With Amazon Key’s launch, customers and lawyers have lots of questions

With Amazon Key’s launch, customers and lawyers have lots of questions
Prof: “Why would anyone want to give Amazon access to their home?”
By CYRUS FARIVAR
Nov 8 2017
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/11/whose-fault-is-it-if-something-goes-wrong-after-you-install-amazon-key/

Last week, Amazon announced a new voluntary service that allows its own contracted delivery personnel to temporarily access customers’ homes through a new service dubbed “Amazon Key,” which begins Wednesday, November 8.
Privacy experts have wondered what putting such a camera in the home could mean for law enforcement, particularly given last year’s episode when Amazon refused to help law enforcement in a murder case in Arkansas. There, investigators attempted to get the company to hand over data collected by a nearby Alexa. If that instance is any indication, Amazon may resist a legal demand to open up an Amazon Key lock.

Beyond concerns about the police, many on Twitter are fundamentally uncomfortable with Amazon Key.

Several lawyers have also wondered what kind of legal questions Amazon Key now poses.

“Would it be possible for a person unknowingly to authorize a law enforcement agency or a criminal to access Amazon Key?” Elizabeth Joh, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, e-mailed Ars. “If a criminal gains access and some harm occurs, who is responsible? And what criminal law would apply? Also, does Amazon have in its disclaimers that law enforcement might ask for access through Amazon Key? Does Amazon plan on being transparent about this?”

Ars put these questions to Amazon, which declined to answer them on the record.
“Why would anyone want to give Amazon access to their home?” said Brian Owsley, a law professor at the University of North Texas and a former federal magistrate judge. “This is like giving Apple your fingerprints or facial features. Have packages sent to your office or buy small post office box for much less than the cost of this service, and have packages sent there. This is just a very bad idea. How long before hackers can gain access to your home just like they gained access to vehicles with computer systems?”

Plus, it’s not clear what legal standard would apply if law enforcement wanted to get at the footage. Would such a recording require a warrant? Would it be subject to the third-party doctrine? That’s the legal notion that data handed over to a third-party (here, Amazon) cannot be considered private, so the government can access it without a warrant.

“It is doubtful that law enforcement could obtain video footage, especially if it contains audio without a warrant,” Christopher Slobogin, a law professor at Vanderbilt University, e-mailed Ars.

[snip]

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Pandering to Racists Won’t Get Democrats Anywhere

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

Pandering to Racists Won’t Get Democrats Anywhere
There really isn’t a political center on key questions of race.
By Sean McElwee
Nov 7 2017
https://www.thenation.com/article/pandering-to-racists-wont-get-democrats-anywhere/

The election of Donald Trump has led to a national debate among Democrats about their path to victory. For some, the loss signaled that the party “had moved too far to the left,” embracing identitypolitics and alienating the white working class. Others, however, noted the decline in black turnout and the need to cultivate the next generation of Latinos, Asians, and progressive whites.

These tensions have played out dramatically in the race for governor of Virginia, where the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, has tried to paint the Democratic candidate, Ralph Northam, as an ally of MS-13. Northam went as far as to condemn nonexistent sanctuary cities after decrying Gillespie’s rhetoric as “fear mongering.”

Was this a wise move by Northam? Historical analysis and some research I performed suggests it wasn’t. The two parties have sorted along the lines of race, making appeals to the center of less political benefit to Democrats, because they wind up gaining few votes, while alienating their base.

The Republican Party Did Not Have To Become A Racist Party

In the early years of realignment after Barry Goldwater’s overwhelming loss, some prominent Republicans argued that the Republican Party should court black voters, and many actually put the model into practice, with varying results. In 1966 and again in 1968, Winthrop Rockefeller was elected governor of Arkansas with 81 percent of the black vote in his first election and 88 percent in his reelection. In Mississippi, of all places, Republican Gil Carmichael put up a formidable challenge to arch-segregationist Jim Eastland. Carmichael ran a pro-business campaign centered around the idea that white supremacy was bad for business because segregation had made Mississippi “a third-world country.” He lost with 39 percent of the vote, and lost another gubernatorial election in 1975 with 45 percent of the vote. When another Republican lost to Eastland in 1966, one AFL-CIO chief noted that “You just don’t out-segregate Jim Eastland.”

