Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

FOSS Force

Syndicate content
FOSS Force News Wire
Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

Look Out – Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Are Coming to AI

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 07:42:00 PM
Online influencers have seized on the idea that ChatGPT is an all-powerful technology that offers a tantalizing path to easy money. Entrepreneurship and computer science experts say that is a misguided view.

Ubuntu 23.10 to Offer Improved Management of PPAs for Better Security

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 07:28:24 PM
Canonical announced today that they’ve been working on a new approach to how PPAs (Personal Package Archives) are managed in the upcoming Ubuntu 23.10 (Mantic Minotaur) release.

AI Leader Sees a Rare Chance in Congress for Wins on Regulation

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 07:18:00 PM
Despite the challenges of political alignment, AI leader Gary Marcus sees opportunities for cooperation among countries and companies in regulating AI.

Saving the News From Big Tech

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 07:05:49 PM
Media is in crisis: newsrooms all over the world are shuttering and the very profession of journalism is under sustained ideological and physical assault. Freedom of the press is a hollow doctrine if the only news media is written or published by independently wealthy individuals who don’t need to get paid for their labor. Where did the media’s money go? It’s complicated. How News Companies Shot Themselves in the Face Let’s start with the news outlets themselves. Right around the time that personal computers were finding their way into home offices and kids’ bedrooms, news media underwent an orgy of consolidation, starting with the Reagan administration’s deregulation of the financial markets and, later the Clinton administration’s Telecommunications Act, which stripped away the already weak restrictions on media consolidation. As media outlets across the country merged, national chains took over from family proprietors. They raised prices and fired reporters, turning to wire services and chain-wide correspondents for subjects of national interest. They also fired locally focused salespeople, consolidating classified and display ad-sales to national call-centers. They sold off their buildings and presses and logistics networks, leasing them back. These cuts yielded dividends to the chains’ investors, dividends that were augmented by liquidating the papers’ cash reserves and “rainy day” funds. Thus the papers were already hollowed out and brittle when online advertising came along. Though papers had weathered the advent of the telegraph, the telephone, the television, cable, and satellites, they were devastated by the rise of online classified advertising sites, from Craigslist to MSN.  Left with no cash reserves, heavy debt loads, a generic product that emphasized wire stories and national correspondents servicing dozens of outlets that purported to be “local” newspapers, the media had no cushion and the impact hit hard.  A national sales office that merchants call to place ads makes sense when you’re the only game in town for reaching local customers, but when local websites spring up to offer cheaper advertising, the national “sales force” of people who sit around waiting to take orders and credit-card numbers won’t cut it. If only the papers’ corporate owners hadn’t fired the shoe-leather salespeople who’d worked the local merchants for decades… What’s more, selling off and leasing back all that physical plant exposed the papers to rent and inflation shocks.   The financialization of news media weakened it, and the finance sector continues to bleed out the press, with waves of private equity debt-loading and rollups that reduce one-great newsrooms that filled iconic Deco skyscrapers to a few underpaid reporters working out of a remote concrete blockhouse the size of a Chipotle . Enter Big Tech, Binge-Eating Little Tech  Finance-driven consolidation went beyond the media industry. The companies we call “Big Tech”—Google, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, etc.—attained their scale and reach primarily by buying out their potential competitors, not by inventing new technologies that were so amazing that they beat the competition.  That’s true of Facebook, whose founder, Mark Zuckerberg, candidly told his executives, “It is better to buy than to compete,” before going on to buy Instagram and WhatsApp, among dozens of other firms. Apple buys companies more often than most of us buy groceries.  Google is a company that had one genuine innovation—a best-of-class search engine—and then used its access to the capital markets to buy a video-sharing company; a mobile operating system company; many, many ad-tech companies; a maps company; a document-sharing company, etc. Notably, Google’s own in-house products have been a nearly unbroken string of flops, with the main exceptions being a copy of Microsoft’s Hotmail and a browser based on Apple’s old browser engine. And then there’s Microsoft, a convicted monopolist with its own long, long list of acquisitions, a list that grows longer by the day. These companies converted the net to “five giant websites filled with screenshots of the other four,” replacing the dream of “disintermediation” with a new oligarchy of gatekeepers. Together, these companies rigged the ad-market, the app market, and the market for social media. The result is a system that pleases no one—except the tech monopolists’ shareholders. Ads cost more, and media companies get paid less for them. Half of every ad dollar is gobbled up by tech intermediaries. Sure, media companies can switch to a subscription model—and hand over 30 cents out of every dollar in “app store taxes” levied by the mobile duopoly. Media companies can try going direct to their readers on social media, but the only way to reach your subscribers on big platforms is to pay to “boost” your posts, otherwise, they’ll be hidden from the users who explicitly asked to see them.  All this to drive a system that spies on us, locks us in, mistreats us, and rips us off.  Something Must Be Done!  (No, Not That) Clearly, something must be done. A free press is a key component of a free society.  But just because something must be done, it doesn’t follow that we should just do anything.  Media’s problem is that tech is stealing its money, in great, gulping bites—50 percent ad-tech taxes, 30 percent app store taxes, and, on top of that, having to pay ransom money to reach your own subscribers, people who asked the platforms to show them everything you had to say. And yet, the media companies’ own default solution—proposed in countries all over the world, including the “JCPA” bill in the USA—is to levy a “link tax” on tech platforms’ mentions of the news. These laws, also called “bargaining codes,” start with the assumption that allowing the public to post links to the news, or indexing news stories, is an unfair business practice.  