Tag Archives: University of Melbourne

It’s called an alarm clock

This all started with the Guardian, they put an article there that connects directly with the last two articles and that is why I decided to take a look. It also directly connects to me with my Data skills and as such I thought it was a good idea to look at it. So the article ‘You aren’t as anonymous as you think‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/anonymous-browsing-data-medical-records-identity-privacy) is not a consideration, it is an absolute truth that goes back to the ages of Windows 3.1. All these users thinking that you cannot be found, and that you are invisible online. That was never a truth. Yes, you can hide, you can deceive people on location, but in the end you leave data behind. So when the article treats me to “Names and other identifying features were removed from the records in an effort to protect individuals’ privacy, but a research team from the University of Melbourne soon discovered that it was simple to re-identify people, and learn about their entire medical history without their consent, by comparing the dataset to other publicly available information, such as reports of celebrities having babies or athletes having surgeries“, I was not at all surprised. If data can be aggregated, to some extent that data can also be reversed. The mere consideration of ‘comparing the dataset to other publicly available information‘ makes it happen. It goes even further when you consider not publicly available data. For example data on those watching a YouTube video, data from supermarkets (loyalty programs) and there are dozens of them. The amount of people who are connected to no less than half a dozen of them is staggering. Now consider the data in places like Facebook and you have a setting to create wires, each wire a person and a system fast enough to extrapolate dozens of wires a second, 85,000 people identified a day. You might think that this is nothing, but this new database is only growing adding more and more public data to it every second. Even if we start now, within a year 31 million people would be identified, categorised and classified. It will grow faster after that, actually the growing of that dataset is only a dozen a second in the first day, it already accelerates soon thereafter and this has been going on for close to a decade at the very least.

The text that follows: “This privacy nightmare is one of many examples of seemingly innocuous, “de-identified” pieces of information being reverse-engineered to expose people’s identities. And it’s only getting worse as people spend more of their lives online, sprinkling digital breadcrumbs that can be traced back to them to violate their privacy in ways they never expected” is true but a little fear mongering in nature. You see, it only matters when you put your life online. I saw this danger and the reality of it well before 2003, so I never allowed for internet banking, EVER!

There were issues with the X.25 protocol for a long time, my bosses then called me crazy, the flaw in the defence computer found in 1981 was ignored, people told me that I had no clue because I was not educated (with two graduates and a master I would oppose that nowadays, but then I could not). So when I saw the presentation recently by Raoul Chiesa (Telecom Security Task Force) I found the pieces that I never had in those days. His quote “We encountered a huge number of breaches on tested infrastructures, usually getting access via the main X.25 link. More than 90% was insecure“, that is the smallest part (here), so today I take my anger out on two Lt’s and a Major then were eager to belittle me and call me dumb whilst removing me from access from a system that I tried to warn them about (I held thus grudge since 1981). At the Dutch Defence Ministry, the payment systems were used to keep track of it all, it was a mere customer support function. It was fun for a month, and then I considered (and tested) the flaw. Even as there was a boss and he had a keyboard with actual keys to unlock certain options (like the keys of a lunchbox), but it was merely a charade. I learned that the system had a flaw. It was possible to get the down and out of every officer in no time, especially if they had loans. There was the flaw, and when I tried to warn someone I was muzzled and send to the basement to clean out the archives (which gave me access to a lot more). So when we see the data setting, there is a lot more going on because if someone figured out the how to get into one system, they can get into a lot more systems.

In this specific case I learned that the system was only for those following the menu rules. Yet when you press ‘SYS REQ‘ you get a blank screen, even as this was not new, knowing that one program gets you into the main screen, the people were able to get into ANY part because security was not monitored to the extent it needed to be (good old IBM), so even as you get into the system, by entering “MDET 2710” I got a new blank screen, but now with the cursor almost in the middle, I have found the loans system. So by entering the registration numbers of soldiers, when there was a loan, there would be numbers and now there is an issue, because when you know there are debts, there are issues and weaknesses. I always suspected that this was how some officers had been gotten to, but I was the idiot and quickly send away.

Now consider the fact that X.25 is still in use, that there is still a use for it (attached document) and now consider that page 19 gives the Australian defence prefixes. Now also consider that prefixes are not that secret. Now switch to page 40, where we see the assessment of Raoul telling us (unverified) that 1% of the top 1000 companies are ‘not penetrable‘, this now gives us that the top 990 companies that still have X.25 links are indeed optional data sifts.

