US Federal Gov Passes Cyber Hunt Bills

Senate Bill 315 has just passed following House Bill 1158 earlier this week.

DHS Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act of 2019

Already it has Senator Schumer of New York literally screaming that he is…

AIMED AT PROTECTING UPSTATE NEW YORK SCHOOLS FROM MALICIOUS RANSOMWARE.

The SB315 list of authorized tasks for a DHS hunt and response team is as follows:

“(A) assistance to asset owners and operators in restoring services following a cyber incident;

“(B) identification and analysis of cybersecurity risk and unauthorized cyber activity;

“(C) mitigation strategies to prevent, deter, and protect against cybersecurity risks;

“(D) recommendations to asset owners and operators for improving overall network and control systems security to lower cybersecurity risks, and other recommendations, as appropriate; and

“(E) such other capabilities as the Secretary determines appropriate.

Call me pedantic but using the word hunt in the title (as in kill, typically in reference to the 2011 Lockheed Martin militaristic model for response) seems a bit over the top.

In the 1990s the USAF used to talk openly about their kill chain and the role of hunt. Here’s an example from 1994 Theater Missile Defense (TMD) appropriations transcripts (p 251):

The key functions of the TMD kill chain are to detect, track, target, engage, and assess…

Ten years later the U.S. government was working on what it called a hunter-killer program to fly into remote territory and destroy sources of threat.

The U.S. Air Force is probing the aerospace industry for its concepts for a new class of armed, long-endurance unmanned aircraft, called Hunter-Killer

By 2011 (remember that Lockheed Martin paper publication date?) the U.S. government was claiming hunter-killer programs using kill-chain were a huge success:

…special operations forces have honed their ability to conduct manhunts, adopting a new targeting system known as “find, fix, finish, exploit, analyze, and disseminate.” They have adopted a flatter organizational structure and collaborated more closely with intelligence agencies, allowing special operations to move at “the speed of war”…

The hunt model was lauded as a form of authorization, streamlining towards smaller secretive teams trusted with quick and lethal capabilities “over the fence” as Harvard lawyers infamously had envisioned decades ago.

And thus the information security industry naturally became susceptible to this military mindset, adopting hunt language not least of all because USAF veterans were landing jobs in civilian security firms and bringing a killer vocabulary along.

As ominous as the militant “kill” steps sound to unleash upon an upstate New York school, in computer software terms they remain basically incident response activities. Probably they could have fit easily under a public-private Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) expansion without invoking “hunt” authorization.

It does seem possible “E” leaves the door open for much broader remit including active defense and hack back for hunt teams to go after attackers, though, at “the speed of” cyberwar.

Another Echo company (Army 160th) already has kind of established that reputation.

So maybe I’m underestimating what is going to be done by DHS here, and hunt will become an operative word for kill chains even inside schools where kids are meant to be learning and experimenting.

What DHS “echo company” could look like, as they hunt in US schools for ransomware.

Will Russia trust Mandrake /e/ on a Google Sailfish?

One of the lesser known stories in the American mobile technology space is Sailfish OS by Jolla. For whatever reason it never seems to get any press, unless you count this sideways glance in ZDnet

I have seen all too many failed attempts to compete with Android and iOS. But I’m impressed by Duval’s privacy-first approach, which builds on the existing successful Android platform. Instead of trying to replace it, he’s making the best of it. I think with privacy being more of a concern for users and hardware vendors looking for Google-free operating systems, /e/ may be successful where so many others have failed.

Ok, first of all to be fair, I am assuming these non-specific phrases include Sailfish OS. It is a Linux-based OS (i.e. Meego derivation, following N9 Linux-based phones from 2011) that successfully replaced Android in 2013 and ran an emulation engine for Android. Does the author believe it failed?

Despite being in America I’ve used it since basically v1.0.1 (called an “Android love fest” by TheReg) on dedicated Jolla hardware as well as Sony phones and it’s great! One of the amazing things about the Android emulation was how it allowed app stores to be multi-master.