But that’s wrong. There are lots of things wrong with how the tech sector treats the media sector, but linking to news stories is good. Hosting users’ discussions of the news is good. No one has the right to control who can link to their website or discuss its content. Besides, if you can’t talk about the news, it’s not the news. News you can’t talk about? That’s called “a secret.” These link taxes are bad for the press, and they’re good for tech. Australia's attempt - a "news bargaining code" - is arguably the most successful of these attempts, and it is a  decidedly mixed bag. When Australia's government threatened the Big Tech with mandatory arbitration if they failed to reach agreements with media companies, Google and Facebook did strike bargains - both Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire and a bargaining unit of dozens of smaller papers got paid. But the deals themselves were shrouded in secrecy. Both the overall sums and the breakdown per paper are not a matter of public record. While this allows both the tech firms and the media companies to claim success, no one else can know what "success" means. For example, does it mean that smaller papers got a much smaller per-reader share than the Murdoch papers, but decided something was better than nothing? What's more, the Australian law - passed but never invoked, serving instead as the threat that brought the tech firms to the table - included the possibility that the tech firms would be required to carry the newspapers' content. In other words, Facebook or Google wouldn't be allowed to simply drop news content from papers with whom they couldn't reach a deal. While this certainly gives the papers more bargaining power, it also constitutes a form of compelled speech, in which Facebook and Google must carry content even if they object to it. That would seriously hamper platforms' ability to engage in other kinds of beneficial news content, such as removing or downranking disinformation or inflammatory materials. The architects of Australia's news bargaining code say that it isn't a link tax. Rather, the platforms were merely being forced to bargain voluntarily or have their deals decided by an arbitrator, with the news companies being allowed to form collective bargaining units. It's true that these don't add up to a link tax on their own, but when you add in the threat of "must carry," then a link tax emerges. There's just not much of a difference between "you must carry these links, and you must pay for them" and "you must pay to carry these links." We're not fans of government orders to display, publish, or disseminate speech, and while the Australian constitutional tradition may allow such a move, any attempt to make this happen in the USA would fall afoul of the First Amendment. Even if you like the outcome in Australia, you couldn't do the same thing in the US, where compelled speech is  unlawful. In France, the link tax proposal led to a deal that requires the news media to opt into Google Showcase, an obscure Google product that was rocketed to national prominence by its adoption by major French media outlets. In Canada, the threat of a looming link tax convinced tech platforms to “voluntarily” pay the Toronto Star, Canada’s highest-circulation newspaper, a license fee— whereupon the Star ceased publication of its excellent, highly critical investigative series on Big Tech. Do This Instead Something must be done about the way that tech abuses the press—but that something shouldn’t depend on tech’s eternal dominance. It shouldn’t make the press beholden to a scandal-haunted tech sector that desperately needs the scrutiny of investigative journalists. It shouldn’t enshrine the dominance of ideological media barons or the vulture capitalists who galumphed through national media markets, gobbling up and gutting regional outlets. Whatever we do about tech and the press, it should make tech weaker. It should do at least as much for independent journalists and small outlets as it does for massive media companies. It should not depend on surveillance, nor on gigantic, abusive social media companies overriding the preferences of their users. In this series, we present four proposals for fixing tech and media that fit all these criteria. One of these proposals is already out there, working its way through legislatures; another has already passed into law and is waiting to be implemented; one has been repeatedly killed by corporate lobbyists; and one is a brand new idea we just thought up.  We’ll be publishing one per week for the next four weeks, and then we’ll round them all up into a single “report” PDF suitable for emailing to your Member of Congress—or just that friend who is (rightly) concerned about how tech is clobbering the press, but is (wrongly) convinced that the only way to fix this is to create a new pseudo copyright over links to the press and short clips and headlines. Here’s what we’ve got coming: Break up the ad-tech sector: Senator Mike Lee’s AMERICA Act will force the largest ad-tech platforms, including those of Google and Meta, to break themselves up into small, competing independent pieces. Under the AMERICA Act, a single company won’t be able to simultaneously operate an ad marketplace and represent both the buyers and the sellers in the marketplace. If you want to know how the ad-tech sector manages to claim half of the money spent on ads, look no further than this hilariously abusive market structure. Pass a comprehensive privacy law: America is long overdue for a real, national privacy law. Such a law would effectively ban surveillance-driven “behavioral advertising” (if tech companies could only spy on you with your consent, they wouldn’t be able to spy on you, because almost no one truly consents to surveillance). Banning surveillance ads would make “contextual ads” (based on the content of a publication, not the characteristics of a given user) much more attractive. Context ads are much harder for tech giants to capture—after all, a tech company may know everything about a reader’s web-history and recent purchases, but no one knows more about a publication than its publisher. Open up app stores: The mobile duopoly of Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) take 30 percent off the top of every dollar spent in an app. Apple bans third-party app stores, while Google merely engages in a suite of dirty tricks to hold them at bay. The EU’s Digital Markets Act will make choosing another app store a simple matter of a couple of clicks. In the US, the Open App Markets Act is designed to do the same. Competition will drive down the app store tax— if credit card networks can process a payment for 2-5 percent, so can an app store. End-to-end delivery: The internet’s founding technical design principle is “end-to-end” - the idea that intermediaries should make the best effort to deliver data from willing senders to willing recipients. Bringing this principle to social media and webmail would mean that media companies could be assured that their subscribers see everything they post, and end the practice of ransoming those subscribers to “boosting” payments. Each of these proposals is focused on paying all news services more, whether independent or corporate; ad-supported or subscription-based. They’re designed to weaken Big Tech, not make it stronger. They ensure that media companies are independent of tech and able to report on tech wrongdoing without risking their bottom lines by angering a tech giant that “bargains” with them for license payments that pay reporters’ salaries. Most of all, they serve the user, the audience for the news. They don’t create a new right to decide who can talk about the news. They ban spying. They make sure you see what you ask to see. They let you choose whose software you want to install on your devices. The news media and news consumers are allies here. The news does not and should not require collusion with tech monopolists, nor mass surveillance, nor digital locks.  There’s a way to make news better and make tech better. That’s what we’ll be bringing you in the weeks to come.