Eventually Republicans decided to follow the path that one party official outlined in 1963, which was detailed in a book by Robert Novak. “‘Remember,’ one astute party worker said quietly over the breakfast table at Denver one morning, ‘this isn’t South Africa. The white man outnumbers the Negro 9 to 1 in this country.’”

Over the past 30 years, the parties have diverged, driven by elite strategies: with Democrats tying racial liberalism to economic liberalism and conservatives using racist appeals to undermine support for the welfare state. This process has taken time, because most Americans don’t pay close attention to politics, and because political attitudes are set early in life and remain sticky. The Republican Party is full of people who subscribe to racist views, while Democrats are increasingly liberal on issues of race. The result of this realignment is that Republicans are less concerned about alienating their base with racial ads. Summarizing their recent research showing that explicitly racist appeals are no longer enough to change respondents’ views on policies, political scientists Nicholas Valentino, Fabian Neuner, and Matthew Vandenbroek conclude that “Many of our subjects simply did not reject political arguments that explicitly derogate Black Americans.” It’s clear that Republican politicians have internalized this lesson. In New Jersey, Kim Guadagno is running Willie Horton–style ads in a race she’s almost certain to lose. In Virginia, white male House of Delegate candidates are sending out racist mailers attacking Latina candidates over non-existent sanctuary cities. And elected Republicans like Steve King openly flirt with white-supremacist rhetoric. It’s hard to claim, as some political scientists once did, that candidates would face electoral penalties for explicit racism. And it’s about to get much worse.

[snip]

Something is wrong on the internet

Something is wrong on the internet
By James Bridle
Nov 6 2017
https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2

I’m James Bridle. I’m a writer and artist concerned with technology and culture. I usually write on my own blog, but frankly I don’t want what I’m talking about here anywhere near my own site. Please be advised: this essay describes disturbing things and links to disturbing graphic and video content. You don’t have to read it, and are advised to take caution exploring further.

As someone who grew up on the internet, I credit it as one of the most important influences on who I am today. I had a computer with internet access in my bedroom from the age of 13. It gave me access to a lot of things which were totally inappropriate for a young teenager, but it was OK. The culture, politics, and interpersonal relationships which I consider to be central to my identity were shaped by the internet, in ways that I have always considered to be beneficial to me personally. I have always been a critical proponent of the internet and everything it has brought, and broadly considered it to be emancipatory and beneficial. I state this at the outset because thinking through the implications of the problem I am going to describe troubles my own assumptions and prejudices in significant ways.

One of so-far hypothetical questions I ask myself frequently is how I would feel about my own children having the same kind of access to the internet today. And I find the question increasingly difficult to answer. I understand that this is a natural evolution of attitudes which happens with age, and at some point this question might be a lot less hypothetical. I don’t want to be a hypocrite about it. I would want my kids to have the same opportunities to explore and grow and express themselves as I did. I would like them to have that choice. And this belief broadens into attitudes about the role of the internet in public life as whole.

I’ve also been aware for some time of the increasingly symbiotic relationship between younger children and YouTube. I see kids engrossed in screens all the time, in pushchairs and in restaurants, and there’s always a bit of a Luddite twinge there, but I am not a parent, and I’m not making parental judgments for or on anyone else. I’ve seen family members and friend’s children plugged into Peppa Pig and nursery rhyme videos, and it makes them happy and gives everyone a break, so OK.

But I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down.

Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what I am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring.

To begin: Kid’s YouTube is definitely and markedly weird. I’ve been aware of its weirdness for some time. Last year, there were a number of articles posted about the Surprise Egg craze. Surprise Eggs videos depict, often at excruciating length, the process of unwrapping Kinder and other egg toys. That’s it, but kids are captivated by them. There are thousands and thousands of these videos and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of children watching them.