It is that bad!

Getting back to the article we see the setting where we are confronted with “In later work, Sweeney showed that 87% of the population of the United States could be uniquely identified by their date of birth, gender and five-digit zip codes“, depending on the country it can get a lot worse sooner. You see, the Netherlands has a well-designed postcode (very postman friendly) so the 4 letter code gets you to the near location, the two letters that follows can get you to within a 10 house distance; that alone could offer the setting of identification sooner. But the clarity should be there, a zip code and a birthdate is all you need. Now, tell me how often have you filled in some voucher for a great deal and you got a massive discount? Did it include your zip code? Well, the credit card will most likely have sealed the deal uniquely identifying you to an amazing offer and from there you are now the direct target for targeted marketing and other offers. This does not need to be a bad thing, because the more 40% discounts you get, the better your quality of life looks, yet now that it is linked to a bank card or credit card also means that optionally EVRYTHING purchased after that can be linked to you too, now we get a spending pattern, we get products and services you need and want, giving those offering it a setting where they can optimise how much you get to spend (by varying services and costs). This also links to “Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a computational privacy researcher, showed how the vast majority of the population can be identified from the behavioural patterns revealed by location data from mobile phones. By analysing a mobile phone database of the approximate locations (based on the nearest cell tower) of 1.5 million people over 15 months (with no other identifying information) it was possible to uniquely identify 95% of the people with just four data points of places and times. About 50% could be identified from just two points“, there we get the next tier, because any additional tier gets the owner more clarity on you as a person and what you aim for (what you desire). Where you are, when you were there and why you went there. Now, a lot of this is still a stretch, because you go to work and you lunch and shop around the office to spare time. Yet that is not a given in the weekend is it and that data set grows and grows.

You might wonder why this matters.

It might not for you, you might not notice but having the needs of 3 million people in London mapped also implies where the good deals are and where true profit can be found. London is perhaps the best evidence as it is so choc-a-block full. So when you are interested in setting up a building anywhere in London is a good place, yet when you know where the spending sprees happen, you can also tell where they are much lower and the latter is the place you do not want to build. It could set the profit margin up by close to 10%, not merely in value, but by starting somewhere and the plots are sold before the building is finished, that is a hell of a lot o margin to play with. The other side is equally happening. Consider that all your activities are known, how much is a health insurer willing to pay for access? Evidence that shows a person to be a 15% larger risk factor, what will his or her premium be like in the end? Consider: ‘Insurers have to tell you why they’ve ended your coverage‘, so we accept that, but what are the chances that we get to hear the truth? They might have told you that you falsely claimed that you were a non-smoker, but is that actually the real reason?

The next quote is a little silly, but it was Apples finest hour, so I cannot deprive you of it: “Even if location data doesn’t reveal an individual’s identity, it can still put groups of people at risk, she explained. A public map released by the fitness app Strava, for example, inadvertently became a national security risk as it revealed the location and movements of people in secretive military bases“. Yes that is one option, it was a certain lack of common cyber sense from the military side of things, but not the worst, when you combine the X.25 issue, sniffers and military locations, it becomes easier to identify logistical targets, yet that is not the issue, it is the data that matters. When you figure out what goes where, you get the setting that data in transit is no longer as secure as we once thought it was, so as data is cloned in transit we lose even more. Oracle stated in one of their papers “Enterprises are concerned about the lack of control on the data in the cloud due to on-going data breaches, lawsuits, government/regulatory agencies involvement, the volume of the data being generated by hundreds of applications and the related components“, it is not merely that, it is the factual setting where data is trusted, and too often to what we might consider is the wrong party.

Wired gave us that with: “Like any industry, there are many newcomers that give the reputable cloud solution providers a bad name. These companies are poorly financed, staffed, and resourced. They are traditionally an IT solution provider who has installed some server in a data center and called it a cloud. They are not security experts, and have poor security measures in place“, that is part of the problem, we cannot tell one apart from the other and they are all on LinkedIn trying to grow their business. A valid step to take, but how can we differentiate the wheat from the chaff? That is the first issue already and we haven’t even started to keep data safe. You think that people would employ common cyber sense in keeping safe, but no, the bosses tend to go for the good deals, the ones that are on special and when they get one they let you sort it out after data was transferred, that is the cold reality of corporations.