[$] Democratizing AI with open-source language models

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 07:00:18 PM
When OpenAI made its chatbot ChatGPT available to the public in November 2022, it immediately became a hit. However, despite the company's name, the underlying algorithm isn't open. Furthermore, ChatGPT users require a connection to OpenAI's cloud service and face usage restrictions. In the meantime, several open-source or freely available alternatives have emerged, with some even able to run on consumer hardware. Although they can't match ChatGPT's performance yet, rapid advancements are occurring in this field, to the extent that some people at the companies developing these artificial intelligence (AI) models have begun to worry.

Util-linux 2.39 released

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 06:30:45 PM
Version 2.39 of the util-linux tool collection has been released. The most significant change, perhaps, is support for the new filesystem-mounting API, which enables a number of new features, including ID-mapped mounts.

[$] FUSE passthrough for file I/O

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 06:19:58 PM
There are some filesystems that use the Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) framework but only to provide a different view of an underlying filesystem, such as different file metadata, a changed directory hierarchy, or other changes of that sort. The read-only filtered filesystem, which simply filters the view of which files are available, is one example; the file data could come directly from the underlying filesystem, but currently needs to traverse the FUSE user-space server process. Finding a way to bypass the server, so that the file I/O operations go directly from the application to the underlying filesystem would be beneficial. In a filesystem session at the 2023 Linux Storage, Filesystem, Memory-Management and BPF Summit, Miklos Szeredi wanted to explore different options for adding such a mechanism, which was referred to as a "FUSE passthrough"—though "bypass" might be a better alternative.

Splunk State of Observability 2023 Research Reveals Fewer Outages

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 06:06:00 PM
Observability has many benefits for organizations, according to Splunk, including helping to improve security and the overall confidence of IT operations to keep things running.

Rocky Linux 9.2 Now Available: Here’s What’s New

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 06:00:36 PM
Rocky Linux 9.2 is finally here! Wireguard works with SELinux again, and an aarch64 kernel with a 64kb page size is now available. The post Rocky Linux 9.2 Now Available: Here’s What’s New appeared first on Linux Today.

Important Things At Twitter Keep Breaking, And Making The Site More Dangerous

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 05:48:46 PM
It turns out that if you fire basically all of the competent trust & safety people at your website, you end up with a site that is neither trustworthy, nor safe. We’ve spent months covering ways in which you cannot trust anything from Twitter or Elon Musk, and there have been some indications of real […]

Daily Deal: The 2023 Ultimate Learn Unreal Game Development Bundle

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 05:43:46 PM
The 2023 Ultimate Learn Unreal Game Development Bundle has the best Unreal courses all in one place! Learn Unreal, C++, and game development. Want to level up your game development skill? This series of highly-rated Unreal Engine courses, created in collaboration with Epic Games, can help! Anyone who wants to learn to create games: Unreal […]

$99.00 Orange Pi 5 Plus SBC is now available to order

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 05:11:09 PM
Orange Pi recently launched a single board computer equipped with an octa-core Rockchip RK35588 SoC along with an up to 6 TOPs NPU. The new SBC can handle up to four displays, two 2.5GbE LAN  interfaces and many other expansion ports. Unlike the Orange Pi 5 (Rockchip RK3588S), this new SBC implements the 64-bit RK35588 […]

