Archive for February, 2020

RCMP Cops To Using Clearview AI Facial Recognition Tech

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 28, 2020 by itnerd

You might recall that I posted a story on Toronto Police being ordered by their chief to stop using facial recognition tech from a controversial company named Clearview AI. This is a company who has a massive database of faces that they’ve scraped from places like Facebook and Twitter, violating those platforms terms of service in the process. Well, it now turns out the RCMP has been using this software too according to the CBC:

The RCMP acknowledged use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology in a statement Thursday, detailing its use to rescue children from abuse.

The force said it has used the technology in 15 child exploitation investigations over the past four months, resulting in the identification and rescue of two children.

The statement also mentioned that “a few units in the RCMP” are also using it to “enhance criminal investigations,” without providing detail about how widely and where. 

“While the RCMP generally does not disclose specific tools and technologies used in the course of its investigations, in the interest of transparency, we can confirm that we recently started to use and explore Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology in a limited capacity,” the statement said. 

“We are also aware of limited use of Clearview AI on a trial basis by a few units in the RCMP to determine its utility to enhance criminal investigations.”

CBC News has requested further details of where else the force is using Clearview AI, but has yet to receive a response. 

Fortunately, there appears to be some scrutiny coming to this issue. The Privacy Commissioner is investigating the company, and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics is going to have a look as well. Seeing as Canada has some of the more strict privacy laws on the planet, with the exception of the EU of course, there’s a real chance that the use of this software could be curtailed. Seeing as the company behind it appears to have stolen images for its database, and software like this tends to misidentify racialized groups with alarming frequency, and is a significant invasion of your privacy, that would be a good thing.

Review: 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred – Part 5

Posted in Commentary on February 28, 2020 by itnerd

I’ve come to the end of my time with the Hyundai Tucson Preferred. This is a good value for those who want a decent amount of safety gear, tech and other goodies for a more than decent price. In fact, I feel that this should be the trim level that most Tucson shoppers should buy because it has the features that you need with nothing extra.

My final fuel economy was 9.0L/100 KM in mixed city and highway driving which is great for a compact SUV. One thing that I will note is that on the highway I noted that it got as low as 7.4L/100 KM.

The 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred goes for $28,249 with all wheel drive. That’s only marginally higher than then $26,049 starting price. If you want to cross shop it, the Mazda CX-5, the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4, and the Kia Sportage are clear competitors to look at. But as I mentioned before, there’s a lot of value that comes as part of the Hyundai Tucson Preferred that merits you paying a visit to your local Hyundai dealer for a test drive.

 

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses Internet Censorship Around The World And The Real Reasons Behind Online Restrictions [Infographic]

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 28, 2020 by itnerd

The internet outage around the world has become the norm with the latest news about the Iranian government shutting off the internet for nearly all of its population of more than 80 million. The authorities say this was done to silence protests over rising gasoline prices. But sometimes official motives for switching off the internet may be different from the actual ones.

“Governments block internet content for three main reasons: to maintain political stability, protect national security, and impose traditional social values,” says Daniel Markuson, the digital privacy expert at NordVPN. According to the expert, the reasons vary from country to country. In fact, states with the most severe online censorship rely on all three motives at once.

The infographic below takes a look at the countries with the heaviest internet censorship. It also lists their motives for cutting down access to global websites.

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For example, North Korea has the highest level of online restrictions in the world, with only 4% of the nation having access to the internet. The limited access that exists is controlled and censored by the government. The main motive behind this is to avoid the outside influence and information leak.

China is another example of severe internet censorship. The country uses advanced technologies to block IP addresses, obstruct access to various websites, and block search engines, such as Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and others. This blockade is usually called the “Great Firewall of China.”

Saudi Arabia stands out among the most censored countries. It puts a strong emphasis on imposing its social and religious values. Saudi Arabia has blocked more than a million websites that contain any contradiction to Islamic beliefs. Any threat to Islamic social and political principles is also filtered and blocked.

According to research provided by the #KeepItOn campaign, there were 196 internet shutdowns across the world in 2018. 134 of them were in India, and the rest occurred in a wide range of Asian, African, and Middle-Eastern countries.

The report states that official and actual causes of the internet shutdowns were different. In most cases (91), the blackouts were justified as a way to maintain public safety. Other reasons include national security protection (40), sabotage (2), stopping fake news and hate speech (33), and school exams (11). Six internet shutdowns happened for no reason, while the motives remained unknown in 13 cases.

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However, the actual causes differed from their official explanations. Government justifications rarely matched the causes reported by the media, civil society organizations, and free speech activists. The majority of shutdowns occurred in response to militant or terrorist activity (especially in the Kashmir area of India) (53), protests (45), communal violence (40), elections (12), maintaining information control (11), preventing cheating during school exams period (11), and other events, including religious holidays (16). The reasons for eight internet shutdowns were unknown.

