The various Privacy Watchdogs of Canada just filed a report finding that Clearview AI’s facial recognition software use in Canada was not legal. It seemed obvious from the outset (scraping copyrighted images and using them without consent) but various corporate and government entities resisted and even denied using the technology until leaked documents exposed them.
Joint investigation of Clearview AI, Inc. by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, and the Information Privacy Commissioner of Alberta
How to protect against this? The best thing an individual can do is familiarise themselves with the present privacy laws (Federal, Provincial (BC), Document Act) and have a good think before giving away any personal information. Especially to government and businesses who have proven not only to disrespect it, but often seem unwilling or unable to protect it. I worked with a woman who, several years after the Sony Hack, was still feeling the effects of identity theft.
If you are refused a job, good or service because of your application of the privacy laws, there is a formal grievance process through the office of your local Privacy Commissioner. It can be considered a form of actionable discrimination. There is often a thirty day cool-down period for the parties to negotiate before the formal application can be made, but I found submitting the complaint documentation directly to the head office of the company you are dealing with makes for swift action.
Seems nobody wants a government privacy audit of their practices.
Niboe published and translated an interesting chart about various messaging platforms. It’s normally Matrix around here, but perhaps time to look at the “serverless” options for communicating with local friends.
Pooped Popped up here so I can refer some folks to it.
Mobian is running well on my Braveheart Pinephone. I’m still going to order the updated motherboard when it comes available again, but stick with this for now. Besides the camera not yet working, the only other gotcha is that it’s easier to install new software and update via the command line. Not a problem for me, but I could see it turning off your non tech-savvy user. There is a GUI-based software hub but it doesn’t appear functional yet (or perhaps it’s my older hardware). Time to move over all my RSS feeds, podcast feeds, songs and contacts. Snagged a 128 gig SD card so I can fit all my music. The trials of a Bandcamp junkie with boxes full of albums and CD’s.
ps. If you’re upbeat and hopeful today, don’t read Pharmaceutical giants not ready for next pandemic, report warns
Two incident over the last month have reinforced my views on free speech, end-to-end encrypted private messaging and hatred of bullies. Growing up as foreign-accented mouthy kid in prairie Canada, I saw a lot of the latter first-hand.
The first incident was in a coffee shop just before Christmas. A staff member seemingly wanted to talk to a customer but was literally shouted down by another employee. The offender let off a endless verbal barrage intended to purge the room of any other speech. I can’t imagine what they thought justified the behaviour or the motivations behind it but reactions in the room varied from uncomfortable to outright horrified.
The second was a article released today by The Guardian: Woman jailed for record 43 years for insulting Thai monarchy. I thought I misread the headline at first. It’s sad to think governments are so repressive (and “the west” is not immune. Business use SLAPP tactics to silence criticism, governments give themselves permission to assassinate their own citizens and reporters are routinely murdered worldwide.)
While the scales are vastly different, both of the examples above were intended to end discourse.
To prevent constructive (edit: changed from “free” in light of recent events) speech and suppress any further attempts.
Objecting to something on legitimate grounds is something to be encouraged. To discuss an issue in an open and fair manner. The matter may never result in agreement, but to prevent the conversation in the first place is:
Well, that didn’t work out. Previously, I’d started “dog-fooding” Ubuntu Touch on the Pinephone. Not quite ready, had some issues with connectivity, both wi-fi and cellular. Almost there but receiving messages reliably is a must.
Just flashed Mobian. It’s not only reported to be the most mature of the options, but it’s also presently shipping as a special edition of the Pinephone (I’d say “get one, it’s only $150 USD”, but expect a bit of nerding over the next few months).
Round #2. Let’s see how it goes…
After WhatsApp’s recently announced policy changes (now “delayed” three months), a lot of folks are trying to switch to Signal. Which is awesome. But Signal is struggling with the influx of users at the moment (read: it’s down).