[snip]

The Technological Trends That Will Shape the Next 30 Years

The Technological Trends That Will Shape the Next 30 Years
An interview with Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick at Wired Magazine and author of The Inevitable.
Jul 26 2016
<https://medium.com/the-mission/the-technological-trends-that-will-shape-the-next-30-years-c13c8b069094&gt;

The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly is the most interesting nonfiction book I’ve read about the future in a long time. I constantly found myself rereading passages and marking pages to come back to later. Kevin has been an enthusiastic observer of both the human condition and the state of technology for decades as a cofounder of Wired, and his insights are deep, provocative, and wide ranging. In his own words, “When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable.” The Inevitableraises many important questions that will shape the next few decades.

Kevin was generous enough to answer a few questions I had after finishing the book. Read on to find out why most people fail when they try to make predictions, what the future holds for the creative class, and why The Inevitable will be Kevin’s last print book. See these notes by the estimable Derek Sivers for more background.

If none of the important things of the next 100 years have been invented yet, how do you generate or select the next project or idea to pursue?

It is wide open! Most new ideas — including my own — will fail in the long term, but the ones that will succeed in becoming dominant in the next decades are most likely to come from the edge, as they have always. I’m good at working on the edge, so I look for ideas that are NOT popular at first, that seem marginal, niche, barely plausible. I’m looking for the places where technology is abused, misused, or unsupervised in order to get a glimpse of its natural inherent leanings. Where the edges go, the center follows later.

David Pogue points out that what differentiates your work as a futurist is that you have an incredible track record of getting it right. What are the most common mistakes you see people make when they try to make predictions? Why do so many intelligent analysts get it wrong?

The most difficult part about looking at the future is unlearning what we know. There is so much baked into our generally held assumptions that tend to blind us — all of us. You have to keep questioning the assumptions. But at the same time, most assumptions of what is correct are actually correct! So you have to keep knocking at the door, even though most times it yields nothing: “Is this really true? Who says? Why? Do I really believe it? What if it is wrong? What happens then?” That can be exhausting, frustrating, unproductive, so unless it becomes a habit, it gets old fast. You also have to question without too much stake in the answers. You want to have strong opinions loosely held, ready to shift rapidly when needed. Most people have trouble changing their minds. I like to have my mind changed.

Most sweeping surveys of what to expect in the coming decades focus on economic and geopolitical implications, but The Inevitable goes far beyond that.

What does the future hold for artists, writers, and creatives? What practical steps would you recommend we take to set ourselves up for success over the long term?

There will be a thousand new creative genres developed in the next two decades. Each of these forms will breed a new crop of stars that did not exist the year before. Cultivate a techno literacy. The tech will constantly change faster than you can master it, so you master life long learning. Aim lower; you don’t need a million fans; it’s a world of niches. The biggest challenge is to think different while being connected. It’s easy to think different while in isolation; it is easy to be connected. It is vastly harder to see different, make different, be different while connected to 7 billion humans all the time. Taking vacations and sabbaticals from the hive mind become important; cultivating a lateral view, nurturing the orthogonal will be essential. Not living in Silicon Valley will probably be an advantage.

[snip]

What Hunted’s TV fugitives can teach us about the surveillance state

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

What Hunted’s TV fugitives can teach us about the surveillance state
Before meeting Edward Snowden, Ewen MacAskill wasn’t paranoid. He is now. So what does he make of the Channel 4 reality show in which 14 members of the public try to evade the security experts?
By Ewen MacAskill
Oct 14 2015
<http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/oct/14/what-hunteds-tv-fugitives-can-teach-us-about-the-surveillance-state>

I think I could disappear if I had to. Like most journalists who have worked overseas in countries with authoritarian regimes, I have always been vaguely conscious of being under surveillance. That awareness grew when I met Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, along with colleagues Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, in 2013. I was not paranoid then. I am now, at least a little bit. As a result of the Snowden revelations, I would have no hesitation about leaving all electronic communication devices behind. It’s also helpful that since my teenage days I have regularly disappeared into the Scottish mountains, sleeping out in the open, under bridges, in caves and bothies.