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“Governments usually claim to be responding to public safety issues when they shut down the internet. The real reason, however, is often to suppress protests. By limiting access to the internet, they limit people’s ability to organize demonstrations,” claims Daniel Markuson, the digital privacy expert at NordVPN. Similarly, shutdowns that are reported as fake news prevention may actually be the authorities‘ responses to elections, community violence, or militant activities.

Daniel Markuson says that “no matter what grounds are used to justify internet shutdowns, they violate human rights and our freedom of speech and expression.” Luckily, there are tools that help people in need of secure connections.

A VPN (virtual private network) securely bypasses online restrictions and helps keep communications away from prying eyes. For example, NordVPN advocates for digital freedom by providing open access to the internet and securing people’s private data. The service sends internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel, which makes it almost impossible to hijack. It hides IP addresses and real locations. By connecting to another country’s server, users can set their location to virtually anywhere in the world.

 

Continued Industry Recognition For OpenText’s Digital Forensics Solution

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 27, 2020 by itnerd

OpenText™ announced today that OpenText™ EnCase™ was named Best Computer Forensic Solution by SC Magazine for the 10th consecutive year. EnCase solutions have dominated the forensic category since 2010.

Since 1997, OpenText EnCase forensic solutions have been built with the investigator in mind. To be honoured every year for the last decade by the experts at SC Magazine is a wonderful recognition that no other solution offers the same level of forensic capabilities and flexibility. The OpenText strategy will remain focused on what investigators do best: find evidence and close cases. OpenText is committed to supporting investigators who must cover all devices, operating systems, and reach all data.

Built with the digital investigator in mind, OpenText™ EnCase™ forensic solutions are trusted by law enforcement and corporate investigators and have been proven in courts worldwide. EnCase provides investigators the best solution at every stage of an investigation, from evidence gathering to final reporting. No other solutions offer the same level of forensic capabilities and flexibility.

For more information on digital forensic solutions from OpenText, please visit: https://www.opentext.com/products-and-solutions/products/security/digital-forensics

Review: 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on February 27, 2020 by itnerd

The 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred is a SUV packed with healthy amount of technology in it. Let’s start with the safety aspects of the vehicle:

  • Blind spot monitoring is included. Not only does it warn you when you are about to do an ill advised lane change, but it also alerts you based on distance and relative speed.
  • Rear cross traffic alerts as well as rear parking sensors present to make reversing out of a parking space easier.
  • One real highlight is that lane departure warning and assist functionality is included. It is one of the better systems that I have tested lately and I say that because any steering corrections that it makes are gentle and does not freak you out while doing so. Plus if it has to make an audible warning, it does so in a way that doesn’t freak out you or your passengers.
  • There’s an attention assist feature which monitors your driving and will suggest that you should take a break if it thinks you are getting tired.
  • You get automatic headlights so that you never forget to turn the headlights on or off.
  • Cruise Control is on board. It’s a basic system where you set the speed and you have to ensure that you don’t hit anything.
  • There are six airbags on board.

As for the infotainment system:

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. It gets served up on a 7″ screen which is extremely sharp, has great contrast and is viewable in all lighting conditions. The infotainment system user interface was easy to navigate and didn’t display any lag whatsoever. That was completely in line with other Hyundai products that I’ve tried recently. One other note is that I observed that info such as song names from Apple CarPlay showed up in the center TFT screen which was cool. There’s hard buttons for functions like the phone, radio, navigation etc. That also helps to make this system easy to use. One thing to note is that there’s no built in navigation system. Thus you are going to be relying on your phone to find your way around unfamiliar places.
  • There’s a 6 speaker audio system that sounds good as I had no complaints when I was listening to radio or tunes from my iPhone. Though I will admit that audiophiles may want something more upscale.

One thing that I really want to point out is the quality of the camera/screen combo:

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The camera/screen combo is bright with a lot of contrast. It made backing into a space really easy as you can see everything.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my closing thoughts on the 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

Canada Doesn’t Need MNVO’s To Lower Wireless Prices. Canada Needs A Large International Telco To Lower Wireless Prices.

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 26, 2020 by itnerd

The CRTC are currently holding public hearings into the state of the mobile wireless market and whether further action is needed to improve choice and affordability for Canadians. And if you’re interested in watching, a live stream is available here. And during these hearings, Bell, Telus, Rogers, and Videotron have argued against MNVO’s being forced upon them. MNVO or Mobile virtual network operator is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. An MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently. In this case, it has been suggested by many that this is the way to lower prices for consumers. 

