Issue 1547 - Tuesday 15th February, 2022

In Today's Issue

The News

Sex-friendly social network Switter closing down due to onerous censorship laws

My friends and Sizzle subscribers Chendo and Eliza from Assembly Four are shutting down their sex-worker friendly social network Switter due to "legislative changes not only in Australia, but in the UK, US and other jurisdictions have made it impossible for us to appropriately and ethically maintain compliance for over 430,000+ users on a social media platform". Laws like Online Safety Act and the Social Media (Anti-Trolling) Bill have such intense compliance obligations (e.g: uncertainty around what content exactly the eSafety Commissioner doesn't like and making the owners liable for any defamation users post) that a small team like Assembly Four can't continue with that constant risk in their lives. It's a shame as Switter gave these people are place to be themselves without the threat of shadowbans or deplatforming. Now that's been taken away from them by prudish governments that are, as the EFA puts it, "trying to create a Children's Internet".

Jared Isaacman pays SpaceX to go into space again, will do an extravehicular activity

Remember Inspiration4? Rich dude Jared Isaacman is teaming up with SpaceX again to purchase three more joyrides into space dubbed Polaris. The first flight, "Dawn", is planned for no earlier than November 2022 and will spend five days in orbit. It'll break the altitude record for an Earth-orbit mission, "attempt the first-ever commercial spacewalk with SpaceX-designed extravehicular activity (EVA) spacesuits", "test Starlink laser-based communications in space" and a few other science tasks. Unlike Inspiration4, Polaris Dawn will have SpaceX's experts (who are trained, but have never been into space before) alongside Jarred. They will be raising money for St. Jude's Children Hospital again.

BlockFi fined US$100m for offering unregulated investments

BlockFi has been fined US$100m by the USA's SEC for "failing to register the offers and sales of its retail crypto lending product". BlockFi for those unaware, offers interest accounts (called BIAs) that you "deposit" cryptocurrency into and earn interest on like a tradtional term deposit or savings account. The SEC considers this type of account a security and is supposed to "register its offers and sales of BIAs", but of course BlockFi didn't do that. On their blog, BlockFi has spun this as "a clear path forward for BlockFi and for Americans to earn crypto interest" and the SEC's fine is the "regulatory clarity we've been hoping for".

Something I Saw On The Internet

Getting Tonga's fibre optic cable back online is a pain in the arse

Reuters has an interesting article about the efforts being made to re-connect Tonga's submarine fibre optic cable network in the wak of the devastating volcano eruption a month ago. There's a nice explanation of the boat, CS Reliance, and diagrams on how the cable is repaired. They literally find the damage part by trying to time how long it takes for the light pulse to bounce back, then drag the damaged area onto the boat, cut it and splice a new bit to replace it. Submarine cables are probably my favourite bit of networking and never cease to amaze me. Obligatory mention of Neal Stephenson's 1996 short story Mother Earth, Mother Board, Richard Steenbergen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Optical presentation from 2019 and the Submarine Cable Map.


The End

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