But Brett Lovegrove is sceptical – and he is in a good position to know, as former head of counterterrorism for the City of London police, and as lead investigator in Channel 4’s Hunted. The surveillance reality show, whose sixth and final episode goes out on Thursday, let 14 members of the public loose in the UK to see if they could evade capture for 28 days. Each was given £450 and an hour’s notice. Could they evade Lovegrove and his 30-strong team of former police, security officials and an ex-CIA analyst who helped hunt Osama bin Laden? Going into the final episode, only four of the 14 are still on the run. Can they hold out just a little longer, beating the UK’s pervasive surveillance network? Or is there nowhere left to hide in Britain in 2015?

Lovegrove has been watching with amusement many comments on Twitter and elsewhere from viewers boasting about how, unlike some of Hunted’s more hapless fugitives, they could evade capture. It is just not that easy, he says. Technological surveillance – tens of thousands of CCTV cameras, automatic numberplate recognition on motorways and other major roads, data from our smartphones, the UK’s estimated 69,000 cash machines or posted to social media – is making it easier and easier for the police and security services.

On top of all this is basic human weakness. “You can escape from the authorities but not yourself. People do not realise the psychological pressure they are placing on themselves. They become paranoid. So when people say they can get away for a month, I smile,” Lovegrove says. “The only people who can do it are those from the police, the security services and the military who have been specially trained.”

The programme opened with a doctor from Kent heading by car for the Scottish Highlands. He is eventually caught. Two women opt for the tactic of hopping on and off buses, but are spotted by a station camera on their 21st bus. Two other women from the first episode – Emily Dredge, owner of an online company, and her friend Lauren English, a decorator – head off on an erratic journey hitchhiking around England.

In that first episode, Dredge complained about the level of intrusion after investigators raid her home. “They’ve gone through my knicker drawer. They’ve gone through my bins. They have gone through my fridge. My phones and family phones have been tapped. My bank accounts have been looked at. My internet has been looked at. Every message I have ever sent on my phone has been read. Every email I have ever sent or received has been watched. My whole life is completely under surveillance,” Dredge said.

In spite of that, both she and English go into the final episode still at large. The other two on the loose are Martin Cole, an IT specialist, and Stephen Hardiker, a heating engineer, who have managed to stay off the grid by cycling and camping wild.

For some, the programme – which has attracted an audience averaging 2.4m – has been purely entertainment, a fun reality show. One tweet said: “Would you not just go and hide in Ikea? Everybody gets lost in there.” For others it is more serious, a way to highlight issues raised by Snowden about privacy.

Emma Carr, director of privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch, says: “We hear so much about the various ways that we can be put under surveillance, but for many people it is difficult to understand how that would work in practice. Most people believe they have nothing to hide and, therefore, nothing to fear but Hunted has shown that in this hyperconnected world it is is almost completely impossible for us to be 100% private.”

[snip]

Apple to iOS devs: IPv6-only cell service is coming soon, get your apps ready

Apple to iOS devs: IPv6-only cell service is coming soon, get your apps ready
Apple expands IPv6 support in iOS and OS X to prepare for the future.
By Iljitsch van Beijnum
Jun 16 2015
<http://arstechnica.com/apple/2015/06/apple-to-ios-devs-ipv6-only-cell-service-is-coming-soon-get-your-apps-ready/>

On the first day of its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple presents its keynote, where it mostly unveils its consumer-facing plans. Later, when the pundits are taking their first jab at explaining what it all means, there’s the Platforms State of the Union session. At 35 minutes in, Sebastien Marineau, Apple’s VP of Core OS, dropped the following bomb: “Because IPv6support is so critical to ensuring your applications work across the world for every customer, we are making it an App Store submission requirement, starting with iOS 9.”

However, on the last day of WWDC, there was a session that put the above statement in a somewhat different light. We’ll get back to that because, in the mean time, I spent a larger part of the week than I’d like to admit testing whether various applications work over IPv6.

The current state of IPv6

My first reaction was “this means no more Skype under iOS 9.” Which led to some back-and-forth about whether Skype works over an IPv6-only network. The easiest way to test this is to get rid of that old, rickety version 4 of the Internet Protocol—it only has four billion addresses!—simply by turning it off in the Network pane of the System Preferences on your Mac. If there’s an IPv6 router present on your Ethernet or Wi-Fi network, your Mac will then configure an IPv6 address for itself—well, two, actually—and connect to the IPv6 Internet. If there’s no IPv6 router present, at least your Mac will talk to other devices on the local network over IPv6, using “link local” addresses.