Now, it is no secret that Canadians pay the highest prices in the world for cell phone service. After all, if you can get four bars of fast 4G LTE on your iPhone in a field of goats in rural India for $12 CDN for three months, or you can get almost unlimited LTE wireless service for $2 CDN a day in Australia, then something is seriously wrong with what Canadians pay. But MNVO’s aren’t the way to go to solve that. I say that because we’ve seen a version of this play out with Internet access. While we do have lower prices with providers like Teksavvy, we also have the incumbents and upstart providers like Teksavvy constantly fighting each other with the customer being caught in the middle. For example, Teksavvy recently filed a complaint accusing Bell and Rogers of anti-competitive behavior. Plus Teksavvy in the past has accused incumbents of trying to, for the lack of a better description, screw them over by punting repair requests from them to the back of the line. If you go to the Teksavvy form on DSLReports.com you can see for yourself how open they’ve been in terms of bringing this to light. Take this thread for example where this is mentioned:

At TekSavvy we pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service and so we are very concerned about the impact that any outages and service delays have on our customers, especially lengthy ones. We want to assure our customers that we have not been taking the situation lightly and have been working diligently to restore service. Since the 15th of August we have been working both directly and through counsel with the network operator to address the service affecting issues and we have also been employing the alternate dispute resolution services of the CRTC, all with a view to reaching the speediest resolution possible for the benefit of our customers. The details of the discussions must remain confidential in order for the various processes to be pursued in the most effective manner, but please rest assured that TekSavvy is fully and proactively engaged in seeking a resolution to the current problems.

The net result of this is that only die hard customers stick with upstart providers like Teksavvy. Some like yours truly switch from upstarts like Teksavvy to incumbents like Rogers (in my case) or Bell just to avoid this. Which is good for the incumbents I suppose. The bottom line is that for an MNVO model to work, everybody has to play nice in the sandbox. Something that I don’t see happening here in Canada. And that’s even before going down the road of whether an MNVO model would actually lower prices or not.

The only way to lower cell phone prices for Canadians is to have the Canadian government let in a very large foreign telco or telcos such as Deutsche Telekom or Vodafone, and have them set up shop in Canada. And by set up shop, I mean build their own infrastructure. Now to be clear, I am NOT advocating that the government should bankroll these companies. What I am advocating is that they simply have to open the door and let them walk in and set up shop. The simple act of doing that will see wireless prices drop in this country to levels Canadians have never seen before. Why? Because for the first time there will be real competition in the wireless space. If you don’t believe that this would happen, look at the panic that Verizon caused the “big three” telcos when they were rumored to be expanding into Canada a few years ago. Face it, the “big three” telcos would lose their minds if a big international player were to move in and set up shop in Canada because they know that there is no way on God’s green earth that they could get away with charging Canadians what they currently charge in such an environment.

So I have a message for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Industry Minister Navdeep Bains. If you’re truly interested in lowering wireless prices for Canadians by the 25% that you promised in the last federal election, dial up the CEO of Deutsche Telekom or dial up the CEO Vodafone. Tell them that Canada is a great place for them to set up shop. Tell them that if they come in and run their own infrastructure, and set their prices at levels that are below what the “big three” telcos charge that they will make truckloads of money because Canadians are crying out for an alternative to the “big three” telcos. Make it clear that you won’t bankroll them, but you will make the business environment favorable to their success. And be very public about it. Then sit back and see what happens next from the “big three” telcos. I think you’ll get the 25% cut that you want, and perhaps more.

 

Review: 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on February 26, 2020 by itnerd

The interior of the Hyundai Tucson Preferred is functional, but modern. I’ll get to why I say that the interior is functional later, but for now let me walk through it with you.

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The cloth covered drivers seat is easy to dial in to your preferred driving position. They’re also heated which is a plus.

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The window and door lock switches are easy to reach. However the door is a sea of hard plastic.

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One thing to point out about the doors is that they will hold a water bottle. A requirement for my wife.

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You can see the switches for the various safety systems are to the left of the steering wheel. There’s also a dead pedal to allow you to rest your foot on long drives.

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The leather wrapped steering wheel has all the controls for the infotainment system and the cruise control system. It’s also heated.

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The gauges are clear and easy to read even in direct sunlight. There’s a TFT screen between them that will show you a variety of information such as fuel economy or how the AWD system is being used.

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On the top of the dash is a 7″ LCD screen with hard buttons for all the infotainment functions. The very top of the dash is made of a soft touch material. The rest of the dash is a hard plastic.

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The HVAC controls are below the screen. Below that are a pair of 12V outlets, along with an aux audio jack and a USB port. The shifter is leather wrapped. You also have cubbies in front and to the left of the shifter for items that you need to have at hand.