And when it is set up, there is always one employee stupid enough to think that some mails were specifically for them and when they look at the present it is a mere cool meme, after which they have given access to the outsider, including their cloud account. That is the cold light of day in this. So the alarm clock is not there to wake you up, but to tell you that you have been asleep and things are already moving from bad to worse.

And it is not over; the large companies are still at it. Consider the headline ‘Apple Rebuilding Maps App, Hopes to Outperform Google‘, you would think that they would give up and merely use Google Maps, but the reality is that the data coming from 800 million iPhone users is just too much not to get. The business intelligence value alone goes deep into the billions and there we see it, we will connect to one or the other, but we will connect and let others collect data on activities and events, completing the picture of every unique user that is online. The fact is that if it all was secure it would not be a big thing, but there are two flaws in that thinking. The first is that free services are never free, Apple is not wasting a billion dollars on a solution that is merely a free service, for every million invested, they expect between 3 and 4 million in return. The second flaw is that whilst you think that apps are secure, they are not. Let’s be fair, most merely want to write a cool app that has fans and makes them some coins, 99% of these developers are all like that and that is a good thing, but when the system is flawed, issues happen and we are caught in the middle, whilst all our details go everywhere. Some do it intentionally through Facebook, some do it without knowing what they are doing, they are introduced to the impact down the line.

That is how it crumbles and the people need to become Data Aware and have a better Common Cyber Sense more and more, because the response ‘It was just on my own computer‘ no longer holds any water when it comes to defending your online actions.

In opposition

There is one part in the article that I do not agree with. It is the part: “One of the failings of privacy law is it pushes too much responsibility on to the consumer in an environment where they are not well-equipped to understand the risks,” said Johnston. “Much more legal responsibility should be pushed on to the custodians [of data, such as governments, researchers and companies].”” I only agree in part, the fact that data is collected needs to be revealed from the start and it is ‘opt in’ only! That means that if the customer disagrees, no data is to be collected ever. Yet many will not like it because the unwary user is the treasure trove they all want. I do not believe that we can allow for the ‘not well-equipped to understand the risks‘, like a car, a plane and a shotgun, usage can be socially fatal and have long lasting considerations.

If you did not want to learn, then do not use it. Additional responsibility is to be placed on the custodians regardless, but leaving the consumer in the country of ‘no man’s land’, in the city of ‘never accountable’ is also no longer acceptable form my point of view. The ‘figuring it out‘ time has gone. The impact is too large to remain on that route and there is enough evidence to show it.

My last ‘disagreement’ is with the end quote: “Privacy is not dead. We need it and we’re going to get there”, it is optimistic and I love it, but it is not very realistic.

In the online world: “Privacy is optionally public domain. Getting somewhere eager is to become a member of the public domain charter and that population already surpassed a billion and still growing every minute“.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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

Politically Incorrect? Say ‘Yay’ or ‘Nea’!

I have been watching from the sides for a while. Australia is all in the hold of the ‘the postal survey on same-sex marriage‘. I understand that it was done; I believe that there are people on both sides of the isle; I have no issue with either side. From my point of view, I voted ‘Yes’. It is my personal believe that I have no business being against it. As a hetero sexual I believe that anyone needs to have the option of happiness wherever they find it. It gets to be a lot more clear when we look at the divorce statistics as presented by CM Lawyers (at https://www.cmlaw.com.au/blog/post/australian-statistics-divorce/). So when we see that in some groups the divorce gets to be as high as 40%, whist we see that the median time from marriage until separation is 8.4 years. It is the realisation that couples seems to not make it is as high as one in three. So at that point what right do I have to oppose two people trying to find happiness?