Don't Mess With Texas' Anti-SLAPP Law

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 05:06:39 PM
Over the past few decades, we’ve seen the rise of civil lawsuits that are meant to harass and silence defendants, rather than resolve legitimate disputes. These lawsuits have become known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs.  Some states’ legislatures, including California and Texas, have taken action to protect everyday peoples’ First Amendment rights by passing anti-SLAPP laws. These laws limit invasive discovery while a judge first determines if a case qualifies as a SLAPP. If it is a SLAPP, it can be thrown out quickly and, depending on the law, the person or company who filed the SLAPP can be made to pay legal fees of the party they sued. Anti-SLAPP laws have proven to be crucial tools in vindicating the rights of everyday people to speak out on issues of public concern.  Right now, key Texas lawmakers are pushing forward with an unnecessary bill that would make a mess of Texas’ anti-SLAPP law, the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act, or TCPA. The TCPA was already slightly weakened in 2019; EFF opposed those changes too. This time, it’s worse.  Keep Free Speech Protections In Texas Courts: Oppose S.B. 896  Texas’ anti-SLAPP law helps everyday people who speak out about matters of public concern. The law protects you if you complain about a local restaurant, contractor, or real estate development project, for instance, and then are sued for “defamation” or something even more vague, like having your activism deemed a “RICO conspiracy.” Currently, you can file an anti-SLAPP motion, the case is automatically stayed until a judge decides whether it’s a SLAPP suit or not. If it is, the case gets thrown out, and the SLAPP victim gets their legal fees paid by the other side.  The Texas bill currently being debated, S.B. 896, would change all that. Instead of simply having the judge decide about the SLAPP issue, there would be a debate about whether the motion fits into one or more exemptions, or whether the anti-SLAPP motion was filed in a timely way.  These changes will open up several loopholes and make it increasingly difficult to protect people’s speech. The issue of whether a Texas anti-SLAPP motion was “timely” is highly subjective, and could open a second track of (costly) litigation about the timing issue, while discovery moves forward against a SLAPP victim. As for the extra time and attention for the “exemptions,” it’s important to note that many of these exemptions were only just pushed into the law in 2019. Courts are still figuring out their contours, and in our opinion, the exemptions never should have been added in the first place. For instance, the 2019 modifications allowed enforcement of non-disparagement clauses and non-compete clauses to be exempted from SLAPP analysis, no matter how frivolous such an enforcement claim might be.  A Broad Bipartisan Coalition Opposes This Anti-Speech Bill Groups from across the political spectrum have joined a wide coalition opposed to S.B. 896, recognizing that Texas’ anti-SLAPP law protects free debate for speakers of all political stripes. It gives protection to those who want to speak out about local land use decisions, review businesses, or comment on judgements made by Texas courts. We are distributing a one-page document to Texas lawmakers explaining the most important reasons to vote NO on this flawed bill.   In addition to civil liberties groups like EFF and ACLU, a huge array of media oppose the changes in S.B. 896, including Texas’ biggest newspapers and broadcasters, the New York Times, NBCUniversal, and the Motion Picture Association. Journalists’ and writers’ professional groups, like the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, PEN America, the Authors Guild, the International Documentary Association, and the Student Press Law Center, all oppose it as well.  In a recent editorial published in several Texas newspapers, Will Creely, legal director for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, explained:  The TCPA arms innocent Texans with the means to fight back by filing an anti-SLAPP motion before spending a fortune on legal fees in pre-trial filings and discovery… But SB 896 would change that, denying defendants a stay when the court deems their anti-SLAPP motion untimely, frivolous, or subject to an exemption. That tweak might sound reasonable at first blush. But determining whether an anti-SLAPP is untimely, frivolous, or exempt involves tough questions of law — questions that trial courts regularly answer incorrectly. As Laura Lee Prather, a longtime Texas First Amendment attorney, wrote recently in an op-ed published in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News (PDF):  That person exercising their free speech rights would be “slapped” into silence by the costly burden of the dual tracks of litigation. And the trial courts would be immersed in discovery disputes and jury trials, all while the appellate court decides if the case had merit. Opponents of weakening the TCPA — such as the National Taxpayers Union and the American Civil Liberties Union — range the ideological spectrum. Yet, they all agree that this bill can be used to weaponize the court to discriminate against voices with which others disagree and to silence critical voices through unnecessary dual track litigation and ensuing costs. We hope Texas lawmakers listen to this overwhelming opposition coming from their constituents, and not a few narrow interests seeking to dominate other Texans through the civil litigation system. You can reach out to members of the state legislature’s Calendars committee and ask them to not set a date until additional negotiations can be had. And you can reach out to all members telling them to vote No on this harmful bill. This one-page document from the Protect Free Speech Coalition explains the most important points of our opposition.  Texans don’t want frivolous lawsuits to get in the way of a good debate. That’s why the Texas Citizens Participation Act was passed. The need for robust speech protections realized by the TCPA haven’t gone away. These recent attempts to damage TCPA would put citizens who can pay for big-money lawsuits in a position to silence others; that’s anathema to our free expression values. This bill requires a loud and clear NO vote. 

Pluralistic: The IRS will do your taxes for you (if that's what you prefer) (17 May 2023)