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You also get a cubby below the shifter along with two cupholders. Plus you can see the drive mode and hill decent control button.

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The cupholders pass the Starbucks venti test with ease.

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Inside the arm rest is a deep storage area with a small tray that makes it easy to store small items such as loose change.

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There is a lit glovebox that is decently sized. You will note a pair of clips to the right, That’s a holder for a pen.

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The back seat is decently sized for two adults. Maybe three for short trips.

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If you don’t need to seat three people, you can use this flip down arm rest to hold your drinks.

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There’s a HVAC vent for the rear seat passengers.

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Rear seat passengers get heated seats.

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You get a lot of storage space in the back. 877 Liters to be precise. And if you flip down the 60/40 rear seats, you can get up to 1754 liters.If you look on the right hand seat, you’ll see a hook for a plastic grocery bag.

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You can get a ton of stuff back here.

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There’s a handle to help you to close the hatch so that you don’t get your hands dirty. Which is handy as the hatch is manually operated.

While I didn’t note any squeaks or rattles during my time with the Tucson, the only thing that I will note is that the winter tires on the Tucson created some road noise. But nothing that was objectionable. The other thing that I will note that there is a ton of hard plastic in this interior which may turn some off. But it really isn’t that bad as long as you keep it clean as it will show dirt rather easily.

Tomorrow I will talk about the technology in the 2020 Hyundai Tucson Preferred which has a lot going for it. Stay tuned for that.

 

Xiaomi Joins Forces with Gupshup AI Messenger

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 25, 2020 by itnerd

World-leading AI-based bot and messaging platform Gupshup has partnered with the global leading smartphone and smart TV brand Xiaomi on a global partnership, ensuring Xiaomi phones feature the most up-to-date technology and unmatched user experience via Gupshup’s new messenger app throughout India.

You can download Gupshup Messages Here: Google Play Store Download

Bundled onto the phones, Gupshup enables Xiaomi customers most advanced AI-powered features such asautomated classification and smart visualization of messages, and with it, Xiaomi users to more securely and efficiently manage their messaging inboxes.

The feature will be preinstalled onto the latest Xiaomi phones, including their new flagship device MI10 that is available today February 13th. It will be available as a software update on older phones. Key features of the built-in app:

  • Plain text message processing with actionable, easy-to-read card display using pre-designed templates highlighting key information
  • Additional security features that protect user privacy and data, such as software enabling the smart SMS to run independently and send no data externally
  • AI-assisted message and notification sorting that separates movie/flight/etc. ticketing information, payment reminders, or one-time login pins from messages with friends or family

Here’s a video:

Uber Driver Launches ‘DriverChatter’: A Social App For Rideshare Drivers

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 25, 2020 by itnerd

Vivek Shah, an Uber and Lyft driver from Chicago has launched a new app called ‘DriverChatter’ available for download to Uber and Lyft drivers. The app has successfully launched in Chicago, IL and aims to grow its user base in cities across the United States.

Shah has driven for Uber and Lyft for more than a year. While on a backpacking trip across the globe, he came up with the idea to connect drivers.

DriverChatter allows users to chat with their colleagues using their personal DriverChatter profile or they can enter anonymous mode. Shah wants users to feel secure utilizing the app. Uber and Lyft drivers can download the app for free on their smartphone, sign up for a DriverChatter account, and verify their profile by uploading a screenshot of their Uber of Lyft profile. The app is ultra-secure with end-to-end encryption and authenticates each driver.

DriverChatter currently has features such as image sharing and the ability to share your location with nearby drivers to meet up. More features are in development such as a walkie-talkie mode, video sharing, and the ability to create your own chatrooms.

DriverChatter is available for download on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Learn more at DriverChatter.net.

PayPal/Google Pay Bug Exploited By Hackers Last Week

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 25, 2020 by itnerd

Some potential bad news if you have a PayPal account. Hackers have found a bug in PayPal’s Google Pay integration and are now using it to carry out unauthorized transactions via PayPal accounts:

Since last Friday, users have reported seeing mysterious transactions pop up in their PayPal history as originating from their Google Pay account. Issues have been reported on numerous platforms, such as PayPal’s forums, Reddit, Twitter, and Google Pay’s Russian and German support forums. Victims reported that hackers abused Google Pay accounts to buy products using linked PayPal accounts. According to screenshots and various testimonies, most of the illegal transactions are taking place at US stores, and especially at Target stores across New York. Most of the victims appear to be German users.

Now the good news is that this was fixed over the weekend. But it illustrates the dangers of having an app or service connected to another app or service. Thus my advice is to always double and triple check every financial app or service that you use to ensure that there isn’t any sort of fraud taking place, and only link apps or services that you absolutely need to link. That way you minimize the risk being a victim of something like that.