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The Fantastic Four and the bully

Yup its Friday! The match is set and also tempered and set against the Fantastic Four, they face it because the people who they are defending against are not that clued-in on the abilities of the digital economy and they merely want better pickings from these four, I am actually surprised that Netflix is missing there on a few stages, but perhaps they promised the not so clued in spectacle seekers to give them all the illumination they are worthy for, it is a dicey call, but when you can lose it all, you can also play it all.

They are up against a congress who has fiddled and played away well over 8 trillion in stupidity, the rest was unavoidable, they are that not clued in and the batter is about to hit the hedges, so they need a play so that they can retire unabated and without accountability. This was not new, there had been announcements and for the most, I actually thought that in light of what was playing now, that US Congress might give this a miss, but no, I was wrong.So as we look t the article (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tech-congress/big-tech-ceos-ready-defenses-for-u-s-congress-hearing-into-their-growing-power-idUSKCN24O16K), we notice the lead ‘Big Tech CEOs ready defenses for U.S. Congress hearing into their growing power’, yet did we also notice “The panel is questioning the companies as part of its probe into whether they actively work to harm and eliminate smaller rivals, while not always making the best choices for their customers”, perhaps you remember the old court case, where we get the number one hilarious moment (at https://www.nbcnews.com/video/senate-gop-and-white-house-tentatively-agree-on-1-trillion-coronavirus-relief-88172613521), NBC was not the only one giving us that, but you get the idea on how clueless American Politics seems to be. You see, there are two parts in this. The first is “while not always making the best choices for their customers”. The sides here are 1. ‘Who is the customer?’, and 2. ‘What are the best choices?’, as I personally see it, congress does not have the brightest players in the first place, so there is every chance that at least 20% of that panel is clueless to the digital environment. And that is not all. If we consider “The high-profile hearing, which will bring together Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai, will be a key moment in the growing backlash against Big Tech in the United States and is likely to set up a face-off between the executives and skeptical lawmakers from both parties”, we see an optional stage of discrimination. In the first Twitter and Netflix are not there, in the second, as far as I (and others can tell), these players have acted on the letter of the law, the fact that others can’t do that, is not competition Law, it makes it something else (not sure what actually). I agree that I do not have all the answers, but this in the end we need to see that this is optionally not about what they say it is, the European Law and their GDPR is biting hard, as the US privacy shield is falling short by too much, there is every chance that the US government is missing out on terabytes of personalised data as their FISA act opted access for and that is not sitting pretty with them. So where is my evidence?

We see part off this in “Apple is likely to be quizzed about the way it manages its app store after facing criticisms it hurts newcomers. Apple told Reuters it will argue it does not have controlling market share for apps. The iPhone maker views its store as a feature designed to ensure the security and reliability of its phones.” The App Store is a rather large being, but it is amped towards Apple products, and as such security is key. So far the issues we see are a mere fraction of what could be. In this Forbes gave us that part yesterday with “With the July 22 launch of the Apple’s SRD program, security researchers will be able to go and hunt bugs much deeper within iOS. Apple said that the iPhones, which will be dedicated exclusively to such work, and known as security research devices, will come “with unique code execution and containment policies.” What this means, for example, is that the file system will be accessible for inspection rather than just looking at crash log snapshots or using jailbroken devices. The latter being far from perfect as jailbreak vulnerabilities are generally patched quickly, and so any research is more easily denied by Apple as being flawed.” Again, this shows two parts, the first is that Apps are often defined by hardware and Apple hardware is in transit, making most issues moot for Apple, the second part is that we see “the file system will be accessible for inspection rather than just looking at crash log snapshots”, we can argue that this betters the US government access to data, but does not really prove it, the merely get a better look at where to seek what they desperately want. I am still not convinced that this hearing isn’t an option for old goats (oops, I meant members of Congress) to get selfie time wit the 4 most wanted selfie objects in history.

I wil forgo on Amazon, these people have enough problems to set a proper definition of what is a hazard and how to identify it, I briefly discussed that in ‘6 simple questions’ in February this year, where a load of shortcomings, or is that shortcumings? Are set in motion, I never understand how people get their rocks of on bad work, but that might merely be me. I discussed it (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/02/03/6-simple-questions/) it also had a link to another article that shows questionable parts of FTI Consulting, as such and quoting CNN who gave us “The report’s limited results are a reminder that it can be extremely challenging to reconstruct the activities of a determined, well-resourced hacker”, all whilst the identity of the hacker is still up in the air, and this is set against a person who has more money than the combined resources of all who live in New York, which is saying something. He is 25% of what Congress faces? To be honest, I feel that the US audience are facing another Mickey Mouse show, which is weird as Disney is not in the dock, but I got extra popcorn, so that I can watch and giggle at the same time. Oh and by the way, I wrote this all on an innovative MacBook Air, as such we see that other players are not up to scrap to show us what is truly innovative. As I see it, this is the first truly innovative piece of hardware since the release of the G5 in 2004, so I wonder what Congress is really trying to achieve. And when we see “in recent weeks the firm has published blog posts and a white paper asserting that it still faces plenty of competition and that the fees it charges ad buyers and sellers are justified.” We see an optional path for Google, all whilst the non US Data centres of Google are being upholstered to avoid GDPR issues, as I see it the US Bully, oops, I mean Congress, are out of their depth in an age where computers and hardware changes quicker then the identity of the average man’s mistress. There are so many tackles and interactions, I have no trust in what US Congress is trying to achieve, but there is an upside for me, a they fail more and more, we see that my IP is still untouched and no one got near it, all this whilst the 5G site is going forward in most area’s, l except the USA. Perhaps Congress should have other priorities, like sorting out the tax laws that these four face, is that a little over the top?