In this setup, many things will work just fine. You can reach the Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Wikipedia websites using any current browser. If your mail server has IPv6, you can send and receive e-mail. Time Machine works, and you can sync your iPhone to iTunes over Wi-Fi. iTunes will stream audio (but not video) to an Apple TV.

However, there are many things that don’t work. You can’t reach any IPv4-only websites, such as support.apple.com or developer.apple.com. iCloud, Apple Maps, the iTunes/App Stores, iMessage, and iPhone call/SMS forwarding don’t work. And Skype doesn’t work: it runs, but it doesn’t “see” any contacts and it complains about a lack of Internet connectivity when you try to make calls.

In the real world, of course, people don’t go around turning off IPv6 on their Macs—and on iOS that’s not even an option. A more realistic way to test IPv6-only is by connecting to a network that doesn’t have IPv4 connectivity but does have IPv6 connectivity. This is surprisingly hard to achieve in practice, as every device that supports IPv6 also runs IPv4, and the old protocol usually can’t be turned off. However, after getting an old Cisco router out of retirement, I was able to test this scenario.

The difference between this method and turning off IPv6 at the network interface level is that devices can still communicate using IPv4 over the local network. In this setup, I was able to use AirPlay streaming of video from iTunes on the Mac to the Apple TV, too. The Apple TV was also happy to connect to Netflix and YouTube, but most other channels and iTunes Store content weren’t available. Interestingly, the weather app on the Apple Watch worked, but the weather (and sunrise/sunset) wouldn’t show up on the watch face display. On my iPhone, the Overcast and Pocket Casts podcast players couldn’t sync with their servers. SMS forwarding, the App Store, and notifications also didn’t work.

But the situation where computing devices only have IPv6 connectivity, with no way to reach the IPv4 Internet, is pretty far-fetched. In a blog post earlier this week, Geoff Huston, chief scientist at APNIC, deducted points because Apple isn’t implementing any technologies that bridge the gap between IPv4 and IPv6. He wrote:

IPv4 is not going away any time soon, and for some years to come it’s not the IPv6-only networks that will provide services to customers. It’s just not quite there yet. For years to come we need to operate the Internet in a mode that supports IPv6 and IPv4 together in Dual Stack mode. The operational premise for today’s devices and apps is simple: ‘Do IPv6 if you can, and fall back to IPv4 if you must.’ So how well is Apple doing in a dual stack world? Not as well as I would want.

Huston points out that Android supports a technology called 464XLAT. 464XLAT allows IPv4 apps to talk to IPv4 servers over IPv6 networks by having the phone translate the application’s network requests from IPv4 to IPv6. Then, at the edge of the IPv6 network, a NAT64 device translates the IPv6 packets back to IPv4 and sends them on their way to the server.

[snip]

Re: Some thoughts on Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) for future radio

[Note: This comment comes from friend Peter Ecclesine. DLH

From: “Peter Ecclesine (pecclesi)” <pecclesi@cisco.com>
Subject: RE: [Dewayne-Net] Some thoughts on Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) for future radio
Date: May 31, 2015 at 06:58:50 EDT
To: Hendricks Dewayne <dewayne@warpspeed.com>

Hi Dewayne,

the math boiled down shows nothing that already isn’t included in MIMO capacity calculations. The rotational (spin) of any wave can be decomposed into vertical and horizontal basis functions, how many orthogonal basis functions exist determine capacity (spatially these are the Eigen-modes / vectors of the channel which you can get with vertical/horizontal polarization), doing the spin at the antenna at different orthogonal frequencies is equivalent to moving the OFDM subcarrier coding (IFFT) to the antenna but you still only have 2 orthogonal propagation basis (modes, call them whatever) which are vertical and horizontal. He essentially has a different subcarrier because to get the spin at a new frequency he modulates the vertical & horizontal modes with sin(wc*t) & cos(wc*t).

petere

Some thoughts on Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) for future radio
By David Reed
May 29 2015
http://www.reed.com/blog-dpr/?page_id=117