Sky blue, water wet, porn filters don’t work


In Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material, two researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute reveal their empirical findings on the efficacy of porn filters – the online systems that are supposed to stop users from seeing sexual images, videos, and text.

Their conclusion: porn filters don’t work.

The research was conducted in advance of the British national porn filter, which will block all porn sites on the internet, except for those that require users to affirmatively identify themselves and prove their age prior to viewing. This system bears a very high cost, both directly (implementing and enforcing the system will cost millions) and indirectly (when the porn sites’ databases eventually leak, the world will get a list of every British person’s sexual kinks, proclivities, and shames).

The porn filter was masterminded by a Thatcher-era Tory grandee who was arrested for possession of child pornography in the middle of the planning process. It was backed by a technologically illiterate MP who threatened legal action against reporters who revealed how badly secured her own official website was.

The researchers concluded that filters “are ineffective and in most cases [and] were an insignificant factor in whether young people had seen explicit sexual content.”

The data in the paper considers nearly 20,000 subjects, and found that the subjects saw the same amount of internet porn regardless of whether their internet connections were filtered.

The researchers also explored the “financial and informational costs” of filtering – the overblocking of legitimate material, including material related to human sexuality and sexual health.

The world’s most popular smartphones are underpowered, unusable hot messes


The “next billion” are the holy grail of tech and mobile companies – the next billion users to come online, from the poor world, whose preferences and norms regarding technology have yet to be formed.

There’s fierce competition among Android handset manufacturers to produce low-cost devices, whose specs have been shaved down to the bare functional minimum; this has produced equally fierce competition among app developers and major online services to produce “light” versions of their offerings that will run on this low-powered hardware.

The official story is that this is working great – certainly, there are huge numbers of new smartphone users coming online in the poor world every day. But the reality doesn’t really live up to the hype, as Pranav Dixit discovered when he bought a $60 Bharat 2 phone – the bestselling phone in India – and installed Facebook Lite, Ola Lite, Uber Lite, Twitter Lite, YouTube Go and Google’s Files Go, an app designed to clean up temp files and optimize storeage.

The result was practically unusable. The lite versions of the apps barely ran, and the phone quickly ran out of storage and started to throw errors, slowing down as it ran out of space for swap.

Dixit’s experience is not unique. He interviews Indian Bharat 2 owners in India who find the devices barely usable, and even then only with baroque hacks like deleting and resinstalling Facebook every month in order to clear out its bloated cache files.

The manufacturers and carriers who push phones like the Bharat 2 insist that they’re a great choice, representing the difference between “no phone” and “a phone,” which swamps any deficiencies in the phones themselves.

Chinese iPhones crash when users try to type Taiwanese flag characters


A now-fixed bug in Ios caused Chinese-localized Iphones to reboot any time the user tried to enter the character combination for a Taiwanese flag or the word “Taiwan”; the bug was caused by Apple’s China-only censorship and surveillance software.

One of the Chinese government’s most sensitive no-go zones are the separatist movements that agitate for independent home-rule in Taiwan, Tibet, Xianjing and other territories. Part of the suppression of these movements is a broad prohibition on the display of their national flags.

Apple’s bug was apparently triggered by a routine that flagged messages containing potential dissident sentiments for examination by Chinese political officers who would make decisions about whether to censure the phone’s owner for expressing prohibited ideas.

The Chinese mobile market is responsible for as many Apple handset sales as all of the EU combined. Apple has made major concessions to maintain access to this market, including moving Icloud to Chinese servers, blocking VPNs from its App Store, and reportedly backdooring its software to give Chinese domestic surveillance agencies covert access to users’ data.

Apple is not alone in its complicity with Chinese state human rights abuses; all domestic Android companies certainly censor/surveil as much (or more) than Apple does; other western companies are likewise bound to participate in Chinese state surveillance as a condition of selling in the Chinese market.

doomy: doomy: i made a chrome extension that automatically blocks amazon and all of its child…



i made a chrome extension that automatically blocks amazon and all of its child companies during the worker strike (prime day) and that can also be used to block any sites for future strikes in a scheduled way.

here’s the code rn, i uploaded to the chrome webstore but it’ll take a bit, ill update when I get it published so it’s easier to install

it’ll do nothing until prime day starts, and then it’ll block every amazon site until the strike is over. v janky rn but it works.

