Canada’s New Democratic Party promises national broadband and net neutrality

Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party have unveiled their Internet campaign promises for this election; they’re a stark contrast to the Tories, who’ve vowed to re-engineer Canada’s network to make it easier to spy on Canadians without a court order. Instead, the NDP promises to extend broadband (wired and wireless) across the nation, to force the CRTC (the national telcoms regulator) to be more responsive to consumer interests, and to enshrine net neutrality (a term coined by Canadian Tim Wu!) into law.

* We will apply the proceeds from the advanced wireless spectrum auction to ensure all Canadians, no matter where they live, will have quality high-speed broadband internet access;
* We will expect the major internet carriers to contribute financially to this goal;
* We will rescind the 2006 Conservative industry-oriented directive to the CRTC and direct the regulator to stand up for the public interest, not just the major telecommunications companies;
* We will enshrine “net neutrality” in law, end price gouging and “net throttling,” with clear rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), enforced by the CRTC;
* We will prohibit all forms of usage-based billing (UBB) by Internet Service Providers (ISPs);
* We will introduce a bill on copyright reform to ensure that Canada complies with its international treaty obligations, while balancing consumers’ and creators’ rights. 

NDP Unveils Its Digital Economy Strategy: Reshaping Internet Access in Canada

(Image: Rainbows, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jaqian’s photostream)

Scott Walker gives cushy $85.5K/year government job to major donor’s young, underqualified son

Scott Walker’s administration is all about cutting costs, which is why it gave the largely unqualified son of a major campaign donor a $81,500 senior managerial job in the state Commerce Department. A state official confirmed that the young gentleman got his job after his daddy put in a good word for him. As ThinkProgress points out, Walker’s anti-union legislation allows him to directly appoint dozens more people for high-paying gubmint jobs.

Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reveals that Walker is using state funds to pay more than $81,500 a year to the 26-year-old son of a major campaign donor with no college degree and two drunken-driving convictions.

Despite having almost no management experience, UW Madison college dropout Brian Deschane now oversees state environmental and regulatory issues and manages dozens of Commerce Department employees. After only two months on the job, Deschane has already received a 26 percent pay raise and a promotion.

Scott Walker Gives $81,500 Government Job To Top Donor’s 26-Year-Old College Dropout Son (via Reddit)

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Redditor outs astroturfer with 20 accounts

A Reddit user noticed an odd pattern of upvotes for stories related to G4 TechTV and various other game-related companies. After a little investigation, the firms in question came clean (or at least, accounts seeming to belong to them came clean), and admitted that they had a relationship with a pro linkspammer (“social networking specialist”) who was running up to 20 Reddit identities at once and using them to game the outcomes. The linkspammer (or at least, an account seeming to belong to the linkspammer) has admitted it:

I would go into why I do social media but it’s personal and I don’t like to give out personal information. Btw. As masterofhyrule. I would like to say I didn’t spam digg back then, I just added a bunch of friends to share to to get my videos on the front page but when I saw it hit top 10 I was surprised. I didn’t do the videos for money, I did it to be popular and the reason I was banned from digg back then wasn’t because of spam, it was from the greasemonkey script that 100+ users used. Just wanted to clear that up even thoughts been 3 years about. Feel free to attack me, just please don’t hate the sites, they aren’t the problem.

The comment threads in question are a fascinating glimpse into the corrosive effect of astroturfing on social relationships — a kind of social media reenactment of The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street — as Redditors rage against the house of mirrors and wonder who among them are simply sock-puppets for the wrongdoers.

Of course, this is the sort of thing that HB Gary was developing for use in the middle east, to destroy the burgeoning public discourse and turn neighbors against each other “own the narrative.”

Meanwhile, the spammer’s account of his own actions is so far in denial, so wounded and broken, you get a picture of some kind of savant psychopath festering in his begrimed underwear in a basement somewhere, plaintively mourning the loss of his make-believe “friends” who always showed up to agree with everything he said.

GamePro, G4TV and VGChartz GamrFeed have been abusing multiple accounts to spam and manipulate /r/gaming for months (Thanks, Mikeout, via Submitterator!)

