The Sizzle - Issue 889

Friday 31st May, 2019

In This Issue

  • More info on how the Assistance & Access Act will be used in the real world

  • This “has my missus been in a porno?” face detection system is pathetic

  • New game in the mega popular Call of Duty series coming in October

  • 47 companies, including Apple, Google & Microsoft tell GCHQ its plan to spy on users is bad

  • Tesla Model 3 ready to order in Australia, delivery in August

  • Keep an eye on the developer type stuff going down at WWDC

  • How Qualcomm maintained its monopoly on mobile phone radios for 20 years

  • Helping political candidates secure their IT sounds like a pain in the arse


News

More info on how the Assistance & Access Act will be used in the real world

Stilgherrian over at ZDNet has published a flowchart he got via a Freedom of Information request, from the Department of Home Affairs, that explains the process of issuing Technical Assistance Requests (TAR), Technical Assistance Notices (TAN) and Technical Capability Notices (TCN) under the new powers given to law enforcement. This is probably the most practical information regarding the Assistance and Access Act I've seen and puts into perspective the extremely vague language in the law. Must read for any IT worker afraid they'll have to be a secret agent for ASIO.

This “has my missus been in a porno?” face detection system is pathetic

Vice has a story about a Chinese dude in Germany who claims to have developed a system to find out if your girlfriend has appeared in a porno. There's no public code or a product you can use yet, but the Weibo posts that went viral claim to let someone upload a photo of a woman and use facial recognition technology to check if their face appears on Pornhub or other tube sites. Technology was supposed to make us free they said, access to more information would enlighten the world they said. Now look at us. What a boon for sad pathetic men all over the world.

New game in the mega popular Call of Duty series coming in October

There's a new version of Call of Duty - one of one of the world's most popular video games (250m copies sold, US$15b of revenue!) - coming in October. It's called Modern Warfare and is a "soft reboot that kicks off a new storyline with a few familiar, returning characters. The campaign will be split into two halves: in one you'll play as a Tier 1 operator, a special forces soldier, and in the second part you'll take on the role of a rebel fighter in the Middle East". Sounds PTSD inducing!

47 companies, including Apple, Google & Microsoft tell GCHQ its plan to spy on users is bad

You might remember an article from November, published by GCHQ explaining a way for them to see encrypted communications without backdoors, by basically CC'ing the government in on any encrypted chats of persons of interest without telling the user. As expected that idea went down like a lead balloon, as "a group of 47 companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and WhatsApp have strongly criticized a proposal by the UK intelligence agency GCHQ to eavesdrop on encrypted messages" and the proposal "would pose serious threats to cybersecurity and thereby also threaten fundamental human rights, including privacy and free expression".

Tesla Model 3 ready to order in Australia, delivery in August

Tesla has finally launched the Model 3 in Australia, with anyone now able to order the fancy electric car. Doesn’t look like you need to be a deposit holder to order or get it sooner either. Pricing starts at $66,000 + onroads (around $70,000 all up in most states) for the base model and delivery is expected in around August. The cool/dangerous Autopilot stuff is an extra $7,100. The cheapest Model 3, with Autopilot, on-road in VIC is $78,749. Any Sizzlers buying one? Can I take it for a drive?


Software Developer – Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Interested in using your tech skills to fight for workers' rights? The ACTU is looking for a Software Developer to join their data team based in Melbourne. You would be working across a wide range of technologies and projects, with plenty of opportunities to build tools to help the union movement campaign and grow.

More Detail

Sizzle subscribers paying for job ads is still a thing! If you’d like to let ~700 tech savvy Aussies know about your job, drop me a line.


Not News, But Still Cool

Keep an eye on the developer type stuff going down at WWDC

Due to my previous projects (MacTalk & One More Thing), many Sizzle subscribers are also Apple developers, so I thought it would be a good idea to mention WWDC by Sundall. It's a little website made by John Sundall to track all the stuff happening at WWDC from home. Could be handy for you developer types that need to pay attention to this kinda thing for work but don't want the headache of reading dozens of different blogs. Apple's WWDC conference is happening at 3AM on Tuesday morning (AEST), if you didn't already know.

How Qualcomm maintained its monopoly on mobile phone radios for 20 years

Arstechnica has a great article explaining how Qualcomm had the entire mobile phone industry by the balls for almost two decades. The crux of the article is summed up in this quote: "Qualcomm has monopoly power over certain cell phone chips, and they use that monopoly power to charge people too much money," says Charles Duan, a patent expert at the free-market R Street Institute. "Instead of just charging more for the chips themselves, they required people to buy a patent license and overcharged for the patent license". After reading this you'll be glad Qualcomm had their arse handed to them in court by the FTC.

Helping political candidates secure their IT sounds like a pain in the arse

Maciej Ceglowski has posted about his experience going around the USA helping political candidates secure their computers, to avoid a repeat of the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak. One of his findings (there's many!) is that password managers, whilst something really useful, are just a pain in the arse for most people to use. Also a lack of U2F for iOS is a real barrier to getting people to use hardware security tokens and constantly sending Word files with important information in it leads to people never questioning a dodgy attachment. It's great lesson for nerds like us on how to interact with "normal" people about computer security.


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😁 The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.

The Sizzle is created on Wathaurong land and acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, recognising their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay my respect to them and their cultures, and to elders both past and present.​