Freezenet’s Official Podcast: May 2021: Step Away from the Internet

In the 31st episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “Step Away from the Internet”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in May 2021.

Welcome to the Public version of the Freezenet official podcast for May 2021. This episode is entitled “Step Away from the Internet” after the effort to push through the speech regulation bill, C-10.

This episode also covers Bidens push to waive the COVID-19 vaccine patent protection and the malware that impacted 128 million iPhones.

In addition to that, we also cover all the usual music and video game reviews as well as the story about how the Vancouver police arrested an innocent black person… who turned out to be a BC Supreme Court judge. Awkward. All this and more on this month’s podcast!

You can check out our official podcast on Soundcloud or Anchor. Alternatively, you can take a listen below:

What follows is a transcript of this month’s episode:

Intro

Put the cell phone down and step away from the Internet

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson. Welcome to episode 31 of the Freezenet official podcast for May, 2021. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Canadian government pushes to regulate user generated content through Bill C-10

US President, Joe Biden, joins calls to waive the patent for COVID-19 vaccines

… and malicious code spreads in Apple’s app store, infected 128 million iPhones

Top Stories

If you’ve been watching Freezenet this month, the news wound up being almost exclusively about Canada’s effort to moderate user generated content. This through legislation known as Bill C-10. The story blew up late last month when the Heritage Committee voted to scrap section 4.1. Section 4.1 exempted user generated content from the regulations. Because of this, content of any kind can be judged by regulators on how Canadian the content is. From there, they can order services to promote or demote the producers speech accordingly. Experts, of course, warn that C-10 goes beyond just random YouTube videos and will also apply to apps as well.

The Canadian Liberal party responded by denying that this legislation will regulate user generated content. Unfortunately, documents that since surfaced showed that the legislation, as amended, will regulate user generated content. This put the Liberals on the defense.

With the Conservative Party increasingly becoming aware of this legislation, Canadian Heritage Minister, Steven Guilbeault, decided to try and go on a media offensive to defend the legislation. During an interview on the CBC, the host asked Guilbeault about the amendment that deleted the exemption of user generated content. Guilbeaut responded by going off topic and evading the question. After repeated attempts to ask the Minister about user generated content, the interview ended without much of an answer. Experts responded by saying that if Bill C-10 isn’t reason enough to have the Minister fired, that interview was.

Then, in a shocking turn of events, the NDP backed the Liberal party by voting to shut down debate of the legislation. This as efforts were under way to get an updated charter review now that Section 4.1 was deleted from the legislation. Normally, the NDP are very supportive of free speech issues given their roots being from the labor movement. On that day, though, they seemed to simply vote against free speech which is a very bizarre move on their part. This ultimately ends a streak of being supportive of digital rights that lasted well over a decade.

The debate spilled over into the House of Commons with, weirdly enough, Conservative party members asking why user generated content will now be regulated. Seemingly sensing that the Heritage Minister is losing control of the situation, Prime Minister Justine Trudeau stepped in. He said that his party intends on introducing an amendment that makes it “crystal clear” that user generated content won’t be regulated. That was followed up by an amendment that made it crystal clear that user generated content is going to be regulated by the government through the CRTC. In short, the Liberal party doubled down on regulating user generated content.

With things increasingly flying off the rails, Heritage Minister Guilbeault decided to participate in another interview. This time, on CTV. Evan Solomon hosted the interview. Part way through the interview, Guilbeaut admitted that Bill C-10 does regulate user generated content. This took Solomon by surprise, but he carried on. He tried to confirm that he didn’t just misspeak. The Minister stuck to his answer and said that users with a large following would be subject to regulation. So, Solomon asked what the threshold would be, but that is where things hit a brick wall. Guilbeaut refused to answer the question, but he did confirm that it is those with a large following that would be subject to regulation.

The CTV interview was so disastrous, even the Minister realized just how bad it really was. The next day, the Heritage Ministry issued a statement saying that the Minister wasn’t “clear” with his comments. The statement says that user generated content would not be regulated under Bill C-10 and that it only affects large tech giants. With the PR front sliding from a total disaster to a complete train wreck, the story seemingly took a positive turn. The Committee finally agreed to halt proceedings so that the Ministry of Justice could review the legislation for Charter compliance. It represented a win for digital rights advocates and experts at that moment.