(Image: Brandon sock puppet, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from pepperlime’s photostream)

Google fined for collecting WiFi data from hotspots in France

Photo by Sunghwan Yoon. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

Google’s cute Street View cars were caught snorking private data from WiFi hotspots as they putt-putted their way through France. Now they must pay a US$142,000 fine. Sergei et Larry, vous mauvais garçons!

For example, at 12:45 p.m. on June 2, 2008, at an address in Marseille, France, precisely located by its GPS coordinates, Google recorded the username and password of someone logging into a pornographic website. On March 26, 2009, at 3:03 p.m., Google recorded the username and password of someone logging into a site used to arrange sexual encounters with strangers, along with the person’s location along a sparsely populated rural road north of the town of Carcasonne, France.

Other examples cited included details of a patient’s care from a medical information system, and an exchange of e-mail messages between two people apparently organizing an adulterous affair.

France fines Google for Street View collection of Wi-Fi data

Strangely hypnotic mashups of ambient and live police radio

Mount_Royal_Montreal_Lookout-sm.jpg BB Submitterator idontlikewords mentioned the websites last week, a soothing mix of police radio chatter and ambient music. Choose from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, or my personal recommendation, Montréal. French police chat really blends into the music nicely. You may need to adjust the balance of each stream a bit to find the right mix.

Image: Mount Royal Montreal Lookout by Diliff via Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Sanity comes to sexting laws

Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory writes about a new bill in New Jersey that would prevent minors who engage in “sexting” (taking naked pictures of themselves and sharing them with boy- and girlfriends) from being prosecuted as child pornographers. As Clark-Flory explains, you don’t have to be in favor of kids sharing naked pictures of themselves to understand that child porn laws shouldn’t be used against them.

The bill gives teens the option of paying for an educational program as a way to avoid a damaging criminal record. Assemblyman Jon Bramnick told NBC that the measure “sends a clear signal to the Judiciary that when young people make a mistake, this Legislature is saying, ‘give them a chance, give them an option other than a criminal past.'” He’s absolutely right — it is absurd for “sexting” to land a teen on the sex offender registry — but Bramnick, and the measure itself, would be more right if they allowed that sometimes it isn’t a mistake or wrong when teenagers take sexy self-snapshots, that it can be part of normal sexual development.

Now, to be clear, I don’t think it’s a good idea for teenagers to distribute naked photos of themselves. More often than not it’s a bad idea to digitally share naked pics, even with a committed lover, and we should communicate that to teens. (We should also be educating kids, and adults, about the profound potential for embarrassment and professional consequences in digitally sharing even personal images that are not pornographic.) If we were really concerned with the well-being and personal rights of teenagers, though, we would create a legislative safe space for sexual exploration.

How to fix “sexting” laws

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Dead tree book kills copyright lawyer; he blames “the internet”

rubin-penguin.jpg Zick Rubin is a copyright/trademark lawyer who used to teach psychology. His work was notable enough to be cited in the The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology . Unfortunately, that book listed him as having died in 1997, as shown above. Wikia, the for-profit wiki farm, has a Psychology Wiki entry for Rubin which included his death date, citing the Penguin book. Rubin, still very much alive, was doing a little vanity Googling when he learned of his death. He sent a note to Wikia’s Angela Beesley, who corrected the article, only to have it reverted. Rubin then wrote a New York Times piece blaming “the internet” for trying to kill him, currently one of their most e-mailed stories.

The New York Times loves stories claiming the internet is full of dopes who generate misinformation when they aren’t stealing from others (see the epic Bill Keller/Arianna Huffington beef this week). Psychology Wiki, like the unrelated Wikipedia project, requires a reliable source for any disputed fact, but that is one of those things that’s very hard for people outside of wiki-world to understand. Wikipedia’s policy is verifiability, not truth. This simple rule is a cornerstone policy, one of the five pillars.

The editor who reverted Angela’s change was following policy, though it would have been better to go the extra step and find one of the many reliable sources stating that Rubin has been above ground since 1997. The good thing about the internet is that these changes can be made quickly and easily. So I wrote him a nice proper Wikipedia article today, citing his Times Op-Ed and putting that content into the Creative Commons. So Psychology Wiki is corrected, he has a new Wikipedia entry, and the Penguin dictionary is… still floating around with its misinformation. Can’t blame “the internet” any more.

Self-pwning cars: the future of automotive rooting

Security researches at UCSD and UWash have been looking at advanced ways of making mischief with computerized automotive systems, from messing with Bluetooth to inserting malware into the diagnostic tools. The most baroque and interesting attack they’ve demonstrated, though, uses a malformed MP3 that exploits a bug in the sound system (I’m assuming some sort of buffer overflow). Once they’re in, the researchers have been able to control the car’s locks, speedometer, brakes and engine.

They found lots of ways to break in. In fact, attacks over Bluetooth, the cellular network, malicious music files and via the diagnostic tools used in dealerships were all possible, if difficult to pull off, Savage said. “The easiest way remains what we did in our first paper: Plug into the car and do it,” he said.

But the research shows how completely new types of automotive attacks could be on the horizon. For example, thieves could instruct cars to unlock their doors and report their GPS coordinates and Vehicle Identification Numbers to a central server. “An enterprising thief might stop stealing cars himself, and instead sell his capabilities as a service to other thieves,” Savage said. A thief looking for certain kinds of cars in a given area could ask to have them identified and unlocked, he said.

With hacking, music can take control of your car (via MeFi)

(Image: Even technology needs it, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from pnglife’s photostream)

Largest Wisconsin protests ever: 85,000+ people in Madison’s streets

If WI governor Scott Walker hoped that sneakily passing his union-busting bill would diffuse the energy of the protests that have rocked Madison, he was sadly mistaken. This weekend saw the biggest protests to date, with 85K-100K people in the streets, accompanied by donkeys, manure spreaders and tractors as the state’s farmers joined the crowds.

“This is so not the end,” said protester Judy Gump, a 45-year-old English teacher at Madison Memorial High School. “This is what makes people more determined and makes them dig in…”

All 14 Democrats later marched around the Capitol, trading chants of “thank you” with protesters who ringed the sidewalks. When the senators made their way to a stage, they promised to shift their energies toward recall drives already under way against eight of their GOP colleagues.

“Now … we trade in our rally signs for clipboards and we take to the streets to recall the Republicans,” Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee told the cheering crowd, “and in one year we recall the governor that refuses to listen.”

Wisconsin Protesters Refuse To Quit (via Reddit)

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The Compulsion to Control: Book excerpt from Losing Control, Finding Serenity

Control panel photo by Led Chatfield. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

(This is the first in a series of three excerpts from Losing Control, Finding Serenity.)

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for insects as well as for the stars. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” — Albert Einstein, interview, The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929

Setting Limits is One Thing, But. . .

Life without control in some form would create havoc. Rigid control procedures are essential in such areas as science, medicine, and manufacturing, which require high degrees of efficiency and safety. Most societal and institutional forms of control — laws, regulations, procedures, and the like — are also important for our overall well-being and safety. Similarly, in interpersonal settings such as the workplace, the home, and the classroom, appropriate levels of control are necessary to assure productivity, education, and safety.

Most of us, however, feel the pressure to control all aspects of our lives. We take for granted that that’s what we should be doing — what we must be doing to survive. This goes beyond setting limits and standards, and often we don’t even realize how far beyond we take it. How often do we stop to question how our compulsion to control may be harming us, whether at home with our children and family, at work, in our friendships, or in our leisure activities?

Young or old, male or female, rich or poor, teacher or preacher — we all have the compulsion to control. Control is a deeply ingrained part of our human condition. Indeed, it underlies the entire fabric of society. Our workplaces are hotbeds for control as the “survival of the fittest” is played out through intimidation, deception, and the drive to get ahead at all costs. On the world stage, powerful nations control by imposing their values and forms of government on weaker nations. And, of course, war is all about control.

Social institutions of all kinds try to control. Religion is controlling when it tells us what and how we should believe, lest dire consequences come our way. The political arena is rife with control strategies. Misinformation about candidates is broadly disseminated to discredit them and change voters’ minds. High-stakes bartering is employed to force through partisan legislation. On the home front, we control our partners and family by telling them what they should do and criticizing their choices. We control our friends by trying to change them. We even control in love by lavishing gifts and doling out kind words to court favor, crying to churn a lover’s heart, pushing “hot buttons” to punish, and calculating when and how to bring sexual pleasure to our mate.

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