Tag Archives: British Telecom

The non-knowing speak loudest

There is an old saying that goes back to the original circus, the days of Sir Alec Guiness, John Le Carre and the circus (MI6). Those who do not know speak and those who do will not. There is however a valid issue with that mindset. When it is merely intelligence and what some regard as spyshit, we tend to not care. It is their world and they tend to live by other rules even as they have the same lack of common cyber sense as some US generals, it is their choice to make. Yet when we see labour people like Michael Danby need to present evidence in regards to “an opposition Labor party MP, called on the Liberal-National coalition to block Huawei and fellow Chinese telecoms company ZTE from supplying equipment for the 5G network. “Both Huawei and ZTE must report to the Communist party cell at the top of their organisations,” he told parliament. “Let me issue a clarion call to this parliament: Australia’s 5G network must not be sold to these telcos.”” I am actually in the mindset that his seat should be put up for auction if he does not disclose a proper setting and give evidence as to the reasoning of all this. It becomes more pressing when we see “Mr Lord, a former rear admiral in the Royal Australian Navy, told Australia’s state broadcaster on Monday that these claims were “wrong”, adding that Huawei was not owned by any committee of government and posed no risk to Australia’s security“. It is not just because Mr Lord is a former rear admiral, more that the average naval midshipman tends to be more reliable than any politician. We get this from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/1a2d19ba-67b1-11e8-8cf3-0c230fa67aec). In addition, when we get politicians start the scare tactics of ‘critical infrastructure pose a risk to national security’, there is a clear need for both Duncan Lewis and Paul Symon AO to get hauled in a chair in Canberra and ask them to openly answer the questions regarding any evidence that Huawei is a security threat. To blatantly accept the US on their ‘china fears’ is all well and good for Telstra, yet the setting is not a given and the fact that Telstra is nowhere near the technological levels of Huawei is not something that we blame them from, but they basically lost the 5G war before it started through their own actions and inactions.

Now if there is an actual national security concern, we should be open about that and when that happens, and evidence is presented, at that point we can all relax and state to Huawei that we feel sorry for the inconvenience caused, but such concerns are just too big to ignore. I think we have had quite enough of these presentations that reek of Colin Powell and his silver suitcase with evidence that no one ever saw in 2001. We cannot go in that direction ever again. We will not be the play toy of greedy telecom companies and their internal needs for stupidity and inactions; we can no longer afford such a nepotism environment.

That same issue can be said regarding Nationals MP George Christensen. Apart from him trying to undo a business deal of a 99 year lease, no matter how silly that deal was, Australia cannot be perceived as a nation that cannot be trusted at the business table. My second issue is why a maroon (Queenslander) is involving himself with NT politics. In that regard, why do we not see the responses form Vicki O’Halloran is she has any, is she not the appointed administrator? In this, the game is not over. The Australian Financial Review gives us: “Huawei faces the likelihood that Cabinet’s national security committee will veto it supplying equipment for the 5G network, based on the recommendations of security agencies, over concerns about the potential for cyber espionage at the behest of China’s leaders“. In this the question becomes, is there an actual security concern, or is it that the national concern is the devaluation of Telstra? In additional support we need to see the Sydney Morning Herald two weeks ago when they gave us (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/how-a-huawei-5g-ban-is-about-more-than-espionage-20180614-p4zlhf.html): “The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported in March that there were serious concerns within the Turnbull government about Huawei’s potential role in 5G – a new wireless standard that could be up to 10 times as powerful as existing mobile services, and used to power internet connections for a range of consumer devices beyond phones“, as well as “the decision will have an impact on Australia’s $40 billion a year telecoms market – potentially hurting Telstra’s rivals“. the first part is something I wrote about for well over a year, the second one is important as we see ‘potentially hurting Telstra’s rivals‘, from my personal point of view it reads like the one lobotomised idiot in telecom country gets to decide through arm-twisting on how we need to remain backwards as they set the standard that they could not deliver for the longest of times (a little sarcasm regarding Telstra’s 2011 3.7G), I wrote about that recently.

ABC gave us yesterday: “it continues to be the target of criticism over its connections to the Chinese Government, including allegations it is involved in state-sponsored espionage“, yet the people have never been shown actual evidence, so where is that at? There might have been doubts to some degree for a while, but the Powell stunt is too clear in our minds and the USA does not have the credibility (or credit rating for that matter) it once had. The fact that the opposing former rear admiral of the Australian navy trumps two half bit politicians seeking the limelight any day of the week and some stay silent, the reason for that is only speculation, but we might not need to seek far and a few words ion Google Search might help find that answer (like ‘Telstra’ and ‘8000’). When we see some giving us: ‘Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX:TLS) is betting it all on 5G‘ and we see the Telstra strategy briefing (at https://www.telstra.com.au/content/dam/tcom/about-us/investors/pdf-e/2018-Strategy-Update.pdf), we see on page 6, Leading with 5G, that would never be an option with Huawei in play as they are ahead by a lot, so the presentation given a week ago, whilst we realise that the presentation was prepared way before that is giving the setting that Huawei is no longer considered to be competition, that is what we now face! What some might call a backward organisation proclaiming to be leading whilst 8000 men will be missing through inaction. That page is even more fun when you consider the quote ‘new technologies like IoT‘, which is funny when you consider that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices. It is not a technology; it is a network that enables technology. In addition, when you start nit-picking in that 34 page event, we see all the bells and whistles we need to see, yet when you consider consumers and small business (the millions of people that Telstra charges) starts at page 9 and gives us 5 slides. We see ‘cutting edge 5G capability’ (by whose standards?), we see location devices (with the image of a dog), Access to rewards an tickets, a fully-digital relationship with Telstra (an implied no more personal interaction after the sales, merely a chatbot) and value added services, yet the value of a service like customer service and customer care are absent in that part of the equation, so how does this push the people forward, because I doubt that it actually will achieve anything in the long run and one flaw will anger the actual consumers without limits.

You see, personally I believe in the IoT, I believe in 5G, they are tools to enhance experiences and interactions, not make them obsolete and that is what  feel when I saw the Telstra strategy update. These two elements can enhance customer care, customer service and customer support, not replace them with ‘AI’ enhanced chatbots. So the moment we get a 2.0 version of ‘Telstra’s new chatbot, Codi, is making so many mistakes customers are furious’ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/telstra-codi-bot-backlash-2018-3), chatbots can be a great asset to get the information and channel the call to the right person, yet that again is merely enhancing and that can work fine. The presentation implies the loss of actual customer values and ignoring their need for interactions. That in an aging population might be the least intelligent stance to make ever.

Yet this does not give way to the issue on Telstra versus Huawei, as the Sydney Morning Herald states “Telstra has refused to exclude Huawei from its 5G tender, but that is seen more as a way of keeping its existing supplier Ericsson on its toes“, as well as “In other words, a ban could be bad news for TPG, Vodafone and Optus. Whether it is necessarily good news for Telstra – which has its own issues at the moment – is less clear“. In finality we get “Intelligence agencies tend to get their way on matters like these“, this beckons the question what are they actually after? The US seems to be in bed with Samsung and their 5G routers, so it makes sense that this will be the path that Telstra walks as well, time will tell how it ends.

So why is this such a big deal?

