ER

Hanging around

Dear Reader,

Smiles

and Philippa

both complained in the comments about my last song. And they were wondering, where I have been. I shall let The Stranglers answer that:

Hanging around.

And where is Glynsky? No idea. He is MIA, missing in action, or something.

Now, pleasing Smiles and Philippa with one song is difficult. Maybe the following does the trick:

Whenever I think of Smailes, Sharp dressed man by ZZ Top comes to mind. And maybe Philippa likes ZZ Top?

Stay tuned,

Engine Room

ER

Good times

Dear Reader,

We are living in good times, and very interesting times.

While the wannabe president of the US is de-constructing himself more than the government every day, last week Chelsea Manning was released. Pardoning her was one of the things, President Obama got right. Late, but nevertheless he got it.

And in somewhat related news, the Swedish government stopped the investigation against Julian Assange. They didn’t end the prosecution, but at least will revoke the arrest warrant. Now the ball is in the British field. They still have an arrest warrant for Assange, because he skipped bail. Will the British government do the right thing now? I am not holding my breath.

How did I celebrate the good news? With a bottle of Los Vascos, mentioned on diablog earlier. This time I sampled the 2013, it is lovely. A case is ordered.

No light without shadow. In what seems to be a race to the bottom the British prime minister, Mrs. Mayhem, announced, that the UK will get its own, fully government controlled and regulated internet.

Wait, what?

Obviously, Mrs. Mayhem takes her policies from China and North Korea. The two countries I can think of, that want to block unwanted content completely. Freedom of speech? Freedom of expression? A healthy debate? For Mrs. Mayhem these seem to be totally overrated. Human rights? Freedom of the press? Naa, Mrs. Mayhem feels a lot better without. And so should you, according to her. Equally, you should feel better with the government having all your passwords. Or get charged as a terrorist. What lovely people you Brits elected there.

On a side note, not even China can filter everything successfully. How Mrs. Mayhem wants to accomplish that technically, is beyond me. Because as John Gilmore said:

The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

And the Brexiteers thought, getting out of the European Court of Human Rights would be good. No additional money for the NHS, no more free speech, job losses, increased inflation, how is that Brexit thing going for you so far? I constantly have to think of the man, who jumped from a skyscraper and while falling screamed: so far so good.

It will be interesting to see in June, whether you Brits are sheep. Vote Tory and get fleeced. Or maybe you’ll get it right this time? Again, not holding my breath, but setting a bottle aside to celebrate.

Stay sane,

Engine Room

 

 

Philippa

The Porcelain Elephant

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.

“Miss Whack, I’d like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday.”

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name.

The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it’s okay, he knows the bank manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, “Sure. I have this,” and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she’ll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.
She finds the manager and says, “There’s a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral.” She holds up the tiny pink elephant. “I mean, what in the world is this?”

(You’re gonna love this.)
The bank manager looks back at her and says….

“It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”
(You sang it, didn’t you? Yeah, I know you did.)

Never take life too seriously.

ER

Congrats, Marianne

Dear Reader,

Occasionally I have made fun of the French,

Today I want to say thank you:

  • for remaining reasonable
  • for showing the world, that one can be angry without being stupid
  • for sticking the enlightenment and sticking to it
  • for saying ‘Non’ to nationalism, fascism, and racism

Since I ran out of my favorite Armagnac – a faux pas, I know – I’ll toast with a calvados.

Merci beaucoup et bon chance,

Engine Room

ER

Stasi UK style

Dear Reader,

As you know, I value privacy. And I have a very strong dislike for snooping governments and companies.

In the run for “which government is spying on its citizens the most”, the UK is aiming for #1.

Your politicians must be scared to no end Are they expecting a revolution?

Here is their latest measure, and I would call it the worst case scenario (quote, emphasis mine):

Leaked: The UK’s secret blueprint with telcos for mass spying on internet, phones – and backdoors

Real-time full-blown snooping with breakable encryption
The UK government has secretly drawn up more details of its new bulk surveillance powers – awarding itself the ability to monitor Brits’ live communications, and insert encryption backdoors by the backdoor.
In its draft technical capability notices paper [PDF], all communications companies – including phone networks and ISPs – will be obliged to provide real-time access to the full content of any named individual within one working day, as well as any “secondary data” relating to that person.
That includes encrypted content – which means that UK organizations will not be allowed to introduce true end-to-end encryption of their users’ data but will be legally required to introduce a backdoor to their systems so the authorities can read any and all communications.
In addition, comms providers will be required to make bulk surveillance possible by introducing systems that can provide real-time interception of 1 in 10,000 of its customers. Or in other words, the UK government will be able to simultaneously spy on 6,500 folks in Blighty at any given moment.
According to the draft, telcos and other comms platforms must “provide and maintain the capability to disclose, where practicable, the content of communications or secondary data in an intelligible form and to remove electronic protection applied by or on behalf of the telecommunications operator to the communications or data.”
The live surveillance of individuals will require authorization from secretaries of state, overseen by a judge appointed by the prime minister. And there are a few safeguards built into the system following strong opposition to earlier drafts of the Investigatory Powers Act.
Closed doors
What will concern many, however, is how the draft paper and its contents are being handled.
The technical capability notices paper has only been provided to a select few companies – mostly ISPs and telcos – on a short four-week consultation, but a copy of the draft found its way to the Open Rights Group, which popped it online today.
According to the document, it has already passed through the UK’s Technical Advisory Board, which comprises six telco representatives – currently O2, BT, BSkyB, Cable and Wireless, Vodafone and Virgin Media – plus six people from the government’s intercepting agencies, and a board chairman.
That means that the contents have already been largely agreed to by most of the organizations that have been included in the closed consultation.
It is unclear whether the Home Office intends to make it available for public comment after that time or whether it will seek to push it through the legislature before anyone outside the consultation group has an opportunity to review it.
The rules will have to be formally approved by both houses of Parliament before becoming law.
You ain’t see me, right?
The process and the approach seem to be purposefully obscure. The rules come under Section 267(3)(i) of the Investigatory Powers Act – a one paragraph section that refers back to Section 253, which covers “Technical capability notices.”
There is no mention of the technical capability notices paper existing either on the Home Office website or on the Gov.uk consultation website. And the only reason we know about it is presumably because someone at one of the few companies that have been sent the draft rules decided to tell Open Rights Group about it.
But what the nine-page document does is provide the government with the legal authority to monitor anyone in the UK in real time, as well as effectively make strong and unbreakable encryption illegal.
This act of stripping away safeguards on people’s private data is also fantastic news for hackers, criminals, and anyone else who wants to snoop on Brits. The seals are finally coming off.
“This lays bare the extreme mass surveillance this Conservative government is planning after the election,” Liberal Democrat President Sal Brinton told us in a statement.
“It is a full frontal assault on civil liberties and people’s privacy. The security services need to be able to keep people safe. But these disproportionate powers are straight out of an Orwellian nightmare and have no place in a democratic society.”

 

 

Imagine what Mrs. MayDay will do after the election.

And I thought we had it bad.

Stay sane,

Engine Room