It wasn’t as slick as the Nokia firmware-based regional packages that came before it, but Jolla allowed users to choose apps from stores completely disconnected from Google, never touching American soil for that matter.

Second, there’s some kind of weird thing going on at Google where in 2017 their HTC-based phone was codename Sailfish. This new /e/ OS lists Sailfish as one of the phones it will run on already. Perhaps you could call this some kind of coincidence but it’s hard to believe it is random since…

Third, in 2016 the Russian government announced Sailfish was their preferred platform. At that time the name only referred to one thing:

…after a thorough review of several open source based options, the Ministry publicly expressed support for Sailfish OS, which was chosen as the platform for further development.

This came up again recently as Russia has been using the self-harming trade policies under the current US administration as a way to promote Sailish-based mobile development versus American tech companies.

Trumpin tullimullistus: Androidista tuli pelinappula… ”Kohta mennään kuilun reunan jälkeen lujaa alas” (Trump customs shock: Android became a pawn… “Soon we’ll go down the edge of the abyss”)

And fourth, if success is based on users making privacy a concern, then surely Sailfish (the non-Google one) should already have registered as a win. And that’s not even to mention that it was Linux from the start.

In other words, I appreciate that there’s another Android Appstore non-Android phone with privacy in mind, being developed by the Mandrake founder. More options sounds great to me! Although his sense of history does worry me.

“The 80s have been the most exciting period in computing so far, in my opinion,” he said. “Well, I can’t talk about the 60s and 70s period.”

However, at this point I’d like to see a simple comparison table with Sailfish: Ideas stolen by Google? Endorsed by Russian government? Runs on OEM hardware that Google resells?

Finally, the article on /e/ also mentioned how it would run on Samsung devices. If that’s a goal, I figured I should pull out this history chart showing the development of Samsung’s non-Android OS that their mobile devices can run already:

Russian Military Downplays Defeat by Female Walrus

Russian Geographical Society used one of its modern landing crafts in a way a mother walrus didn’t appreciate, so most news outlets are describing how she attacked their boat, sinking it and sending the Russian military running for their lives.

Naturally the Russian military made a statement that reported the opposite:

“Serious troubles were avoided thanks to the clear and well co-ordinated actions of the Northern Fleet servicemen, who were able to take the boat away from the animals without harming them.”

Definitely avoided any serious troubles there. “Able to take the boat away” from threats is double-speak for sinking. Aha, you can’t attack Russian boat, because there is no boat. Troubles avoided! Swim faster comrades, it is very cold.

Maybe something was lost in translation when Russians said they thought they were up to the tusk (pun intended).

A first-person account in Russian media said their boat was done in and a video shows them trying to poke the walrus with a gaff, which probably just made her more angry.

“The walrus was not injured. We just shoved her off. Our boat was damaged – sections three and five. Barely made it to shore” said Leonid. (Морж не пострадал. Мы его просто отпихнули. А лодка пробита — три секции и пяти. Еле доплыли до берега, сообщает Леонид.)

Speaking of being lost…

The area in question supposedly is on Wilczek Island, (Остров Вильчека) in the southeastern end of Franz Josef Land, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. Maybe it’s somewhere else?

I have yet to find a western map anywhere listing a “Cape Geller” (мысе Геллера). Who was Geller?

USAF StormBreaker Smart Bomb

GPS has been known unreliable for a very long time. Ten years ago I wrote about it here, and more recently participated in tests that successfully fooled Tesla navigation systems such that it made a car drive erratically and abruptly exit a highway.

Trouble in navigation probably is why the USAF is announcing new technology on bombs that optimistically gets described as the kind of cutting-edge millimeter waves and lasers you might find on driver-less-cars.

While the GBU-39 used Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites as the guidance method, the StormBreaker when operational will use GPS plus a millimeter wave radar and a semi-active laser as a seeker package.

Stormbreaker bomb (arguably a drone) after launch from USAF jet. Claimed by Raytheon to maintain target accuracy even during inclement weather or GPS failures

I’ll wager the backstory here is that GPS bombs were being not-so-smart after all (mass civilian casualties). Terms like “smart” and “seeker” only go so far when the things dropped from a plane, or flying themselves, blow up the wrong people.

Who can forget the 1950s version of pin point accuracy on bombs intended to destroy North Korea that killed USAF crews instead? And let’s not forget Igloo White bombing in the 1970s that not only missed targets but also cooked the books to be considered a success.

More to the point (pun not intended), Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2017 launched investigations and lodged formal complaints about the GBU-39

“They told us it was a mistake by the coalition, and after the war we will talk about it,” Hasan said of Iraqi officials whom he contacted for help. “Why would they make a mistake like this? They have all the technology. This is not a small mistake.”

Another east Mosul resident, Jasim Mohammed Ali, said his son and six grandsons were killed by what he believes was a coalition airstrike that destroyed his home on Nov. 17.

The coalition is still investigating the strike based on a complaint by Human Rights Watch, which — along with other experts The Times consulted — identified munition parts in the wreckage of Ali’s house as a GBU-39 small-diameter bomb, a guided munition used by coalition forces.

So the good news might be that bombs are going to be far more accurate and kill the right targets.

“An increase of 82 percent in child casualties compared with the previous four years” has been linked in Afghanistan to aerial attacks and remnant explosives.

I haven’t found yet that kind of reference in the USAF press release on why they felt the need to improve “smart” bomb targeting systems. It just seems like a logical jump from the HRW criticisms.

Also consider the USAF and other customers of US arms still have a lot of GBU-39 left to drop (as HRW reported again this year) so maybe they want to wait 30-40 years before declassifying real reasons as some rappers already have guessed.

The pilots said their bombs lit Baghdad like a Christmas tree
It was the Christian thing to do you see
they didn’t mention any casualties
no distinction between the real and the proxy
only football analogies

Why Does NYC Hate Cycling to Work?

The mythical NYC bike commuter in a car-dominated toxic landscape

The other day I pointed out a strange disconnect between transit safety models in Holland and NYC.

While the Dutch claim their density is what causes their cycling safety, there’s no such effect in the US. San Francisco is far less dense than NYC yet far more progressive in terms of cycling safety.

Amazing analysis coming in from CityLab confirms the US has something else going on:

San Francisco tops the ranking of large metros in the index, followed by Boston and New York. What’s interesting is that the New York metro leads on three of the four variables of the index. It has far and away the largest share of households who report no access to a vehicle, 22 percent. (That’s more than three times the share in both San Francisco and Boston.) New York is also the clear leader in the share of commuters who use transit to get to work, with more than 30 percent, almost double San Francisco’s share. And it has the edge on the share of commuters who walk to work, roughly 6 percent.

But New York has a far smaller share of commuters who bike to work. It even fails to crack the top 10 on this metric, coming 101st out of 382 metros, or 22nd out of 53 large metros.

Full disclosure: I have commuted by bicycle in cities around the world all year through wind, rain, snow, sleet…up hills and down.

The reasons against cycling to work in NYC definitely are not topographical or weather related. San Francisco obviously is hilly and many other cities have comparable temperatures and precipitation than NYC.

56% of Copenhageners ride a bicycle for transport daily. 75% cycle all winter.

“Rush Hour Copenhagen” by Mikael Colville-Andersen

The core reason, I believe, is the politics of NYC and how they perceive personal power accumulation measured by dollar bills in their bank accounts to be inversely related to the health of the environment they commute in/through.

The city has a pollution-loving history with a huge “we’re busy trying to get rich/famous, leave us alone” lobby that claims doing the right thing for “others” is economically unfeasible in their list of priorities.

The term “economic feasibility” has been subject to debate in the past. When the city banned styrofoam, it said that recycling the stuff was not economically or environmentally feasible. Restaurants and other industry sued in disagreement — and it took several more years and some back-and-forth in the courtroom before the ban was finalized.

The typical NYC powerful resident would go to the gym and spin to look “better than others” in work or personal life, but has little interest in getting on a bike for the same workout when told it results in making the city a better place to live for others.

Anthropologists can probably explain why trains have escaped this dilemma, and it likely just has to do with momentum (Victorian cycling trends that benefited women most can be wiped off the streets in a day by car lobbyists, but it takes a lot more to kill popular yet unprofitable trains).

This of course is not saying NYC has no residents concerned with the environment.

It is to say the people who care have very little political power in a city filled with Napoleonic Ubermensches who blatantly ignore the genius lessons of Grant’s anti-Napoleonic ethic (memorialized yet disrespectfully hidden away at 122nd Street) and instead believe they must constantly be stepping on others to get ahead.

The city’s Five Borough Bike Tour shows how good-intentioned people of the city are so disenfranchised they have exactly the wrong attitude, marketing safe cycling as some kind of weird special event:

The idea of seeing all five boroughs in one day and seeing the streets shut down is such a unique opportunity

First, the streets aren’t shut down. They are being used more effectively. Stop calling proper use of streets to maximize throughput a shutdown.

Second, people are restricting their movements because cars make it so painful to go any distance let alone the magic 30 minute commute in a city that’s pushing a sad 40 minute average. Five boroughs is not actually much distance to cover in a day.

Third, this should not be seen as a unique experience. It needs to be a monthly event if not weekly. A single day for cycling to be made safe is pathetic in a city that claims it wants always to be “on” and alive.

I’ve written before about the benefits of cycling in cities and the bottom line is the economics are clear and simple. What’s unclear is who in NYC has the political power and sense to do the right thing?

The real story presented by Citylab data is bicyclists must find a LaGuardia-like talent to overcome NYC power culture now rooted in the self-gain mindset of cars that brings willful disregard for others’ safety and health.

Here’s what the National Motorist Association said to block NYC allowing multi-passenger high-density traffic priority over individuals in cars:

…what is really tedious is that we are not allowed to drive, but you expect money from motorists…

That’s crazy talk (absolutism and a fallacy), given how redirection from one street in an entire city doesn’t mean cars are being banned from all streets.

Think about what the motorist association is claiming: a single person who pays any amount of money demands that they are entitled to blockade hundreds or even thousands of others on the street just because they like to sit in public inside a private inconvenience box.

Thinking inside the box. Cyclists demonstrate the stupidity of cars

Drivers were being told they would have to avoid a street (small inconvenience) where a dedicated bus lane was being created for greater good… and that car association said no way would they allow smarter traffic planning if it takes away one inch of asphalt for them to generate harms, because they’re wealthy.

This is not an isolated case according to repeated psychological studies of motorists:

Psychologists Dacher Keltner and Paul Piff monitored intersections with four-way stop signs and found that people in expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers, compared to folks in more modest vehicles. …expensive cars drove right on by 46.2 percent of the time, even when they’d made eye contact with the pedestrians waiting to cross. Other studies by the same team showed that wealthier subjects were more likely to cheat…

If I were the city, I’d point out that motorists are heavily subsidized already and thus stealing from others by not paying nearly enough for the damage to infrastructure they cause:

American Infrastructure is crumbling. The ASCE has given American infrastructure a “D+”. It could cost almost $5 trillion to fully fix and upgrade American infrastructure. Congestion charging systems could potentially raise billions of dollars per year.

Here, let me frame (pun not intended) this another way: if a car is on the street then that street in NYC should be declared shut down.

I mean if we use that first point of the Five Borough Bike Tour properly, when cars use the streets the streets are effectively shut down and highly polluted (from brake dust to exhaust it’s a huge mess with slow cleanup).

People forget how influential and successful LaGuardia was dealing with the predatory and selfish mindset in NYC, and that his rural experiences and humanitarian values arguably are what made his vision of the city so great.

When will the next LaGuardia ride into town?

US In Dangerous Slide Back to Secret Wars Doctrine

The Intercept points out that, while public statements are being made about troop draw down and conflict reductions, an actual increase in secret military operations is happening:

On average, more than 4,000 Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and Marine Corps Raiders among them — are deployed to the region each week, more than anywhere else in the world.

The logic of burying the data on protracted military engagements is not a very well held secret.

“Already we’re not getting answers to basic questions, like who the U.S. has killed and why it hasn’t better protected civilians, and the more the U.S. role is turned over to Special Operations Forces, the CIA, or contractors, the less information the government is going to provide,” Eviatar told The Intercept. “One has to wonder if that isn’t the reason they’re apparently shifting these roles to secret agents whose actions and their consequences the government isn’t required to disclose.”

The increase comes despite direct opposition from special operations command itself.

The breakneck pace at which the United States deploys its special operations forces to conflict zones is taking a toll, their top commander told Congress on Thursday.

Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called the rate at which special operations forces are being deployed “unsustainable” and said the growing reliance of the U.S. military on its elite troops could produce a dangerous strain.

“We are not a panacea,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We are not the ultimate solution to every problem, and you will not hear that coming from us.”

While the special operations numbers have swelled to larger than the entire standing army of Germany, and US military leadership says it opposes overuse of special operations, we’re seeing a return to the Reagan-era mistake of expensive unaccountable albatross with little chance of “winning” anything tangible…which sets the US military up for collision in civil relations.

This poses a special risk to healthy civil-military relations because it allows policymakers to avoid justifying or explaining operations publicly. Reliance on special operations also decreases the likelihood of mission success because special operations forces are not designed to win complex campaigns on their own. As Gen. Mark Milley notes, “The one thing [Special Forces] are not designed to do is win a war.”

The MHK airport $16m upgrade was arguably for military brass to use despite nearby military airport that is significantly larger and civilians can’t use because…secret. Photo by me.

It’s only been 44 years since Frank Church created his famous committee on secret wars and alerted the country how they were connected to America spying on Americans.

I’ve also recently given a talk and written about how President Reagan tried to undo and avoid the Church Committee findings, engaging in widespread illegal arms deals for secret wars and perhaps even human trafficking. The lessons from those disasters should not be underestimated, especially as we transition to cyberwar models.

“This cyber environment involves people,” Neal said. “It involves their habits. The way that they operate; the way that they name their accounts. When they come in during the day, when they leave, what types of apps they have on their phone. Do they click everything that comes into their inbox? Or are they very tight and restrictive in what they use? All those pieces are what we look at, not just the code.” […] ISIS was using just 10 core accounts and servers to manage the distribution of its content across the world.

That weakness from lack of segmentation is an efficiency hallmark in small groups. The opposite, funding a market for teams to develop similar tools without allowing them to share resources, is usually considered the kind of model only large organizations would fund.

Very few Americans probably realize how Green Berets were compromising communications networks, including tapping into Internet service providers, to predict movements of suspected political (terror group) leaders and assassinate them.

Even fewer Americans see how that crosses over into the Lyft/Uber business model of surveillance capitalism. And an even smaller group remembers Poindexter well enough to connect the dots here to see a dangerous lack of transparency that should be required as we build new “active defense doctrines” for the Internet.

We can not afford to ignore mistakes of the past on this topic, such as the secret SAS missions, especially when there are emerging opportunities for international security alliances including the Christchurch Call and Monday’s “Joint Statement on Advancing Responsible State Behavior…”.

All members of the United Nations General Assembly have repeatedly affirmed this framework, articulated in three successive UN Groups of Governmental Experts reports in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

Alliances that account for clandestine operations is the smart way to go forward, whereas unaccountable executive-led secret wars would repeat some of the worst past mistakes.

Vaping Death Toll Nears Double-Digits

Update September 26th:

Twelve now reported dead and confirmed cases surging over 50% in a week into 46 US states.

The CDC has dispatched more than 100 doctors and investigators to identify the specific cause of the deadly illness, which resembles a rare form of pneumonia.

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, made a statement yesterday that the illness is a public health crisis and 25% of teenagers report they vape.

People often ask me about legacy tobacco products, where cancer/disease typically takes decades to develop. Doctors say vaping is different because far more acute damage that can lead to seizures with lungs “burnt” leading to death in under a year.

One issue seems to be that vaping was heavily marketed and sold without warnings about harms so users reported using the products far more often during a day, and without any self-regulation or sense of dangers (puffing on low-cost unlabeled/unknown liquids constantly indoors instead of just a high-cost labeled cigarette or two per day that regulators required to be inhaled outside).


Way back in July 2012 I wrote “Vaping Harmful to Health” because, after running into some kids in SF, I felt the need to warn about dangers that sadly weren’t obvious enough to them.

At the recent Structure conference, a young woman who had just moved from the east coast to San Francisco boasted of her boyfriends’ addiction to “Vaping”. She showed photos of all the accessories he has been obsessing about, from batteries to different colors and patterns. A young man visiting from New York echoed her story and said he was happy to be spending money on hip new e-cigarettes.

That post attracted a lot of random traffic (search engine success?) from people interested in vaping because it generated a huge amount of hate-filled and angry responses.

Literally hundreds of “die in a fire” variety harassment messages flowed into my queue for years afterwards. Many accused my blog of being a front for “big tobacco”. Here’s a typical example, from a St. Louis, Missouri reader:

Some also posted very lengthy counter-arguments to the comment section, which I then replied to as best I could.

Fast forward seven years and “all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S” is being halted by a big tobacco-owned vaping company under federal criminal investigation as their CEO steps down, and related death toll reaches double digits with confirmed illness approaching 550 people.

I’d say this qualifies as a slow response by regulators. 25% of American teenagers are reported to be at risk because of exposure and the CDC has asked people to immediately stop vaping as more death is expected from unknown illness.

Lately I’ve also been sad to discover Juul plastic cartridges laying all over the sidewalks and roads, as if toxicity of cigarette smokers tossing 4 trillion pieces of toxic trash into the environment (98% of cigarette filters are plastic fiber) was some kind of positive inspiration to vaping designers.

Shame on these engineers, their management and investors. Could I have done more over these past years to help wind up regulators by giving them some sticker suggestions?

German Prosecutors Bring Criminal Charges Against VW Execs

In a stunning move by German prosecutors, criminal charges have been brought against VW leadership for failing to disclose to shareholders (in a timely fashion) the huge financial risks of cheating diesel emissions tests.

It is certain the team bringing this level of charges against a CEO is very well aware what it means to the German economy; they are doing the right thing anyway.

In fact the American diesel companies effectively ran similar cheats as VW yet, politically speaking, they seem to be facing little or no reaction unless you count some legal wranglings starting in 2018.

…class-action lawsuit filed today accuses Ford and Bosch of knowingly installing emissions-cheating software devices in 2011-2017 Ford 250 and 350 Super Duty diesel pickup trucks, akin to the devices at the center of Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal, allowing the affected pickups to pollute at levels up to 50 times legal limits, according to Hagens Berman

In a completely unreported event earlier this year, Ford tried to tell the court their executives are immune to charges of cheating and fraud because “no true defeat device” can be defined.

Thankfully their silly fallacy seems to have been thrown out.

The Court agrees that Plaintiffs’ claims are not contingent on their ability to prove that Ford used defeat devices in its vehicles. […] Ford fails to point out that even if Plaintiffs were no longer able to refer to Ford’s alleged use of defeat devices, Plaintiffs could still succeed with their fraud claims. The true issue with regard to Plaintiffs’ fraud claims is whether or not Ford materially deceived (under the various state laws) its consumers. The Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently stated a claim for fraud, under state laws, without relying on Ford’s alleged use of defeat devices. […] Plaintiffs’ overpayment theory is sufficient to provide standing to sue Bosch LLC because of its role in the use and concealment of a cheat device that allegedly constrained the emissions control system of the vehicles purchased by Plaintiffs.

That’s still a very long way from Ford executives being accountable for anything, let alone facing criminal charges for deceptive practices.

Last time I checked the only CEO scandal at Ford was firing the guy who failed to build electric cars fast enough for market demand after the company proudly removed regulatory requirements to build electric cars faster and quickly destroyed its own fleet of them.

Try to figure that one out.

With the widely promoted news about VW cheating America basically lit a fire under German regulators, while seemingly doing little domestically about the same. Have you heard of any real diesel emission cheating impacts to Ford or GM? And those aren’t the only three. Many car companies were cheating…

The impact to VW has had the perversely competitive effect of passively warning American manufacturers about emissions cheating by making an example of a foreign company that is held back now under real accountability to its regulators.

I’d suggest we consider at this point whether German behavior is some kind of time-capsule from Allied 1940s ethical thinking about doing the right thing, instilled during the Eisenhower occupation of Germany; a mindset sadly that has faded away in modern America.

Imagine today seeing posters like this one that told Americans to read and appreciate black history in order to defeat fascism:

US anti-fascism posters encouraged Americans to read about black history and culture

Industries of Nazi Germany infamously went along willingly with obviously toxic policies of Hitler such as using slaves to build vehicles. Only when bombs were raining down on Nazi car executives’ own heads did change begin, and even then reparations have been slow.

“The ghost of the Third Reich will hang over every Volkswagen car unless the company takes action and provides justice to the thousands of its former slave labourers around the world,” Mr Weiss said.

Some Nazis who experienced the ill-gotten wealth from white-nationalism have even recently said they don’t object to how their company used to engage in slavery to increase their own wealth.

…her remarks that the firm did nothing wrong when it employed 200 forced labourers during World War II were thoughtless. […] Former forced labourers have failed to obtain compensation from Bahlsen in individual lawsuits, with German courts citing statute of limitations laws. […] Verena Bahlsen has also been criticised for boasting about her wealth and love of conspicuous consumption. “I own a fourth of Bahlsen and I am very happy about that. I want to earn money and buy a … yacht,” she said at a business event in Hamburg earlier this month.”

The difference today in Germany, after Allied bombing campaigns cleared the way, seems to be that government prosecutors are in position and willing to go after abusers early, with real authority to hold executives accountable and force their course-corrections.

Google’s Loophole Army Fights “Right to be Forgotten”

Google has successfully defended a plan to keep links in countries other than where people live, as a court has just ruled a citizen’s national right to delete information does not automatically extend to data stored in another country.

“The balance between right to privacy and protection of personal data, on the one hand, and the freedom of information of internet users, on the other, is likely to vary significantly around the world,” the court said in its decision.

The court said the right to be forgotten “is not an absolute right.”

This ruling allows narrow legal loopholes for Google similar to how they avoid national tax requirements, rotating a global identity among Ireland, the Netherlands, and Bermuda.

While the EU has successfully upheld privacy as a human right (“UDHR Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy…”), which is showing signs of being adopted by US states, Google is litigating for ways to delay or deny link deletion as part of that right.

And while I’m not a lawyer, I’m told the Court technically has stated there still can be a global application if ordered by the supervisory authority, but it is no longer considered an “automatism”.

The positive spin for the loophole is that Google doesn’t have to abide by a citizen’s request to be forgotten, even if that citizen has an entire nation backing their request as a legal one. Surveillance capitalism having a lack of responsibility to human rights means more money in Google’s pocket, just like if they avoid paying taxes or walk away from any other social-good contract that local markets require of them. In its most charitable light, a mechanism for preserving information against someone’s wishes could be justified if data loss would cause harms.

This, however, is not that case as the “loss” would be revenues Google wants to realize without getting authorization by owners of assets/data. Google litigates this as a “responsible actor” for preservation of data against censorship to appear interested in freedom of speech, yet there are far better ways to avoid censorship than litigating loopholes and havens for advertising revenue databases.

The negative spin for the loophole is that Google is using its ad-revenue warchest to fund its role as a freeloader, using infrastructure and collecting data in order to create high-walled hiding places where they can charge access. This is not unlike the colonial model designed to embed local “business networks” for exploitation and expropriation (theft) of local assets to remote locations to be held against the wishes of creators and owners.

Did the French or British ever argue its museum collections are really preserving speech against censorship in nations they colonized? Asking for a friend who worries their high salary at Google is dirty money.

…thousands of African cultural artifacts taken during the colonial period to be returned to their respective countries, if requested.

CHP “Spike Stop” Tesla Driving Wrong Way Across Bay Bridge

Was the driver asleep? Failure of the car’s “intelligence” seems the most likely explanation, although we can’t yet rule out a human deciding to drive into oncoming traffic across a bridge at 230am. The driver looks alert and standing freely, surrounded by CHP:

KTVU Footage

Here’s the map view of the Freemont entrance to the Bay Bridge, with yellow lines to demarcate I-80 and its various tentacles gripping the city. It’s been going through renovations and at least confusing enough that Google felt a need to place directional arrows on their map:

Again, it’s tempting to say Tesla has nothing to do with this. Perhaps some will say a human would have had a reason (from being confused to willful disregard) to enter the wrong deck (upper, westbound) while headed east over bridge. They may even argue the computer could have done a better job.

However it’s even more likely and tempting to discuss whether a SF driver asleep like so many other cases put too much trust in their car (typical tech worker living in East Bay taking Tesla into city because awesome supercar autopilot is awesome, duh why don’t you believe in the ubergenius of Musk?).

Remember drunk Tesla driver who parked on Bay Bridge?

Officers say he failed a sobriety test but told them it didn’t matter because his car was on auto-pilot.

And then there was Tesla guy asleep while driving south on 101 at 3:30am at 70 mph. CHP put themselves in front of the Tesla and hit the brakes to convince the computer to stop:

CHP could not confirm that the vehicle was on Autopilot, but “considering the vehicle’s ability to slow to a stop when Samek was asleep, it appears the ‘driver assist’ feature may have been active at the time.”

And another Tesla was spotted in LA operating without a driver, apparently because a “little thing” defeated Tesla’s best safety attempts to detect human alertness

the Tesla driver appeared slumped over with something tied around the steering wheel.

“If his little thing tied around that steering wheel fell off, and he was still sleeping, he would have slammed into somebody going 65 miles per hour,” Miladinovich said.

When the system doesn’t sense adequate torque on the steering wheel, Tesla says…[it does something about it]

It may turn out Tesla engineers didn’t think about common safety issues for upper and lower deck bridges. That’s what we’re waiting now to have CHP confirm, based on the story so far and that screen grab of the driver.

In birds-eye view you can see the reports of Tesla going the wrong-way at Freemont Street and I-80 puts the car right at the start of the upper/lower deck split:

Entering upper deck means a primitive navigation tool still would register right path on map and be unable to react until it was far too late (separated past Treasure Island) and restricted by barriers…continuing about 10 miles into the 880 northbound on the wrong side.

All that above begs the question whether a 2019 computer would allow such navigation variances that it wouldn’t prevent a car from driving directly into oncoming traffic on the wrong deck of one of the longest bridges in America, close to Tesla HQ.

Tesla engineering has been known to misread road lines, misread road-signs, slam into barriers and even spontaneously explode into fireball…at this point I’ll wager a stacked double-decker bridge entrance was all it took for Tesla AI to willingly start driving wrong way.