Freezenet’s Official Podcast: April 2019: Arrest That Journalist!

In this sixth episode of the Freezenet official podcast, we check out the news and reviews for the month of April. Arrest that Journalist!

Welcome to the public version of the sixth episode of the Freezenet official podcast. With the arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, it seems appropriate to title this months episode “Arrest That Journalist!”

Also, we look at the fallout of the stunning passage of Article 11, and Article 13/17 in Europe. Additionally, we cover a data breach involving Facebook and Instagram. We also got the arrest of open source developer Ola Bini, a bunch of music reviews and a number of video game reviews. Certainly been a busy month here.

You can check out our official podcast on Soundcloud or take a listen below:

A transcript of the podcast follows:

Intro

Arrest that journalist!

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson. Welcome to the 6th episode of the Freezenet official podcast for April 2019. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Fallout from the passage of Article 11 and Article 13 spreads across Europe.

Coming in at number 2 is Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrested as Ecuador revokes his political asylum status.

Finally in at number 3, Facebook and Instagram suffers a data breach, more that half a billion users exposed.

Top Stories

Fallout is spreading across Europe after politicians shocked the world when they passed Article 11 and Article 13. The universally condemned copyright directive would force platforms to install crippling filtering technology. It will also force sites to pay a tax for the privilege of posting a link.

Emotions ran high as users took to Twitter to grieve the loss of the open Internet in Europe. Using the hashtag RIPInternet, one user said that they couldn’t sleep. Another user said that freedom of expression is over. Others lashed out with one user saying that Europe should be sued for demagogy. A few even said that it might be a good thing the United Kingdom is going through the Brexit process to avoid these laws. A few even expressed interest in leaving the continent altogether.

A day later, website owners began opening up, saying that it is impossible to tell whether their actions will be enough to comply with the new laws. European Digital Rights pointed out that this may be a much taller order thanks to the General Data Protection Regulation. This is because the highest standard of privacy must be followed, but at the same time, users need to be tracked thanks to the copyright directive. As such, it is very difficult to find a happy medium between these two laws.

While countries have two years to implement the copyright directive, for one country, killing the open Internet can’t come soon enough. France announced that they will be moving quickly to implement the laws. Government officials said that they will compel anti-piracy organization, HADOPI, to begin working on creating censorship lists for websites that don’t comply with the European laws.

Meanwhile, observers like James Vincent fear that such laws could lead to a great Internet split. Already, according to Vincent, there is an Internet for users who live in totalitarian regimes and an Internet for everyone else. Now, Europe could theoretically split from the rest of the Internet as well. If countries begin blocking users from accessing North American websites, then the Internet could become a much more divided place.

After that, website founders and investors found themselves heading for the exits. Feeling that Europe is no longer a place to set up shop for innovation, many are thinking of moving to countries like New Zealand, Canada, or even the United States. One founder, Owen Williams, suggests that it is an extremely difficult argument to start a business in Europe unless you are armed with millions of euro’s and an army of lawyers.

Meanwhile, some German officials saw this newly passed law for what it was. A solution they floated is putting in place a blanket license in place of online filters. Unfortunately, European officials slammed the idea, rejecting the idea of giving money to creators. European Budget Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, warned Germany that this idea is completely unacceptable because there is no “special way” for Germany. The quick response from Europe alone put to bed the idea that these laws are about supporting creators.

A copyright collective, one of the few real beneficiaries of the laws, said that this is not the end of the debate. Gadi Oron of CISAC said that this passage is only the beginning. Oron said that the hope is that other countries like the United States will follow Europe’s lead in censoring the Internet.

As if to compound the idea that creators won’t see a penny out of all of this, one creator decided to put these new laws to the test. Johannes Börnsen, a video creator working for Heise contacted a copyright collective. He asked if he would be compensated under these new laws. When asked what content he produces, he said that he produces YouTube video’s for Heise. As such, he felt that he would fall under either the picture group or the video group. The operator on the other end of the phone line disagreed, saying that he falls under neither since YouTube is not a broadcaster. Even though Heise pays a broadcasting license fee to post on YouTube, the representative basically said that he does not qualify. In response, Börnsen concluded that these laws were created both in his name and at his expense.

Another reporter decided to do some research into the filtering technology of today to see if such technology even exists. After canvassing multiple different companies from China, the United States, and Europe, the conclusion wound up being that the costs are massive, the filters are likely ineffective, or both. In short, the reporter pretty much confirmed exactly what critics of the laws were saying all along.

Turning over to the story about Wikileaks, the 7 year standoff has come to an end. After receiving a major loan from the United States, Ecuador revoked Julian Assange’s political asylum. That, in turn, triggered police to come in and haul Assange from the embassy located in Britain.

Digital rights group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, condemned the move, saying that Assange should not be charged for his journalistic activities. UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn made a similar statement on the matter.