Here’s the extension

ui is kinda trash rn but..


(i cant reblog this post but this was useful - it also blocks some more child companies not listed here)


again it’s only for chrome and i made it in like 3 hours so it might be fucked but afaik it works fine.  just install it and leave it be, it’ll automatically activate on strikes.

Net neutrality makes comeback in California; lawmakers agree to strict rules

Net neutrality makes comeback in California; lawmakers agree to strict rules:


A California net neutrality bill that could impose the toughest rules in the country is being resurrected.

The bill was approved in its strongest form by the California Senate, but it was then gutted by the State Assembly’s Communications Committee, which approved the bill only after eliminating provisions opposed by AT&T and cable lobbyists. Bill author Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has been negotiating with Communications Committee Chairman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and other lawmakers since then, and he announced the results today.

Wiener said the agreement with Santiago and other lawmakers resulted in “legislation implementing the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation.”

A fact sheet distributed by Wiener’s office today said the following:

Under this agreement, SB 822 will contain strong net neutrality protections and prohibit blocking websites, speeding up or slowing down websites or whole classes of applications such as video, and charging websites for access to an ISP’s subscribers or for fast lanes to those subscribers. ISPs will also be prohibited from circumventing these protections at the point where data enters their networks and from charging access fees to reach ISP customers. SB 822 will also ban ISPs from violating net neutrality by not counting the content and websites they own against subscribers’ data caps. This kind of abusive and anti-competitive “zero rating,” which leads to lower data caps for everyone, would be prohibited, while “zero-rating” plans that don’t harm consumers are not banned.

A ban on ISPs charging websites and online services for data cap exemptions is also being preserved in the compromise, Wiener’s office told Ars.

A separate bill that was also included in the negotiations “will be amended to focus on requiring ISPs that enter into state contracts adhere to net neutrality principles,” the fact sheet said. “This provision ensures that public entities only expend taxpayer funds on contracts with ISPs that comply with California’s comprehensive net neutrality protections.”

The bills still need approval from the full state legislature by August 31 and need the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

Compromise has all key provisions

According to Wiener, the compromise version has all the same protections as the version of the bill that passed the Senate. But the compromise version is structured differently in order to satisfy Santiago’s concern about making sure the rules will stand up in court, Wiener told Ars.

“He wanted a bill that reflected the protections of [the FCC’s] 2015 order and is defensible in court,” Wiener said. “Those are two things I wanted as well. It was just a matter of having a product that we both agreed got us there.”

The new text of the bill won’t be released until August 6 because the legislature is heading into a month-long recess, Wiener said. “It’ll look different in terms of the way it’s structured or ordered, but all of those key protections will be back in the bill,” he said.

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If you use Gmail, know that “human third parties” are reading your email


Gmail has 1.4 billion email users. Every one of those users has agreed to terms of service that give third parties permission to read their email. And, of course that’s just what they do. Strangers are reading your unredacted email and Google approves of the practice.

GrayKey iPhone unlocker poses serious security concerns

GrayKey iPhone unlocker poses serious security concerns:



apparently there’s an exploit in iOS that can bypass the limit on the number of times a passcode can be entered so this device just inputs every possible passcode until it finds the right one. hopefully Apple is working on a patch I’d love it if these police departments spend $15,000 on one of these and then the exploit is patched and the device is useless. 

Hey here’s how to protect yourself against this

Go into your settings and find Touch ID & Passcode (Face ID & Passcode if you have an iPhone X)

It’ll ask you to enter your current passcode so do that and then hit change passcode

You’ll have to enter your current passcode again. Then instead of entering a new 4 or 6 digit passcode hit this little Passcode Options button

Then hit Custom alphanumeric code

And set yourself a 10 digit password with letters and numbers.

Graykey can crack a 4 digit code in 13 minutes, or a 6 digit code in about 22 hours. A 10 digit alphanumeric code will take it about 12 years on average.