Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2020)

the social dilemma

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the endless press about Bytedance’s tiktok distracting us from the more important developments.

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 happening with people rethinking systems they are using such as Zoom for Education and android without google.


The net of a thousand lie in full

Ian thinks: Cory pretty much covers Surveillance Capitalism but then turns to focus on the problem of monopolies as the heart of the problem. He’s got a real point which he builds very nicely on throughout this free book. I know Cory’s kickstarter for the next little brother book could do with some support too.

The start of a manifesto for digital autonomy?

Ian thinks: This sums up a lot of the issues people have with technology today by seeking to empowering people, focus on privacy by design, increase legibility and avoiding lock-in. Its version 0.1, and can learn more in their talk.

Mozilla CEO urges EU Commission to double down on a better internet

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s interest in Europe is clear to see. The recommendations from Mitch Baker are well reasoned although I haven’t heard much since. One to watch for the future.

Ransomware isn’t just painful its a killer

Ian thinks: Its clear the ransomware wasn’t deliberately sent to kill but the death in Germany does raise a possible scary future. Man slaughter, murder, what would you call this?

The thriving and wilting worlds

Ian thinks: Been recently discovering Anand Giridharadas and this brave talk to the wealthy Aspen Institute criticising them is where his book winner takes all started.

How Tiktok works and how it fits with the splintered internet

Ian thinks: I wasn’t going to talk about Tiktok but I found this Vox video documentary raised much deeper profound questions about the splinternet.

Refreshing look at Citizenship

Ian thinks: Its always refreshing to hear important discussions in different places. Citizenship discussed on the guilty feminists podcast is a mix of fun and deeper conversations. Well worth listening to, always but especially this one.

New open source tool for Tracking Disinformation

Ian thinks: Mozilla are regulars in my public service internet notes and for good reason. The Social Media Analysis Toolkit (SMAT) could be extremely powerful to shine a light on the social dilemma we all face looking at in our timelines. On a related note is data futures lab launch.

Our social dilemma?

Ian thinks: Good Netflix documentary, however I felt like it wasn’t as good as the HBO’s after truth. The family sections make it more tangible but I felt the dilemma was being told the problem by creators and investors of the problems. Problematic? I’m not the only one. Also worth listening to Team Humans writer Douglas Rushkoff’s thoughts too.


Find the archives here

Signal or Threema or how about both?

I have been a fan and person encouraging the use of signal over the likes of whatsapp. Its been good to me but like every piece of software there are things I would change about them. For example the whole pin code thing is not only concerning but also a real challenge for casual users.

The pin code thing and phone number thing is not that much of a concern for most but I’ve been keeping an eye on others coming into the space. Threema is one such messaging app which seems to have all the privacy and security needed backed with its strong European base in Switzerland.

I wrote it off in my mind because it didn’t have a open code base for security  experts to view openly. However that recently changed with them opensourcing the code base.

Because of this change I’m relooking at the Threema, although I don’t think I’ll be dumping Signal as a result but rather using both?

I’m part of the NGI forward advisory board

NGI forward

I wasn’t quite sure when I could announce my advisory role in the NGI forward. But I was excited when chosen and accepted a few months ago.

What is the Next Generation Internet forward?

NGI Forward is a 3-year project under the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, which commenced in January 2019. NGI Forward is tasked with helping the European Commission set out a strategy, as well as a policy and research agenda for the years ahead.

To build an internet that is more democratic, inclusive and resilient, we need to not just create an ambitious vision for the future, but also identify the concrete technologies and solutions we need to get us there. To do this, NGI Forward’s work focuses on four key areas of activity, which together will form the “engine” of the project: the identification of key topics, consultation, policy and research, and stakeholder engagement.

You can start to understand why the excitement and the honour of being asked to advise of this great initiative.

The project is being run by Nesta who are also part of a lot of other great initiatives like the decode project.

Nesta leads NGI Forward, the strategy and policy arm of the European Commission’s flagship Next Generation Internet initiative, which seeks to build a more democratic, inclusive, resilient, sustainable and trustworthy internet by 2030.

This work requires the support and guidance of a broad community of experts and practitioners, and to help us achieve this we are excited to announce the establishment of our Advisory Board. Our Advisory Board members have been chosen to help us have the biggest impact we possibly can by connecting us with new networks, guiding our ideas and giving critical feedback on our plans.

