A rather ominous warning to visitors that their stay may be restricted because of “changes” to “Internet Data Fair Usage Mandate to ISP Policies & Regulations 2007 act (r11734) brought into effect by the International Consortium of Global Data Infastructures.” [sic]
But why are only two sites (part of the same company) issuing such a warning, and collecting signatures for a petition?
Time’s Up? A pair of porn sites that stream flash (FLV) videos have a rather ominous warning to visitors that they may be forced to restrict a visitor’s stay to only 30 minutes total per 24-hour period or risk having their sites taken offline. They also include a link where you can “sign a petition” to voice an objection over the time restrictions. At the time of this post, the two sites have collected over 18K signatures (10,800 for T’nA, 8000 for Empflix).
It looks like these two sites are fighting a good fight… IF this shit is real. But there seems to be something off about this petition drive.
No shit, Sherlock. Whatever gave me the idea that this may be shenanigans? Let’s check the signs…
Two against the law. T’nA and Empflix are both part of the same company; YoungTek Solutions Limited, based in Cyprus, Greece. Why only these two site are worried about the time restrictions? Why has no other streaming site… especially YouTube… posted something similar on their sites? Do these guys have some sort of inside information? Or did they just pull this out of their asses in an attempt to attract attention… or something else?
Dateline, the first of… whenever. According to their posts, the restrictions are to start “the 1st of next month.” The way I read it, they must mean April 1 (April Fool’s Day). It can also mean May 1 (May Day). It’s odd that they don’t specify the exact month when the restrictions are to start; Just an ambiguous “1st of next month.”
Something smells phishy in the Mediterranean. I haven’t signed any online petitions (yet), but I’ve seen the form before. They do ask for an email address (”required for signature”), probably as a form of double-opt-in feature (you give a legit email address, a link is sent there, you click to verify), and while they say they won’t spam you, your email will probably be circulated to those who will. If you’re trying to harvest emails to spam but the email-phish baiting isn’t working like it once was, you need to find other ways to get those addresses. What better way than an online petition that plays on surfer’s fears, especially this day and age.
Missing links. I did some searching for the stuff mentioned in the banner, like the bill mentioned, and the organization that instituted the “changes.” What I found was absolutely DICK. Well, almost dick…
A search for the bill did lead me to copywrite.org and their post of the Fair Use Act of 2007 (HR 1201), but I doubt that’s the bill causing the trouble. A link to the bill they mentioned, and to the changes they’re mentioning, would help a lot. Also, what the fuck is this “International Consortium of Global Data Infastructures,” and what is their homepage? AND WHO DID THE SPELL-CHECK???
April Fool me once… There’s just too many unresolved issued about that banner and petition drive to say this is legit. I have to call shenanigans.
There is a possible reason why these sites are concerned for their operations: ACTA. With the super-secret ACTA treaty still being worked on, there is the possibility of ISPs, along with end-users, to be heavily punished for “copyright violations,” including permanent banishment from the net. Streaming sites like T’nA and Empflix have movies, from short commercial-length trailers to possible DVD rips of full movies. Those rips may be giving the ‘flix sites the sweats, as they can be considered “pirated” in some circles. Even so, why aren’t other streaming sites showing similar warnings and having petition drives? Are they trying to remove the rips, or going along with the restriction silently, or are they doing nothing just to tell the MPAA/RIAA mobs to go fuck themselves?
This petition drive may be nothing more than a sick joke, but it can also serve as a warning. There are forces out there determined to control the internet and the vast data fields. Filters and firewalls are only the beginning. Will meters be next? Today, you can go anywhere and visit anyplace for any amount of time you want at any moment. Tomorrow, you may visit any one site no longer than 30 minutes per 24 hour period. Then, only 30 minutes per 24 hours to surf the whole internet. And then… no more internet for you.
“Relax, it’s totally painless! I won’t feel a thing! Besides, once you’re dead you won’t even notice.”
Overview: The timing of this movie’s release is eerie. Originally scheduled for April 2, it was instead released March 19, the same weekend that the US Congress scheduled a vote on Health Care Reform. Coincidence? Maybe, but this film could be considered a vision to what could happen if HCR fails (or succeeds, depending on how you want to look at it). No, cities won’t turn into a Blade Runner landscapes, but a corporation does finds a way to make its “customers” live on borrowed time… literally and figuratively… while they profit.