That apparent victory, however, didn’t last long. The very next day, the Department of Justice released a short statement on the newly amended legislation. In summary, the Ministry said that user generated content is not regulated. It is regulated, but that falls with the CRTC. Oh, and the CRTC will surely respect the Charter because they are sure they will pinky swear to do so. Experts responded by saying that the review is “disappointing”. They also said that it is telling that the Justice Minister was a no show when it came to defending the so-called “Charter review”.

Later on, observers said that the review would get a failing grade if reviewed by law professors. Regardless, Heritage Minister Guilbeault proudly waved the “analysis” around and called on MPs to “quickly” pass C-10.

Then, another embarrassing disclosure was released. Documents revealed that even Guilbeault’s own officials pointed out that the legislation does regulate user generated content. It turns out, those warnings were left ignored by the Minister. He simply pushed through the legislation anyway. Regardless, it gave further credibility to critics.

With this train wreck continuing to see more cars being piled on, it seems that some decided to try and take a crack at supporting Bill C-10 on their own. The Toronto Star published an editorial that was mysteriously left unsigned by any one in particular defending the legislation. The piece went so far as to get even the most basic facts about the legislation wrong. The piece went on to say that this is about tech giants “paying their fair share”. That ultimately side stepped the main issue entirely. The piece failed to impress anyone and, in the process, the Toronto Star took a major credibility hit as a result.

Shortly after, another Bill C-10 supporter took a crack at defending the legislation. What ended up being published was a bizarre ranting on how Canada is a distinct society. It said that opponents are just trying to defend their right to reach rather than defend their right to free speech. That, of course, has nothing to do with the legislation. It also suggested that people oppose Bill C-10 because the minister is French. That, of course, is completely inaccurate. The piece went so far off topic that it even covered the right to bear arms and how Canada doesn’t have that. It then concludes that C-10 opponents simply don’t want to defend democracy afterwards. As a result, we found it to be the worst defense of Bill C-10 yet mainly because it doesn’t actually defend the legislation in the first place.

While C-10 supporters were struggling to even come up with a viable defense of the legislation, opponents had no problem coming together. In an open letter, several advocates and digital rights supporters called on Justine Trudeau to stop attacking the free an open Internet. The letter was signed by well known organization, CIPPIC, law professor Michael Geist, the executive director of Open Media, senior members of Citizen Lab, the chairman of the Internet Society, and the Vice President of Tek Savvy to name a few in that exceedingly long list of Internet supporters. One thing is for sure, at this point, if the legislation is passed, it’ll very likely be challenged in court on Constitutional grounds.

After all that went down, Canadian Justice Minister, David Lametti, finally came out of hiding to answer questions about the so-called “Charter review”. As Lametti got peppered with questions, he responded by saying things like how it isn’t his job to give legal advice, constantly deferring to the Heritage Minister, and even downgrading the Charter review paper by calling it an “explanatory document”. In other words, by his own admission, he and his department didn’t produce what was asked. While it seemed like this was an effort to try and capitalize on a small victory, it turned into yet another disaster for C-10 supporters instead.

For C-10 supporters, the situation devolved further into a full blown crisis. While supporters continued to insist that, despite all the evidence, that C-10 doesn’t regulate user generated content, more evidence to the contrary surfaced. An internal memo that was released about C-10 shows that officials have already started building a list of sites and services that would be regulated. The memo then offered a breakdown of the criteria of what would be subject to regulation. From what we gather, apart from the note about fulfilling the mandate of the Broadcasting Act – which we are unsure of – it looks like even Freezenet would be regulated according to the law.

At any rate, it showed that the range of content that would be subject to regulation is much wider than previously thought. Content such as podcasts, news sites – including foreign news sites – video, apps, and even online pornography would be subject to regulation. Some jokingly ask, “is that porn Canadian enough?”

After weeks of failing to produce a viable defense for the legislation, some began pushing the notion that section 2.1 means that user generated content would not be regulated. So, we devoted an entire article explaining why Section 2.1 doesn’t mean user generated content is exempt. In short, the talking point depends on readers simply breezing through the section without analyzing it in detail. The key point in section 2.1 is the fact that a “person” is not going to be regulated. The now deleted Section, 4.1, explicitly states that the users content is not regulated. So, while you might not be regulated, the content you produce would be. As a result, the talking point is actually misinformation. We did give it credit for being clever, but it is, at the end of the day, misinformation.