We are currently in danger of actually falling behind Saudi Arabia, yes, that place in a large sandbox is about to surpass us in 5G and other technologies. They had the audacity to reserve half a trillion dollars toward Vision 2030 and Neom. So when we got “Al-Khobar in the Eastern Province, of Saudi Arabia, has become the first city in the region to benefit from the fifth-generation wireless network or 5G network, according to a press statement issued by the Center of International Communication“, last month. There was not a surprise in my bone. You see, this will drive their Vision 2030 plans even further. So as Saudi Arabia is now the new pond to grow speciality in 5G, app designers can promote, test and deliver on knowledge that will be available whilst Telstra is trying to figure out how to get 5G installed. with “All the necessary national 5G policies and supporting administrative provisions are planned to be in place before the end of 2019, along with the award of initial batches of the spectrum to support the full commercial deployment of 5G technologies“, we see that Saudi Arabia had been taking this serious for a much longer time. This goes a little further when we see ‘the Middle East and Africa 5G Technology market (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nigeria, and South Africa)‘, so at this point, Saudi Arabia has a head start to not just push Saudi Arabia forward, they have quite literally first dibs on gaining a chunk of the 98 million Egyptians. Not all can afford 5G, we get that, but those who do are confronted with only Saudi Arabia as a Muslim player, you did not actually believe that they would run to Vodafone, did you?

So back to the 5G local ‘market’! For this we need to take a look at the Australian Financial review 2 weeks ago. Here we see (at https://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/the-technical-reasons-why-huawei-too-great-a-5g-risk-20180614-h11e3o), with the title ‘The technical reasons why Huawei is too great a 5G risk‘, the start is good, this is what we wanted. Yet we are treated to paragraphs of emotion and alleged settings. So when we see: “Huawei presents unique additional risk beyond the “normal” risk of buying complex equipment. China has demonstrated a long-standing intent to conduct cyber-espionage“, so is ‘intent’ shown in evidence? How did the CIA and NSA acquire our data or Cambridge Analytica for that matter? ‘China is thought to be behind data breaches‘ is merely a statement ‘thought‘ is speculation, not evidence. Then we get: “The US Trade Representative’s Section 301 report from March this year details the very close cooperation between the Third Department of China’s People’s Liberation Army (3PLA is a military hacking unit, also known as Unit 61398) and Chinese enterprises“, I have to get back to this. We are treated to ‘At one extreme, Huawei could be asked‘, is a case of fear mongering and not evidence. In addition we get ‘it is certainly a possibility‘ which came after ‘Vulnerabilities may already exist. This may not be the most likely possibility‘ as well as ‘very likely‘ all emotional responses, none of them evidence in any way, so the article with included in the title ‘The technical reasons’, has pretty much zero technology and close to 90% ‘allegedly’, speculations and emotional twists, whilst we cannot deny the optional existence of vulnerabilities, yet these are found regularly in Cisco hardware and Microsoft software, so have those two been banned in Australia?

Now to get back to the Section 301 report (at https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/Section%20301%20FINAL.PDF). It is 215 pages and I did not read that complete political US marketing behemoth. There is one that actually carries weight. On page 153 we see: “evidence from U.S. law enforcement and private sources indicates that the Chinese government has used cyber intrusions to serve its strategic economic objectives. Documented incidents of China’s cyber intrusions against U.S. commercial entities align closely with China’s industrial policy objectives. As the global economy has increased its dependence on information systems in recent years, cyber theft became one of China’s preferred methods of collecting commercial information because of its logistical advantages and plausible deniability“, which is basically good application of intelligence gathering. Please do not take my word for it, feel free to call the NSA (at +1-301-6886311, all their calls are recorded for training and quality purposes). Oh, and before I forget, the text came with footnote 970, which gave us “A number of public submissions provided to USTR state that the Chinese government has no reason to conduct cyber intrusions or commit cyber theft for commercial purposes, see CHINA GENERAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE [hereinafter “CGCC”], Submission, Section 301 Hearing 16 (Sept. 28, 2017); that the US has not provided evidence of such actions by China, that China is also a target of cyber-attacks, and that the two countries should work together“, there is that to deal with and is that not a rare instance where we are treated to ‘the US has not provided evidence of such actions‘, how many times have we seen claims like that since 2001? Would that number be a 4 or 5 digit number?

The point is not whether it can or could happen, the question becomes did it happen here? let’s not forget that in most settings the section 301 report is about US interests and their technological advancement (which they lost by becoming iteratively stupid). Here we have a different setting. In the setting we face Huawei has a technological advance over all we have in Australia and most of Europe as well. Huawei was one of the first to realise the power of data and 5G and they are close to a market leader, the US is basically relying on Samsung to get them there. BT (British Telecom) is on the ball, but still not on par. They are in bed with Finland “BT has teamed with Nokia to collaborate on the creation of 5G proof of concept trials, the development of emerging technology standards and equipment, and potential 5G use cases“, so this sets the larger players in a field where Nokia and Huawei are now active. The SAMENA Telecom Leaders Summit 2018 and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) announced today that it is working with Nokia to launch a 5G network in 2018 within Saudi Arabia, yet the technology agreements show that it does include Huawei and Cisco, so they aren’t already active, the setting for the initial bumps in the road that Cisco, Nokia and Huawei will surely overcome is knowledge that we will not have in Australia long after someone was able to connect the 5G router to a power point (very presentable, yet the online green light seems to be broken).

So whilst politicians are considering who to be buddies with, Saudi Arabia joins the US and they will be the first 5G providers, which means that the UK and Australia are lagging behind and optionally not for the short term either.

So am I not knowing or am I all knowing? I actually prefer the first, because it is more relaxing; yet the need to speak out loud is becoming increasingly important even if it was only to place the loud mouth limelight seeking politicians like Michael Danby and George Christensen in their slightly too arrogant place. They are of course welcome to present ACTUAL evidence proving me wrong. #WishingForAMiracleHere

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Military, Politics, Science

The politics of denial

I started this last Friday, so as I started writing this, I got to do the clumsy thing and actually kick out the power cable, losing all I had written. It led to my own denial and anger, and it fittingly fits this. Now, as I revisit the issue I have on one side the pleasure of having ‘new’ data, and the displeasure of going over this, but I will a little later in the article as it actually has bearing on all this.

So these three senators have decided to see if they can break up their entire Saudi Arabian support system, which will work out swimmingly for the UK, but about that later. The three senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, Chris Murphy have started the US on a path, where the setting is that those three have introduced a resolution that will force the chamber to vote for the first time on whether the US should continue to support Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, a conflict that has led to the deaths of at least 10,000 civilians. In itself that is not the question, you see this is not whether what they do is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. As we see it in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/28/yemen-saudi-arabia-war-us-support-senator-push-to-end) we get ““This is about the process,” said an aide to Lee. “What decisions do we make for a country that has been at war constantly for almost 20 years? When do we say that something is worthy of intervening in and when do we make that determination? It’s about the how“, which is fair enough. It is a political decision in all this and we can view it from one side, or from the other side. But there is actually a lot more going on.

Part is seen when we see “Yemen’s conflict began in 2014, when the Houthis, Shia rebels from the country’s north, seized the nation’s capital and ousted the Saudi-backed ruler, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who lives in exile in Riyadh. In response, a Saudi-led Arab coalition began a bombing campaign in 2015, to restore the exiled government to power”, in all this, we might see these matters as separate, but they are not, they are very connected.