NGI policy summit

I have a lot more to share in the near future but I also wanted to make sure people interested in a more democratic, inclusive and resilient Internet are also aware of NESTA’s Next Generation Internet: Policy Summit which is 28th– 29th September 2020 and is free to register.

What is your vision for the future of the internet? Very pleased to support and attend the , organised by the EU Commission, @NGI4EU and @Iamsterdam – register at: https://summit.ngi.eu/ Europe can create a better future for the internet! If you want to get involved, join my colleagues from @NGIForward and @Iamsterdam at the on 28-29 September. Register for free at https://summit.ngi.eu/

Can I travel around Europe with Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa?

schengen zone countries

I spent a bit of time tonight looking at the Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa requirements and I do believe the idea of applying for a Estonian Nomad Visa then heading over to the Netherlands is possible.

From the Estonia Digital Nomad Visa FAQ.

17. How long can a DNV-holder stay in other countries in the Schengen Zone during their visa period?

I looked at the Schengen area and found the above mapping.  I’m sure its obvious for most but I hadn’t actually looked at what countries were included and not. I can imagine a base out of Tallinn, Estonia and a month or two out of the Netherlands?

The other restrictions look good to me although I’m also interested in the short 90 day Nomad visa too.

Estonia to implement a digital nomad Visa

My Estonian e-residency ID

How on earth did i miss this!?

The Estonian parliament on 3 June adopted amendments to the current laws to create a digital nomad visa that would allow people to come to Estonia as a tourist and at the same time continue working for a foreign employer or as a freelancer independent of location.

This is the step I’ve been dreaming about… Digital ID becomes useful for physical ID

Would I work in another country while doing my current job? You darn right I would. The last few months have made it super clear that I could work completely remotely quite well. A tourist visa is about 90 days within a 6 month period, I just spent 3 months mainly in my flat!

This is very doable and heck if I can also wonder across into other parts of Europe?! Now that would be incredible..!

 

Mozilla Festival is moving to Amsterdam

 

Last Mozfest in London

The word is out… MozfeLast is officially moving to Amsterdam.

The decision to move locations after 9 years in London wasn’t taken lightly. London opened its arms to us in 2011, and we loved its multicultural diversity and entrepreneurial spirit. But it was expensive, and harder to get visas for our guests each year.

During many conversations with the community in Amsterdam, we were consistently impressed with the alignment in values between Amsterdam and Mozilla, as well as the enthusiasm they brought to the proposal process. Amsterdam has publicly-stated principles around protecting data transparency, privacy, and internet access for citizens. And, it is home to a robust and eclectic community of creative thinkers. Our common goals for progressive, radical change in areas of AI, digital rights and literacy, with community inclusion at the fore, will make us great partners in executing a festival that will be a convening force for supporting a more open and healthy internet for all.

Lets say I had a sneaky thought this might be the case when it was first announced that Mozilla was moving the festival.

The bigger surprise is the date change….

Moving to Amsterdam is not our only news. We have also decided to wait until March of 2021 to host our next MozFest. The extra time allows us to critically assess our design to ensure that what we build is robust and accessible and it allows us to embed ourselves in Amsterdam to get to know the local open advocates and activists.

March 2021, is likely a good idea with the Cornoavirus on the rampage right now to be fair.

Mozilla have a couple of Ask Me Anything sessions planned for Wednesday 18th in their Slack group.

  • Session 1: 9am-10am GMT/5-6am ET
  • Session 2: 5:30-6:30pm GMT/1:30-2:30pm ET

Do I agree to Google’s new privacy terms?

Google's new privacy termsGoogle is making some changes to its privacy terms and is urging us to read them.

We know it’s tempting to skip these Terms of Service, but it’s important to establish what you can expect from us as you use Google services, and what we expect from you.

I’m slowly making my way through the terms but one thing I’m certainly going to do is related to the location of my data in googles data centres.

I’m not down with this part… I understand why they would do it but in the same way I voted to stay within a block of countries with harden data privacy laws. I need to personally do something.

Because of this I’m switching away from Gmail and deleting lots of archived emails. I’m also going to start using encryption more with google drive. I have been a bit lazy with this all, weighing up the balance of convenience and effort. Google provide a lot of useful things to me, but I think its time to move some more critical parts way, starting with email.