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 04:51:49 PM
Today's links The IRS will do your taxes for you (if that's what you prefer): After years of expensively purchased delay, Turbotax and its fellow tax-profiteers are losing the fight to make you pay them to tell the government what it already knows. Hey look at this: Delights to delectate. This day in history: 2008, 2013, 2018, 2022 Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading The IRS will do your taxes for you (if that's what you prefer) (permalink) America is a world leader in allowing private companies to levy taxes on its citizens, including (stay with me here), a tax on paying your taxes. In most of the world, the tax authorities prepare a return for each taxpayer, sending them a prepopulated form with all their tax details – collected from employers and other regulated entities, like pension funds and commodities brokers, who must report income to the tax office. If the form is correct, the taxpayer signs it and sends it back (in some countries, taxpayers don't even have to do that – they just ignore the return unless they want to amend it). No one has to use this system, of course. If you have complex finances, or cash income that doesn't show up in mandatory reporting, or if you'd just prefer to prepare your own return or pay an accountant to do so for you, you can. But for the majority of people, those with income from a job or a pension, and predictable deductions, say, from caring for minor children, filing your annual tax return takes between zero and five minutes and costs absolutely nothing. Not so in America. America is one of the very few rich countries (including Canada, though this is changing), where the government won't just send you a form containing all the information it already has, ready to file. As is common in complex societies, America has a complex tax code (further complexified by deliberate obfuscation by billionaires and their lickspittle Congressjerks, who deliberately perforate the tax code with loopholes for the ultra-rich): That complexity means that most of us can't figure out how to file our own taxes, at least not without committing scarce hours out of the only life we will ever have to poring over the ramified and obscure maze of tax-law. Why doesn't the #IRS just send you a tax-return? Well, because the tax-prep industry – an #oligopoly dominated by a handful of massive, ultra-profitable firms – bribes Congress (that is, "lobbies") to prohibit this. They are aided in this endeavor by swivel-eyed lunatic anti-tax obsessives, like #GroverNordquist and #AmericansForTaxReform, who argue that paying taxes should be as difficult and painful as possible in order to foment opposition to taxation itself. The tax-prep industry is dominated by a single firm, #Intuit, who took over tax-prep through its #anticompetitive acquisition of #TurboTax, itself a chimera of multiple companies gobbled up in a decades-long merger orgy. Inuit is a freaky company. For decades, its defining CEO #BradSmith ran the company as a cult of personality organized around his trite sayings, like "Do whatever makes your heart beat fastest," stenciled on t-shirts worn by employees. Other employees donned Brad Smith masks for selfies with their Beloved Leader. Smith's cult also spent decades lobbying to keep the IRS from offering a free filing service. Instead, Intuit joined a cartel that offered a "#FreeFile" service to some low- and medium-income Americans: But the cartel sabotaged Free File from the start. They blocked search engines from indexing their Free File services, then bought Google ads for "free file" that directed searchers to soundalike programs ("Free Filing," etc) that hit them for hundreds of dollars in tax-prep fees. They also funneled users to versions of Free File they were ineligible for, a fact that was only revealed after the user spent hours painstaking entering their financial information, whereupon they would be told that they could either start over or pay hundreds of dollars to finish filing with a commercial product. Intuit also pioneered the use of #BindingArbitration waivers that stripped its victims of the right to sue the company after it defrauded them. This tactic blew up in Intuit's face after its victims banded together to mass-file thousands of arbitration claims, sending the company to court to argue that binding arbitration wasn't enforceable after all: But justice eventually caught up with Intuit. After a series of stinging exposes by #Propublica journalists, #PaulKiel and others, NY Attorney General #LetitiaJames led a coalition of AGs from all 50 states and DC that extracted a $141m settlement for 4.4 million Americans who had been tricked into paying for Turbotax services they were entitled to get for free: Fines are one thing, but the only way to comprehensively end the predatory tax-prep scam is to bring the USA kicking and screaming into the 20th century, when most of the rest of the world brought in free tax-prep for ordinary income earners. That's just what's happening: the #IRS is trialing a free tax prep service for next year's tax season: This, despite Intuit's all-out blitz attack on Congress and the IRS to keep free tax-prep from ever reaching the American people: That charm offensive didn't stop the IRS from releasing a banger of a report that made it clear that free tax-prep was the most efficient, humane and cost-effective way to manage an advanced tax-system (something the rest of the world has known for decades): Of course, Intuit is furious, as in spitting feathers. #RickHeineman, Intuit's spokesprofiteer, told @KQED that "A direct-to-IRS e-file system is wholly redundant and is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. That solution will unnecessarily cost taxpayers billions of dollars and especially harm the most vulnerable Americans." Despite Upton Sinclair's advice that "it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it," I will now attempt to try to explain to Heineman why he is unfuckingbelievably, eye-wateringly wrong. "e-file…is wholly redunant": Well, no, Rick, it's not redundant, because there is no existing Free File system except for the one your corrupt employer made and hid "in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard.'" "nothing more than a solution in search of a problem": The problem this solves is that Americans have to pay Intuit billions to pay their taxes. It's a tax on paying taxes. That is a problem. "unnecessarily cost taxpayers billions of dollars": No, it will save taxpayers the billions of dollars (they pay you). "harm the most vulnerable Americans": Here is an area where Heineman can speak