Online news satire website, The Onion, poked fun at the situation. They published an article with fake quotes from media outlets slamming Assange for showing the world what journalists could be doing with their time. The satirical article effectively showed off jealous journalists attacking Assange for having the audacity to hold the government to account.

Disturbingly, however, real journalists found themselves practically imitating the satirical article. Some were plastering quotes from a judge branding Assange as a narcissist. Others were attacking Assange by suggesting he is not a journalist and that he is just a hacker who broke the law and is evading justice. One attack piece even said that Assange “fails the smell test”.

Of course, accusations of Assange not even being a journalist were quickly debunked after Assange won yet another journalism award. This time, it is the Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information. That award was named after the assassinated journalist Daphne Galizia. Acting on behalf of Assange, Nobel Peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire collected the award, saying that through Wikileaks, Assange has revolutionized journalism.

Facebook has suffered yet another data leak. This time, more than 540 million Facebook accounts have been exposed via an Amazon S3 bucket. Usernames, IDs, passwords, interests, and other bits of personal information were contained in the leak. Shortly after that news story broke, Facebook admitted that this isn’t the only users affected by the leak. Apparently, Instagram users were also exposed. Facebook said that the number of Instagram users exposed ranged into the millions, but few other details were publicly shared.

With this latest data leak, Facebook finds itself once again vulnerable to Europe’s GDPR laws. If the information wasn’t disclosed in time, the company could be liable for a percentage of their global revenue in fines. Unfortunately, little information is publicly known about the latest leak.

That’s your top three stories for the month. We’ve got a whole lot of other stories to get to. So, here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

Ecuador has detained an open source software developer. Ola Bini, a developer who worked on JRuby, Certbot, and the open source protocol OTR is now behind bars for the crimes of possessing technical manuals and USB sticks. The arrest is part of Ecuador’s efforts to please the United States over top of the arrest of Julian Assange. He is charged with attempting to destabilize the country as a “Russian Hacker”, a claim that the Electronic Frontier Foundation completely disagrees with.

Anti-piracy organization, Copytrack, is making news for all the wrong reasons. According to a report they published, they claimed that 1 day worth of “stolen” images costs the industry $600 billion. One observer pointed out that the GDP of the entire planet is roughly $240 billion per day. In response, many people are saying that there is a lot of reasons to be skeptical about the outlandish claims.

Facebook is facing even more controversy. This time, they are accused of phishing. Security experts, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, discovered that there is a very different greeting Facebook is giving new users when they sign up with a Yandex or GMX e-mail account. Users are apparently asked to “verify” their account by giving Facebook their e-mail password. With users having no idea why this is the case, Facebook then takes the login credentials and rifles through the account, searching through the address book and pulling all user accounts into the friends list. After the lid was blown on this practice, Facebook quickly issued a statement, saying that this practice is being discontinued. Security experts are upset that Facebook even tried this in the first place.

There was an effort this month by some European users to try and convince law makers to vote against the European copyright directive. The idea is that if enough countries vote against the laws, then it is possible that a last ditch effort to save the Internet could be possible. Unfortunately, supporters of free speech were left disappointed when enough countries voted in favour of the laws to prevent a “blocking minority”. The development further disappointed supporters of digital rights, seeing any hope of restoring the free and open Internet dashed.

While the copyright directive represents a stunning blow to free speech, that directive isn’t the only threat making its way through Europe. The Terrorist Content Moderation directive would compel platforms to remove terrorist content within 1 hour of a filed complaint. Sites that fail to uphold this standard could face significant fines. Some lawmakers wanted to include the requirement of automated content filters, but for once, that didn’t make it into the final law. Digital rights advocates call that development a small victory.

The UK porn filter is making news again this month. For those of you who are less familiar with the laws, here’s a quick summary. A UK law, passed more than two years ago, would require websites to store user information to verify that a user is of legal age to view adult material should that website offer such content. Users who want to view such material have to go to a physical store and buy a so-called “porn pass”. As part of the system, that user has to sign a document acknowledging that they know of all the dangers of accessing adult material. Now, the BBFC, the governmental organization in charge of managing the age verification laws, admitted this month that VPNs could easily thwart these laws. They said that there is no “silver bullet” solution to this, but they are saying that young users can’t accidentally stumble upon the material now. The laws are still being implemented in spite of how useless it is under a number of circumstances.

Finally, digital rights advocates are pointing out another development in the controversy surrounding copyright filters. Earlier, Robert Mueller finished his report on the Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Mueller handed the report off to William Barr, the US attorney general. Barr, a Donald Trump appointee, in turn, published a summary saying that there was no collusion. This wasn’t enough for Democrats who demanded the full public release of the report. In response, a redacted version of the report was released.