So I’m torn between Protonmail and Tutanota but also been looking at others.

Can the government be trusted to honour any promises?

Boris Johnson

In short No!

To doubts that the government can be trusted to honour promises to maintain post-Brexit workplace, environmental and food standards must now be added very real concerns about its continued adherence to international human rights law – meaning, specifically, the European convention on human rights. Such prospective backsliding is foolish, damaging and wholly unacceptable.

The issue came to the fore last week after Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, revealed that the UK “informs us that they do not wish to commit formally to applying the ECHR”. Downing Street later claimed that the government continued to support the treaty, which the UK joined in 1951, but did not want its membership to form a legally binding part of a future EU-UK trade agreement.

I commented this is awful time to be reconsidering trade deals in the middle of a potential worldwide pandemic. Don’t even get me started about all the other sneaky things which are happening.

Do I trust this government with any of this and so much more? Do you? Just as I’m reading about how the data (could) indicates the downfall of the UK.

In an article published by TruePublica, we showed how every twenty years there is a natural cycle of economic and political change – and linked it to generational forces alongside new technologies. The Father-and-son cycle that Turchin talks of is the same as our own research. The sons of fathers change the world and it takes 40 years for the really big change to come along. In our research, we predicted that right now, Britain is only halfway into a period of political and economic upheaval.

So where is Britain in the criteria of PSI? The boxes in all of its questions are ticked. A crisis has occurred, the government reacted incorrectly, the masses have demanded change, and a member of the elite, a populist is promising the world. Additionally, Britain is being emersed in heavy national debts costing nearly a £1billion a week just to service the interest charges and now has nothing in reserve to soften the blow of anything unexpected like, say, another recession – one perhaps caused by Brexit. And the people are in trouble too. Household debt is on the cusp of a historic explosion – forecast to double in just four years to completely unsustainable levels. Could the coronavirus, more flooding or Brexit be the spark?

How about basic human rights?

/e/OS: The beauty of open source

/e/os on a phone

I was quite impressed with the /e/OS project. I hadn’t really heard of it before but as I’m considering the balanced of google service and data in my life; especially with the plans to move UK citizens data/accounts outside the EU.

Taking the AOSP Android Open Source project and removing all the google parts is quite impressive. A real testament to the power of open source.

The interview with itsfoss is a good read, starting off with the question of what and why

Why did you create this Eelo or /e/ project in the first place?

Gael: In 2017, I realized that using Android and iPhone, Google and many mobile apps was not compatible with my personal privacy.

A later study by a US University confirmed this: using an iPhone or and Android phone sends between 6 to 12 MB of personal data to Google servers, daily! And this doesn’t count mobile apps.

So I looked for reasonable alternatives to iPhone and Android phones but didn’t find any. Either I found options for hobbyists, like Ubuntu Touch, that were not compatible with existing apps and not fully unGoogled either. Or there were alternative ROMs with all the Google fat inside, and no associated basic online services that could be used without tweaking the system.

Therefore, an idea came to mind: why not fork Android, remove all the Google features, even low level, such as connectivity check, DNS…, replace default apps with more virtuous apps, add basic online services, and integrate all this into a consistent form that could be used by Mum and Dad and any people without tech or expert knowledge?

I’d be interesting in what apps run on the operating system, as Google really have embedded Play services into everything now. When I first got my recent e-reader, it came with its own app store till you enable play services. That store was super small but it doesn’t have to be that way if you look at F-droid for example.

If I still had my Nexus 5x, I would likely give /e/os a try. I could run it on my Nexus 5 I guess but the screen is maybe too broken.

I have been thinking, following my use of Firefox multiple account containers use. Maybe something of a mashup of Blackberry’s Android profiles (anyone remember this?) and Firefox containers.

This certainly feels like a design challenge which could be massively beneficial to many, and showcase the beauty of opensource

A review of my 2019 resolutions

Me with birthday ballons

2019 has been quite challenging for me and I know many others!