To make matters even worse, lobbyists were documented as pushing for the removal of both Section 2.1 and 4.1. They got what they wanted when Section 4.1 was removed, but 2.1 remained. Apparently, they had a change of tune once advocates became more aware of what was happening with this legislation. So, in response, they decided to try and use 2.1 as a crutch and say that the legislation doesn’t apply to user generated content. It was a flip-flop in an effort to salvage the situation. Still, it showed that while Ministers and supporters of the legislation may not know what they are doing, the lobbyists behind the scenes know full well what they are doing. The legislation, after all, stands to wipe out all Internet competition to traditional producers. So, it is little surprise that they are pushing hard for this.

With Bill C-10 touted as something that supports creators, it was interesting to note that Canadian creators, besides ourselves, are speaking out. Youtuber, J.J. McCullough, posted his thoughts on the proposed legislation. Part of his comments included how the current way of doing things has produced hundreds of Canadian YouTube stars. With the legislation, new and up and coming talent will have to face a radically altered landscape that could be more prohibitive to their success. This is thanks to requirements that content needs to be Canadian enough. Indeed, these echo ours, and many others, concerns as well.

Moving to our second big story, US president, Joe Biden, is making waves of his own. Despite quite a bit of pressure, even from his own officials, Biden backed efforts to waive the patent on COVID-19 vaccines. One of the major concerns about COVID-19 vaccines is the bottleneck of vaccine production. Supporters of the widely criticized patent system say that the patent protection is necessary to fund medical research. Experts and observers note that the COVID-19 pandemic is different in that it is a global problem that needs solving sooner rather than later.

By waiving the patent protection, you allow more organizations to produce the vaccines. Since governments strictly control the flow of vaccines through regulation, there isn’t necessarily a concern for the quality so long as the approval processes are strictly adhered to. In fact, some point to the lack of patent protection for the polio vaccine as an example of how waiving the patent protection can potentially eradicate the deadly disease. Biden threw his support behind the movement to waive the patent despite the lobbying pressure from big pharma. This gave a huge boost to the movement to have the patent waived for the public good.

With the waiver for the vaccine being wide open thanks to Biden’s support, focus then shifted to other countries. France initially opposed the waiver, but after Biden’s comments, came out in support of the waiver. Germany, for it’s part, continued to oppose the patent waiver. Meanwhile, Canada effectively sat on the fence and said that they were waiting for others to weigh in. The debate over the patent waiver is continuing.

The Apple vs. Epic court case took an unusual turn. Long time listeners will remember how the court case came about. It ultimately started with Epic offering an in-game method of circumventing Apple pay in their game, Fortnite. In response, Apple booted Fortnite from the Apple app store for violating their terms of service. Epic responded by suing, saying that Apple is acting like a monopoly. In response, Apple tried banning the Unreal engine. This only to have a judge say that the collateral damage is too great for such a move. After all, the Unreal Engine has little to do with this case. In response to that, Apple seemingly retaliated by banning the Epic developer account, kicking every game from the maker from the app store. Epic, for their part, admitted that they did knowingly violate Apples Terms of Service. So, there really is no good guy in this story.

Earlier this month, we noted how the court case began with Apple defending its moderation practices. In court, they argued that Epic wants Apple to be like Android. They argued that Apple doesn’t want to be like Android and they want to tightly control what is in their app store.

Things then took an unexpected turn later on. A court document in the case revealed that malware had made its way into the Apple app store. This came in the form of an app known as XCodeGhost. This is apparently a developer tool set that helps developers make apps for the app store. While it was sold as being faster than XCode, it apparently contained malicious code. Whenever a developer created an app with those tools, malicious code got inserted unbeknownst to the developer. This, in turn, infected all the users iPhones. In all, 128 million iPhones were compromised as a result of this.

This incident apparently happened in 2015. Apple became aware of this problem and started looking at how they were going to notify users. At some point, they dropped the idea of informing affected users and, instead, chose to keep quiet about it. The revelations blew up and ultimately destroyed the idea that purchasing apps legally will mean that you are not going to be prone to malware. Even in Apple’s supposedly controlled walled garden, malware is still very capable of penetrating this seeming fortress of security. Suffice to say, Apple didn’t look very good for their actions.