I do still have an issue with those loudly opposing others who have a vote. Those against attacking those who state ‘yes’ and those stating ‘yes’ attacking those opposing it all. So it was when I saw the setting of John Howard (at https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/01/labor-labels-john-howard-yesterdays-man-after-marriage-ads) that made me realise that I had to say a few words too. The first that stood out was ‘Labor and the Greens have refused to accept a no vote and would move to introduce same-sex marriage even if the majority of people vote no‘, so not only do they not accept the majority of votes; they will proceed no matter what. Now on the side of reality, I believe that they have all the rights to set it through, even if they are a minority. The vote is impacting a growing part of the Australian constituency, so representing them until the end is the proper thing to do, yet at what expense? That question comes to the surface when we see “Howard was “yesterday’s man” and, while entitled to his opinion, it was “unfortunate” he had used his standing as a former prime minister to advocate for the no campaign“. Is that not his right? Why is it unfortunate? We can push towards the 2005 work by Marion Maddox as we see the issue given that from 1993 onwards, John Howard’s Liberal Party moved and instigated moves by importing Christian right values that might be regarded as US tainted values and that the Australian media reported far too little about such moves in social and public policy. Is that not interesting, on how something that might have been regarded as ‘unwanted’ was not set into the limelight more often with clarity? Now, it is a debatable side if that is truly what happened, especially as it should be seen in the light of how it was at that point, yet when we realise that the media has always given preference to the needs of their advertisers and stakeholders when placed against informing the public, it is at that point we see that the work of Marion Maddox should not be disregarded. It is actually not the centre piece here. It is the Daily Examiner (at https://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/morgan-freeman-surprised-marriage-equality-stoush/3229833/) that gives a little more light for a change. With “OSCAR-WINNING actor Morgan Freeman has weighed in on Australia’s marriage equality debate, saying once people start understanding that being gay isn’t a choice then equal rights will follow” that makes the candle shine a little more brightly. Yet in my opposition I state ‘If it does not affect you, do you have a valid case opposing it?‘ Should you oppose it being a catholic, how did you proceed to convict your local priest for fondling little boys? Did you stay quiet, or were you suddenly a little more forgiving? So when you see these levels of hypocrisy happening all around you, does that not give light to the need for us all to become champions of happiness for all? I believe that the wisdom of Morgan Freeman is best seen in: ““Life is like the ocean. It is never quite the same; it is never still. The concept of world peace is never going to be a reality because we are like water – we need balance,” he said. “You can’t have too much good because there is no way to measure it without the bad.”“, our lives should be set into a balance and as such we should not deprive others to have their own balance. Yet there is also a consideration to see in the ‘No’ field. We get part of this in the Star Observer (at http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/national-news/gay-men-speak-marriage-equality/162409). We can start with ““Arguing for the traditional view of marriage… is not bigotry,” says the first man“, is that truly fair? If we separate state and church, we need to realise that marriage is a legal or formal setting, the dictionary tells us: “the legally or formally recognized union of a man and a woman (or, in some jurisdictions, two people of the same sex) as partners in a relationship“, so if that is the case, why is the church even part of that equation? Being married is a legal setting, whether this is followed by a religious ceremony is beside the point. It might remain the case that John Howard makes one clear case when he states ‘John Howard says the current parliament must ensure religious freedoms are protected if the yes vote wins the marriage equality postal survey‘, is that so wrong? We might want to oppose it all citing reasons of discrimination, yet in all this the separation of state and church must remain. We need to ensure that there is no ‘greying’ of the area. In this we might want to consider that this will be a much longer war, the marriage equality act will be one with several stages. Anyone opposing that reality is merely delusional. If not, then merely publish the names of the 3,000 priests accused of sexual abuse. How many of those cases made it too court, how many were convicted and how many ended up in jail. That statistic alone gives rise to question clear separation of church and state in a whole league of nations. In that side I would like to submit the evidence that ABC gave us in February (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-06/child-sex-abuse-royal-commission:-data-reveals-catholic-abuse/8243890). Here we see “the Maitland-Newcastle diocese is not on the commission’s top list of offenders, however Bishop Bill Wright says the region had three or four very prolific offenders“, so as we realise the danger to children we see that there is a side all ignore, if those who said ‘No’, which is their right are equally not speaking out against these catholic transgressors, what values do these people have? Do they have values? This is exactly why I want church and state truly separated, now I will not oppose whatever objection they have to marry in church two man or two women, yet when that happens, they must in equal measure sign the petition of prosecuting several priests who did the deed with non-consenting children. Will they be willing to take it to that degree?

