is successful. However its clear there is a big question of timing, how many people will die in developing nations while the developed nations vaccinate themselves?

As the video points out vaccinating the world has never happened before. This a critical as we saw with the EU considering article 16.

Inequality affects everything.

Just some of the damage Trump brought to America

I found this video incredible to watch the damage one person can do to democracy. Remember just don’t read the comments!

Its great to see Joe Biden straight to work the next day over ruling trumps previous decisions including leaving the World health organisation (in the middle of a pandemic!) and leaving the Paris accord.

Biden/Harris in the white house at long last

Joe Biden being sworn in as 46th presidentKamala Harris being sworn in as vice president

I saw this post and had to add it..

Inspiring the next generation

Mind the Gap, How Common Medical Symptoms Appear on Dark Skin

Me and Claire who I haven’t heard from in a very long time got talking about last year. From the covid19 pandemic, to the vaccine, systematic racism and to trypanophobia. It was during that conversation mind the gap was mentioned.

I had never really imagined or thought the images and books medical students might be learning from, may not have people with dark skin. Meaning an unbalance in the treatment of dark skinned people simply because of education.

Simple things like finding veins which are relatively easy to see under white skin can be challenging under black skin (generally). There were other aspects which I hadn’t ever thought about…

This where mind the gap came up… from the root

A Zimbabwe-born medical student living in London is filling in an important blind spot in the medical community: informing healthcare providers and patients how symptoms for a broad range of conditions appear on darker skin.

It’s the kind of problem that feels shockingly outdated for the 21st century, but as 20-year-old St. George student Malone Mukwende recently told the Washington Post, the lack of teaching about darker skin tones, and how certain symptoms would present differently on nonwhite skin, was obvious by his first class at the University of London school.

“It was clear to me that certain symptoms would not present the same on my own skin,” Mukwende told The Post, referring to conditions like rashes, bruises, and blue lips. He quickly extrapolated that the same would be true of other people sharing similarly dark skin.

Malone Mukwende
Malone Mukwende

If this was dated in the 80’s I would understand but Mukwende started the book which is free to download in 2020!

Shocking but so glad of the solution, although its worth noting there is things missing from the book where you could help.

Why there is still an need for public telephones?

Red phone boxes

I found Jon Udell’s blog about public telephones funny but also quite telling of so much more.

Public infrastructure is important for so many reason including for equality.

If you take the telephone as communication infrastructure and apply that same thinking to the internet infrastructure. You see a clear rationale for public wifi, public internet kiosks at public libraries, etc – Yes and also the systems which surround it. This rules out the likes of Facebook free basics, which isn’t a public service.

Interestingly the public phone is also somewhat anonymous. Data is collected once used like where the call is coming from at what time, etc; but you don’t need to register first to use them or sign in to use them. Each of the companies setup to deliver these public infrastructures have a aim of coverage not profits (or they should). There might be legitimate and less-legitimate times when you want this, but this is a choice you can make, rather than be forced into.

These all seems so obvious if you live in a country which encourages public service but worth pointing out. Plus I’m focused on the notion of a public service internet.

 

VPRO documentary: How did Brexit happen?

Brexit: The Uncivil War
The UK left the EU on January 1 2021, big ben chimed and there were fireworks at 2300 on December 31st in some places.

There are so many things I have said and want to say but I found the VPRO (Dutch public service broadcaster) really worth watching.  As always its good to see Brexit from the view of our neighbours.

Good documentary, hard to watch but very fair leaning on Brexit: civil war, the horrible class divide in the UK, the lies of the Boris bus, targetted advertising, the problems with nostalgia, etc..

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2021)

Snowdon tells us we can fix the internet for all

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing how much Salesforce have spent on Slack, the news about Solarwinds and Airbnb’s IPO (why exactly?)

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this emerging with Snowdon telling us its possible to fix thingsthe Economist’s look to 2021, this inspiring list of books of hope and the final end of proprietary Adobe Flash.


The Solid project hits a mile stone in development

Ian thinks: Following BBC R&D’s new forms of value, one of the key research aims is using personal data stores. Solid is one such personal data store and its hit a mile stone with a number of different partners.

The ODI Summit 2020

Ian thinks: The ODI’s summits are always full of great talks and discussions. This years virtual summit is no exception with talks ranging from how we collaborate across border (perfectly timed as the UK leaves the EU) to Elizabeth Denham on who decides how we can use data.