 

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Perception from the outside

It is hard to write about this. Not because of the topic, but because of the implications that derive from the thoughts I have. You see, I have thus far always had faith in the intelligence branch. When we look beyond the implied Hollywood drama of all matters, the intelligence branch is a dedicated underpaid group trying to keep its nation and its citizens safe. Yet, what lies beneath the veneer when we look deeper into certain matters. Are they for real or are we all played by the press to some extent?

This is at the foundation, as we cannot rely on any first-hand information, especially when the press is part of it, we are left with a question mark. One that might not need answering, but one that should not be ignored, this is at the core of me, for better or worse, I seek answers.

This all started yesterday when I got wind of a Guardian article at the earliest of dawn, as a final paper was due, I just left it to look at later (that later is now). The article is ‘Lee Rigby murder: internet firm could have picked up killer’s message – report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-murder-internet-firm-could-have-picked-up-killers-message-report-says).

Now, this should be a shock, especially to the family members of Lee Rigby, so why is this even a story? It starts with the first paragraph “Internet companies face intense demands to monitor messages on behalf of the state for signs of terrorist intent after an official report into the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby said one of his killers wrote on a website – later named as Facebook – of his desire to slaughter a soldier, without the security services knowing“, was this written by someone who had a clue? If we consider CNet (at http://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-processes-more-than-500-tb-of-data-daily/), we see that Facebook processes 500 Tb a day, now this is all manner of data, yet consider another indirect connection when we see ‘Tesco director facing questions about lobbying government over dirty chicken report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/25/-sp-tesco-director-facing-questions-lobbying-government-dirty-chicken-report), the first paragraphs says it all (as far as information goes) “Former FSA chief Tim Smith understood to have warned Department of Health that revealing food poisoning contamination rates could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when we add the text “Tim Smith is understood to have warned the Department of Health in June that FSA proposals for publishing results, which included naming and shaming individual supermarkets, could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when was all this released to the media? how much delay was there? Consider the implication of the statement in there that “it kills around 100 people and makes an estimated 280,000 sick each year“, now we get back to the implied message that might have saved Lee Rigby, if we take that a message in total is no more than 60Kb (it is a lot smaller, but could include graphics), we are looking at 8 billion messages each day (those we make, we forward or share, those we get offered as advertisement). Now, there is more, Facebook has applications with within that application message options. Not one or two, but a few dozen, which means additional messages, like simple online messengers, all that data, now also consider the implied message that the Guardian mentioned. “The report said the authorities were never told that one of the killers, Michael Adebowale, wrote of his murderous intent six months before he and his accomplice, Michael Adebolajo, brutally attacked Rigby in May 2013 in a street near his military barracks and attempted to behead him“, so finding the message, investigating it and acting on it. In well over 2.5 billion optional threats, the National lottery in the UK has better odds of winning a big price in it, so how did all this come about?

Here we get to the issue “The ISC chair, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, accused internet companies of providing a “safe haven” to terrorists but said a despite a string of failings by the security services, which had repeatedly monitored both men before the attack, there was nothing they could have done to prevent the murder of Rigby“, here I start having an issue, particularly with Sir Malcolm. Consider one sincere threat in a place where there are millions of threats, boasts and pranks, all claiming something pretentiously grandiose. It is my believe that Sir Malcolm is all about trying something different and he going about it the wrong way, he is trying to get to Damascus, via Washington and Los Angeles. Not the brightest route to take. Apart from the approach he is implying to take, he is also forgetting about a series of events that he needs to take, which will fail and in the process will enable commercial companies to actually hammer down on consumers in the wrong way. Does Sir Malcolm realise that, or did he intentionally forget about that part?

What did I mean by that? You see, the intelligence branch has access to enhanced statistical algorithms; they match it via other created profiles. Now, normally such a profile is only created when a person has too many flags in his/her name. For example members of an extreme faction, people with links to organised crime and those with additional political agendas. There is a bunch of reasons which will result on the eye of the intelligence community on you. For the most they are checked every now and then and if nothing happens, nothing happens, it is that simple, which an accumulative approach to sifting data tends to be. This is all good and proper; it is a way to protect national interests. For the most they end up verifying that you are not a threat, or not a concern to them, it comes with their territory.