It is my personal view, but I believe that people cannot object to same sex marriage and in equal measure feel slightly too forgiving for certain priests, or better stated remains indifferent to their non-prosecutional plight. One view, mine is that as we allow for all to find their own happiness, we see a change to family value, not for the worse but for the better. That view was handed to the people in 2014 (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-05/children-raised-by-same-sex-couples-healthier-study-finds/5574168). Here we see “University of Melbourne researchers surveyed 315 same-sex parents and 500 children about their physical health and social wellbeing”, which gives us the results “children raised by same-sex partners scored an average of 6 per cent higher than the general population on measures of general health and family cohesion“. Now I have not looked at the full research and data collection part, yet when we see the impact that divorce has been having on children and that one in three marriages tend to result in divorce, can there be any validity in opposing same sex marriages? I do not claim to have the wisdom, but the data is quite outspoken in favour of same sex marriages and in equal measure gives light to the healthier generation that follows. In this in support I hand you “Lack of gender stereotyping in parenting roles promotes harmony” and “it teaches the child that everyone contributes in an equal way and you all have to contribute to the family“. Is that not what has shown to be important for the overall happiness to all?

In all this in opposition is that for now that “Stigmatisation is still a problem for same-sex-parent families“. When we realise that this is the only remaining issue and in this until the church does it part to stop stigmatisation, it does not really get a voice in any of this which supports a stronger need to separation of church and state as well as it gives rise to oppose any spokesperson who acts on behalf of the church. I need to be careful to not bash those who vote ‘No’ as it is their right to do so, yet this is the danger we ace when we get overly ‘enthusiastic’ for one of the two sides. I do not feel like that, as I stated in the beginning, my point of view is that I have no business opposing the right they desire in equality to the right I have. The divorce statistics alone should grant them that right. Should our heavenly father (or mother) oppose my point of view, then he can strike me down whenever it pleases him (or her).

So it might not be my way of life, but when it comes to happiness, we should never be allowed to deny others the option to forge their own happiness. When it comes to religion, one book 1500 years old does not hold the wisdom to obstruct, in equal measure it can hold certain clarities for some to follow, the part that people forget is that the bible is a book with 788 thousand words and not all are set to the wisdoms we accept today, if you think that I am wrong then try to pass laws based on Leviticus 25:44 and see how far you get. That alone is one of many that show the essential need and wisdom to separate church and state in this day and age, which is the largest setting for those who vote ‘No’. In its anti-gay part we have Leviticus 18:22. Yet when we realise that Leviticus was not a person, but it reflects the conversations between God and Moses (read: God’s speeches to Moses), at that point, should we alter the value that this book has? As such what value can we give a monologue, one that was collected by hearsay and third party recollection over the ages?

I am not judging, I merely ask for us to keep a clear mind to what we agree and disagree on. I have enough to oppose a ‘No’ vote, which is why I voted ‘Yes’, that is the danger of having 2 options, we can argue in favour, or we can oppose the ‘against’, either way we end up in one camp, the same can be stated for the other side. From that, in academic view ‘Yes’ is the only vote that remains for a large group, so at that point I wonder how the data gets filtered and weighted, because that is the only option that the ‘No’ team is left with, which is why the entire situation is a lot more volatile than many realise.

And this is merely my point of view on the matter.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Media, Politics, Religion

A changing console war

We are 12 days from the beginning of a new war, an all-out war, it is the war of the consoles and this war will start now and will go on until past Christmas. Yes, Christmas is the new center of these war efforts.

On the left side we have the one, and on the right side, the other. It is Sony versus Microsoft and it does not matter who you choose or support, you the gamer will make at some point a choice. Some with get neither and some will get both, 4 groups! From my view, I choose the Sony side, as the PlayStation 4 is stated by them as a system for gamers! Yet, both sides made the same mistake, even though Sony had an optional alternative, both systems come with a 500 Gb drive. The PS4 allows for the system to be upgraded with a bigger drive. What I do not understand is why they did not install a 1Tb drive for a mere $20 more. There is a lot more to this, but about that part more a little later.

I will mention at this point, right now, that part of the view that follows has bias. I want to be completely impartial, but to claim impartiality when a person’s passion is attacked is at times way to ludicrous!