with authority, because few companies have more experience harming vulnerable Americans. Take the #ChildTaxCredit. This is the most successful social program in living memory, a single initiative that did more to lift American children out of poverty than any other since the days of the #GreatSociety. It turns out that giving poor people money makes them less poor, which is weird, because neoliberal economists have spent decades assuring us that this is not the case: But the Child Tax Credit has been systematically sabotaged, by Intuit lobbyists, who successfully added layer after layer of red tape – needless complexity that makes it nearly impossible to claim the credit without expert help – from the likes of Intuit: It worked. As #RyanCooper writes in #TheAmericanProspect: "between 13 and 22 percent of EITC benefits are gulped down by tax prep companies": So yes, I will defer to Rick Heineman and his employer Intuit on the subject of "harming the most vulnerable Americans." After all, they're the experts. National champions, even. Now I want to address the #ReplyGuys who are vibrating with excitement to tell me about their 1099 income, the cash money they get from their lemonade stand, the weird flow of krugerrands their relatives in South African FedEx to them twice a year, etc, that means that free file won't work for them because the IRS doesn't actually understand their finances. That's a hard problem, all right. Luckily, there is a very simple answer for this: use a tax-prep service. Actually, it's not a hard problem. Just use a tax-prep service. That's it. No one is going to force you to use the IRS's free e-file. All you need to do to avoid the socialist nightmare of (checks notes) living with less red-tape is: continue to do exactly what you're already doing. Same goes for those of you who have a beloved family accountant you've used since the Eisenhower administration. All you need to do to continue to enjoy the advice of that trusted advisor is…nothing. That's it. Simply don't change anything. One final note, addressing the people who are worried that the IRS will cheat innocent taxpayers by not giving them all the benefits they're entitled to. Allow me here to simply tap the sign that says "between 13 and 22 percent of EITC benefits are gulped down by tax prep companies." In other words, when you fret about taxpayers being ripped off, you're thinking of Intuit, not the IRS. Just calm down. Why not try using fluoridated toothpaste? You'll feel better, and I promise I won't tell your friends at the #GadsenFlag appreciation society. Your secret is safe with me. Hey look at this (permalink) Anti-Piracy Outfit Wipes ACE’s ‘Watch Legally’ Page From Google (h/t Slashdot) dome sweet dome NEWSPAPERS AND THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE (h/t Today in Tabs) This day in history (permalink) #15yrsago Ballad of a TCP Reset Packet #15yrsago Bruce Sterling’s visionary novel Distraction: still brilliant a decade later #10yrsago Gawker reporter claims to have seen video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack #10yrsago Company that oversees US “six-strikes” copyright shakedown has its company status revoked #5yrsago Star of racist deli rant identified as Trump-donating NYC lawyer Aaron Schlossberg #5yrsago Rising levels of a banned chemical are threatening the ozone layer (again) #5yrsago Student debt crisis watch: pay $18,000 of your $24,000 loan, owe $24,000 #5yrsago For decades, it was an open secret that patients of USC’s only full-time gynecologist were complaining about sexual assaults during exams #5yrsago It’s laughably simple to buy thousands of cheap, plausible Facebook identities #5yrsago A collaborative bibliography of “economic science fiction” #5yrsago The £7 billion Carillion collapse has the UK government talking about breaking up the Big Four accounting firms #5yrsago America’s new aristocracy: the 9.9% and their delusion of hereditary meritocracy #5yrsago New York surpasses Brexit London as the world’s second-hottest luxury property market #5yrsago How Big Pharma bribed docs to overprescribe opioids Colophon (permalink) Currently writing: A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. ON SUBMISSION Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. ON SUBMISSION Latest podcast: The Swivel-Eyed Loons Have a Point Upcoming appearances: Gaithersburg Book Festival, May 20 Public Knowledge Emerging Tech keynote (DC), May 22 WEPFest with Ron Diebert, Dave Bidini and Nancy Olivieri (Toronto), May 23 HowTheLightGetsIn (Hay), May 28 HowTheLightGetsIn (Hay), May 29 Red Team Blues event with Tim Harford (Oxford), May 29 Red Team Blues event with Christian Reilly (Nottingham), May 30 Red Team Blues event with Ian Forrester (Manchester), May 31 UCL Peter Kirstein Lecture, Jun 1 (London): Cymera Festival, Jun 3 (Edinburgh) Red Team Blues with Martha Lane Fox at the British Library, Jun 5 (London): Re:publica keynote, Jun 7 (Berlin) Otherland event for Red Team Blues, Jun 8 (Berlin) Recent appearances: Shakedowns, Shell Games & Other Silicon Valley Shenanigans (MMT Podcast) Chokepoint Capitalism's Stranglehold on the Arts (News Beat)!ded55 Enshittification Part 2: The Mechanisms That Helped Big Digital Go Bad (On the Media) Latest books: "Red Team Blues": "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books "Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. (print edition: (signed copies: "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:; personalized/signed copies here: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: Get a personalized, signed copy here: Upcoming books: The Internet Con: A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech, Verso, September 2023 The Lost Cause: a post-Green New Deal eco-topian novel about truth and reconciliation with white nationalist militias, Tor Books, November 2023 This work – excluding any serialized fiction – is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to The excerpt from Red Team Blues in this edition is all rights reserved. Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution. How to get Pluralistic: Blog (no ads, tracking, or data-collection): Newsletter (no ads, tracking, or data-collection): Mastodon (no ads, tracking, or data-collection): Medium (no ads, paywalled): (Latest Medium column: "Google's AI Hype Circle: We have to do Bard because everyone else is doing AI; everyone else is doing AI because we're doing Bard" Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising): Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising): "When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla" -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