Looking from the Quantified Self point of view

  • My sleep deficit over the whole year has massively decreased to 36 mins,   My average sleep this year has been 7 hours 20mins (down from 2018). Average deep sleep has been 4.03 hrs now only 48% of my sleep.
  • According to Gmail I have had 54,325 conversations, have 33345 emails in my inbox and sent 7241 emails this year
  • Have 111,540 photos and 3,971 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 267 open tasks and completed 2,876 over the year
  • Been on 52 trips including Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Guernsey, Madrid, Amsterdam, Venice (first time in Italy), Berlin, Helsinki, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Nottingham, The Hague, Bath, Newcastle this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Supergirl and film was John wick 3, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 655 hours watching films (16.2 a month) and 300 hours watching TV series (37.5 a month)
  • This year I started a gratitude diary which now has 7,303 words

Regardless of the data he’s the review of my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Again I missed this one and its very unlikely this will happen before the UK leaves Europe.  Theres still an idea of visiting my  friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany. But this may change massively if I move to Amsterdam?
  2. Ride a roller coaster in yet another country
    This also didn’t happen this year, although I did go to Madrid again and ride lots of coasters in the scorching 41c sun. Also I decided to give the rollercoaster park in Helsinki a miss this year. Next year I’ll be in looking out for coasters in other countries including South Korea.
  3. Look after myself better
    Didn’t do so badly but theres a lot of room for improvement. I do a lot of walking when away from home but Volleyball isn’t as intense as it use to be due to not being in the team now.
  4. Spend more time in the UK
    This happened I think and my partner agrees.
  5. Enter the bake off at work
    This is a yes, I baked some banana bread with chilli chocolate inside and it was very nice except when I took it to work things didn’t quite turn out as expected.  But I did get six peoples vote and there’s photos of the caroline reaper chocolate volcano cake here.
  6. Explore more about the brain using neuroscience
    This needs some work, as I didn’t go to any events this year at all from memory.
  7. Do more with my Estonian e-residency
    I did extended my e-residency another 2 years and I do use it as ID when entering some physical businesses. Its not quite what I was thinking about but it slightly counts. I did also look into using it as another form authentication for some services and finally setup a email address for it.
  8. Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
    I spent a weekend at IndieWebCampBerlin and the following days at Republica19. It was quite an amazing and my follow up to R&D with a lunch time lecture with this presentation.
  9. Make some changes to the flat
    I finally started by finally removing the filing cabinet to the local dump, getting a large Billy bookcase in my partners new car (with the roof down in the Manchester rain). I bought a sitting and standing desk which is smaller but yet to put it up due to having the existing one still in place. I didn’t realise my Jerker desk is over 20 years old! I’ll be offering it on ebay in the new year if anyone is keen to have it?
  10. Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
    This needs to happen in 2020, I had a couple of evening with my new projector, but nowhere what I was hoping for. My partner and friend had not seen Inception so we had fun with that one evening. Another friend suggested she had never seen Kill Bill, so that could be a back to back session with the projector and surround sound system.
    When it comes to the dinner parties front, theres been a bit. Likely the best was the chocolate tasting party which was great.
  11. Work on the dating book
    Since Hannah offered her copy editing skills to help make it a real book, I have done what I can. She suggested ghost writing the book and we have agreed thats a way forward. When I last spoke about the book, I saw 11+ chapters of my previously badly written nonsense, rewritten and re-imagined. Its going to be amazing!
  12. Be a stronger advocate for Team Human
    This is summing up so much of 2019 for me. Not only in daily life but in work. Its appeared in presentations, in talks I’ve given and the way I go about things. Ok its not really about team human but new forms of value or rather. Its one of the reasons why I’m considering a secondment.

Happy Holidays to family, friends and followers (2019)

Happy Holidays card
Image taken during 2019 from my window

Here is my holiday card for the festive holiday period; for family, friends and followers. Happy Holidays and although I’m concerned about 2020 from a political and technology point of view. I’m also aware 2020 is a new decade to really embed some of the smaller changes into our future.

Enjoy the festive period and lets fight for the future in the decade of 2020.  2020 needs to be about humankind or even not faceless corporations, fake promises, lies and political manipulation. The era of human values and when we reverse global warming.

The secret ecosystem of my personal data is being prepared

Recently in the last public service internet note, I posted…

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?

I sent my requests off a few days following my GDPR dating data template. I’ve had quite a few replies from Sift in the last few weeks.

Starting with this one a day after my formal GDPR request

Thank you for reaching out to Sift. Due to recent press coverage, we are experiencing a high volume of data access requests. We are scaling our operations to accommodate all requests and appreciate your patience. Please expect a followup email to help us verify your identity so that your data does not fall into the wrong hands. Separately, we’ve answered a few commonly asked questions below.