The first part is seen in the NY Times (one of many sources), on April 14th 2011 we see ‘U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings‘ (at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/world/15aid.html), here we see “a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states“, as well as “as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections” we see that America never learned from its mistakes in Egypt, Iran and other places. Now, I have nothing against democracy, I grew up in that environment and we should all accept that, but is it that clear? These nations had a sovereign right, they decided not to be democracies and as some filled the heads of some people with the ‘golden dream‘, and got trained into the creation of flocks and let them flock to those Arab spring groups the damage ended up getting close to complete. What started in Tunisia in 2010, moved to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain, where we saw the unsettling of regimes, major uprisings and social violence, riots, civil wars and/or insurgencies. Places like Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan were not impervious either to some extent. So in the age of the fucked up Obama administration we saw the start of more violence and the death of close to a million citizens, yet the Democratic Party goes into denial at that stage, because they were not involved. Now, legally speaking there is absolutely no evidence that this was done with the blessing of the Democratic Party, or parties in the White House in that time. Now, it might exist, but I have not seen it. In addition as the NY Times gives us we see references to “the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a non-profit human rights organization based in Washington“, as well as “The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department“. So here we see the crux, these three senators want to set the how and the process, but their own system caused this and now they want it to go away. The US burned them self on Syria by standing at the sideline whilst we see that they caused it indirectly. Now as they numbers in Yemen add up, we see that the US is ready to get into denial fast. The issue is even more ‘hilarious’ when we see in that same NY Times article “Ms. Qadhi, the Yemeni youth activist, attended American training sessions in Yemen. “It helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons,” she said. But now, she said, it is clear that results can be achieved with peaceful protests and other nonviolent means“, so how peaceful did things go in Yemen, and how peaceful did those 10,000 citizens die?

I am not implying that Ms. Qadhi was involved in any of that, but for aspiring autocrats the notion of destabilisation breeds opportunity, which is pretty much what we are seeing now; with splintering in Yemen the damage is actually increasing with Iran, Islamic State, Ansar Allah playing their part. As the BBC reported in February 2015 “But as the interim government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi stalled in early 2014, Ansar Allah launched an aggressive military campaign in the north, defeating key military units allied to Gen Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and the Islah political party” so how peaceful should we see this ‘aggressive military campaign‘?

And that is not even the beginning of the issue. The NY Times give us in conclusion “we appreciated the training we received through the NGOs sponsored by the U.S. government, and it did help us in our struggles, we are also aware that the same government also trained the state security investigative service, which was responsible for the harassment and jailing of many of us, said Mr. Fathy, the Egyptian activist“, which now reads that the US government was selling short and betting on both sides of the event, like an arms dealer providing both sides with the latest creation in the effort to end the lives of those on the other side of the equation.

It gets even more disturbing when we see the Telegraph (UK) give us (at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/bahrain-wikileaks-cables/8334643/GUARDING-NDIS-FLANK.html) the part where there is a dis-proportionality in all this making the issue even more toxic and dangerous. That part is seen in “Al-Hamer promises to be a cooperative partner for emboffs and, we judge, will support NDI programming so long as it does not disproportionately benefit Al-Wifaq and other opposition political societies. He is somewhat favourably disposed towards the U.S. — all four of his children study in Boston or Austin, TX — and his wife, Afnan Al-Zayani, is a MEPI grantee. Al-Hamer’s chief focus will remain his job as the King’s media advisor; he will likely leave BIPD strategy and operations to other members of the new board of trustees and to Al-Khayat and his senior staff. Emboffs will engage with Al-Khayat and board members such as Al-Otaibi, and will remain alert for any signs of BIPD or GOB discomfort with NDI in an effort to avoid any repetition of the controversy NDI encountered in 2006“,

Finally the NY Times gave us: “Hosni Mubarak, then Egypt’s president, was “deeply sceptical of the U.S. role in democracy promotion,” said a diplomatic cable from the United States Embassy in Cairo dated Oct. 9, 2007“, which took roughly 3 years, 4 months and two days until that same democracy promotion scheme got rid of him and his presidency on 11th February 2011.

Now we see that the US is adding to its own misery. As it had lost any credibility it has, we see that three senators are setting the stage where the US could lose even more. We see that (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/06/the-global-economic-switch/), the issue of Saudi investments are now bubbling to the surface. Not just some need for a desalinisation plant. No this is a setting in excess of 500 billion and as the US government is trying to make a play for some parts of that, we see three senators trying to get on a high moral horse and change the setting of support to Saudi Arabia. So as they hold the high moral horse and stop any actions to take place, how would Saudi Arabia react with their “the half a trillion dollar NEOM“, the massive growth in dependency and requirements for technology will take a nice seat where these actions might result in Saudi Arabia talking to British Telecom and Verizon might end up sitting at the side of the road. What was a near equal race between the two for the graces of 5G opportunity is now a race where Verizon could in theory end dead last. Cory Booker the Democrat senator for New Jersey is just going to love all this or not?

The problem is that this should have been about the morality and not the cash, yet that is what politics in a bankrupt state has been reduced to. Now as we are seeing all that good news in regards to the US economy. Most ignore the other side as “Toys “R” Us may be planning to liquidate its bankrupt U.S. stores, according to a report by Bloomberg News. The retailer, reportedly, has not found a buyer or secured a debt restructuring deal with its lenders” (Source: CBS), in addition the LA Times gives us “The downfall of Toys R Us can be traced back to a $7.5 billion leveraged buyout in 2005, when Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust loaded the company with debt. For years, the retailer was able to refinance its debt and delay a reckoning. But the emergence of online competitors, such as Amazon.com Inc., weighed on results. The company’s huge interest payments also sucked up resources that could have gone toward technology and improving operations“, the interest payments, the issue that several larger players face, with Google, Amazon, and Microsoft being likely the only exceptions, we still see the growth of debt where these larger players are all fending off the inevitable. Gun maker Remington and guitar company Gibson, two iconic companies, neither made it out and are now in the bankruptcy setting, and they are not alone, so as they vanish thousands of workers will be in the need of finding new jobs and possibly even resettling in another state changing state pressures on the support systems that were in place, because those people made products that needed shipping, they had infrastructures and shops depended on these thousands, they are most likely to move and as that happens more pressure is exerted on others.

Is that all relevant?

Only indirectly! You see it is part of a pattern. The US has pushed the media to be in denial of the debts and the costs of these debts. So when we consider that Intergovernmental holdings stood at $6.3 trillion, giving a combined total gross national debt of $19.8 trillion or about 106% of the previous 12 months of GDP, with 45% that the public has is owned by foreign investors, the largest of which were Japan and China each having a little over a trillion of that debt. So even at 1% the debt is a large issue, even as it slowly decreases, two of the 32 nations should be getting $10 billion each and that is merely the interest and that is if it is only 1%, it is unlikely to be below 4%, so the US has to come up with well over 250 billion and that is beside all the normal expenses they have. It only takes one negative event to push them over the hill and more than one is coming, in addition the US desperately needs part of the economic $500 billion windfall, and that is likely to become the diplomatic debate that the State department will be confronted with. with the debt adding well over $240 billion in the last 11 months the forward momentum is not there at present (it was earlier than that though), we see that the US has issues and dilemma’s to deal with, only one of them is Yemen and several are with Saudi Arabia, a nation they need to be friends with for all the reasons they can muster.

So as we look at Al Jazeera (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/180310204215697.html) where we see “A military solution to the conflict in Yemen will be a disaster”, said al-Hamdi, a former member of the Yemeni parliament who was ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2009 until 2014“, we might give him the benefit of the doubt, yet is that true? You see “History is repeating itself. There is a history of Saudi intervention in Yemen, from the revolution in 1962 to the 1994 Yemeni civil war,” said al-Hamdi at the event, which was hosted by the Cordoba Foundation and titled Yemen: War, Politics and Human Tragedy event. “Yemen is being destroyed. A nation is dying,” said al-Hamdi“, yet we already know that it was the Yemeni president that was requesting assistance, there was an uprising and that started the current situation.