That was certainly quite the huge set of stories. Still, we did find some other stories to report on. So, here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

We have a follow-up to a story we brought you last month about the massive security incident that exposed 553 million Facebook users. An internal e-mail leaked to the press showcases Facebook’s strategy in dealing with the security incident. The e-mail says that Facebook’s strategy is to ignore the breach story and hope it all goes away. The leak also suggests that Facebook intends on normalizing such incidents in an effort to make them no big deal in the eyes of the public. Obviously, with Digital Rights Ireland’s efforts to litigate the company, the incident has gone well beyond a simple public relations problem.

In a follow-up to our top story last month, there has been developments in the story about Amazon employee’s efforts to unionize. After the vote ended in a loss for employees, the union assisting with the effort is litigating to have the results overturned. Court documents are alleging that Amazon threatened firings and engaged in voter interference. A core argument in the documents revolves around the mailbox where employees could drop off their votes. The mailbox was allegedly located near management’s offices and was surveilled by security camera’s. One allegation says that this was part of an intimidation tactic to coerce employees to vote against unionization. The court case is moving forward.

Right after that story broke, Amazon suffered a setback as two Amazon fulfillment centers were ordered partially shut down in Canada. The cause for both shut downs were COVID-19 outbreaks. Both facilities are located in the Ontario Peel region, an area hit hard by the pandemic. The facilities affected are the Amazon Center at 8050 Heritage Road in Brampton and the center at 12724 Coleraine Drive in Bolton. No word on how many employees were affected.

After that, Amazon began pushing it’s anti-union efforts at other facilities. In a facility in Staten Island, employees were simply obtaining union cards which are part of critical first steps towards unionization. Amazon began showing anti-union propaganda on its TV screens in response. The propaganda suggested that signing union cards means signing away your rights to speak for yourself among other messages. The quick response took employees off guard who note that it only took 5 days from their initial efforts before Amazon quickly responded.

European officials say they have enough evidence to go after Apple in an anti-trust probe. The probe is reportedly going to revolve around how Apple charges users in the Apple App store. In the Commissions statement of Objections, part of the allegations says that Apple did ”distort competition in the market” by “raising the costs of competing music streaming.” The probe came after competing music streaming service, Spotify, complained. In response, Apple said, “at the core of this case is Spotify’s demand they should be able to advertise alternative deals on their iOS app, a practice that no store in the world allows.” You can read the full complaint via our website.

Facebook’s oversight board has upheld the ban of former US president, Donald Trump. The ban hammer was swung after Trump incited an armed insurrection at the US Capitol buildings on January 6th. The board said that they question the permanent nature of the ban given the lack of precedence. Trump, for his part, has created his own site in an apparent attempt to gain back some of the attention he got while he was on Twitter. It’s unclear if the impeached former president will gain much traction with his new site.

Privacy messaging app, Signal mixed things up with Facebook this month. The company behind the app accused Facebook of banning what is described as an honest ad campaign. The ad campaign reportedly utilized Facebook’s tracking systems for advertisers, then simply showed users the results and encouraged them to use their app to avoid the trackers. Signal says that Facebook banned their ad campaign in response. Facebook responded by saying that the campaign never ran and, therefore, didn’t ban their account for it. Signal posted a heated reply, posting screenshots proving that they were banned for running the ad campaign.

Definitely another intense month on the news front, that’s for sure.

Video Game Reviews

Now, turning towards entertainment, let’s talk about the first impression video’s we posted this month.

For this month’s Steam game, we played the RPG game, Might and Magic X: Legacy. This game represents the final game in this series and, therefore, the final game we were able to play. You can check out the video directly on our site or via YouTube.

From there, we played this months Playstation 3 game, Split/Second. We heard good things about this racing game, so we decided to check this one out for ourselves. You can check out that video directly on our site or via YouTube.

As always, you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you turn on notifications, you’ll get real-time notices on when we post something new.

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

First up is Croc for the Game Boy Color. Buggy controls and weird movement hampers play. As a result, the game only passes with a 54%.

From there, we played Grand Theft Auto for the Game Boy Color. Annoying vehicle controls and difficulty spikes winds up spoiling the fun in this one. As a result, this one gets a 56%.

Next up is Worms Armageddon for the Game Boy Color. Worm movement leaves a lot to be desired, but can be worked around. A game that does get better as you go along. So, this one gets a very solid 74%.

Finally, we tried Bubble Bobble for the Game Boy Color. A game that does retain the features from older versions, but limited screen space and faulty camera tracking does hold this one back a bit. Despite that, this game still gets a solid 70%.