My issue with the Xbox One, the Microsoft (aka Micro$oft) product had issues from the very beginning. First, they (Microsoft via Don Mattrick) announced on the need for a once a day login to the Microsoft system. I discussed that in my blog called ‘Discrimination or Segmentation in gaming? (UPDATED!)‘ In June 2013, that part was later recalled, which is why I updated the blog. I do believe in keeping people abreast of the correct information. Microsoft made the blog again in August 2013 in my blog called ‘Tax evasion, copyrighted by Vodafone?‘ This was all about ‘pay as little as taxation as possible‘, which will link to this later. Then in September 2013 we get the blog ‘The marks of trade‘ which again links Microsoft. So, why are these linked to the console war?

The last article has the mayor link to what the consumers of their choice in the console wars are not getting informed about.  “When the digital world is entering the field where more and more possible ‘new’ consumers are updated through the net, it seems that their marketing and party lines need to get a massive overhaul and it should all get a much better mentor system then it currently seems to have.” There is a side that had been hidden, even from me. This side is not on the up and up and even game sites like Gamespot have until now been silent about it. The latter one is silent about it as they might not be aware at all, which would be fair enough.

So what is going on?

The next generation of consoles will evolve into a new world that is all about DRM (Digital Rights Management). Even though you think that this was off the table, certain changes are now becoming visible doubting that all no matter what some executives claim to be the case. In case of Microsoft, for their system, as this is not a gaming system, but it has been labelled as an ‘entertainment system’ this all will become a much bigger issue. Do not think that Sony is off the hook here, they will be part of all this down the road too!

The issue came to light when I was made aware to an article called “TPP ‘A Substantial Threat To Australian Sovereignty’” (at https://newmatilda.com/2013/11/14/tpp-serious-threat-australian-sovereignty). If we ignore mentions like ‘secret law‘ for now and concentrate on “a law that will override the High Court of Australia” as quoted, then we see that our attention was pulled away from lawmaking that will have a massive influence on global users of all forms of entertainment.

Suelette Dreyfus a research fellow from the University of Melbourne states “At its heart the TPP is basically a grab for money. It will take money out of the pockets of average Australians and give it to large corporations in the US“. She also makes a mention on how illegal movies will now have to be policed by the ISP’s, even though the high Court of Australia had already ruled in ‘Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] HCA 16‘ in this matter. The law changes would influence future events. I dealt with the initial issues of illegal downloads somewhere during the year, but the change might, if enforced mean that, should illegal downloads stop (I am not against that), that the economic fallout would be enormous. Consider that Telco’s would see a bandwidth drop of two marks, which would mean that the consumer bill would lower an average of $30 a month, with over 7 million users this amounts to 210 million revenue per month less (spread over several providers), this would have a massive consequence, but the effect would soon be global if this path continues. To be frank, it does not affect me, I never download movies. I prefer the quality of a DVD/Blu-Ray on my TV screen, whenever I want it.

Brendan Molloy, the Information freedom activist and Councillor for Pirate Party Australia has an interesting view on other changes. “Perhaps the most shocking inclusion in the TPP IP chapter is criminalisation of non-commercial copyright infringement.” The Australian patent law changes, discussed in what is referred to as the ‘raising the bar act 2013‘, is all about promoting innovation. These events change everything. His quote “The text even attempts to consider temporary copies to be copyright infringement!” is an interesting (read dangerous) change. It implies that personal owned transfers (like CD to MP3) could be affected. A final quote is “There is language that would lower global standards on medical patents and potentially extend patents beyond 20 years, all supported by the United States.” This means that there steps in place to thwart innovation and strangle hold commerce. This means that only the big boys will be able to dictate progress for the next few decades, which means innovation goes out the window for a long time to come.

Angela Mitropoulos, Researcher at the University of Sydney has the following to say “The biggest winners in the TPP are the largest global corporations and, with the proliferation of mechanisms proposed, they intend to fully harness the infrastructures of the internet and the full force of the law in order to capture and extract even larger profits and a wider share of the world market.

Basically, the new world terrorists will be the large corporations, if these reported events are true. So how does this strike back to the console war of Sony and Microsoft?

First of all, games and consoles are ALL about innovation. A console is only as good as its games and without innovation a console dies fast. Sometimes reverse engineering is the only way to get true progress. Consider the parts mentioned earlier, and if you have a console (either Wii, Xbox 360 or PS3), look at all the parts you have and how many of these parts were not an official Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft product. Items like recharge-able batteries, controllers and head sets. All that could stop! The issue goes a lot further, if we consider the quote from Brendan Molloy “article QQ.G.10 reinforces one of the worst parts of our current IP regime, which consists of legal protections for technical protection measures. Why should it be illegal to jailbreak your iPhone?

