Freezenet’s Official Podcast: May 2019: Piracy is Killing the Lawmaking Industry

In this seventh episode of the Freezenet official podcast, we check out the news and reviews for the month of May. Piracy is killing the lawmaking industry.

Welcome to the public version of the seventh episode of the Freezenet official podcast. With the ongoing legal fight between Carl Malamud and the state of Georgia, this months episode is appropriately titled “Piracy is Killing the Lawmaking Industry”.

Additionally, we cover the ongoing case of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, Instagram suffering from a data leak, the state of global press freedom, and all the usual music and game reviews as well as some weird news to end the show.

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

A transcript of the podcast follows:

Intro

Piracy is killing the lawmaking industry.

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson. Welcome to the 7th episode of the Freezenet official podcast for May, 2019. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Julian Assange handed a controversial 50 week prison sentence.

Coming in at number 2, Man Labelled a Copyright Infringing Terrorist for Posting the Law Online for Free

Finally at number 3, Instagram hit with a data leak with 49 million user records exposed.

Top Stories

We’ve got an update to a story we brought you last month. After Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested by British authorities, a judge has handed him a 50 week prison sentence for skipping bail.

Wikileaks blasted the prison sentence saying that murderers who skip bail get lesser sentences. They also contend that the 50 week sentence far exceeds what the court is able to hand down. Wikileaks said that their submission, however, was completely ignored by the presiding judge.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has weighed in on this huge sentence. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a statement, saying, “The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is deeply concerned about this course of action including the disproportionate sentence imposed on Mr. Assange. The Working Group is of the view that violating bail is a minor violation that, in the United Kingdom, carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison, even though the bond related to the bail has been lost in favour of the British Government, and that Mr. Assange was still detained after violating the bail which, in any case should not stand after the Opinion was issued. The Working Group regrets that the Government has not complied with its Opinion and has now furthered the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange.”

Of course, the legally questionable prison sentence isn’t slowing the United States down any. In a submission, the US is wanting to have Assange extradited to face a charge of conspiracy “to commit computer intrusion”. Naturally, Assange is fighting the extradition order.

Moving over to our second big story of the month, a man is in a major legal fight he no doubt could never have predicted. Carl Malamud created a website with the mission of making the law more accessible to the open public. He copied the laws of various states so that others can read and learn about them. Seems like a pretty straight forward and non-controversial endeavour, right?

Well, not if you are the state of Georgia. In response, the state is suing Malamud for copyright infringement. The state even went further and called the effort to educate people on the law a “strategy of terrorism”. It’s a response that no doubt caused many people to think that this can’t even be right, but as unbelievable as it sounds, it’s quite true.

What Georgia is contending is that they used taxpayers money to create an annotated version of the law. They commissioned LexisNexis to research and compile this law. This version basically includes caselaw and other adjustments so that clarity can be had on what the laws really are. Since a private company is producing this version of the law, it therefore falls under copyright as far as Georgia is concerned.

What loses a lot of remaining supporters for the state is the fact that what courts and law enforcement follow is the annotated version of the law, not necessarily the version that lawmakers wrote themselves. Further compounding things is the fact that case-law dating as far back as the 1800s says that the law should be available to the public free of charge.

In spite of all that has happened since this was first brought up, Georgia is still fighting Malamud in court. Malamud is hoping to get a legal ruling by a higher court at this point in time after getting a lower court to agree with him on this case. This is to clear up any lingering legal uncertainty.

Now we turn things over to Instagram which is making news again. This time, it is yet another data leak. In all, 49 million records have been potentially compromised. According to reports, the leak included e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

The source of the leak has been tracked down to a company called Chatrbox. Chatrbox disputes parts of the report, saying that only a couple of influencers had their information exposed for 72 hours. Otherwise, the information is was actually publicly available.

NakedSecurity, who has been documenting this case, says that, even then, scraping data in and of itself is a legally questionable action. Additionally, pieces of information like phone numbers aren’t necessarily public to begin with. So, there is definitely some conflicting points of view on this story.

That’s our top three headlines for this month. It’s been another busy month here on Freezenet, so let’s check out some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

Press freedom and free speech made an interesting appearance in the news for us. Reporters Without Borders issued a report on the state of press freedom in different countries. Canada’s press freedom ranking did rise, putting the country back in the top 20 this year. While that sounds like great news on the surface, Reporters Without Borders point out that the news picture isn’t that good for Canada. In fact, under the Trudeau government, the press freedom index fell by 0.41. So, the more complete picture is that Canada rose in the rankings because the freedom index didn’t deteriorate as quickly as some of the other countries out there.

The organization cites the VICE news reporter being pressured by the courts to hand over contact information of a terrorist, an Independent reporter facing criminal charges for covering protests against a hydroelectric project in Labrador, and Bill C-51 as some of the reasons why the press freedom index fell.

Meanwhile, the US fell 3 places to a ranking of 48 which means they are now considered problematic as far as the organization is concerned. The press freedom index fell 1.96 thanks in part to Trumps relentless attacks on the media.

Norway is currently number 1 in the rankings.

The BC and Canadian privacy commissioners are taking Facebook to court for privacy violations. Citing the “This is your Digital Life” app, the commissioners argue Facebook broke various privacy laws thanks in part due to the lack of obtaining proper consent from users. The commissioners are hoping this case will compel lawmakers to give them powers to issue fines against companies that violate privacy laws. Many have pointed out that they are more or less powerless at this point in time.

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission in the US is reportedly going to issue a fine against Facebook for privacy violations. Reports indicate that the company could face up to a $5 billion fine, though negotiations between the regulator and the company are ongoing.

Security incidences graced the pages here on Freezenet. Late last month, a mystery data breach or leak was discovered by security researchers. In all, 80 million Americans have been exposed. Age, date of birth, and locations are among the pieces of information found in the database. This time, researchers have no idea where this database came from, though there is speculation that it could be from an insurance company given that the ages are all over 40. Other possibilities are that this is from a mortgage company or a healthcare company. Unfortunately, guesses are all that security researchers have.

Container repository service Docker Hub also suffered from a data breach. This time, 190,000 accounts have been compromised. Docker admits that unauthorized access had been achieved, but this impacts less than 5% of the userbase.

German IT backbone company Citycomp was also hit with a data breach. After hackers obtained over half a terabyte of data, they demanded Citycomp to pay a ransom or else the information would get published. Citycomp refused. The hackers then published the data that was stolen. Customers from several companies are either part of the dump or potentially part of the dump. These companies include VAG, Ericsson, Leica, MAN, Toshiba, Unicredit, British Telecom or BT, ATOS, Grohe, Hugo Boss, Oracle, SAP, and Porsche.

A security lapse has exposed the population of a smart city in China. The data was hosted by a cloud service owned by Chinese tech giant Alibaba. Alibaba, for it’s part, advised the customer that the data for the so-called City Brain has been exposed.

Australia was not spared from a data breach this month. According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, a single breach affected nearly 40% of the population of the entire country. The regulator did not specify where the breach occurred or who was responsible, but did disclose that the breach took place.

Knowledge sharing website StackOverflow became another victim of a data breach. A spokesman did acknowledge the breach, saying that on May 11th, a level of production access was obtained. Other details were not disclosed.

A data breach dating clear back in 2015 is haunting customers of British ISP TalkTalk. The British service provider simply said that this is a historic breach. While a 400,000 pound fine was issued, it seems the provider is moving on. Unfortunately, customers are apparently still feeling the effects of the data breach. The BBC profiled a couple of the victims. One said that the provider denies that their information was part of the compromise even though it can be found through a Google search. Another said that his phone, email and bank account is still being bombarded by fraudulent attacks. Unfortunately, it looks like little recourse can possibly come from this at this point in time for them.

Legal actions related to breaches and leaks also made news this month. Starwood and Marriott Hotels is facing another class action lawsuit. This in response to the 383 million customers exposed in the breach that took place late last year. This time, the lawsuit is coming from Calgary Alberta. The lawsuit is seeking $100 million in damages.

The country of Turkey handed down a $270,000 fine against Facebook. The fine is in response to a data leak late last year where Facebook had their users images exposed. In light of the potential multi-billion dollar fines elsewhere, though, some are seeing this as a tiny drop in the bucket by comparison.

The Irish data regulator has said that they are opening an investigation into Facebook. Facebook, of course is headquartered in Ireland which makes this of significance. The investigation is in response to last months data leak which saw half a billion users exposed.

The Attorney General from Indiana, Curtis Hill, has filed a lawsuit against Equifax. This is in response to the Equifax data breach that occurred in early 2018 where 145 million people were exposed. The lawsuit is supposed to specifically cover the people of Indiana affected by the breach, though it is unclear what damages are being sought.

Finally, the US Department of Justice has filed two indictments against two alleged Anthem hackers. The hackers in question are based in China, though the Department of Justice is having difficulty identifying one of them still. The hack itself took place sometime between 2014 and 2015 where 78.8 million customer accounts were compromised. At the time, it was considered one of the single biggest healthcare related breaches ever.

Encrypted communication service WhatsApp made the news after a security vulnerability was discovered. The vulnerability allowed hackers to upload spyware onto a victims device after the call was registered as missed. While some outlets suggested that the userbase was exposed, it appears that the malware was targetted at a specific human rights lawyer who called the attack ironic. This is because he is fighting against companies that sell malware to governments trying to crack down on civil rights.

Whistle-blower Chelsea Manning is facing a second grand jury. The news comes after the first grand jury panel expired. The Obama administration handed Manning a reduced sentence as he left office, but it seems authorities are hoping to throw her back into prison following her release. Manning said that she is not giving up the fight still and that she is thankful for all the support she has received. Her first words after the release was to her dog in which she says “hey doggo!”

