Last December, human rights advocates and Google employees cheered when they learned that internal dissent at Google had killed the company’s secret plan to launch a search tool in China that would censor results to the specifications set out by state censors, and collect detailed histories of search activity that could be turned over to authorities hunting for dissidents.
But a leaked confidential memo written by Caesar Sengupta – a manager on “Project Dragonfly” – reveals that the Chinese search tool has been kept alive by billing its workers to other projects in the organization; and indeed, the code repositories for the Chinese tools have been vigorously updated since then, with 500 check-ins in December and 400 more since then, approximately the same number of commits to those repos while the project was still under active development.
It’s not clear what’s going on here, and since Google’s senior management have refused to publicly commit to canceling the project and staying out of bed with Chinese political censors and secret police, many googlers are worried that they have been hoodwinked – after all, Project Dragonfly was kept secret from the start in order to avoid an employee backlash.
Even more of a reason to say “Fuck Google.”
Now that Democrats control Congress, Net Neutrality rides again.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says that on Wednesday House Democrats will announce Net Neutrality legislation on Capitol Hill. What is in the bill? Nobody seems to know.
Someone asked us:
I just read an article about period tracking apps selling data to employers about which employees are trying to get pregnant, does your tracker app, Spot On, sell data from users?
No, Planned Parenthood will never share or sell your Spot On data to anyone, ever.
The data you put into Spot On is all stored locally on your phone, so no one but you has access to it — not even our developers. Your health information belongs to you, and we take your privacy seriously.
There are a lot of period trackers out there, but Spot On is the only one that comes from the most trusted provider of sexual and reproductive health care in the country. We’ve been helping people understand their bodies, menstrual cycles, and birth control for more than century. The Spot On app is all about guidance, tips, and facts from Planned Parenthood’s experts so you can have personalized support right on your phone.
-Hannah at Planned Parenthood
Hacking Team (previously) was an Italian cybermercenary company that sold surveillance tools to the world’s most vicious autocrats and dictators, only to collapse when all of its internal documents were hacked and dumped online by an unknown person who claimed to be motivated by a desire to expose their complicity in human rights abuses including torture and murder.
The Hacking Team mercenaries keep turning up anew in rebranded startups, but anyone who was involved with Hacking Team should be permanently disqualified from any role involving information security, the same way that ex-KGB officers should be permanently disqualified from roles in politics or policing (yeah, I know).
The latest group of Hacking Team war criminals to find themselves reaccepted into polite society is the staff of Neutrino, a startup acquired by the cryptocurrency company Coinbase, to do forensic tracking of blockchain transactions.
Many Coinbase users have concluded that they do not want to entrust their finances to a company that includes these unsavory characters, and so was born the #DeleteCoinbase movement to coordinate divestiture from the company.
However, Coinbase will only allow you to delete your account if it has a zero balance, free of “dust” (infinitesimal residues left behind from fractional cryptocurrency transactions) and users are finding it impossible to rid themselves of their dust, which Coinbase insists is merely an accident and nothing to do with not wanting disgruntled users to leave.
I interviewed Black legends @brimalandro, @fuckrashida, @jessicafant-blog, and Shia about the rampant theft of Black intellectual property. We talked about the “yeehaw agenda”, Rashida’s fashion archives, and hoe twitter.
Yes @ black legends this was so fun to read and be apart of ❤️💖❤️💖❤️
Sony Pictures Imageworks has made the color management tool OpenColorIO—which was used to create the recent hit animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—available to the open source community. The tool has now become the second software project of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a Linux Foundation-owned open source association.
In addition to Into the Spider-Verse, OpenColorIO has been used in the production of such other films as Hotel Transylvania 3, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Alice and Wonderland.
Writing on Techcrunch, Zack Whittaker (previously) calls out the timeworn phrase “we take your privacy and security seriously,” pointing out that this phrase appears routinely in company responses to horrific data-breaches, and it generally accompanied by conduct that directly contradicts it, such as stonewalling and minimizing responsibility for breaches and denying their seriousness. “We take your privacy and security seriously” is really code for “Please stop asking us to take your privacy and security seriously.”
Last week’s publication of the final draft of the new EU Copyright Directive baffled and infuriated almost everyone, including the massive entertainment companies that lobbied for it in the first place; the artists’ groups who endorsed it only to have their interests stripped out of the final document; and the millions and millions of Europeans who had publicly called on lawmakers to fix grave deficiencies in the earlier drafts, only to find these deficiencies made even worse.
Thankfully, Europeans aren’t taking this lying down. With the final vote expected to come during the March 25-28 session, mere weeks before European elections, European activists are pouring the pressure onto their Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), letting them know that their vote on this dreadful mess will be on everyone’s mind during the election campaigns.
The epicenter of the uprising is Germany, which is only fitting, given that German MEP Axel Voss is almost singlehandedly responsible for poisoning the Directive with rules that will lead to mass surveillance and mass censorship, not to mention undermining much of Europe’s tech sector.
The German Consumer Association were swift to condemn the Directive, stating: “The reform of copyright law in this form does not benefit anyone, let alone consumers. MEPs are now obliged to do so. Since the outcome of the trilogue falls short of the EU Parliament’s positions at key points, they should refuse to give their consent.”
A viral video of Axel Voss being confronted by activists has been picked up by politicians campaigning against Voss’s Christian Democratic Party in the upcoming elections, spreading to Germany’s top TV personalities, like Jan Böhmermann.
Things are just getting started. On Saturday, with just two days of organizing, hundreds of Europeans marched on the streets of Cologne against Article 13. A day of action—March 23, just before the first possible voting date for MEPs—is being planned, with EU-wide events.
In the meantime, the petition to save Europe from the Directive—already the largest in EU history—keeps racking up more signatures, and is on track to be the largest petition in the history of the world.