Digital Privacy Legislation is Civil Rights Legislation

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 04:46:39 PM
Our personal data and the ways private companies harvest and monetize it plays an increasingly powerful role in modern life. Corporate databases are vast, interconnected, and opaque. The movement and use of our data is difficult to understand, let alone trace. Yet companies use it to reach inferences about us, leading to lost employment, credit, and other opportunities.  One unifying thread to this pervasive system is the collection of personal information from marginalized communities, and the subsequent discriminatory use by corporations and government agencies—exacerbating existing structural inequalities across society. Data surveillance is a civil rights problem, and legislation to protect data privacy can help protect civil rights.  Discriminatory collection of data Our phones and other devices process a vast amount of highly sensitive personal information that corporations collect and sell for astonishing profits. This incentivizes online actors to collect as much of our behavioral information as possible. In some circumstances, every mouse click and screen swipe is tracked and then sold to ad tech companies and the data brokers that service them.  Where mobile apps are used disparately by specific groups, the collection and sharing of personal data can aggravate civil rights problems. For example, a Muslim prayer app (Muslim Pro) sold geolocation data about its users to a company called X-Mode, which in turn provided access to this data to the U.S. military through defense contractors. Although Muslim Pro stopped selling data to X-Mode, the awful truth remains: the widespread collection and sale of this data by many companies makes users vulnerable to discrimination. Yet far too many companies that collect geolocation data can make a quick buck by selling it. And law enforcement and other government agencies are regular buyers.  In 2016, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and nine other social media platforms were found to have provided software company Geofeedia with social media information and location data from their users. This data was subsequently used by police departments across the U.S. to track down and identify individuals attending Black Lives Matter protests. The FBI has also been a Geofeedia client and one report by The Intercept disclosed that the CIA's venture firm, In-Q-Tel, has invested in Geofeedia. These examples demonstrate how social media monitoring, excessive data collection, and disclosures by digital platforms can have far-reaching inequitable consequences for Black people. Moreover, lower-income people are often less able to avoid corporate harvesting of their data. For example, some lower-priced technologies collect more data than other technologies, such as inexpensive smartphones that come with preinstalled apps that leak data and can’t be deleted. Likewise, some tech companies require customers to pay extra to avoid data surveillance, such as AT&T charging $29 per month to ISP customers to avoid tracking their browsing history. Similarly, some tech companies require customers to pay extra for basic security features that protect them from data theft, such as Twitter’s new plan to charge $11 per month for two-factor authentication. Sadly, data privacy often is a luxury that lower-income people cannot afford. Discriminatory use of data in ad delivery  Once personal data is collected, highly sensitive information about millions of people is broadly up for sale. Corporations and governments use it in ways that target some vulnerable groups in society for disfavored treatment—and exclude others from important opportunities. Despite legal rules against discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, and other characteristics, many corporations have used algorithms that target advertisements on these very characteristics.  Many platforms and advertisers use personal data to target ads to some people and not others. For example, Twitter’s Tailored Audiences tool enables advertisers to target users on keywords, interests, and geographic location, whilst Google employs a Customer Match tool for advertisers to combine their information with Google’s user data. Such targeting is often discriminatory. The Federal Reserve Board  found that “even consumers who seek out information to make informed decisions may be thwarted from making the best choices for themselves or their families and instead may be subject to digital redlining or steering”.  Companies have directed risky advertisements to vulnerable groups. Thousands of seniors have been targeted with ads for investment scams by subprime lenders. Likewise, political ads have been targeted at minority ethnic groups—leading to voter suppression. This is made possible through the mass harvesting of personal information and compilation into dossiers that identify characteristics like ethnicity. One targeted ad employed by former President Trump  included an animated graphic of Hillary Clinton that sought to convince Black voters not to vote on Election Day. Personal data is also used to prevent certain groups from receiving ads for positive opportunities. In 2016, for example, ProPublica revealed that Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude protected racial groups from viewing their content. One academic journal previously reported that women receive fewer online ads for high paying jobs than men. Discriminatory impact can occur even when the advertiser does not intend to discriminate. In 2018, Upturn found that Facebook distributed its ad for a bus driver job to an audience that was 80 percent men, even though Upturn did not intend to target the ad based on gender. Housing ads also have been distributed in a racially discriminatory manner. In 2019, Facebook was subject to a lawsuit in Federal Court alleging that the platform maintained a “pre-populated list of demographics, behaviors and interests” for real estate brokers and landlords to exclude certain buyers or renters from seeing their ads. The lawsuit further alleged that this allowed “the placement of housing ads that excluded women, those with disabilities, and those of certain national origins”. Facebook’s system has since evolved following an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Announcing the settlement, the government explained that Facebook’s algorithms violated federal fair housing laws. The widespread system of businesses harvesting and monetizing personal information leads in many cases to discriminatory ad delivery. As a result, protected groups miss out on important opportunities for jobs and housing. To avoid such discrimination in ad delivery, we need laws that limit the initial collection of personal information.   Discriminatory use of data in automated decision-making Banks and landlords use automated decision-making systems to help decide whether or not to provide services to potential customers. Likewise, employers use these systems to help select employees, and colleges use them to help select students. Such systems discriminate against vulnerable groups. There are many solutions to this problem, including algorithmic transparency, and rigorous enforcement of laws against organizational policies that disparately impact vulnerable groups. Part of the problem is that automated decision-making systems have easy access to the vast reservoir of personal data that businesses have collected from us and sell to each other. This data fuels algorithmic bias. So part of the solution is to drain these reservoirs by limiting how businesses collect our data in the first place. Special concerns are raised when brick-and-mortar stores use face recognition technology to screen all of their potential customers to exclude supposedly unwanted customers. Many stores have long used this technology to try to detect potential shoplifters, often relying on error-prone, racially biased criminal justice data. Madison Square Gardens was recently caught using this technology to exclude employees of a law firm that sued the venue’s parent company. A business could easily extend this kind of “enemies list” to people who, online or on the sidewalk outside, protest a venue’s discriminatory policies.  In addition, face recognition all too often does not work—particularly pertaining to Black people and women. The technology was used to erroneously expel Black teenager Lamya Robinson from a public skating rink in Detroit after misidentifying her as a person who’d allegedly gotten into a fight there. Again, there is a data privacy solution to this civil rights problem: prohibit businesses from collecting faceprints from anyone, without previously obtaining their voluntary, informed, opt-in consent. This must include consent to use someone’s face (or a similar identifier like a tattoo) in training data for algorithms.  Discrimination in data breach and misuse The collection and storing of massive quantities of personal information also generates risks that corporate employees will abuse the data in ways that violate civil rights. For example, in 2014 and 2015, 52 employees at Facebook were fired for exploiting their access to user data. One engineer used Facebook’s repository of private Messenger conversations, location data, and personal photographs to search why a woman he dated stopped replying to his messages. Another engineer used Facebook’s data to track a woman to her hotel. The company’s overcollection of data enabled this harassment. Overcollection also creates risk of data breach, which can disparately impact lower-income people. Data theft creates collateral risk of identity theft, ransomware attacks, and unwanted spam. To avoid these attacks, breach victims must spend time and money to freeze and unfreeze their credit reports, to monitor their credit reports, and to obtain identity theft prevention services. These financial costs can often be more burdensome for low-income and marginalized communities. Further, housing instability might make it harder to alert vulnerable people that a breach occurred. An important way to reduce these kinds of civil rights risks is for businesses to collect and store less personal data. Disclosure of data by corporations to government, which use it in discriminatory ways Discriminatory government practices can be fueled by purchase of personal data from corporations. Governments use automated decision-making systems to help make a multitude of choices about people’s lives, including whether police should scrutinize a person or neighborhood, whether child welfare officials should investigate a home, and whether a judge should release a person while awaiting trial. Such systems “automate inequality,” in the words of Virginia Eubanks. Government increasingly purchases data from businesses for use in these decisions. Likewise, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, reproductive health has become an increasingly important attack vector for digital rights. For example, data from Google Maps can inform police if you searched for the address of a clinic. This expanded threat to digital rights is especially dangerous for BIPOC, lower-income, immigrant, LGBTQ+ people, and other traditionally marginalized communities, and the healthcare providers serving these communities. We should reduce the supply of personal data that anti-choice sheriffs and bounty hunters can acquire from businesses. And we should also limit police access to this data. Moreover, police acquire face surveillance services from companies like Clearview, which extract faceprints from billions of people without their permission then use their faceprint database to help police identify unknown suspects in photos. For example, Clearview helped police in Miami identify a protester for Black lives.  Police use of this kind of corporate data service is inherently dangerous. False positives from face recognition have caused the wrongful arrest of at least four Black men. In January 2020, Detroit police used face recognition software to arrest Robert Williams for allegedly stealing watches. Williams was held by police for 30 hours. After a long interrogation, police admitted “the computer must have gotten it wrong”. One year prior, the same Detroit detective arrested another man, Michael Oliver, after face recognition software misidentified him as a match. Nijeer Parks was accused of shoplifting snacks in New Jersey and wrongfully arrested after misidentification. Parks spent 10 days in jail and almost a year with charges hanging over him. Most recently, the Baton Rouge Police Department arrested and jailed Randal Reid for almost a week after an incorrect match to a theft. Next steps Corporations, governments, and others use personal data in many kinds of discriminatory ways. One necessary approach to solving this problem is to reduce the amount of data that these entities can use to discriminate. To resist these civil rights abuses at their source, we must limit the ways that businesses collect and harvest our personal data.  EFF has repeatedly called for such privacy legislation. To be effective, it must include effective private enforcement, and prohibit “pay for privacy” schemes that hurt lower-income people. Legislation at the federal level must not preempt state legislation.