The Story: Megacorporation “The Union” has apparently cornered the market on artificial organs, or “artiforgs.” This, plus a (continuing) global economic meltdown, has made such implants a very expensive purchase, even to save a life. To make them affordable to those who can’t buy outright, The Union has financing plans available similar to today’s car and/or home loans. But there is a downside to such financing; Fail to make a payment for 90 days, and The Union will send repossession men to retrieve the organ. The organs have an RFID-style tracking system installed, so repo men can track down the delinquent, cut them open, and retrieve the organ. Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker), former schoolmates and soldiers, are The Union’s best repo men.
Remy has a wife and a son, and lately, she has been pressuring Remy to switch from repossession to sales which doesn’t pay as much but would allow him to spend more time with his family. During one repossession mission, a defibrillator malfunctions and nearly kills Remy. He awakens in a hospital with a Union financed Jarvik artiforg heart… and the bill for it.
The Corporate Brand: Not just for salarymen.
Tin Man. A new heart wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but when Remy tries a repossession he couldn’t go thorough with it. Physically, his normally steady hands start shaking, and mentally his tell-tale heart can be heard. It’s as though losing his heart actually gives him a heart; Losing part of his humanity made him more human. His new Jarvik heart must have had an empathy attachment, since he is now unable to do repossessions… or even sales as his graphic descriptions of repossessions scares customers.
Unable to make money, Remy soon finds himself being hunted by repo men, including his friend Jake.
The cat in the… box? At a couple of moments in the movie, Remy refers to an experiment where a scientist places a cat inside a box with a machine that emits poison gas at some point. We are simultaneously alive and dead, was the scientist’s conclusion, but Remy didn’t understand what that meant until he was being hunted himself, and found himself identifying with the cat:
We can either lick our paws and wait for the inevitable, or we can fight and claw our way out of the box.
Remy chooses to fight his way out, and hopes to liberate other repo targets from the system.
“Welcome to your world, repo man.”
OK, should be go see it? There’s not much new to see. In fact, some of the city scenes could be confused for Blade Runner, only without the spinners flying about. There is the contrast of the sterile environs of The Union’s offices (especially the “clean room” that doesn’t stay clean) and the run-down part of town known as the “black hole.” There’s also Beth, the woman who is almost nothing but artiforgs, including enhanced eyes and ears. And of course, The Union and its payment-and-repossession program that can be called predatory. Pretty much standard issue cyberpunk stuff.
UPDATE: After having seen Repo! The Genetic Opera, I can say there is not much similar between these two movies. With Repo Men’s cyberpunk tomes vs. Repo!’s goth atmosphere, we can keep this at 5 stars.
Conclusion: Can’t really say Repo Men is a great movie, or even a good one. It does it’s job well enough, but lacking originality, the current politics with health care reform… and some obligatory operational blood… may be enough to turn many off. Adequate enough to waste a couple of hours on, but only IF you’re not into operas.
“You owe it to your family. You owe it to yourself.”
First came remote piloted drones. Then came walking robots. Next, robots with a vision… or just looks that kill.
From the iWitness news desk… The Pentagon’s famed mad scientist lab DARPA (a subsidiary of Cyberdyne Systems Corporation) announced earlier this week a project called “The Mind’s Eye” (PDF). The goal of the project is to implement the one facet of human capability that has been so far elusive: Visual Intelligence.
(Wired’s Katie Drummond) We’ve got the ability to take in our surrounding, interpret them and learn concepts that apply to them. We’re also masters of manipulation, courtesy of a little thing called imagination: toying around with made up scenes to solve problems or make decisions.
But, of course, our intellect and decision-making skills are often marred by emotion, fatigue or bias. Enter machines. DARPA wants cameras that can capture their surroundings, and then employ robust intellect and imagination to “reason over these learned interpretations.”
I see what you’re saying. As if seeing-eye robots weren’t enough for them, last month DARPA was reportedly developing a form of “universal translator” software that can translate Arabic languages to English with a high degree of accuracy and also have voice recognition. The resulting system may be more like an iPod or netbook, but Wired couldn’t help but use an obvious analogy:
(Wired’s Katie Drummond) What troops really need is a machine that can pick out voices from the noise, understand and translate all kinds of different languages, and then identify the voice from a hit list of “wanted speakers.” In other words, a real-life version of Star Wars protocol droid C3PO, fluent “in over 6 million forms of communication.”
Now, the Pentagon’s trying to fast-track a solution that could be a kind of proto-proto-prototype to our favorite gold fussbudget: a translation machine with 98 percent accuracy in 20 different languages.