The 3rd way: liberalism, Europe and a antivirus for the mind

Ian thinks: Yuval Noah Harari’s speech about the state of liberalism and Europe is worth listening to even if the panel is less so. Its a German conference but the subtitles help, while Yuval speaks in English throughout. His points are strong and worth remembering, especially the Netflix one.

Nicer businesses reap the bigger rewards

Ian thinks: A good summary of different businesses which operate in a more human fashion and the benefit they gain from this approach. Doesn’t include the usual B-corp names like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.

Has your local Coop been tracking you and fellow shoppers

Ian thinks: We hear so much about this happening elsewhere, not your local supermarket. Although its adopted a closed loop system, there’s still questions about the bias set in the algorithm being used.

Facebook is another US Corp avoiding EU privacy laws around UK data

Ian thinks: Brexit has far reaching ramifications, but many didn’t foresee their personal data being moved to American law. First Google and now Facebook. Look out for more in the new year.

The nation state as a subscription?

Ian thinks: It was during a conversation with the Future Today Institute about my Estonian e-residency and potential digital nomad visa. Than the notion of a subscription to nation states was considered a possible future. Might seem strange but its clear the idea of a nation state is overdue a change.

TechCrunch editors choose their top stories of 2020

Ian thinks: I found the choice of stories quite different and varied for 2020. I imagine every other year previously in Techcrunch would be much less focused on the effect of technology on society.

The biggest hacks of 2020

Ian thinks: Hearing the numbers of affected people increasing as Shannon gets closer to number one, is just unbelievable. I expected Solarwinds to be number one but yes number one is absolutely deserved. So clear how integrated the digital & physical are.

The future of social media, content moderation and censorship with the EFF

Ian thinks: Good honest discussion with EFF on topics affecting the internet right now. On a similar vein, you may also like a podcast Manchester Futurists recorded with Derek Caelin too.

Some things to take forward into 2021

Ian thinks: Lets be honest 2020 was a awful year, but there was lots of good things within the year which do need to be remembered and taken forward into 2021.


Like this, find the archive here

What does the Brexit deal mean for most people?

Dublin

Everytime I think about Brexit, my heart sinks and I can’t help but shake my head. But a deal has been done, which is better than no deal (which was looking so likely).

The guardian and BBC have reasonable summary but I found the TLDR news a very good friendly summary.

Here’s their summary from the UK point of view

And there is the European point of view, which I’m glad they did because like during the debates before the Brexit vote; there was too much focus on what it means for the UK and not for our friends and neighbours.

In lieu of trust at the top…

There was something which John Ashton said at the end of his video for Double Down News.

He mentions during the first nation wide lockdown in the UK, people supporting each other with pick up of community shopping, lists of help on different social sites, etc, etc. The trust between each other and the NHS was high.

As we went into the second national lockdown, all eyes were looking to the top. Rather than looking at each other for support. I think part of this comes from the formulation of the tiers which seemed to turned people against each other, in lieu of any transparency from the top. There was a lot of finger pointing from Tier 3 Liverpool at Tier 2 Manchester back 2-3 months ago for example.

Its clear countries where the government are more trusted seem to be doing much better in their R number rates. But in lieu of this, we need to work together to make it work for ourselves and our communities.

I recently saw a great example of this with the total mess of lorries trying to get into Europe. Its the kindness of people and communities which can make the difference.

Could a Estonian PO Box help to keep data on European servers?

old EU map showing GDPR affected countries
Obviously in 2021, the UK will not be part of Europe any more

When we leave the EU in the new year, its clear almost all the American corps will shift UK data from their European servers to American ones. Not only because of cost but GDPR is a pain for them (boohoo).

Facebook are not the only ones, (Google too) but I certainly am considering removing a lot of data from Facebook before this happens. I already moved a lot out of google over the year. But I’m also considering  maybe its time to get that Estonian PO Box address?

I have been weighing up options and it seems all possible.

First I spotted there is a PO Box service for Estonia e-residents. It does seem to mean setting up a business however? Something I’ve been thinking about for a good 10+ years.  Its currently 10 euros a month

Spotted someone on Reddit who was just looking to set up a PO Box a couple years ago.

Registering a P.O Box in Estonia? from Eesti

If I find other options or anyone knows other ways, do comment or tweet me.

Still not 100% that Google, Facebook, etc will accept the PO box but its worth it at least to document it for others thinking the same.