Juul gave marketing presentations to schoolchildren in the guise of "mental health/addiction" seminars

    Juul is the cash-flush e-cigarette company whose billions (invested by Marlboro's parent company) have allowed it to create a massive market of addicted children, wiping out decades of progress in weaning children off of nicotine. Read the rest

    Phoenix's police union has a secret deal with the department to purge dirty cops' disciplinary records

    For two decades, the Phoenix police union has had a secret deal with the police department that required that the disciplinary records of cops would be "purged," so that no one, not even their supervisors, would be able to retrieve them. Read the rest

    Creating a "coercion resistant" communications system

    Eleanor Saitta's (previously) 2016 essay "Coercion-Resistant Design" (which is new to me) is an excellent introduction to the technical countermeasures that systems designers can employ to defeat non-technical, legal attacks: for example, the threat of prison if you don't back-door your product. Read the rest

    California to force NCAA to pay athletes

    The NCAA is notionally an "amateur" league, but the only thing amateur about it is that the athletes (who risk their health and even their lives) are unpaid, while the universities effectively own and operate wildly profitable pro sports teams. Read the rest

    Everyone's investigating Google for antitrust violations...except California and Alabama

    The attorneys general from 48 states, DC, and Puerto Rico are collaborating on a joint antitrust investigation of Google's dominance in the ad- and search-markets, but two AGs are sitting this one out: California's Xavier Becerra and Alabama's Steve Marshall. Read the rest

    America's life-expectancy income-gap widens precipitously

    For years, researchers have tracked the discrepancy in average life-expectancy predicted by income equality, and, as with the wealth gap itself, this life-expectancy gap just keeps getting wider. Read the rest

    Why haven't cyberinsurers exerted more pressure on companies to be better at security?

    For decades, people (including me) have predicted that cyberinsurers might be a way to get companies to take security seriously. After all, insurers have to live in the real world (which is why terrorism insurance is cheap, because terrorism is not a meaningful risk in America), and in the real world, poor security practices destroy peoples' lives, all the time, in wholesale quantities that beggar the imagination. Read the rest

    Alex Stamos schools Apple after they whine about Google revealing a whack of Ios zero-days

    Early this month, Google's Project Zero revealed a breathtaking attack on multiple OSes, including Apple's Ios, in which a website that served Uyghur people was found to be hosting at least five different kinds of Ios malware that exploited previously unknown defects in Apple's code (the attack is presumed to have been the work of the Chinese state, which has been prosecuting a genocidal campaign against Uyghurs, whose high-tech fillips have seen both cities and apps suborned to aid in the pogrom). Read the rest

    Charles de Lint on Radicalized: "among my favorite things I've read so far this year"

    I've been a Charles de Lint fan since I was a kid (see photographic evidence, above, of a 13-year-old me attending one of Charles's signings at Bakka Books in 1984!), and so I was absolutely delighted to read his kind words in his books column in Fantasy and Science Fiction for my latest book, Radicalized. This book has received a lot of critical acclaim ("among my favorite things I've read so far this year"), but to get such a positive notice from Charles is wonderful on a whole different level. Read the rest

    Podcast: DRM Broke Its Promise

    In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my new Locus column, DRM Broke Its Promise, which recalls the days when digital rights management was pitched to us as a way to enable exciting new markets where we'd all save big by only buying the rights we needed (like the low-cost right to read a book for an hour-long plane ride), but instead (unsurprisingly) everything got more expensive and less capable.

    The established religion of markets once told us that we must abandon the idea of owning things, that this was an old fashioned idea from the world of grubby atoms. In the futuristic digital realm, no one would own things, we would only license them, and thus be relieved of the terrible burden of ownership. They were telling the truth. We don’t own things anymore. This summer, Microsoft shut down its ebook store, and in so doing, deactivated its DRM servers, rendering every book the company had sold inert, unreadable. To make up for this, Microsoft sent refunds to the custom-ers it could find, but obviously this is a poor replacement for the books themselves. When I was a bookseller in Toronto, noth-ing that happened would ever result in me breaking into your house to take back the books I’d sold you, and if I did, the fact that I left you a refund wouldn’t have made up for the theft. Not all the books Microsoft is confiscating are even for sale any lon-ger, and some of the people whose books they’re stealing made extensive annotations that will go up in smoke.

    Read the rest

    Vancouver health system ignored warnings that its wireless paging system transmits sensitive patient data in the clear

    The Canadian activist group Open Privacy Research Society has discovered that Vancouver, BC hospitals routinely wirelessly broadcast patient telemetry and admissions data, without encryption to doctor paging systems. It is trivial to intercept these transmission. Read the rest

    Google is under antitrust investigation by 50 attorneys general

    The attorneys general of 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have opened a joint antitrust investigation into Google, stepping in where the defanged, irrelevant DoJ (gripped by a Reaganite cultlike doctrine that worships monopolies) refused to go for decades. Read the rest

    Important legal victory in web-scraping case

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (a 1986 anti-hacking law passed after a moral panic over the movie Wargames) does not ban accessing public information from websites, even if you do so against the wishes of the website's operator. Read the rest

    Whistleblowers out Falwell's Liberty University as a grifty, multibillion-dollar personality cult

    Jerry Falwell, Sr founded the Moral Majority, brought evangelicals into the voting booth, elected Ronald Reagan, and changed the face of American politics forever; his son, Jerry Jr now commands the Falwell empire, including Liberty University, which now has $3b in assets. Read the rest

    Pinduoduo: China's "Groupon on steroids"

    Many westerners are familiar with Chinese tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent, but I'd never heard of Pinduoduo before today: it's gamified, group-purchasing bargain-hunting site founded by an ex-Googler four years ago, with 336m active monthly users and a $40b market-cap (analyst and author Rebecca Fannin calls it "Groupon on steroids"). Read the rest

    Notpetya: the incredible story of an escaped US cyberweapon, Russian state hackers, and Ukraine's cyberwar

    Andy Greenberg (previously) is Wired's senior security reporter; he did amazing work covering Russian cyberwarfare in Ukraine, which he has expanded into a forthcoming book: Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers (I read it for a blurb and a review; it's excellent). Read the rest

    Sept 20: More than 900 Amazon employees pledge to walk out over climate inaction

    More than 900 Amazon employees have pledged to walk off the job at 11:30PST on Sept 20 to protest the company's inaction on climate change as part of Greta Thunberg's Global Climate Strike: they are demanding an end to donations to climate-denying politicians and PACs; kicking oil and gas companies off of Amazon's platforms; and for Amazon to be zero emissions by 2030. Read the rest

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