You see, what we do not see form any source is that when I look into Abdulrahman al-Hamdi, I find very little. I did find “Abu Salim mayor Abdulrahman al-Hamdi told Reuters that the unusually intense fighting that erupted last Thursday was triggered by members of competing armed factions capturing each other“, which is what Reuters gave us in March 2017 (might not be the same person), so the only other articles are from the last hours. Consider an ambassador that fell from all the news channels between his non-working status between 2014 and 2018, almost a death sentence. So is this ‘high morality‘ his way to get back into politics? Back in the news merely because it is convenient for some of the players, that is how I personally see it.

Back to the beginning of me

Now I get to go to the part I mentioned in the beginning. You see there was a small accident on Friday and I lost power and as a result my article was gone, I had not yet saved it. Now, I could have gone back to it all and rewrite it, but after 2,000 words (roughly) I felt a little drained and extremely agitated with myself. Kicking out the power cable is my own stupidity and it was on me and me alone. Perhaps you can relate? Consider that you leave home, you get to the train station and it is there that you recognise that your wallet is still at home. Now, this is not a biggie, we have all had that moment and it is that moment that you realise that you have to do that 15 minute walk twice more just to get back to the start. That is when your nerves hit you and I have resolved it to walk twice that much to the other station because the repetitive feeling falls away and weirdly enough the anger subsides quicker (no idea why though). I know, it is irrational but that is how my brain at works at times and we all have some kind of quirk like that. That quirk is shown in more clarity when we see the impact of the US Arab spring and the subsequent actions of the US. They are now trying to change it all because the death list that the US aided in starting the death counts in Syria, Yemen, and Libya to name three is also opening the wounds towards the Iran and the CIA-backed 1953 coup that ousted democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Some are asking if the US will ever learn its lesson in this regard. Others are wondering how deep ‘Christian bitching fish wife fairy-tale mongering‘ goes in regards to the intervening actions in Middle Eastern rule and politics.

The end is nowhere near the end and it reflects also directly towards Syria, as we see “The UN secretary general has described the situation in eastern Ghouta as “hell on earth” and the body’s high commissioner for human rights described the military offensive as a “monstrous annihilation”“, in that it ended exactly as I expected it to play out. so as we see “The report from the UK-based human rights group, which said both Douma and the smaller nearby town of Harasta were surrounded and cut off, was disputed by locals, but such an outcome seems inevitable in any event as the regime presses its advantage, backed by both Syrian and Russian airstrikes“, so as the Syrian situation draws to a close we see that both US administrations have failed the Syrian people and as that population has been culled we see that the docile remaining part will become the sheep that the Syrian president needed them to be. In all this the profile of Russia is now further up and the US diminishes in parts of the Middle East, so alienating Saudi Arabia is likely the worst choice that America could make. Fortunately the UK still has a large opportunity there, but in all, as Saudi Arabia wants more options, the doors will open further for Russia. That was seen last week at CNBC as they gave us: “The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut back on oil production has boosted oil prices and is now the foundation for a broader relationship“, even as Saudi Arabia is pushing for less power on oil, they still want the best price possible for what they have, a mere business approach to a commodity. In addition, less than a month ago we saw Bloomberg report that the liquefied natural gas (LNG) options, is  new field for Saudi Arabia to do in conjunction with Russia as we got “Russian gas producer Novatek PJSC and Saudi oil giant Aramco agreed to consider teaming up on Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2 project“, so we see growth on economic options for Russia as America has been closing its own doors, or to some extent, they are getting closed by Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy for whatever reasons they had.

It is now becoming a stronger imperative to find a path forward. Not merely in regards to Saudi- Us relationship, the issue of Yemen and Syria will plague us for decades to come, even if it is settled overnight (which is not ever happening), the cleaning tasks as well as finding a longer term solution for Humanitarian solutions can only become successful if the players enable Saudi Arabia to take the lead for ending the Yemeni crises. For Syria it is likely too late, as Russia is completing ‘its’ mission (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/24/losing-values-towards-insanity/), where we see in ‘Losing values towards insanity‘ the quote “With these two gentleman owning 50% (actually more than that) into LLC Megaline, with Megaline receiving a large chunk of the capital construction contracts for the Russian military we see that link. When the dust settles, Assad will need to rebuild, and they will be the front player and possibly only consideration on a nation needing to be reconstructed. So now how weird are their actions? Both Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin are now perfectly placed to rake in billions and in that regard we get back to the options for the dying in Syria; they don’t get to have any” a mere two weeks ago, now shown to be more accurate than anything else published. The media could have seen this coming with a ruler and an abacus, no high mathematical forecasting required.

So as we see the outrage on Yemen from all those seeking the limelight, I wonder if anyone will ask them the question, what exactly did you do for those Yemeni’s over the last 4 years? The list of activities might not add up to much, that is how I saw Abdulrahman al-Hamdi, because if you seek him on Google for the last year, he shows up once, just once for the Al Jazeera event 6 hours ago, that is also the next issue that both Syria and Yemen face, those who merely talk to get a seat on the table, because soon there will be money available and now they all want a seat at the table, it is the politics of denial, to only get there when the going is good.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Military, Politics

The name of the sponsor

The article that was in the Guardian on Friday, gives us a few issues. You see, I have been looking at several issues in the tech world and I overlooked this one (there is only so much reading that can be done in a 24 hour range and it is a big planet). You see the article ‘Yahoo faces questions after hack of half a billion accounts’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/23/yahoo-questinos-hack-researchers) gives us the goods from the very beginning. The quote “Yahoo’s admission that the personal data of half a billion users has been stolen by “state-sponsored” hackers leaves pressing questions unanswered, according to security researchers“, is one I would go with ‘and the evidence?‘, which gives us all kinds of related connections. The quote “Jeremiah Grossman, head of security strategy at infosec firm SentinelOne, said: “While we know the information was stolen in late 2014, we don’t have any indication as to when Yahoo first learned about this breach. This is an important detail in the story.”” is only one of a few issues at the heart of the matter. You see, when we look at the issues that are the plague of these start-up firms (Yahoo and Sony), we should think that they are start-up firms or they are massively negligent. In both cases their routers allowed for the transfer of massive amounts of data. As they are the same size in start-up (sorry, sarcasm prevails), we need to wonder how a few hundred million packages fall between the cracks of vision of whatever security element their IT has. We could wait until someone states that there is no security on that level and the race is truly on then!

This whilst additional support as seen stated by Chris Hodson, EMEA chief information security officer at enterprise security firm Zscaler, when we read: ““With no technical details included in Yahoo’s report about how the data was exfiltrated, just that it was, it’s impossible to assess credibility of the ‘state sponsored’ claim“, a statement I agree, but in addition, I also wonder why we aren’t seeing any reference or initial response from the FBI that this was from North Korea. It fits the time frame doesn’t it? First a dry run on Yahoo and the actual heist was Sony. Or perhaps some players are figuring out that North Korea was never an element and that someone clever enough found a flaw and hit both Yahoo and Sony. The quote “both from the date of the hack, almost two years ago, and from the first appearance of the dumped data on the dark web almost two months ago where it was being sold by a user named “Peace of Mind””, the speculation comes to mind: ‘perhaps this person is the second owner and this person is reselling acquired data’, which would make sense in several capitalisic ways. The article also enlightens what I believe to be a callous approach to security: “The breach also highlights a strong problem with “security questions”, the common practice of letting users reset passwords by answering questions about their first house or mother’s maiden name. Yahoo did not encrypt all the security questions it stored, and so some are readable in plaintext. While it may be irritating to have to change a stolen password, it is somewhat worse to have to change a stolen mother’s maiden name.” The insensitive disregard is clear when the security question is not encrypted and mum’s maiden name is given in plain text, adding to the personal data the thieves borrowed (long-term). Now, we know that there are in these situations several questions, and not all are really about privacy sensitive based data (like a favourite pet), but consider the 2013 movie ‘Now You See Me‘ Consider the dialogue in the New Orleans Show scene:

Jack Wilder: How could we, Art? We don’t have your password.
Henley Reeves: We’d need access to information we could never get our hands on.
Daniel Atlas: Yes, security questions, for instance, like, I don’t know, your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet.
Merritt McKinney: Where would we get that information, Art? You certainly would never tell us.

A movie gives us the danger to our goods a year before this data is stolen and nobody presses the alarm bell? The only part that would be even funnier if this was a Sony movie, but no, it was Summit Entertainment who brought this gemstone! Now, we know that life is not a movie, yet the fact that this part is stored as plain text, perhaps not the best solution! In addition as IT developers tend to be lazy, how many other firms, especially those who are a lot smaller, how are they storing this data? Also in plain text?

You see, I have seen parts of this issue too often. Too many firms have no real grasp of non-repudiation and go through the motions so that they seem (read: present themselves) to be about security, yet not really security driven. Because if the client doesn’t want it (many are too lazy), they have opted for it and they are in the clear. Yet when we see that the security questions are in plain text, questions should be asked, very serious questions I might add!

There is one more side to all this, the Guardian raises it with: “what happens to the company’s multi-billion dollar merger with Verizon now? Kevin Cunningham, president and founder at identity company SailPoint, argues that the breach should already be priced in“, we then see the issues of thoroughness raised from Verizon, but in all this, the data theft does not makes sense. You see, if my speculation is true and “Peace of Mind” is the first sales iteration, was this ID the only customer? If so, how come that the sale took this long, the timeout between the event in 2014 and the optional sale a few months ago is weird, as accounts change so quickly, the power and value is in quick sales. To put it in perspective, selling the data to 10 people for a total of 5% of the value is safer then awaiting for one person getting 70% of the value 90 days later. This is a movers and shakers world, the 90 day person is a perhaps and these people are about the ‘cash now’. The market stall people! So in this an 800 day customer implies that there might have been ulterior reasons. Which one(s) I can only speculate on, and I prefer not to do that at present. Now, in that side, it is of course possible that this was ‘state-sponsored’ and it was sold on to keep the wolves at bay, but that too is speculation with absolutely no data to back the speculation up.

Verizon might have taken a calculated level of risk in acquiring Yahoo, yet if the data transgression was never divulged, would this be a case of fraud? The US has the “benefit of bargain” rule, so there could be a decent case of represented and actual value. In addition if we allow for Special damages from a legally recognizable injury to be held to be the cause of that injury, with the damage amounts to specificity. If the data theft would have been known, the value of the firm would have been a lot lower.

Unless this was clearly disclosed to Verizon (I actually do not know), Verizon might have a case, which would be disastrous for Yahoo.

If we consider the news from July at NBC (at http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/25/verizon-to-acquire-yahoo.html), the setting is not just “Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL lag far behind and have lost market share“, there is no guarantee that those hit by the hack will remain in their Yahoo setting. Google has made it far too easy for people to switch over. The effort made in the past to transfer towards Google could inspire those people to switch to Google, import their mails and start with little or no loss at all. Which means that it is not impossible that Verizon after the merger remains a one digit digital marketing group, something I feel certain Verizon never counted on.

So where is this going?

There are two sides to this, not only is this about cyber security, or the lack thereof. The fact that Verizon has no unlimited data and those with Yahoo accounts who had them will now see their prices go up by a lot (when is this not about money?). Verizon has a 100GB shared option at $450 a month, which is beyond ridiculous. In Australia, iiNet (an excellent provider) offers 250GB for $60 a month and in the UK British Telecom offers a similar plan for no more than £21 a month (which is about $35), considering that BT is not the cheapest on the block, I have to wonder how Verizon will continue, when people have to switch, because their music apps (radio and so on) drain their data account at 6-8GB per day (a harsh lesson a friend of mine learned). Meaning that Verizon is actually a disservice to open internet and free speech. As I see it, free speech is only free if the listener isn’t charged for listening, or better stated, when certain solutions are locked to be not via Wi-Fi, meaning charged via bandwidth. So the accounts were one side, the amount of data breeches that we are seeing now (on both the Verizon and Yahoo side) imply that not only are they too expensive, they aren’t as secure as they are supposed to be and in addition, cyber laws are blatantly failing its victims. Having your data in plain text at $450 a month seems a little too unacceptable, merely because the odds to keep your fortune in Las Vegas tend to be better than this.

So now consider the sponsor, the people behind the screens on both the corporate and hacking side. So let’s take a look

Corporate

Here the need for security is essential, yet there is clear indication that those aware of spreadsheets (read: Board of Directors) are in equal measure naive and blatantly unaware that data security is essential and not the $99 version in this case. The cost of secure data is ignored and in many cases blatantly disregarded. The Yahoo case is inferior to the Verizon data transgressions that have been reported in this year alone. It is so nice to read on how the health industry is hit by organised crime, yet the amount of theft from their own systems is a lot less reported on. I find most amusing the text that the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report shows: “Yes. Our vulnerability management solutions identify and fix architectural flaws in POS and other patientfacing systems“, “Yes. Our identity and access management solutions prevent the use of weak passwords, the main cause of data breaches in the healthcare industry” and “Yes. Our intrusion detection and threat-management solutions help detect and mitigate breaches more quickly, limiting the damage caused” (at http://www.verizonenterprise.com/resources/factsheet/fs_organized-crime-drives-data-theft-in-the-healthcare-industry_en_xg2.pdf), I reckon that a massive overhaul of their own systems has a slightly higher priority at present. In addition there is no information on how secure the Verizon Data Cloud is. It doesn’t matter who provides it (as I see it), and I reckon we see that iteration hit the news the moment we learn that the UK Ministry of Defence Cloud gets tweaked to another server that is not under their control. It is important to realise that I am NOT scaremongering, the issue is that too many players have kept the people and corporations in the dark regarding monitoring options, intrusion detection and countermeasures, with the cloud, any successful intrusion has the real danger that the data hack is more complete and a lot larger in data loss. Moreover, Microsoft and Microsoft employees have one priority, Microsoft! Consider that any Microsoft employee might not be as forthcoming with Cyber transgressions, no matter what agreed upon. After the agreement, any internal memo could sidestep a reportable transgression. It is a reality of corporate life. In this, until the proper military staff members get trained, the Ministry of Defence (read: as well as GCHQ to some extent) will be catching up through near inhumane levels of required training, which gets the Ministry burnout issues soon enough.

Hackers

No matter how small, these attacks (yes plural) required serious hardware and access to tools that are not readily available. So whomever involved, they are either organised crime, or people connected to people with serious cash. This all gets us a different picture. I am not stating that some hackers work for reasons other than ideological. The rent in mum’s basement and hardware needs to be paid for, if not that, than the electricity bill that will be in excess of $130 a month. It might be trivial to mention, yet these little things add up. Hardware, electricity, storage, it gives the rising need of a sponsor for these hackers. There is no way to tell whether this is ideological (to show it can be done), technological (selling the flaws back to the makers of the solution), or criminal (to sell the acquired data to a competitor or exploiter). We can assume or speculate, but in reality, without additional evidence it is merely a waste of words.

So even if we know the name of the sponsor, this hopefully shows that the need to divulging information on data transgression has been way too light. In the past there was a ‘clarity’ that it was onto the firm to give out, but as they seemingly see it as a hazard to their wealth, too many victims are kept in the dark and as such, the financial danger to those victims is rising in an unbalanced way. If you would doubt my words, consider the article at http://www.geek.com/games/sony-psn-hack-is-only-the-4th-largest-data-breach-of-all-time-1390855/, which was set in June 2009. Geek is not the news cycle you might desire, but the summary is fine and confirmable. The hack to the Heartland Payment Systems January 20th, 2009 might be one of the more serious ones, the 130 million records was more complete and could have a more devastating effect on the US population then most others. From my point of view, a massive shift to proactive data security should have been law no later than 2010, I think that we can safely say that this never happened to the extent required, which is another nice failure of the political parties at large and as such, this could get a lot uglier soon enough. The article also shows a massive Sony failing as there have been 6 large breaches in 2011 alone, so the Sony hack of 2012 shows to be a continuing story of a digital firm who cannot get their act together. That was never in question, in combination with the latest revelations, there is the added pressures that this cannot be allowed to continue and these firms need to start being held criminally negligible for transgressions on their systems. Just like in torts regarding trespass, it should be actionable perse. In addition, the hackers should be held in that same way, with the bounty changed to no less than double digit jail with no option for parole. The mere realisation that there is a high price for these transgressions might be the only way to stop this and in this age should not be a distinguishing factor, so any teenager hoping for an adventure with a nice pay package could end up not getting laid until they turn 30. The last part is unlikely to be a reality ever, but the fact that this is where we should have been going needs to be stated, for the mere reason that a shown failure of nearly a decade is no longer an option to ignore, not when the stakes are getting to be this high.

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Law, Military, Politics

Slaves of a different nature

The sci-fi fan sees in his/her mind a woman, all green, preferably close to naked growing lust in their mind. It is the Orion Slave girl fantasy. This comes from a TV-series that is half a century old. In that universe created by Gene Roddenberry these green ladies were introduced in the original pilot of the Star Trek series in the episode ‘the Cage’, there they were depicted in a sexual context. This is not that kind of slave. Neither is it the kind that is forced to create products through prisons or work camps where they make license plates, or set up governmental mailings. Neither are they children under 18, forced into some kind of servitude. No, these are not one of the 5 forms that the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is illuminating, this is a sixth kind.

It is the kind of servitude that was once a calling, once a choice of life, which governments and insurers alike have been putting under pressure beyond any normal acceptance of labour. That part has been ignored for too long. People all believing in the wealth that a doctors and lawyers income brings. Later in a career that might have some level of truth when you ignore the elements on the other side of the scale. The fact that someone in IT will surpass the income of those graduates from the very beginning is often ignored. When I see some of my friends in health care, I see friends who are exhausted 70% of the time, some working in excess of 14 hours a day. So when I read ‘Nearly 60% of Scottish GPs plan to leave or cut their hours‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/28/nearly-60-of-scottish-gps-plan-to-leave-or-cut-their-hours), I am not overly surprised.

We all claim that we are against slavery and injustice, yet the governments on a global scale are seeing their health systems collapse and as such, hiding behind the false image of all doctors are wealthy, they have been cutting into the incomes of doctors and stretching the hours they have to make. Underfunding practices and making them work ungodly hours. What we see in Scotland is only the beginning. In the Netherlands we saw in 2014 that GP’s would work around 60 hours per FTA (Full Time Equivalent), making that 13 hours per day, whilst IT staff would get more for a mere 40-45 hours a week, 9 hours a day at the most.

So in all this, whilst health care workers availability are at an all-time low, we see the quote: “26% planned to leave general practice in the next five years“, so one out of four is stopping whilst one in 6 patients will at current pressure not receive the minimum level of care which will now get close to another 1.5 out of 6. This gives us 33% to 50% of the patients in a tough spot. One foot in the grave will get a whole new meaning soon enough when that comes to pass. Certain elements of these changes are already visible in France and the Netherlands, the United Kingdom is in a harsher place than the Netherlands, but I cannot confirm how France is set. Outside of the large cities the information tends to be sketchy and cannot completely be relied upon (read: my knowledge of French sucks big time). Sweden is heading towards a new economic crises on more than one side. Healthcare is one (but less visible), the issue that is visible is the economic drain that the refugees are causing, well over 100,000 have no place and no matter how obliging Sweden is. The refugees are confronted with language issues and a skill set problem. The latter one can partially be adjusted, the first one can be overcome by the refugees who truly want this, but it takes time, which is one side Sweden is having less of. Sweden is trying to recruit doctors in many ways and their approach might work, but it will work slowly and it will cost the Swedish government a fortune. The reason for focussing on Sweden is because for the most, Sweden is a social success. Sweden has made social changes that the nation accepted (including paying a lot more tax than there neighbouring nations). The refugees are changing this, a social system can only survive in balance, the refugees arrived in such massive amounts that the system cannot cope. The total refugees that recently arrived have surpassed the size of the Swedish city of Västerås, which by the way is not the smallest of places. With the banking in disarray and Sweden missing sales marks gives additional problems for Sweden and healthcare will feel the brunt as doctors are now moving to other non-Swedish shores. Sweden illuminates the required need for the UK, a need that the UK is unable to adopt at present. In addition, the approach that Jeremy Hunt is taking will not help any.

When we see the British Telecom News page, we see “But in a letter to the BMA’s junior doctor committee chairman, Dr Johann Malawana, Mr Hunt said: “It is not now possible to change or delay the introduction of this contract without creating unacceptable disruption for the NHS.”

As I see it, my response would be ‘Yes, Mr Hunt!‘ you had alternatives but you chose to ignore them. Focussed on a system that had collapsed, focussing on the approach of slavery, you saw in your school years the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, yet as we see the words from the English poet William Cowper (1785) as he wrote:

We have no slaves at home – Then why abroad?
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free.
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That’s noble, and bespeaks a nation proud.
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein.

 

Bankers are overprotected whilst being vultures, for not being held accountable for the mess they created (as it was not illegal), whilst at the same speed, junior doctors are reset with contracts that amounts to becoming an involuntary slave labour force. This to the degree that doctors are packing their cases and moving to Australia and other Commonwealth nations that will take them and with the shortage the world at large has, for them moving to Nassau and live by the beach with a small practice would be preferred to a city job with a mortgage they cannot pay off and working 60 hours a week. Jeremy Hunt dropped the ball. He did not do this intentionally. He was given a bad hand from the start, yet in all this instead of going on the same way, the NHS needed another direction entirely, that part was never really investigated.

For me, with whatever I have left?

If I had to go into healthcare, I would try for Radiologist position in Essex or something like that. I still have 15 years in me. For now, I have a nice idea for Google to grow their revenue by 3.5 billion dollars over the next 5 years, and gradually more after that and for £25M post taxation it is all theirs! For now, I am considering to do some teaching in Italy in the future. Teaching English in Catholic Public Schools near the Vatican. You see, this crazy merry go round we have in Europe now will collapse, there is no viable way to stop that at present as I personally see it. We must focus on what comes after. That part is now gaining visibility as we see the US President (read: Mr Lame Duck Obama) is quoted in Forbes “President Obama’s Implicit Message To Taxpayers: ‘I Own You’“. My response?

No, Mr President, you do not. You never did. Like a weakling you stopped taking taxation to a realistic level, you refused to do anything to stop greed. That part was clearly shown at the G-20 in 2013, three years ago. You might actually end up becoming the most useless president in the history of the United States of America

That would be my response!

