Issue 776

Friday, 30th November 2018

In This Issue


Assistance and Access Bill update

The Assistance and Access Bill is back in the news today as there was a brief resumption of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security public hearings. Australian company Senetas, "a global leader in the development of end-to-end encryption technologies", told the committee that if the bill is passed it will make their business look the same to foreigners as how Australia views Huawei - unable to be trusted as nobody knows how the government's forced them to compromise security. Senate President, Senator Scott Ryan (a Liberal) sent a letter to the committee worried about the ability for parliamentary privilege to be compromised by the bill. Not a good look to have one of your own bagging your centerpiece law. The ALP has suggested a limited scope interim law while the full package is given more deliberation - but the Libs don't want that.

More details on Google's Project Dragonfly

The Intercept has a new article about Google's controversial Project Dragonfly with Yonatan Zunger (who worked at Google for 14 years) detailing the lengths Google went to keep development of the Chinese version of their search engine a secret from employees. Executives would only discuss it in person, so there were no written notes. Engineers were threatened to be sacked if they mentioned it to colleagues. Deliberately misleading and excluding internal legal, privacy and security teams so they wouldn't slow development down. To me it all looks really dodgy and shows that Google has a guilty conscience, or at are least afraid of the optics surrounding co-operating with the Chinese government.

The market loves Microsoft more than Apple right now

Microsoft recently became more valuable than Apple in the eyes of the stock market recently. That's right, stodgy old Microsoft is worth more than cool trendy Apple, who used to be valued at over a trillion US dollars. In terms of revenue and assets and shit like that, Apple actually makes more cash, but Wall Street types see Microsoft as having more opportunities for growth than Apple. The iPhone fad is over and the market can't see any serious ways for Apple to capture more of our hard earned cash - but they can see how Microsoft's Azure platform will rake in cash from businesses all around the world, so they're buying Microsoft shares instead of Apple's.

DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather Jr busted for flogging dodgy crypto ICO

DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather Jr have been busted by the SEC for flogging a cryptocurrency ICO without making public they were being paid to do so. "The Commission is accusing Mayweather of failing to disclose a $100,000 promotional payment and DJ Khaled with a $50,000 one. Both celebrities received these promotional fees from Centra Tech". Centra Tech made the CTR token, who's founders were earlier charged by the SEC for raising US$32m by lying to "investors" that they had made a "a debit card for cryptocurrencies through a partnership with Visa" but never had a deal with Visa and probably never even spoke to Visa about it. Busting fuckwits like this must be very satisfying for the SEC I reckon.

Report from the Senate electric car committee has been delayed

A report from the Senate Select Committee conducting Australia's first major investigation of electric vehicles was supposed to be released next week, but has been delayed until January 30th. It's not necessarily for a bad reason as the committee decided to conduct "further analysis" on the "budgetary impacts of additional policy proposals to accelerate electric vehicle uptake currently under consideration by the Committee". Apparently this report was set to lay down some serious incentives and proposals to boost EV adoption in Australia, so I'm glad they're taking the time to get their shit together as if there were holes in the plan, it'll set the movement back unnecessarily.

Not News, But Still Cool

GCHQ essay gives a glimpse at how they plan to intercept end-to-end encryption

The UK's GCHQ has published an essay on how they think intercepting end-to-end encrypted communications can be achieved without weakening security, the law enforcement holy grail. I'm not smart enough to know how it works precisely, or even if it's bullshit or not (smells bad at first glance to me), but GCHQ reckons service operators can simply add a 3rd person (the government/law enforcement) to an encrypted conversation and just not notify the participants anyone has joined, so they won't know someone is listening in. Here's the essay in question that Edward Snowden reckons is "absolute madness". Interesting timing too, as this is exactly the kinda thing the Assistance and Access Bill is designed to do - force companies into applying techniques like this to their products.

Christmas presents for nerdy kids

Tomorrow is the 1st of December, which means Christmas is coming soon! If you've got kids in your life and you wanna buy them some toys that are a little educational and kinda nerdy, Scott Hanselman has a list of "Great STEM Christmas Toys for Kids". Most of the gear is from the USA and I don't know where to get a lot of it in Australia - but if you order now and use Amazon, chances are it'll arrive before Christmas. I was given a Jimu robot to review recently (I should write that review one day), gave it to a mate's 7 year old kid to play with and they found it a little hard but they still had fun. For older kids (or adults), I've given out a few of these Freetronics Experimenter Arduino kits and they've been well received.

Cheap 4G modems, Seagate SSDs, Nintendo LABO, Toca Kitchen & Amazaon AU 10% cashback

That's it, see ya Monday!

Butthole Surfers - Who Was in My Room Last Night?