The publicly funded report was subsequently circulated on the web and many say that it’s public domain because it was funded by taxpayers. It turns out, some publishers took the report and began selling it. While some might take issue with that, what one publisher did sparked controversy. That publisher submitted the entire published report to ScribD. The idea is that the publisher feels that they now own the rights to the report and that any subsequent posting of the PDF file would violate their copyright on the report. ScribD, in turn, would then use their internal filtering technology to take down any other copy of that report. After facing questions, ScribD subsequently pulled the report from the copyright database. Digital rights advocates point out that there is nothing stopping someone else from doing the same thing. With Europe’s copyright directive now law, such controversies could become much more frequent.

Definitely another busy month here on Freezenet, so let’s check in with the reviews we’ve got this month.

Video Game Reviews

First, here are the video games we’ve reviewed this month:

We have Tank Command for the Atari 7800. Basic gameplay, no music, simple sound effects and a game that taxes your patience. In the end, our score for this game is 56%.

From there, we tried F-18 Hornet for the Atari 7800. Convoluted controls, difficult to learn, and tough difficulty hampers play. This game barely passes with a 50%.

Next up is Ninja Golf for the Atari 7800. An absolutely bizarre game that mixes golf with a Beat ’em Up concept. A very average game with under-developed elements. So, this game gets a 58%.

Finally, we tried Rampage World Tour for the Nintendo 64. While the obvious destructive elements can be a big draw for players, plenty of smaller elements really wins the day for this game. Unfortunately, repetition does seep through after a while. Still, this game smashes through with a 76%.

Music Reviews

As for music we’ve listened to this month, we’ve got…

Code Black & Brennan Heart – Tonight Will Never Die

Tritonal – GAMMA GAMMA (Ferry Radio Fix)

Da Tweekaz Ft. Popr3b3l – Your Love (Original Mix)

Thomas Bergersen – Our Destiny

Lisa Miskovsky – Still Alive (The Theme From Mirror’s Edge™ Radio Edit)

In-Panic – Jump Air

Warmen – Finale

Pitchshifter – W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G.

… and finally, Course of Nature – Wall of Shame

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month. This month, our pick of the month belongs to Tritonal – GAMMA GAMMA (Ferry Radio Fix). Also, be sure to check out Thomas Bergersen – Our Destiny and Warmen – Finale.

Oddities

And in other news…

For some people, it must really be awkward to be arrested in public. Now imagine how much more awkward it would be if the officer arresting you happened to be naked at the time. Yes, there is a perfectly plausible explanation for that. Apparently, both the officer and the wanted criminal just happened to pick the same day and time to visit a sauna in Sweden. The officer saw the criminal and said that he should consider himself arrested at this point in time. The officer then got backup to arrive and the felon was taken away without incident. I wonder where the officer kept the handcuffs anyway.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was out campaigning earlier this month for the up and coming election. He saw an asian citizen, so he approached her. He hoped to impress her with his language skills, so he started saying a few lines in Chinese. It all sounded like a great idea right up to the point where the woman responded, “I’m Korean.” Well that was a political fail right there, wasn’t it? When reporters asked Morrison after about the incident, he admitted that he may not really be a language expert. Intead, he said, he’s going to stick with what he knows: “G’day mate!”

By now, it goes without saying that if a random person you don’t know e-mails you asking for money, you probably shouldn’t even bother opening that e-mail. If it’s someone asking for $130,000, all the more reason to ignore that e-mail. If it’s allegedly from a co-worker, maybe you should verify the e-mail is legit. Lot’s of common sense here that, apparently, was skipped over by Ottawa City treasurer Marian Simulik. Apparently, she wired the $130,000 to scammers pretending to be the city manager to an American bank account. She didn’t even think anything of it until she received another e-mail asking for an additional $200,000. As it turns out, she was making her way to a meeting that day where the manager happened to be. When she showed him the e-mails, the city manager denied that he sent those e-mails. It was only then that she realized she had fallen victim to the trivial spearphishing scam. The matter was since forwarded to the auditor general’s office. You’d think someone with that kind of power would know better.

Outro

So, before we close out the show, we have a small announcement to make. If you are one of the many users browsing the site on mobile devices, you might have noticed that a few pages had images that don’t display properly. The thing is that the images were too large. You’ll be happy to know that the code for the site has since been patched. While we could have gone through the pages individually and adjusted the widths manually, we wanted to also future proof the site. With this fix, images should no longer exceed the width of the pages. We hope that this fixes the last of the bugs on the new design and improves your browsing experience.

Also, shout out to Nolan for providing mixing and recording services for this months podcast. Many thanks for that!

If you’d like to get your hands on some behind the scenes stuff, exclusive content, and early access material, you can check out our Patreon page at Patreon.com/freezenet. Through this, you can help make Freezenet just that much better all the while getting some pretty cool stuff in the process. That’s Patreon.com/freezenet!

…and that’s this months episode for April 2019, I’m Drew Wilson for Freezenet. Be sure to check out our website at freezenet.ca for all the latest in news and reviews. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @freezenetca. Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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