The Minister for Canadian Heritage is raising eyebrows and sparking fears of a repeat of notorious minister Sam Bulte from the mid 2000s. The minister was told to seek input from a broad range of stakeholders on a report for where to take copyright laws next. Rather than fulfilling that part of the report, the minister is accused of simply listening to a small handful of corporate lobbyists. After that, she issued a report that made a number of recommendations. One recommendation said that copyright terms should be extended from life plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. The report said that no one disagrees with that idea. University law professor Michael Geist sharply disagrees with that idea, saying that this is proof that a broad range of stakeholders were never consulted.

A broad range of Non-Governmental Organizations and European digital rights organizations are calling on European lawmakers to enforce the ban on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). The providers use of the technology was banned when lawmakers passed network neutrality laws. The organizations contend that this ban has largely been ignored and raises serious concerns about free speech and privacy.

Those are some of the stories making news this month here on Freezenet.

Video Game Reviews

Now, turning towards entertainment, here are the video games we’ve reviewed this month:

Vegas Stakes for the Super Nintendo. Good use of subtle facial expressions, nice variety in the different games, and pretty interesting 7 Card Stud play. So, we gave this game a great 88%.

Next up, we tried Pole Position II for the Atari 7800. Great learning and difficulty curve while still giving more experienced players a nice challenge. While the cars may explode a bit too easily, this game still earns a great 84%.

From there, we tried Midnight Mutants for the Atari 7800. An interesting adventure game that plays similarily to an early Zelda game. Interesting open world concept, but a lack of a save feature does hold this game back a bit. Still, this one got a solid 70%.

After that, we tried Kung-Fu Master for the Atari 7800. A finicky contact system and buggy gameplay held this otherwise average game back. It barely passes with a 54%.

Finally, we played Super Skateboardin’ for the Atari 7800. An interesting puzzle game that gets you to navigate a large building, but limited replay value means that your enjoyment is rather short-lived after a round or two. So, this game gets a fairly mediocre 64%.

Music Reviews

As for music reviews, we got…

Sugar Ray – The Club

Above & Beyond Feat. Alex Vargas – Blue Sky Action (Above & Beyond Club Mix)

Ghoulspoon – Alien Magnet

Cirrus – Time’s Running Out

Nitrous Oxide Feat. Sean Ryan – Come Into My World

Sub Focus – Endorphins (Sub Focus vs Fred V & Grafix Remix)

Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back

Halsey – Now or Never

… and finally, Imagine Dragons – Believer

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month. This month, our pick of the month belongs to Vegas Stakes for the Super Nintendo. Also, be sure to check out Pole Position II for the Atari 7800, Above & Beyond Feat. Alex Vargas – Blue Sky Action (Above & Beyond Club Mix), and Nitrous Oxide Feat. Sean Ryan – Come Into My World. Quite the competitive month for quality, that’s for sure.

Oddities

And in other news…

A British man found out just how hard it is to get out of jury duty. No, he wasn’t trying to get out of it for kicks or personal reasons, he actually had a legitimate reason for getting out of it: he is the judge in the court case in question. While some might think that this makes his case trivial, and probably the result of a clerical error, when he submitted the paperwork to get out of jury duty, he was denied. The response included a statement saying that if he wanted to appeal that decision, he could consult with the resident judge… which would be himself in that case. Suffice to say, the judge agreed to let him go. Some people suggest that this is a new judicial exercise program where he would be forced to run back and forth between the bench and the jury box all day long. The judge was likely not amused by this though.

Veterans Affairs Canada was left red-faced recently thanks to a posting the department made on social media. The department posted a VE-Day tribute video. Veteran’s Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay appeared in the video explaining how our Canadian heros in uniform took part in this effort to bring victory. The problem? The footage laid over top of the commentary showed Nazis instead. Oops. Upon realizing the error, the video was quickly pulled. Something tells me someone wound up unexpectedly filling out a resume after that one.

The RCMP didn’t have to try very hard to find the man they were looking for. A Kamloops man wanted for various crimes dating back to 2015 made news in the city. In response, the wanted man then responded, saying, “News flash morons, I’m in Edmonton and not coming back”. Long story short, the police wound up welcoming the man back to Kamloops before carting him away in handcuffs.

Outro

Before we close out this months episode, we got a fairly large announcement to make. We have expanded our guide section by quite a bit this month. This month, we’ve completed a 10 part guide series on Blender. Blender, as some of you may know, is a free and open source 3D art software. Of course, it does a lot more than generate some scenes with simple 3D objects. It also has animation features, texture building, and even a feature filled video editor as well. This guide is for beginners, but by the time you get to the end of it, you too can create simple 3D videos yourself. So, feel free to check out our guide and follow along. After all, the software is free to begin with.

Also, shout out to Nolan for providing mixing and recording services for this months podcast. Appreciate the hours of work you put into this.

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 May 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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