Poll: 61% of Americans say AI threatens humanity’s future

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 04:39:18 PM
New Reuters/Ipsos poll reveals religious and political divides over AI as well.

For The First Time In Probably Ever, The FBI Section 702 Abuses Are Trending Downward

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 04:35:25 PM
The FBI has never not been abusing its access to Section 702 collections. This collection includes communications, scooped up by the NSA during its so-called “foreign facing” surveillance. The thing about this collection is it also obtains communications from US persons to foreign individuals. The NSA can collect the latter, but not without grabbing the […]

How to install Beautifulsoup Python module in Ubuntu Linux

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 04:04:09 PM
Learn how to install BeautifulSoup a Python library on Ubuntu 22.04, 20.04, or any other version of this Linux that is used for web scraping and parsing HTML and XML documents. Python’s ecosystem offers various libraries to make the job of developers easy, out of ... Read more The post How to install Beautifulsoup Python module in Ubuntu Linux appeared first on Linux Shout.

"Serenity OS Review, France hates Apple, Microsoft forces upgrades"

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 03:59:25 PM
Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - May 17th, 2023 - Ep 003

"Freespire, TinyCoreLinux, & EU says MS can buy Zork"

Wednesday 17th of May 2023 03:58:37 PM
Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - May 16th, 2023 - Ep 002

More in Tux Machines

Who's new

  • OzarkJoe
  • trendoceangd
  • Onzarwadabun
  • kmcmillan
  • Marius Nestor