Google already has something similar: Goog-411. Maybe if the two worked together…
Action news. There are cameras that can identify objects, or what they refer to as the “nouns.” DARPA wants the camera to add the “verb” to those “nouns” to better describe what is happening. For example, a current camera can identify a ball or a car or maybe Glen Beck. DARPA’s idea is to have cameras not only identify the items, but to report what those things are doing: The ball is rolling, a car crashed into a tree, or Glen Beck is talking through his ass. The idea is to make the cameras into observers, field operatives who spy on enemy positions and report on their status.
That, or they want their own photojournalists and reporters that they can control and won’t show bias against whatever war is being waged.
DARPA may already be behind the curve, as one such robot already exists. It reportedly works for a website called Cyberpunk Review…
“The pen is mightier than the sword” - Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1839).
The military needs targets.
(From Wired “Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet”)Make no mistake, the military industrial complex now has its eye on the internet. Generals want to train crack squads of hackers and have wet dreams of cyberwarfare. Never shy of extending its power, the military industrial complex wants to turn the internet into yet another venue for an arms race.
And it’s waging a psychological warfare campaign on the American people to make that so. The military industrial complex is backed by sensationalism, and a gullible and pageview-hungry media. Notable examples include the New York Times’s John “We Need a New Internet” Markoff, 60 Minutes’ “Hackers Took Down Brazilian Power Grid,” and the WSJ’s Siobhan Gorman, who ominously warned in an a piece lacking any verifiable evidence, that Chinese and Russian hackers are already hiding inside the U.S. electrical grid.
Now the question is: Which of these events can be turned into a Gulf of Tonkin-like fakery that can create enough fear to let the military and the government turn the open internet into a controlled, surveillance-friendly net.
It was only last week when I blogged about Wired calling the “cyberwar” a hoax.The military needs targets, was the line that stood out to me the most. Now it seems the worlds most powerful army has found a “target;” The whistleblower site WikiLeaks.
“could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against U.S. forces, both within the United State and abroad.”
The report also said that WikiLeaks can also be used for anit-US propaganda and disinformation campaigns. The Army is looking to stop the leaks from within:
Wikileaks.org uses trust as a center of gravity by assuring insiders, leakers, and whistleblowers who pass information to Wikileaks.org personnel or who post information to the Web site that they will remain anonymous. The identification, exposure, or termination of employment of or legal actions against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others from using Wikileaks.org to make such information public.
Knowing is half the battle. Among other action being considered to counter the WikiLeaks leaks, possibly hacking the site to ID leakers (or for other purposes):
The obscurification technology used by Wikileaks.org has exploitable vulnerabilities. Organizations with properly trained cyber technicians, the proper equipment, and the proper technical software could most likely conduct computer network exploitation (CNE) operations or use cyber tradecraft to obtain access to Wikileaks.org‘s Web site, information systems, or networks that may assist in identifying those persons supplying the data and the means by which they transmitted the data to Wikileaks.org. Forensic analysis of DoD unclassified and classified networks may reveal the location of the information systems used to download the leaked documents. The metadata, MD5 hash marks, and other unique identifying information within digital documents may assist in identifying the parties responsible for leaking the information. In addition, patterns involving the types of leaked information, classification levels of the leaked information, development of psychological profiles, and inadvertent attribution of an insider through poor OPSEC could also assist in the identification of insiders.
One other possible action to take: Fight the net. This old article from BBC News (circa 2006) has another leaked document called Information Operations Roadmap (PDF, click to read/download) where the term “fight the net” is repeated. How do they want to fight the net? They want the ability to “disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum”. In other words, mag-pulse the whole wold back to the dark ages.
Better download and read… or better yet, print… these documents while we still have a net to do so.
“It’s like whatever path we choose in this life, this generation has been set up to extinguish itself.” - Christian
Overview: One of several DVDs I have that I’ve been trying to get to reviewing (this one for Quiet Earth, better late than never I suppose), The Gene Generation follows the path taken by Ultraviolet and the live-action Aeon Flux with a gun-totting, leather clad femme fatale working for the government or some group-entity to bring law and order or some justice to a dystopic future. This time around, Bai Ling is carrying the guns, and if you’ve ever seen her photos on the nets, you’ll definitely love her guns.
The rest of the movie, maybe not so much. Not exactly Ghost in the Shell/Matrix/Blade Runner quality level, but certainly a better way to waste 90 minutes of free time. Plus you’ll get to hear aggrotech act Combichrist when they were at their peak with ditties like this:
The Story: Olympia, Washington, US: Hayden Technologies creates the Transcoder, a glove-like device that manipulates DNA to heal… or kill. A Transcoder accident pollutes Olympia, forcing authorities to construct a “wall” around the city to insure that the pollutant does not leave, but the people want to.
