Issue 583

Thursday, 22nd February 2018
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In This Issue


If your business gets hacked, you gotta tell people about it now

Mandatory data breach notification begins in Australia today. If your company has turnover higher than $3m and your IT infrastructure gets pwnd, you have to tell the people impacted, or you'll be fined up to $2.1m. The EFA likes it, as it reckons this is a step in the right direction for preserving the privacy of users, and hopefully, companies realise that hoarding heaps of info on people is a liability, not an asset. Unfortunately, the results of many business surveys show that Australian companies are woefully unprepared for the law change and the majority don't even have policies around what to do if they are compromised.

Twitter cleaned up a few bots and that upset some people

Twitter's finally decided to make the effort to delete thousands and thousands of bots on its platform, pretending to be legitimate users. This crap was brilliantly explained in the New York Times a few weeks ago. A side effect of this purge is that some people lost huge chunks of followers. Those with the most losses? Right-wing pro-Trump dirtbag professional stirrers. Some of them reckon their sudden drop in followers is an attempt by Twitter to make them seem less important and is a form of censorship. In reality, most of their followers are Russian bots that amplify their garbage, not engaged American patriots.

Dropbox and Signal launch unrelated charitable foundations

Dropbox has launched a foundation that will give money and skills to groups who focus on "promoting and protecting human rights". The foundation has $20m worth of unrestricted grants (i.e: no strings attached) to give out and will also allow Dropbox employees to volunteer with these groups, to leverage their skills. Signal has also started a foundation, with more money than Dropbox's but not so benevolent. The Signal Foundation has $50m that it will use to "to support, accelerate, and broaden Signal’s mission of making private communication accessible and ubiquitous". It's kinda like VC funding, but a donation to a non-profit, rather than taking equity. A good thing if you like your instant messaging to be secure.

YouTube's algorithm sent a school shooting conspiracy vid to the top of the trending list

On the topic of jerks, YouTube's algorithm decided to promote a conspiracy video about the latest USA school shooting, which turned it into the #1 trending video on YouTube. The video was a rant about how one of the kids that survived the attack and since decided to be a gun control campaigner, is a "crisis actor", employed by "the left" to convince people to take away the nation's guns. YouTube removed the video relatively quickly, but not before 200,000 people saw it, with a decent chunk probably believing it because they're dribbling morons. YouTube claims that the video got into the trending list in the first place, due to the use of "footage from an authoritative news source" and the algorithm wasn't smart enough to notice the rest of the video containing bullshit.

The Green's attempt to block the Apple Store in Fed Square was shot down

The Apple Store at Federation Square looks set to go ahead after a challenge from the Greens in Victorian Parliament got no support (even from the Libs who were filthy about the store a few weeks ago, but didn't vote to stop it in Parliament). The Greens argue that the community wasn't involved in the decision to place a huge ornament of the world's most profitable company in the heart of Melbourne. Nobody else agreed, so the motion failed. The ALP argued that the Apple Store will be "an amazing opportunity for us to speak of our tech sector and our growing importance among the tech community. We can be a beacon of light onto others" - which made me vomit in my mouth a little. Chuck the store there, I don't really mind, but don't piss in my pocket and tell me it's raining.

Not News, But Still Cool

Selling fake books on Amazon is a sweet way to launder money

There are criminals publishing books under the names of real authors, filled with computer generated random text, and selling them on Amazon. Criminals with stolen credit cards then buy those books and receive 60% of the sale, with the rest going to Amazon as a fee for selling the book. Amazon then sends the legit author a tax form saying "you sold $10,000 worth of books, here's the taxes you owe the IRS", leaving the author pretty damn confused. There's loads of these books, which must be generating a stack of cash for everyone involved. Surely Amazon knew and decided to turn a blind eye to it?

People smarter than us have come up with ways to prevent AI tearing society apart

26 researchers from across the world got together at Oxford University and came up with a 100-page report on how society can try to develop AI doesn't ruin everything. The report is titled "The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence" and has 4 high-level recommendations - 1. government should really, really consult with experts before making AI-related laws, 2. humans developing AI need to take into consideration misuse before releasing it into the world and if you do, at least give those that might be impacted by the AI a heads up 3. use best practices from other research areas that already have dual-use concerns to develop AI 4. get a diverse range of people involved. All sounds sensible enough, until the killing begins...

Apple & Google Maps good at devising ETAs, Waze not so good

Artur Grabowski lives in San Francisco and wanted to know which of the three most popular smartphone navigation apps gives the best directions - Apple Maps, Google Maps or Waze. After logging 120 trips on each platform, the answer appears to be not Waze. Waze's "creative" routes (i.e: avoiding busy freeways for side streets) usually doesn't work out to be better in real life, meaning Waze's estimated trip times were the most inaccurate. On the other hand, Apple Maps are more conservative, with Artur often arriving to his destination faster than what Apple suggested. I don't know how different this would be in Australia vs. the Bay Area, but I'm gonna stick to using Google Maps - it's rarely let me down, unlike the other two.

That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Methyl Ethel - Ubu