So products like Blu-Ray’s and DVD regions and Smartphones. All of it treated under scrutiny of big business! Consider that due to these changes the new iPhone 6 could then only be there for the Telstra (or Vodafone) customers (presumption). These changes would make these events possible. Smaller firms would quickly be pushed out of existence, giving even more power to big Telco’s. This could also have an effect on consoles. If we consider the implications, then the danger becomes ever more apparent that the innovation that we desire to see gaming go forward is also in danger as a sizeable part of the indie developers are in the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and a few others, who are not part of this agreement. So, if Sony and Microsoft set their IP stranglehold to such an extent to drive these developers away, then what happens to innovation?

The TPP seems to be about segregation not about innovation (as far as I saw the information pass by), which means that whatever happens will be under complete control for Sony and Microsoft for their respective consoles. Is this bad or is this good?

I think it is a bad thing, if we consider innovation in gaming. I am not against Activision protecting themselves against a reverse engineered version of Skylanders on one side, but to strangle hold a market will never lead to innovation, which translates in our case to better and new original games.

The next part is on Microsoft specifically. This is because they ‘wanted’ to label their system as an ‘entertainment system’ as such; the changes that the TPP is trying to push through will have additional consequences for the Xbox One.

The initial TPP article made the following mention, which came from Brendan Molloy “The United States has proposed several provisions that are anti-innovation. One such provision is a blanket ban on the retransmission of TV signals over the Internet in Article QQ.H.12, regardless of purpose, without permission of the rights holder.” This is where I get back to that small drive in the Xbox One. There are two sides. If we cannot store too much on the Xbox One, then we must either park it on the cloud (where we can be monitored), or we download it again and again (costing us bandwidth). That was ‘yesterday’, when the TPP comes into play, the retransmission of a movie from the cloud might come with additional limitations where any additional ‘replay’ could be charged. I am not stating that it will, yet the changes are ALL about economic control, so it could happen. This reflects back to the part in ‘Tax evasion, copyrighted by Vodafone?‘, because even though we are all charged, the provider is likely to pay a lot less taxation on these services, so not only will local commerce get hurt, those local governments will collect a lot less corporate taxation because of this all. We saw that in cases of Apple, Amazon, Google and a few others.

That means that the digital movie and TV options from Microsoft would go through very specific bans and very tight rules. This means that picking up the Swedish or the Dutch newscasts online might not be possible. You see, QQ.H.12 is one step away from WHICH stations your entertainment system will receive, all set in a nice package pushed through by a nation that is one step away from bankruptcy, desperately in need of money! You still feel safe with your Xbox One?

So, as we see the interaction of QQ.G.10 (jail breaking) and QQ.H.12 (retransmission) we see that in the broadest sense of the word that Microsoft could decide what we see and when we see it. Is this the global, shared world we were supposed to move forward to?

The site ‘Business Spectator’ quoted the following in regards to the TPP. “Besides the United States, the pact would include 11 other nations, among them Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Mexico, though it excludes regional powerhouse China as well as Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy.” So, it seems that the IP world is no longer about making a global effort in moving forward, with these different trade pacts we will get a new war, not on resources, but on who gets to play with what, when and how and the new consoles are smack in the middle of this changing landscape.

So if your console does more then play games, the question will soon become ‘at what price‘ will it do what it does?

Philip Dorling from the Sydney Morning Herald reported this 2 days ago “Australians could pay more for drugs and medicines, movies, computer games and software” so even though we get to pay 30%-60% more on games at present and 60% more for movies, we might end up paying even more then that? I am not even touching medication, which is a hot iron on several levels. To read that Tony Abbott is quoted in the article with “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he is keen to see the trade talks pushed to a successful conclusion next month” gives us further pause for concern. The man just got elected and it looks like he sold us out to the Americans within 80 days of his election, this must be a new world record!

So the choice of your new console could come with an additional price tag, one that the politicians will happily leave to big business to decide. I have not known ANY instance EVER, where greed driven entities EVER decided in favour of the consumer! It is an expensive lesson gamers might soon be forced to learn again soon.

Have a great holiday and don’t let that new console hit you too hard in the Credit Card on the way out of the shop.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science