The intelligence branch has resources, they are there, but they are finite. Sir Malcolm seems to be pushing for a change that is extremely dangerous, you see, at some point, Facebook, Google and others will all be shanghaied into becoming ‘volunteers’ in data oversight. They will get all kinds of tax breaks, so there will be interesting benefits for these data farms, but now we get to the real dangers. At one point, they want more and push for a change that will allow these farms access to those advanced algorithms, now we get a new problem, now we see a change where those farms will get to analyse US ALL! they will have the algorithms and the linked data no commercial enterprise should ever be allowed to have, now we will all be set into those who get access (viable as retail commodity) and those who do not matter, we will get marketed into oblivion, but now directly into the realms we use to love, it will be a push to sway us into a direction we never wanted to go, our freedom becomes a point of pressure. Consider, you might love ‘the Office’, once social media digs deep, how much will you enjoy getting 10-20 sales pitches a day on your personal interests? How long until you stop sharing interests?

Now consider the following:

The ISC said in its report: “Whilst we note that progress has started to be made on this issue, with the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Drip) and the appointment of the special envoy on intelligence and law-enforcement data-sharing, the problem is acute. The prime minister, with the National Security Council, should prioritise this issue”.

The part not mentioned or looked at is data retention. I wrote about it on October 2nd 2014 in ‘Advice from the press?‘ there I wrote “I am still convinced that if data retention becomes a larger issue, the intelligence community will be lacking in hardware, knowledge and staff to deal with these massive amounts of data, which leaves us open to other issues, yet this is just my view!“, now we see a push that social media will do more scanning.

The next two paragraphs illustrate certain dangers down the track: “Adebolajo, the more dominant of the two, had featured in five MI5 investigations and Adebowale in two, but none found evidence of an attack. The ISC said MI5 made errors and was plagued by delays, but even if corrected none of this would have helped the security service to spot the level of danger posed by the attackers before they struck“, so how could we have kept Lee Rigby alive? The information to the better extent is stating that this would not have been the case and I am not the only one thinking this.

When we consider “The Guardian understands senior figures in MI6 expressed anger at the criticisms in the report. One source familiar with the committee’s work said: “It is fair to say that the chaps across the river are not happy at all.”“, we see another part. This is not just within the UK, the UK needs to protect itself, especially with the ISIS acceleration we see all over North Africa and in the Middle-East; this all requires a new strategy. Data is at the centre of it, that part is correctly seen by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the ISC. Yet, my issue is the view the man seems to have in regards to integrity. Commercial enterprises have no integrity and to a larger extent, neither do internet providers. So we have an upcoming issue. The next part you the reader might observe is the part that was not clearly seen in the article and it has been part of the events that miss one item as we see these discussions.

What time is it?

Yes, the timeline! That is part of all this. No matter how lovely that ‘donut’ looks in London, the people there have been delaying with an increased amount of data. I personally would consider it to be in excess of 30% in growth per year, which means that the data collectors and analytical group grows over 100% in size in a little over 3 years, the accumulated requirement for the UK, and beyond that the Commonwealth requires growth beyond that. In my view, letting places like Facebook crunch that data and giving them access to some of these algorithms is clearly a bad idea. In addition, consider that these firms could harbour ‘sympathisers’ to chaos. Once these algorithms gets into other hands, how long until those supporting ISIS and like-minded extremists will get a handle on lowering their profile even further, making this entire approach pointless?

That danger is twofold, storage, which is the non-essential part. As storage seems to become cheaper and cheaper, that part will be decently manageable overall, the other part is the issue, processing power. We can want for all the processors we can, but the power processors of tomorrow are less and less equipped to deal with such a growing load of data. Now consider that this is just Facebook, how much additional data will we need to see mail providers, twitter, Instagram and loads of other multi Gigabyte collecting options. There is no denying that data needs to be looked at, yet direct data crunching is less and less an option. The question becomes how to tackle it, can or even the question should it be tackled like this at all?

That is the dangerous side, isn’t it? When we are confronted with such an abundance of data, why seek the pressured solution? Let’s not forget that the example taken here, namely Lee Rigby, would not have been saved. So why try to seek a solution in such a pressured environment? Consider the lottery example; if 1,000 out of the 5 billion are death threats, we get a number one in 5 million, now we need to tackle these 1000 messages, which ones are genuine? Consider that some are below the radar, which means that some could be WRONGLY disregarded. Add to that the danger of a prank jest where a group and all THEIR friends send one threat regarding a VIP, politician or regent. It would drown out intelligence resources in mere minutes.

So yes, no one denies that something must be done, yet giving social media these responsibilities is not the best idea, giving them access in some way to other algorithms is less a solution, we are in a shift of dimensions, an interaction of data dimensions and profiling intelligence. Consider the NSA data center in Utah, costing over 5 billion in total, in addition, the cost of electricity, manpower and other costs, taking it to an additional 50 million a year (for just one location). Now consider that this centre will need to grow processing power in excess of 50% within two years, how much additional costs will it require? Add to this the energy needs, well over 60 Megawatts, yet within 2 years, that could be closer to 80 megawatts. That means in excess of 10 wind turbines, just for one location, the equivalent of 15,000 households of energy. I think that certain parties are not thinking in the right location, if we disregard the lack of expertise and an offer (in abundance) of revenue based (read commission seeking) expertise, it seems to me that even though data should never be ignored, certain approaches will require a different hand.

Perhaps it is not a new solution they need, but to reinstate a very old one.

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