To leave, people need to undergo DNA screening to insure that they are not contaminated. This gives rise to the practice of “DNA hacking:” Using a clone of the transcoder and a sample of a clean person’s DNA, a hacker could re-sequence to clean his own DNA, while the “donor” was killed of due to genetic mutation. The government hires assassins to take out the hackers.
Michele is an assassin who is trying to save money from her jobs to get out of Olympia. Unfortunately, her efforts are hindered by her own brother, Jackie, whose drinking and gambling has forced him to take the money in order to pay off a brutal loan shark. Desperate for money, Jackie breaks into Christian’s apartment and takes the transcoder, unaware of what it is. Michele must now track down the transcoder, save her brother from the loan shark, and protect Christian from those looking for him and the transcoder.
Tentacle porn much? When I first announced that I was going to review this movie, I was told that it wasn’t and easy watch. Being a cyberpunk movie, I knew that certain aspects would be a potential turn-off. There is blood… lots of blood flowed throughout, but that was expected. What wasn’t expected was how the transcoder killed people: The target’s DNA was mutated to create tentacles that erupted from within, bursting out of the mouth, ears, nose, and wherever there was a break in the skin. What has been seen…
Fortunately, all the blood, sweat, and city grime makes Michele take showers frequently:
Definitely worth an extra star in my book.
On the downside, a sex scene between Michele and Christian is intermixed with Jackie being beaten by Randall’s henchmen. Do not want.
Conclusion: Difficult to watch, they said. Well, not TOO difficult for me, even with the tentacle violence. Hopefully you’re not too squeamish about tentacles. At least Bai Ling’s eye-candy makes it worthwhile. The rest is on par with Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux (2005), so those who love kick-ass babes will definitely get a kick out of Gene Generation.
Pearry told me that: “This one will be very dark. A hyper realistic / shooting documentary style and lots and lots of body modifications. We’re shooting it mad max style, set in the badlands… outside the cities.” Shooting will start in March with a completion date of September.
By my estimates, that means release will be around the first half of 2011. Stay tuned for future news as they develop…
“We have found the biggest threat to the Internet… and he’s standing beside me.”
Grandfather of the Panther Moderns. The creepy guy on the right in the pic is Michael McConnell, former director of national intelligence turned VP for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. During his time as top spook, he wanted the NSA to have absolute, unrestricted access to ALL information on the Internet; The ability to capture and analyze all net traffic without warrants and with impunity, just to capture a few “potential” troublemakers. McConnell knows little about computers, nothing about the Internet, and even less about hacking, but he does have one ability that could get him what he wanted: Scare the living shit out of everyone. Judging on looks alone, he could have done that.
The Washington Post actually wasted bandwidth with an op-ed piece by the Freddy Krueger wannabe (read at own peril), and even CNN went hook-line-sucker with a “special” simulation called “We Were Warned: Cyber-Shockwave” (link to YouTube search, not recommended for weak hearts). Topping it all off, McConnell claims that we (the US) are losing a “cyberwar” that he (and his company) can turn around and win it for us.
Fortunately, not everyone is drinking the kool-aid.
Just call him Elmer FUD. In 2008, McConnell published a “report” that said that the NSA must have the ability to spy on all Internet traffic… worldwide, even… without the restrictions imposed by laws or The Constitution. To back his claim up, he tried to scare everyone, but Wired’s Ryan Singel found out that the cake was a lie:
(Wired) n the piece, McConnell returns, in flamboyant style, to his exaggerating ways, hyping threats and statistics to further his bureaucratic aims. For example, McConnell regurgitates the hoary myth that computer crime costs America $100 billion a year. THREAT LEVEL traced down the source of that fake-factoid in September to a former privacy officer for the state of Colorado.
Even though he’s no longer a spy, McConnell is now honing his scare-tactics and targeting the private sector. His plan: Rebuilt the Internet, making it into a spy-net:
(Wash. Post) We need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options — and we must be able to do this in milliseconds. More specifically, we need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment — who did it, from where, why and what was the result — more manageable. The technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies and trading partners so they will do the same.
You can tell from the WaPo piece that McConnell’s head is stuck in Cold-War mode. Now he wants to bring that mentality to cyberspace.
As transparent as mud. Recently, the Obama administration declassified parts of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (another inheritance from the Bush admin). You can read it online here or download the PDF for later. Of particular interest, as Wired points out, are initiatives 2 and 3 which call for the development and deployment of an intrusion detection system called Einstein (versions 2 and 3) that will scan “the content of communications to intercept malicious code before it reaches government networks.” Exactly how far “before” government networks is not specified. Also not specified is the role the government will take in “protecting critical infrastructure networks.”