When we look at Forbes (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntamny/2016/04/10/president-obamas-implicit-message-to-taxpayers-i-own-you), we see that the Obama treasury stopped one deal, one deal only. This is about a lot more than just that 212 billion dollar deal. You see, this is not about the Panama Papers, this is what they enabled. When we consider the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/may/06/panama-papers-us-launches-crackdown-on-international-tax-evasion), we see that same duckling state “the president will take executive action to close loopholes used by foreigners in the US and call on Congress to pass legislation“, how interesting that it is just about the foreigners, so how much is in Rothschild wealth management directly from foreigners and how much is arranged through American agents?

In addition we have “The Panama Papers underscore the importance of the efforts the United States has taken domestically, and the efforts we have undertaken with our international partners, to address these shared challenges”, which is an empty statement as I see it, because over the next 6 months too little will be done and it will be left to the next person in office. The final quote is “The problem is that a lot of this stuff is legal, not illegal”, which is something we already knew. Yet when we consider the change that could have been brought in 2013, he (read: the Democratic Administration in power) backed off, forcing a watered down version that was close to useless. This is the evidence I see as to the level of uselessness that the USA currently represents. Poverty levels are still at a high and in Europe that number is growing, this is the foundation that allows for the growth of what can be regarded as legal slavery. It is legal because it is governmentally arranged, it is slavery as the medical industry is pushed into a level of servitude of no-choice. In Europe, some are now claiming that the amount of people under the poverty line is now one out of four. That push is a great hammer for Jeremy Hunt to use to push for cheap contracts and ungodly working hours, but in the end, when doctors stop working, there is no NHS to continue to cure people (source: http://www.euractiv.com/section/social-europe-jobs/news/eurostat-one-out-of-four-eu-citizens-at-risk-of-poverty/).

There is no clear solution, but another path needs to be taken. The push from NHS and the deal that people get through what I call ‘deceptive insurances‘ and ‘skewed medicinal solutions‘ is changing the game. It now reflects back towards the change I was willing to make. What if we make hospitals self-sufficient? What if we take the insurance out of the equation and push for a self-sustaining level of hospitals on local foundations? You might think that the given logic forces us to look at Behemoths like the NHS and large medical corporations. I am stating that it is my belief that the medical gravy train is losing too much cargo on route. So it is our need to have a neutral solution. When medical suppliers start pushing on ‘how it will be too expensive that way‘, the people will have to push back. So that means that the UK hospitals start getting supplies from other sources, independent and possibly even non-UK sources. How long until greed driven corporations cave? They only need to fail 2 quarters of forecasting and THEIR nightmare begins! Trust me when I state that a merger making the board of directors over 200 billion means that their margins were really really good and via Ireland they were only getting better.

That is the issue and solving that is a first step in solving the slavery riddle, which is not a riddle, it is a mere puzzle that can and should be solved.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Politics

Calling a centre

It seems that BT is one of the first one making a step back, a step towards the old times. They are moving away from those bulk cheap Indian call centres. I wonder if they are just the first. The title ‘BT hires 1,000 UK staff after complaints over Indian call centres‘ is not wrong, but I feel it is misleading. The article (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/18/bt-hires-1000-uk-staff-after-complaints-indian-call-centres),

I have had my share of experience with Indian call centres. The quote “The recruitment drive follows reports from customers that they preferred speaking to people in UK call centres rather than Indian staff based in Bangalore and Delhi. BT said the new jobs would be “frontline roles” in customer care“. You see, there are many places where the solution might to some degree work, yet the UK is different in many ways. They excel in dialects and expressions, so when an Indian call centre has an employee that would speak ‘English’, the idea that all versions of English are the same, they will come back from a cold turkey dinner with an added icy cold shower.

The fact that 80% of the call must be repeated because the friendly voice on the other side did not understand it is at the core of what is wrong, and it is one of two massive issues. In all fairness, none are actually the fault of the friendly voice on the phone, they are the core of the issue the flaw of the boss of his/her boss, likely even one level higher. Talking to someone in England in BBC English works perfect for the person on the non-Indian side of the phone conversation, the person responding is for the most ignorant of the BBC English condition and before the Indian call centre operator realises it.

So when the call starts and that person hears “I needed a bullseye before going off to Bedfordshire, now the fast sausage and mash machine has gone bollocks and ate me card!

How long until the call centre operator gets a clue that the man is trying to get $50 from the ATM and it swallowed his bank card? It could take 10 minutes just to get that sentence translated. I know it is an exaggeration, but consider how inaudible some dialects are especially from people in places like Hounslow or Cardiff. Now most UK people have a small problem comprehending people from there, so how will someone in India have a clue? These examples are a little out there, yet considering the vast wealth of expressions and dialects, the issue remains and for BT and some banks, the Indian call centres are not a solution, they never were and I personally talked to people in the late 90’s where that prediction was clearly given, yet it was all about cutting costs and getting a solution where people could live with a degradation from 100% service to 80% service, not just in the UK, this issue is nearly global.

The second issue is even more of a problem, again, the kind Indian voice should not be blamed, for the simple reason that this was all management. To get a certain path, people were ‘taught’ scripts and clear paths of choices. Almost like the automated system when you call places like Telstra, Optus, Vodafone (and Vodafail too) and many others. The system that takes you from choice to choice, a path with 1-5 choices, the call centre person got a similar path, and for 70% it works, for 70% of the issues, that they are receiving a call for, that gets resolved. Yet the other 30% are out of luck. The system is unrelenting and the call centre was not allowed to deviate. Having have worked as a Technical Account Manager in the service field, I saw and have been through many iterations where the customer has that 1% flaw, a dozen a day, data fields can be a relentless one and as more systems interact, more flaws creep into the connectivity. Now add the language to the procedural part and yes, now 1 in 3 would have an issue and the call centre would see new escalations on how one would infect another and soon the system was unworkable, the call centre person never had a clue on how things went from bad to worse and the worst part is that this is not some average count, in this system, the issues stack, so we get issue on issue with an ever increasing population who go from ‘tolerating’ to ‘extremely oppositional’.

A flawed system that came into play from the need of cost suppression. A sales driven industry that would never properly value the power of quality service, interesting is that it took this long to realise it. or is the issue not really costs, but the need for having home shaped jobs, more and more are needed in a current economy where local jobs are essentially more important.

In all this, we now need to consider the following: “But while BT performed badly overall, data on how quickly telecoms firms resolved complaints undermine reports that customers find it hard to communicate with Indian call centre staff“. Here we see two parts, the first one is ‘how quickly telecoms firms resolved complaints‘, there was not a technology part, for the most the issue was communication, clear communication both ways, when you consider that the UK population side does not speak BBC English (apart from perhaps those in the BBC building, and those in that large London donut), so as far as I can tell, most issues could be easily resolved though ‘proper’ English and the actual issue when identified would be resolved almost immediately. The part ‘hard to communicate with Indian call centre staff‘ gives the other part from the resolution, but overall there is another question, how do the numbers hold up when every case from beginning to end is checked on timeframes and quality? The given statement might not hold up, for the simple reason that the operational system is still an issue that path will not be the greatest issue when it is all in the UK, but overall there is an operational side that is not addressed. What operational call centre solutions will become part of the BT frame? Because the data that follows will need to be monitored and even as places are ‘preparing’ for the new solution, the question that follows is ‘are the right metrics being considered?‘ When we take that into consideration, we would need to see who will be looking at those metrics. A sales person will look at different metrics than a solution, service or consultancy manager, even though the consultancy manager is about sales, it will be about the satisfaction of the sold solution, so there will be a much stronger overlap.