What does Sift do?
Sift provides fraud prevention services to online businesses, e.g. e-commerce. Our goal is to make the internet a safer place so that businesses and their users (like you) don’t have to worry about fraud. You can learn more about our mission here.

We only use your data to provide fraud prevention services to our customers – we do not sell, share, or use your data for any other purpose. For more details about how our service works and what types of data we process, please see our Service Privacy Notice.

How may I access the data that Sift processes about me?
In order to process your data access request, we need to verify your identity to ensure that we are sharing your data with you and not a fraudster impersonating you. As unlikely as that sounds, it happens more often than you’d expect. Please expect a followup email with instructions on how to verify your identity.

How soon will Sift process my request?
Once we verify your identity, we will honor all requests under the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) within ninety (90) days per Article 12(3) of the GDPR for verified EU citizens only. Please note we are extending this period by sixty (60) days due to the high volume of requests.

All other requests, including those from the United States, will take more time. We thank you for your patience as we must give priority to those requests for which our timely response is legally required.

Can you provide my score?
If you have requested your “Sift Score” or other type of consumer score, we’d like to clarify that Sift does not have a “Sift Score” for you (or any user) because we don’t score users; we score user interactions on a specific website for a specific type of fraud. We calculate the likelihood of whether actions you have taken on a Sift customer site are associated with specific types of fraud. The actions we analyze depends on the particular Sift product our customer uses.

However, these interactions do not add up into a single Sift Score about you. A single score is not an effective way of assessing fraud. Instead, the best way to predict fraud and provide users like you the best possible experience is to analyze each specific interaction. For more information on scores, please read our blog post here.

And then a few days later…

Thank you for contacting Sift support! We received your email and typically respond within one business day for questions related to Sift’s suite of products. In the meantime, you can browse our Help Center for answers to some common questions: https://support.sift.com/hc/en-us

Best,

The Sift Support Team

Finally I got the email to verify my identity, which needed to be done within 14 days of the email with a unique link. Which I needed to type in my phone number for the service to then send another unique link to my phone.

Verification is done via a 3rd party service called Berbix inc, and required me to scan my driving license or passport then a selfie and the site tells you to strike a pose and take a selfie (prove its not just a photo). Its all done on the phone using chrome browser rather than an app (thankfully). I had a read of their privacy policy of course and Sift’s.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing what they send me back…

Carole Cadwalladr’s thoughts on our broken society

At the MyData 2019 conference in Helsinki. I had the absolute pleasure of talking with Carole Cadwalladr after seeing a panel discussion about the great hack and also taking part in a workshop about it.

I realised I had not actually shared her TED talk on my blog, and only shared the great hack via the July public service internet newsletter.

I can change that easily enough, and I want to share some of the workshop resources, but not totally sure they are for sharing…?

Move fast and break society?
Sander Van Der Waal’s slide from a later mydata session

In an unmissable talk, journalist Carole Cadwalladr digs into one of the most perplexing events in recent times: the UK’s super-close 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Tracking the result to a barrage of misleading Facebook ads targeted at vulnerable Brexit swing voters — and linking the same players and tactics to the 2016 US presidential election — Cadwalladr calls out the “gods of Silicon Valley” for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair elections a thing of the past?

Make the bold move and take a risk?

With all the chaos of the UK government right now, along comes a video which speaks to me.

My advice is to go for the bold move and take a risk. And if that risk means putting yourself way out there in an interview, or if that risk means having to move to a city you weren’t sure you wanted to live in, or if that risk means trying a field that wasn’t your first choice, do it.

That move is on my mind a lot.

39 days till Brexit and we still don’t know whats going to happen…

Its super depressing and even with 39 days left till Brexit, we still don’t know what on earth is going to happen. Even Jon Oliver can’t express how painful it is to watch the news everyday and see the PM of the UK trying to act strong with a crappy deal and following the will of the UK people.

Its a crappy situation the PM stepped into but I’m far from forgiving as she could delay article 50 and delay this clusterf**k. There is no way we should be allowed to leave without clear plans and a proper deal, if thats what we must do (I of course don’t buy it, I want to stay in the European union and always have done).

All I can do is put my head in my hands and think about how to escape the UK.