Now the question is: Which of these events can be turned into a Gulf of Tonkin-like fakery that can create enough fear to let the military and the government turn the open internet into a controlled, surveillance-friendly net.
While there are real threats on the net, like the Mariposa botnet bust, there have been plenty of wolf-cries that make one wonder if this stuff is to be taken seriously anymore. You can probably find a couple of wolf-cries on our site. And it’s not just McConnell crying wolf…
(Wired) Now the problem with developing cyberweapons — say a virus, or a massive botnet for denial-of-service attacks, is that you need to know where to point them. In the Cold War, it wasn’t that hard. In theory, you’d use radar to figure out where a nuclear attack was coming from and then you’d shoot your missiles in that general direction. But online, it’s extremely difficult to tell if an attack traced to a server in China was launched by someone Chinese, or whether it was actually a teenager in Iowa who used a proxy.
That’s why McConnell and others want to change the internet. The military needs targets.
Make no mistake, the military industrial complex now has its eye on the internet. Generals want to train crack squads of hackers and have wet dreams of cyberwarfare. Never shy of extending its power, the military industrial complex wants to turn the internet into yet another venue for an arms race.
The Pentagon better be careful of what it wishes for. The next weapon they develop may shoot them in the foot… IF they’re lucky.
One more thing… About the same time Wired posted the cyberwar shenanigan piece, another post appeared by Joe Brown about Six Elements Every Conspiracy Theory Needs, almost as if Joe was calling Ryan’s article shenanigans.
You might have seen this coming. Seems like no sooner than the US Supreme Court gave corporations the right to flood our already fucked-up political system with money than one megacorp manages to get the plug pulled on a whistle blowing site. The site, Cryptome, was taken offline for a while because they released a “secret’ document earlier last week that shows how a company retains data regarding a user’s activities online… and how law enforcement can obtain that data. The corporate target: None other than Microsoft itself.
(Wired) For instance, Xbox Live records every IP address you ever use to login and stores them for perpetuity. While that’s going to be creepy for some, there’s an upside if your house gets robbed, according to the document: “If your investigation involves a stolen Xbox console, if the console serial number or Xbox LIVE user gamertag is provided and the console has been connected to the Internet, IP connection records may be available.”
Microsoft retains only the last 10 login records for Windows Live ID. As for your instant messages, it tells police that it keeps no record of what anyone says over Microsoft Messenger - though it will turn over who is on your buddy list.
And if you like to use Microsoft’s social networking products — like its old-school Group mailing list or its Facebook-like Spaces product, be aware that it’s very social when it comes to law enforcement or court subpoenas.
As Microsoft tells potential subpoenaees, “when you are looking for information on a specific incident like a photo posting or message posting, please request all group content and logs. We cannot retrieve single incident data.” The same holds for Spaces — if you are interested in a single picture, just request the entire thing. Call it Subpoena 2.0.
Helping Hands. Naturally, Cryptome wouldn’t bow to MS’s DMCA “takedown” notice, not when even governments couldn’t rattle them. Unfortunately, Cryptome’s registrar, Network Solutions, apparently got nervous and took them offline and locked their domain. Apparently, Microsoft only wanted the “infringing” file to taken offline, not the whole site. They withdrew their takedown notice and Network Solutions restored access to Cryptome. On Cryptome’s sites there are emails that show the progress of the fight from the issuance of the takedown notice to the restoration of Cryptome.
The file, The Microsoft® Online Services Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, is still available on Cryptome’s sites, as well as WikiLeaks, and even readable online through Wired’s article. Better download while you still can.
Borgs will be Borgs. Those familiar with the history of the net know of Microsoft’s often strong-arm tactics to become the dominant player in operating systems and the Internet. Very rarely does one hear of them backtracking, but the potential bad press that could have (and probably may still) occur may have been enough for them to reconsider. MS still has not apologized for the shuttering, and may continue using the DMCA to keep such documents “offline” in future cases. As Wired’s Ryan Singel wrote:
Cox Communications, which runs the nation’s third largest ISP, has long made its law enforcement subpoena page — including prices — public.
But Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo do not follow that example, even though all of them want their users to trust them with their most sensitive data and communications. Nor do any of them publish the most basic statistics on how often law enforcement comes knocking with subpoenas and warrants.
In fact, the simplest lesson here is that none of the pixels published over this incident would have been necessary if Microsoft had just published this document in the first place, which few people would have ever bothered to go read. Instead, these companies prefer to worry about the sensitivities of corporate-ass-covering lawyers and law enforcement agencies instead of putting their users and transparency first.