Music Reviews

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

AC/DC – Big Gun

John Mellencamp – What If I Came Knocking

Rush – Stick It Out

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Sunny Lax – Miquë (Original Mix)

Pearl Jam – Daughter

Radiohead – Creep

Triumph – Troublemaker

… and finally, The The – Love is Stronger Than Death

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month. This month, our pick of the month belongs to Sunny Lax – Miquë (Original Mix).

Oddities

And in other news

America doesn’t have exclusivity over police officers racially profiling people. In Canada, Vancouver police say that they were on the lookout for a black person accused of assault. So, they arrested someone with an age twice of that as the suspects description. There were, at least, two problems with the arrest beyond the age. The first problem is that the man they arrested was innocent. The second problem is the fact that the black man they arrested is a retired judge. Of course, not just any judge. He is a retired BC Supreme Court Justice to boot. Awkward. Police say that they immediately let him go once they identified who he was. Justice Selwyn Romilly said he was embarrassed over what the police put him through. Vancouver Mayor, Kennedy Stewart, said he was “appalled” by what happened and reached out to the Justice to issue and apology. The Vancouver police has also since apologized. Something tells me things are going to be a little bit awkward between the police and the judicial system for a little while.

“So, the defendant is accused of a moving violation. I’m sure the arresting officer ensured they have arrested the correct person and don’t have a case of mistaken identity… isn’t that RIGHT constable?”
“Y-yes… your honor.”

I know, I know, decorum and all that.

It’s no secret that some people have a distracted driving problem. Some check their text messages while others take calls while driving. All of this is not only dangerous, but illegal in many jurisdictions around the world. Well, one Ohio Republican Senator managed to take distracted driving to a whole new level. While debating a bill during a Zoom meeting, Senator Andrew Brenner applied a fake office background even though his seat belt was clearly visible. He could be seen driving around while debating the bill. To make matters even more ironic? The bill in question was about dealing with distracted driving. The Senator denied he was distracted, but his actions, according to one reporter, would actually be illegal under the legislation being debated. Man, you’d think he’d get a clue, but apparently not.

As COVID-19 vaccines make their way into arms, it is clear that social distancing and rules around gatherings are still in place. For one Ontario Canada Post plant, apparently, that message didn’t quite get through. Employees apparently decided to throw a retirement party complete with pizza and other snacks. Social distancing didn’t seem to occur and some decided against wearing face masks. To make matters even worse, supervisors were in attendance on top of it all. How do we know that this took place? Some genius decided to snap some pictures and post them to social media. Of course, those pictures made their way to the media. Mississauga Mayor, Bonnie Crombie, described the news as “shocking” and said that authorities would easily be over there issuing tickets. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that upper management went absolutely ballistic when they found out about that one.

Outro

Before we close out this month’s podcast, we got two announcements to make.

First, we have a follow-up to the depressing news that we are considering closing down the forums on the site. We asked for feedback in every way possible and waited for the response from you. We were hoping that this would be enough to drum up interest in keeping the last file-sharing discussion forums alive. Unfortunately, that wound up not being the case. So, the overall message we got back from you is that no one is going to care if the forums are shut down.

Given that the forums get less than 2% of traffic and I’ve been almost the only user who uses them, it pushed us to ask if you wanted to keep them. After all, keeping the spam off the forums and maintaining them is quite a bit of work. Since we didn’t get any feedback asking us to keep the forums, we’ve ultimately decided to just go ahead and close the forums and focus our energy on more promising projects. Now, I’m not against the existence of web forums. So, if there is interest at a future time, then I’ll be happy to start the forums up again. In the mean time, we are going to be archiving all of our weird news stories posted on there, so if there is anything you want saved, save them now. This is because, eventually, the forums as you currently know them are going to be shuttered.

Thank you to everyone who took interest in this feature and to all those that did post in them. I wish it didn’t have to end this way, but that’s how things ended up.

The other announcement is that we have issued our April Wiki content patch. This patch gets the early archives for the Future Sound of Egypt all the way up to episode 350. We’re not quite done archiving episode 350, but we did get some progress on that particular episode. We also updated the newer episodes of this show to go up to episode 699. As usual, we also updated the archives for Fables, Random Movement Podcast, V Recordings Podcast, and Resonation. We hope you enjoy these latest additions.

Also, huge shout out to Nolan for providing mixing services!

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!

Alternatively, you can simply buy us a coffee via ko-fi.com/freezenet!

…and that’s this months episode for May, 2021. 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 follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: