Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2020)

Dark estonia
Photo by Kevin Lehtla on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed watching the twitter hack fall out and the cult like increase in conspiracies theories.

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 the new Estonian digital nomad visa and a steady drive of transparency questions levelled at Facebook.


Protocols, Not Platforms

Ian thinks: This paper really sets out the problems of the current mainstream internet. Platform building opposed to open protocols which everybody can use. Its well thought out and substantial in its arguments.

The growing changes in robot technology, iot and 3D printing

Ian thinks: I am impressed with the bio-mimicry in some of the robots. Its certainly the way to go, learning from nature. If only we could save it too.

Estonia launches a new type of visa for digital nomads

Ian thinks: Estonia was the first country with e-residency and they have flatten the world one more time with a new type of visa, allowing people to work for a remote company for up to 90 days.

If I earn a bitcoin everytime some asked me about the darkweb…

Ian thinks: Although the speaker doesn’t do himself any favours with a blurred out face, he crushes a lot of the typical questions I have been asked about the darkweb

Insight into the dark world of shadow brokers

Ian thinks: Its fascinating to hear about the unsolved puzzle of shadow brokers who sold NSA surveillance tools on the open market. Another reason why government encryption back-doors are such a bad idea.

What are the applications using blockchain technology right now?

Ian thinks: There is a lot of scepticism about crypto technology but I found this video from Crypto startup school, useful looking at the direction and focus of the actual applications which currently exist. The questions are pretty intruding too.

An atlas of surveillance

Ian thinks: Ok this is mainly American but its quite a unique database of different types of surveillance, how they are used and for what purpose. Good work by the EFF.

Emerging tech overview with Node

Ian thinks: Starting with drone delivery and ending with human assisted tech. Node is a great place for summaries on emerging open tech advancements.

Mozilla wants your advice on how to make the internet healther

Ian thinks: If you had only one question for Mozilla, what would it be? Well here is your chance to think and submit that one question.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2020)

Hackers hoodwink facial recognition software with masks

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed considering the new normal for cybersecurity or uber’s underhanded approach to get its Jump bikes back.

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 projects to finally make clear IOT devices more legible and the EU putting weight behind Free and Open software.


The world we want post Covid19

Ian thinks: I have read a lot of post covid19 predictions, even started writing my own. But this one really felt more like a manifesto for where to go next.

Technology which perpetuates racism

Ian thinks: Good look at tech policy decisions which directly affect people of colour.

Beyond the tweets of support, where’s your tech being used?

Ian thinks: There is a real murky history of tech companies helping to arm law enforcement with stronger and ways to enforce without real regulation or legal oversight.

How do you defend against an opaque system of surveillance?

Ian thinks: Terrifying story of a man wrongly accused by an algorithm. He’s not the first and won’t be the last, the call for transparency, legibility and legal oversight is ever so strong.

How Taiwan used digital tools, to solve the Covid19 pandemic

Ian thinks: Taiwan mainly avoided the Covid19 lockdown. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, shares how tools/techniques like crowdsourcing, a transparent supplies system and the use of humor on social media have resulted in less than 500 confirmed cases.

Is anonymous or actually hacktivism which is back?

Ian thinks: Theres been an uptake in techniques similar to anonymous & occupy in the wake of . Its a mistake they are back when this simply the future of protests?

Why is the police body camera a false hope?

Ian thinks: Its all American body cameras in the studies, however there are similar aspects in the UK which are starting to stir.

Different ways to defeating facial recognition

Ian thinks: Great summary of techniques to defeat facial recognition complete with demos. Take your pick which most suits your style.

A comprehensive guide book to manifesting reality

Ian thinks: I know a lot people prefer paper to digital, and the node zine is a great e/book covering a lot of the digital technologies I cover in the public service internet newsletters. You can download if for free or order a nice print copy.

The future of work post covid19?

Ian thinks: There’s a lot debate over the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Each case is different but I found this economist video had all the points nicely wrapped up in short video. Lots to think about as the world starts to open again.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2020)

Silicon Valley TV show

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by celebrity culture on lockdown or looking at the sorry state of instagram during lockdown.

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 in litmus test of thoughts from 45 non-journalist students from 17 nationalities students about the post-covid19 mediascape.


China’s plans to fundamentally change the internet stack from the bottom

Ian thinks: China’s attempt to change IP by going to the ITU is substantial and quite terrifying even in the face of the misinformation warfare. For anyone creating devices/services/apps for the Chinese market, its a real wake up call.

The secret market for your web browsing data

Ian thinks: These secret markets/ecosystem for personal data has been revealed over and over again. But this reveal is based purely on our web browsing data but is no less scary

How much is data worth?

Ian thinks: The discussion about the price of data pops its head up again. Its a difficult question but its worth something to someone.

But I have nothing to hide? Really?

Ian thinks: Really good video summary you can share with friends and family, for those who “have nothing to hide…”

Sorry was that, EST, BST, GMT, CET or just UTC?

Ian thinks: A good balanced look at what would happen if we all switched to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time. Makes some very good points on both sides. Tom Scott, adds his views from a programming point of view.

Snowdon on the privacy woes of Covid-19

Ian thinks: Vice interviews Edward Snowdon about how the different governments are taking advantage of our fear around Covid-19

Lilian Edwards proposal for Contact tracing

Ian thinks: Lilian is very creditable and while everybody is concerned and focused on contact tracing technology. Shes approached it from the equally important angle of policy.

Abolish Silicon Valley and rethink our future

Ian thinks: I haven’t read Wendy Li’s book yet but she makes some good if a bit over optimistic in points. But shes got the scars to back up every point.

Time to talk seriously about Universal basic income?

Ian thinks: Good to see a view outside the silicon reality distortion valley. Discussions for the post Covid-19 future lean heavily on Universal basic income.

Always been meaning to read The Age of Surveillance Capitalism?

Ian thinks: The dutch broadcaster VPRO kindly posted their documentary with Shoshana Zuboff online for all the people who didn’t make it through the 500+ pages of her book. Not deep enough try the 2hr lecture.

You should disclose smart speakers to guests

Someone at Mydata mentioned this interview during our panel last month and finally had a read. Very happy BBC got the Google’s Rick Osterloh to say “I disclose smart speakers to guests.

After being challenged as to whether homeowners should tell guests smart devices – such as a Google Nest speaker or Amazon Echo display – are in use before they enter the building, he concludes that the answer is indeed yes.

“Gosh, I haven’t thought about this before in quite this way,” Rick Osterloh begins.

“It’s quite important for all these technologies to think about all users… we have to consider all stakeholders that might be in proximity.”

And then he commits.

“Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.”

I very much agree and I think everybody should do this. Will people do this? Not a chance, although I wish they would. I do tend to go into a room and jokily say the different wake words. Just incase…

I remember writing about my Airbnb in Barcelona experience and I have to say Airbnb’s criteria of what a camera is good.

This area of social data surveillance is tricky but something which is being researched/explored by the likes of myself at BBCR&D.

Remember what Zuckerberg said about its trusted users?

Mark Zuckerberg is “deluded” by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world.

I have so many pieces saved in my wallabag archive about the faccebook/cambridge analytica data issues (it is not a breach!). As I read, more information comes to light.

But I am always reminded of what Zuckerberg said about its trusted users… and it sums up so much.

Dumb fucks…

The thing about the statement is although it might be throw away in nature it speaks volumes about the way Zuckerberg thinks about Facebook users. It also interesting to think how Facebook is makes users feel that way, taking the power and control out of their hands. The reactions to the reveals have been so-so like when Edward Snowdon revealed the mass surveillance of millions of citizens around the world.

But its super clear, no matter how powerless we all feel, its super important to not lose sight that these giant companies have weaponised data, algorithms and psychology against us all. Running from one service to another isn’t so helpful in the long run.

We need to be more conscious about our decisions physically, mentally and virtually or be the dumb fucks Zuckerberg talked about.