Another option, one I use, is Matrix. It’s easy to get going, just install one of the many Matrix Apps on your device and there is usually a wizard to step you through signing up. You may get a choice of servers to use and there are… thousands. Do the research or just accept the default. They are all independent but communicate with each other. It’ll be fine.
Matrix is arguably more powerful than Signal, and is also IP based (so you need a data plan or WiFi). No need to hand out your phone number thou (umm, don’t), in fact most logins just require an e-mail address for verification and password resets etc.
ping me @email@example.com if you do sign up.
“Dog Fooding” is a strange term I only heard a couple of years ago. In this context it refers to using a technology full-time while still in development. Bugs and all. Beta testing full-time.
My old phone had died (well before it’s time, grrrrr!) so I’d purchased a used Google Nexus 5 and flashed it with a series of alternative operating systems. Ended up on one called “Ubuntu Touch”, a version of linux for mobile devices originally created by Canonical then taken over by the “Ubports Foundation”. It’s been great. But the phone itself is growing old now and the battery isn’t lasting long. Not being an easily replaceable part (also grrrrr!), the next step had to be researched.
Enter the PinePhone. A device created by Pine64, a non-profit collective, for the express purpose of open-source operating system development (“build the hardware and they will come”). I bought in early with an edition simply known as “Braveheart”. There was no shipped OS but several were in development, none yet ready to be a used on a daily basis. Over the last year over half a dozen usable operating systems have appeared. Later versions of the device had updated hardware so this Braveheart version only runs a couple of projects well. One of them being the same OS, Ubuntu Touch.
Switched the SIM card over today. While not yet ready for the general public, it’s good enough for my day-to-day use. Let’s call it “quirky” at the moment. The camera isn’t presently reliable but otherwise it seems to work fine. I often carry a Panasonic G85 about anyway (it goes in a small sling bag with a couple of lenses).
And will order the motherboard update so it can run some of the other projects built for later Pinephone versions. Oh, did I mention? The Pinephone (and indeed most of what Pine64 creates) is entirely user repairable and up-gradable. They even guarantee part availability for five years. The later version will also work as a (low power, albeit) desktop computer if you connect it to a available dock, keyboard and monitor. That’s called “convergence”.
Listening to: XTC - Drums and Wireless - BBC Radio Sessions 77-89
It started four or five years ago. I’d been having increasing problems with much of mainstream society, especially some forms of accepted behaviour. From trolling on the internet to some really shitty people ruining what were otherwise awesome occasions (dance night, parties, gigs, workplaces etc). Their behaviour was often normalised and very difficult to do anything about. But leave.
Alternatives were found. I started going back to my roots and hanging out in the DIY music scene. Ya, this unit was a bit older, but there were a few others of similar vintage about and after a bit of time, enough people warmed up that it became “home”. I eventually ended up joining a collective and it’s been a great experience with some wonderful people from every walk of life. Not that it wasn’t without challenges, I had some of my preconceptions blown away and bad habits are still being corrected. A constant learning process.
Common social media was eventually dumped. Other options were also found here. The main one being Fosstodon. A respectful, privacy-centric non-profit community of like-minded souls. While not a free speech platform, there is little censorship, relying on the community to make any needed corrections, hopefully before the admins need to get involved. From the ever present “caterday” pics to conversations with paleobiologists about their work. It’s been awesome.
Which brings us to a direct comparison of the two groups mentioned above. Their “Codes of Conduct”. While the application is different, the two documents are remarkably similar in tone. Red Gate’s is pictured, while Fosstodon’s is here. I just wish the rest of the world worked this way.
Who reads those massive license agreements you click “OK” to when signing up for a site? The documents which end with “reserve the right to change terms at any time without notice”, making the entire previous ten pages moot. Not me either, and I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to that kind of thing, life’s just too short.
tosdr.org aims to change that for you. It rates the various agreements with standard A-E grading and provides some details as to what each demands of you and your personal information. Spoiler: It’s all rather horrifying.
ps. That’s an old photo I took of real Canadian mud (as in “clear as”). If you watch Stargate you’ll see Teal’c lying in it at one point. You’re welcome.