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🤷🏻♀️ Cyber Espionage
The Digital Services Act has been approved! | China continues to be ‘a threat to our way of life’ | Data on 1bn Chinese residents up for sale for 10BTC
Hello, sorry I’m late. I was doing work for clients, who are those people who actually pay me to produce content for them. Have you considered doing the same?
This week was sort of okay I guess? 🤷♀️. Because:
The West are trying desperately to position China as the most dangerous place on Earth, while allowing US children to be shot in schools — ironic!
The Digital Services Act is out, proud, and unenforceable
Hack and a tweet demonstrate that bitcoin is only good for two things (three if you count ‘being a prick’)
🚨 Once again, internet regulations are almost impossible to enforce
This week, the Digital Services Act was given the green light by the EU. In case you don’t know what the DSA is, here is a recent issue of Horrific/Terrific where I go over the basics. Essentially it’s an online regulation that is meant to soften the power of Big Tech firms, thus allowing smaller platforms to emerge and thrive.
The act itself is fine, if a little bit flimsy and watered down. E.g. it gives users controls over how they are targeted by ads, or it will allow users with business accounts to have access to their data. So I guess that means if you have a WhatsApp business account, you can access meta data? You can already see the contents of messages, so what else would it be??
So yes, there’s nothing groundbreaking here, but as usual, it begs the question: how are they going to enforce this? The half-assed answer is: with fines. The full-assed answer can be found on this infuriating FAQ page that the European Commission put together.
The thing is, it’s all very well to administer tiny fines that Big Tech companies simply consider the cost of doing business — we as a society have been doing that for years. But how are you going to know when a rule is broken? The FAQ page only really says who will be supervising what, but not how:
“When it comes to supervision of very large online platforms and online search engines, it will be the Commission who will be the sole authority to supervise and enforce the specific obligations under the DSA that apply only to these providers. In addition, the Commission will be, together with the Digital Services Coordinators, also responsible for supervision and enforcement for any other systemic issue concerning very large online platforms and very large online search engines.”
This doesn’t explain anything. If someone receives a targeted ad based on their gender… who the hell is going to know about that? Will the Commission set up fake accounts? Rely on individuals to do the reporting? That second one worked terribly for the GDPR, because people don’t tend to care/realise. None of these regulations matter if there isn’t proper enforcement.
😵 Nothing is a bigger threat to the Western Ego than China having an EV company
Or, really, China just doing ANYTHING that the West also does. And I really do mean anything: from oppressing citizens to engaging in state-sponsored hacking. Oh and… producing electric cars.
Yes that’s right: this week, capitalists have been losing their minds over how BYD, a Chinese EV maker, now produces more cars than Tesla does (surely that’s not hard??). There have been articles with silly headlines, like this one, asking ‘Is your new car a thread to national security?’ The paranoia is really cranked to 11 on this one. Let me just unpack this:
This article is actually about how China will ban the use of Teslas in a certain town, for two months, because there are people from the Communist leadership visiting.
This isn’t about trying to stop Tesla’s growth in China — this is literally a privacy concern. Teslas are full of sensors and cameras, and the Chinese government does not want to be surveilled by foreign technology.
But the article goes onto to say that maybe soon, China will be expanding into Western markets, and we should be afraid that Chinese cars might send data about us home to China, aaaahhh oh no
This is ridiculous for so many reasons: Teslas collect heaps of data on their users, and those are the dumbass EVs we choose to drive in the West — are we just okay with being surveilled as long as it’s by a private US company and NEVER the Chinese government? I really feel like both are bad, and yet the narrative is always ‘China is a threat of our way of life’. Actually, no one is a bigger threat to the lives of US citizens than the US government, and — completely unrelated but often conflated — China are better at building technology than the US are.
🤡 All this stupid EV mania is matched by a recent joint warning from the FBI and MI5: they say that China engage in cyber espionage so that they can steal and replicate technological innovations made in the West. How very convenient that the UK and US governments just happen to have a toddler’s grasp on the tech industry, while China’s is booming — yes it must be that they stole all your ideas??
This warning has mostly been extended to businesses, saying that they should now limit how much Chinese equipment they use. Once again: non-Chinese equipment will also gather whatever data it can, and store it on a server that you cannot access. This is unapologetic fear-mongering, and everything is code for something else. When they say that this is a threat to “economies, our institutions and our democratic values,” what they mean is ‘they aren’t participating in the global markets in the exact way we want them to and how dare they be so self-sufficient.’
The FBI director has made it clear that they are talking about the Chinese government, and not the Chinese people, who are “are themselves frequently victims of the Chinese government’s lawless aggression.” Yes yes… just like many countries in the West. The US has school shootings and has outlawed abortion; the UK hates trans people and is somehow proud of its expanding empire of food banks — but sure, we’re so much better off over here.
☝️ We also shouldn’t forget how US companies love to bend over backwards to penetrate the Chinese market. The only way Tesla could sell cars in China was to agree on establishing a data centre there. So, Teslas, which are American cars, essentially gather data on Chinese citizens on behalf of the Chinese government. Interesting. Oh and, do you remember project Dragonfly? This is when Google attempted to set up a censored version of Search, which would be safe to deploy in China. The West sure do love supporting that ‘Chinese way of life’ that they apparently hate, don’t they?
🥷 Hack this, bitcoin that — kids today!
Someone has managed to extract 23tb of data from a Shanghai police database, and has put it up for sale on the dark web for 10BTC. This is a breach of unprecedented scale, and may not be real. But… the only one really talking about this is Binance. Here is a tweet, with a reply from a giant brown-noser:
🤦🏻 I’m sorry but: it is quite literally in Binance’s best interest to engage in security research. They are an unregulated platform that people use to store money (e.g. a shit bank). If the money gets stolen, they’re fucked. They HAVE to monitor the ways in which people use bitcoin because if bitcoin tanks, they are once again fucked.
The whole of crypto is propped up on the price of bitcoin, and bitcoin’s functions are to either pay for illegal goods and services, or be turned into fiat currency — this bizarre tweet, and this alleged hack (and all other hacks that demand payment), are a very good demonstration of that.
That’s gonna be it for this week. The weekend is hot and so are you — please wear as little as possible and enjoy.