Archive for November 5, 2021

US Lowers The Boom On The NSO Group

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 5, 2021 by itnerd

I for one am doing cartwheels about this as it is beyond time that the NSO Group was held accountable for it’s behaviour. This company that makes spyware and sells it to very questionable countries has been put on a US blacklist:

NSO Group has been placed on a US blacklist by the Biden administration after it determined the Israeli spyware maker has acted “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US”.

The finding by the commerce department represents a major blow to the Israeli company and reveals a deep undercurrent of concern by the US about the impact of spyware on national security.

And:

The new designation – which places NSO in the company of hackers from China and Russia – comes three months after a consortium of journalists working with the French non-profit group Forbidden Stories, revealed multiple cases of journalists and activists who were hacked by foreign governments using the spyware, including American citizens.

That’s going to hurt. Here’s why:

In effect, it means that NSO will be barred from buying parts and components from US companies without a special licence. It also puts a cloud over the sale of the company’s software globally, including in the US.

The commerce department said that “investigative information” had shown NSO and another Israeli surveillance company called Candiru had developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used this tool to “maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers”.

That could be the kill shot for this company. Though they did put on a brave face:

An NSO spokesperson said: “NSO Group is dismayed by the decision given that our technologies support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime, and thus we will advocate for this decision to be reversed.

“We look forward to presenting the full information regarding how we have the world’s most rigorous compliance and human rights programs that are based on the American values we deeply share, which already resulted in multiple terminations of contacts with government agencies that misused our products.”

Here’s my concern. If this is the kill shot for this company, what happens to the tech that they have developed? It would be very scary for all of us if that made it out into the wild. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. And the only thing that does happen is that this company ceases to exist.

Meta/Facebook To Continue To Use Facial Recognition Tech…. After Deep Sixing A Facial Recognition Program …. Another Reason To #DeleteFacebook

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 5, 2021 by itnerd

You might recall that Facebook announced that it will no longer use facial recognition technologies on its platform.

That’s good right? Well, as always the devil is in the detail. And the detail is that the social network’s parent company, Meta, said that the commitment does not apply to its metaverse products:

While Meta says that facial recognition isn’t a feature on Instagram and its Portal devices, the company’s new commitment doesn’t apply to its metaverse products, Meta spokesperson Jason Grosse told Recode. In fact, Meta is already exploring ways to incorporate biometrics into its emerging metaverse business, which aims to build a virtual, internet-based simulation where people can interact as avatars. Meta is also keeping DeepFace, the sophisticated algorithm that powers its photo-tagging facial recognition feature. 

“We believe this technology has the potential to enable positive use cases in the future that maintain privacy, control, and transparency, and it’s an approach we’ll continue to explore as we consider how our future computing platforms and devices can best serve people’s needs,” Grosse told Recode. “For any potential future applications of technologies like this, we’ll continue to be public about intended use, how people can have control over these systems and their personal data, and how we’re living up to our responsible innovation framework.”

This smells like a bait and switch to me. As in stop using facial recognition in one part of the company, but use it someplace else and hope that nobody notices. This underlines the fact that Facebook cannot be trusted and should be deleted from the metaverse, and anywhere else it operates.

Roku To Close Loophole That Allowed Porn On Its Platform

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 5, 2021 by itnerd

Roku has announced a new ‘Independent Developer Kit’ and a new beta channel feature to replace existing tools like private channels. The former is a way for developers and hobbyists to experiment with apps and services without needing to use Roku’s software development kit (SDK), while the latter will allow developers to test channels with up to 20 users at a time. Private channels had another function. It let companies like PornHub put porn out of the platform.

The rollout of the ‘Independent Developer Kit’ effectively closes this loophole according to Protocol and The Verge. And those who use their Roku’s to watch porn have until March 2022 to get their fix. Thus if that’s you, consider yourself warned.