The question now becomes, what will be the next hurdles for BT?

The infrastructure and the technology is one, the IT and the call centre system will require different solutions today than most solutions offered a decade ago, are those solutions up to speed to remain scalable, evolutionary and easily deployable? You see, the Indians who developed those solutions have created a decade of infrastructure expertise, that knowledge is partially lost to the UK solution industry.

the final quote to consider is “It said staff had recently agreed to more flexible working hours, to make sure calls could be answered from the UK at the weekend and in the evenings. “This demonstrates the commitment from everyone at BT to work together to improve customer service and to make things easy for our customers,” said Barr“, part of this has always existed, many places, including in the late 90’s required solutions to be working for a longer time. In that part there are two solutions, one is the variable times, which are at the current core of the solutions, in some cases (possibly not in the case of BT) is to have a time zone coverage, where large corporations have coverage in Europe, the US and Australia, creating a near perfect 24 hour coverage. When one call centre shuts down, the other one starts, or has been operating a few hours, meaning that any issue not dealt with in call centre one, the one to the east will pick up those issues as well as the ones they receive until they shot down, this moves forwards and in that solution a global service system comes to play, that level of service is now more and more required, because saving money was only an option where sales is king, in a system where sales is no longer staying up to speed, services needs to create a pillow for new sales and new steps to higher revenue.

That time is now returning, or perhaps better stated, the core of business needs to return to their home fields. In a state where mobiles rule, where Telco’s can be started from a living room with the mere need to have access to bandwidth to sell on, the home field advantage relies on service and interactive response, that step is now the place for the larger home players to get back their consumer base and from that step, reclaim the foundation of income to return to those large players. The sharks are returning and they are getting rid of the pilot fish that have been feeding themselves on too much food, the shark has been hungry for too long.

In that example, we all understand that in the healthy environment the shark will need, allow and even require the pilot fish. Yet as its food supply has been reduced to a mere fraction of what it was, the shark needs to evolve into being better and more efficient in devouring the food it gets, as there is less. So it sucks to be the pilot fish, but for too long every shark had not one but 5-10 pilot fish around its teeth, that part can no longer continue, whether those 5-10 were ‘validly’ there. In the end, cutting costs for those banks might have been a jump that is a lot more expensive than they bargained for, which will be at the centre of the numbers that the new call centre solutions would be trying to show in the pursuit of growing their grades, qualities and key result areas. So where is the flaw in my last statement?

You see, past the shark we get the issue that it was about cheap that was not, which is not completely correct, it is the change towards the new location that is the new cost, not the lack of old profits. We can argue that the not predicting that change is short sighted, but is that the flaw of the past, or our obsessive need to lay blame in the now?

It seems to me that BT is only the first in many, for those who have the quality and the knowledge, this will be an evolving field of need. Personally I see that this could be a potential job bringer to places like Scotland and Wales. When this evolves into a separate global call centre with a global coverage, those who have it will come to a decent growing field, a field of need where for the last few years there was none.

You see, there is another side in this, in the last few weeks there have been reports from places like Digital India we see titles like ‘Digital India will take off on the strength of call centres in small towns‘ (at http://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/digital-india-will-take-off-on-the-strength-of-call-centres-in-small-towns-ravi-shankar-prasad/) which makes perfect sense for their local market, a local market that has been evolving for some time now. Now consider the quote “There is enough data work available in the country (to be handled by these centres)”, which remains a fair call, yet the article is absent of international parts, which is a little odd, considering that this is about Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology. Yet, in that same line of thinking we now get lines like ‘Serco on the road to recovery with £250m sale of Indian call centre business‘, Serco seems to be on a road, leaving that outsourcing solution to Blackstone.

The issue is a little hard to set, as Serco has had its fingers in so many pies, many failing to a larger extent, so that issue on Call centres is not easily settled here, but consider the dive they took by ridding themselves of it at this time and at the massive discount it was sold at, it starts to form a speculated pattern. You see, the fact that Indian call centres are all growing in their local market, and ‘speculated’ must remain the operative word here, because the needs of one Telco, does not give way to an early summer feeling in the employment market. For that we need to take one additional look to the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31762595), called ‘The country training people to leave‘, the quote there is ““British companies love us because our English is not accented. The brightest graduates from our universities fight to get a job here. We only take the smartest kids. And after we’ve finished training them they even get your British sarcasm,” says Tubbs“, which is actually at the heart of the matter for one of the Indian issues, yet the part that is not addressed is that India had grown a strong infrastructure. That part was shown in the NY Times a year earlier, “The 2.2 million vehicles a day that grind away on Manila’s crumbling road system cost the country 876 billion pesos a year, or more than $20 billion, in lost productivity and wasted energy, according to a recent study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. That is a serious drain on an economy of about $250 billion“, now add to that “Manila is plagued by power failures, chronic water shortages and an antiquated telecommunications system“, I am taking the airport out of that equation, which remains an issue too. The bottleneck was not addressing the growing options that required a massive overhaul, now it is too late, the power from Manilla in language was shown, making the move back to the UK an easy step. Consider the earlier BBC article, which gave “the government teaches thousands of people the skills they need to get jobs abroad“, we now have a rolling economy moving back to the UK, with additional options for workers who could be relocated to the UK should the call centres run dry on willing staff, even more optional is getting a hold of all that call centre staff, should the UK market not be providing enough early on, the UK has options to home grow a market they had lost, even more important is that this is a service filed Scottish workers could be trained in, giving additional solutions when the cost of corporate costs in the greater London area falls short, that is providing Birmingham does not pick up this opportunity.

As stated, it is speculated, but I see that BT has opened a door, a door that remains ajar for others to consider. Even if they are not in the UK, large US and Japanese corporations requires more and more the need for service solutions in the European timeline, the Indian solution was not the success they expected and the Manilla crises will continue at least 4-5 years, that is, if the infrastructure gets a massive overhaul as per immediate, if not, they lose the market too and Europe is hungry for real revenue, revenue that requires a service solution, one they had abstained form for too long.

Will this pan out correctly?

Even as the Philippine government is projecting a 15% growth from 2014 onwards, getting it from $11 billion, to $15 billion this year, the issue remains infrastructure, they have no real solution and the issues started to play in 2014, whilst no true overhaul had commenced, which means that it needs to address a near 32% growth and need in resources, whilst Manilla has no way to deal with it. This means that the summer drains will leave systems collapsing, something that we would start to see soon enough, it also means that those with Manilla support choices will need an alternative they did not bargain for. So the BT move is timely (in Philippine terms), if not essential to their path to repair.

Whatever comes next will be interesting to watch, because when that move does go forward, it becomes interesting to see how the larger corporations deal with their vested interest in places like Germany and France. In that regard, BT’s step (as stated by the Financial Times) comes with additional needs, as Sir Mike Rake saw the outsourcing as an ‘Achilles heel’, which might have been an understatement. In all that, Deutsche Telekom, who is connected in all this, might be seeing new trends to insourcing (pushing for could be a better word), as it also closes the door for the UK to leave the EEC as insourcing becomes more and more successful, which means many business players will be pushing for this success.

That part has additional reasons when we see that Sir Mike Rake, possibly UK’s largest Europhile in history gets to voice on how UK business at large does not want any form of Brexit, a move that can be given strength as call centres will grow in need within the EEC, which is just what the UK Conservatives hoped for, they just never expected to get saved by a call centre, which is amazingly hilarious in its own right.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics