Pluralistic: 13 Nov 2020

Today's links

Big Car wants to pump the brakes on Right to Repair (permalink)

Obviously, there was a lot of stuff on the ballot on Nov 3.

In Massachusetts, there was a chance to vote on Right to Repair.


Back in 2012, 75% of Bay Staters backed a ballot initiative to force auto manufacturers to allow independent mechanics to access diagnostic data carried on cars' wired networks (but not their wireless nets).

Naturally, car makers moved all the useful data to wireless.

8 years later, the state's voters got another ballot initiative, Question 1, closing the wireless loophole. Big Car threw everything at scaring people out of voting for it, including telling them that enabling independent repair would MURDER THEM.

But despite all this, they got fucking creamed at the ballot box. Seventy six percent of bay staters voted in favor of right to repair.

I mean, of course they did. "I wish it was illegal for me to choose my mechanic," said no one, ever.

But the fuckery's only just begun. In Massachusetts political circles, there are persistent, credible rumors that the car manufacturers are going to ask the state legislature to delay the new law's start date…

By years.

They say that implementing the new data-formats is will take years to get right, and they're just not ready.

The technical term for this is: bullshit.

First, we're talking about an ISO-standard data format with extensive libraries and documentation.

The car makers are already shipping wireless updates to their cars. Tesla is sending over-the-air suspension firmware. Ford has an app that lets you change your engine performance from any IP address. Of course they can do this.

But let's say they're right and this will require heroic effort – so what? This was a completely foreseeable outcome. They subverted a law that was passed by plebescite by 75% of the voters. They knew this was coming.

If they're not prepared it's because they decided not to prepare themselves. They didn't just fall asleep at the wheel – they took a sleeping pill. If they need to pay a shit-ton of overtime to get this done, then good. The last thing we should do is reward fuckery with forbearance.

How to Fix the Internet (permalink)

At long last, EFF has a podcast! "How to Fix the Internet" has been in the works for a long time, and now it's finally a reality, with two spectacular episodes dropping more-or-less simultaneously this week.

The format's simple: EFF executive director Cindy Cohn and EFF director of strategy Danny O'Brien sit down each week for an in-depth interview with an expert on a subject of great importance to technology users (e.g. everyone).

They dive SUPER deep into the nerdy minutiae, but hold your hand while they do so that you can appreciate the nuance and technicalities.

The experts they bring on are literally my top choices for who I'd go to for explanations of these issues – and they're often the people I learned about the issues from myself.

But there are lots of explainer shows, and this goes beyond explanations.

EFF is an activist org, after all. They're not just about naming our problems – they're about solving them.

So each of these episodes isn't just about an issue – it's about a framework for resolving it.

Concrete, actionable things that legislatures, regulators, businesses (and you!) can do to make the internet safe for human thriving. It's a refreshing tonic – the opposite of a counsel of despair.

The debut is "The Secret Court Approving Secret Surveillance," an interview with Julian Sanchez about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a star chamber where judges secretly issue far-ranging wiretap orders that affect all US communications.

Ep 2 is "Why Does My Internet Suck?" with Gigi Sohn. It lays out the clusterfuck of state laws, regulatory malfeasance and Congressional inaction that made America a broadband also-ran, where access is expensive and slow, and half country's offline.

For years, I've been getting pretty deep into the weeds on these subjects, but neither are my speciality; listening to Gigi and Julian explain them was revelatory, and significantly improved my understanding of them.

EFF's gone all-out with these podcasts. Each episode page has a full transcript, extensive notes, and links for deeper dives into each facet of their issues. It's a serialized masterclass in the most important and worst understood technical issues in the world.

Here's the RSS feed for the podcast:

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Sony’s rootkit infringes on software copyrights;=article&sid;=215

#15yrsago Sony’s malware uninstaller leaves your computer vulnerable

#10yrsago Tim Wu on the new monopolists: a “last chapter” for The Master Switch

#5yrsago Facebook won’t remove photo of children tricked into posing for neo-fascist group

#5yrsago Fordite: a rare mineral only found in old Detroit auto-painting facilities

#5yrsago Hey, kids, let’s play Corporate Monopoly!

#5yrsago Hospitals are patient zero for the Internet of Things infosec epidemic

#5yrsago Cop who unplugged his cam before killing a 19-year-old girl is rehired

#5yrsago Startup uses ultrasound chirps to covertly link and track all your devices

#1yrago EFF and ACLU triumph as federal judge rules that warrantless, suspicionless device searches at the border are illegal

#1yrago Before you ask your Chinese factory for a discount, make sure you won’t be kidnapped and/or have your product cloned

#1yrago Transcription service cuts “professional transcriptionists'” effective hourly wage from $6.35 to $4.50

#1yrago A woman’s stalker compromised her car’s app, giving him the ability to track and immobilize it

#1yrago alt.interoperability.adversarial

Colophon (permalink)

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Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 574 words (83702 total).

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