One of the more often heard claims against “independent” online information is that “professional” journalist are exactly so, professional, thus giving the reader some sort of “quality assurance” about the news they deliver.
The Internet, nonetheless, has proven this assumption wrong.
Among the multitude of poorly informed articles published by “official” press, one example of this lack of care in reporting a news is a recent article by Repubblica.it about the Bataclan aftermath.
The article reports a quarrel between a group of French GIGN operatives and its commander, accused of having be withheld from intervene during the Bataclan massacre by fault of “jurisdiction” concerns.
Anais Ginori, the Italian journalist that wrote the article, at a certain point writes:
What would have happened should the GIGN were taken into play? Maybe the Gendarmerie’s elite force intervention would have allowed an early neutralization of the terrorists, by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group.
What’s wrong with that?
The sentence “by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group ” is is historically inaccurate. The GIGN has been established by the French Government on 1974, as a consequence of the 1972 Black September’s Munich Olympic Games massacre, while the Italian GIS on 1978 (several years late than the GIGN, the German GSG9, and British SAS’ Special Project Team.)
Sure, one may say that this is only a minor flaw that doesn’t affect the general value of the article: at the end of the day all of this fuss is just about a matter of wrong dates, and nothing more.
But it ain’t so.
By indirectly (and wrongly) establishing some sort of “primacy” of the Italian GIS over the French GIGN, the journalist induces into the reader a false notion. And since a casual reader is not supposed to be learned into the technicalities of – as in this case – the special forces’ maze, the result is the spreading of mistakes and the building of false assumptions.
And Brexit already showed what happens when people take decisions based on false statements.
Here is the European Commission’s press release summarizing the content of the agreement, and here the fact-sheet.
A lot of people – politicians, “gurus” and “activists” use the word “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” without having read even the cover of a George Orwell’s book.
They rather want to have a look at this TED-ed short lesson, to discover what they’re actually talking about.
Whenever Apple releases a software update, a badge like that shows on your desktop
Apple just gives you an alternative with two option (install now – install later), but what if you are content with your current version? No “no” button to push, no “close” cross-hair to click, no “dismiss” gesture to perform. Sure, you can ignore the message and carry on, disable the auto-update feature etc., but the point is that – at a glance – you’re not given a full list of possibility.
This is freedom, the Apple Way: do whatever you want as soon as you pick one of the option we lay down for you.
This is the “Walled Garden” strategy that sound oddly familiar to Noam Chomsky‘s prop-agenda theory…
Do you see this glass of water in front of us? To a pessimist is half empty… to an optimist is half full… to an engineer is just much too big.
This is a quote form an interview that Buzz Aldrin gave to the Italian national broadcasting service on July, 21 2007.
No need for further explanation…
Two food&beverage Japanese giants, Kirin and Glico, just released a clever comarketing online campaign: each company designed its own package – tea and snack – so that when the boxes are kept mutually close, the portrayed characters look like kiss each other.Of course, there are plenty of characters so that consumers may start a collection or using it in other creative ways. But the genius strike is to release a smartphone app that by recognizing the matched characters tell the customer their love story (the App part starts at 2,10.)
According to a statement published on the Brazilian Policia Federal’s website, a criminal court issued a “mandado de prisão preventiva” (roughly, pre-emptive arrest order) against Facebook’s representative in Brazil, charged of not having cooperated in providing information about a Facebook page.
The Brazilian Court, unlike the San Bernardino’s one in the Apple case, chose to put its white gloves off and go straight for the jugular, leaving no doubt about the fact that cooperation with the public prosecutor is a mandatory duty for everybody, tech-companies included.
By comparing the Apple and the Facebook cases (and Google’s public position about the topic) a disturbing trend emerges: Internet companies (at least the so said “Over The Top” – OTT) “think different” about themselves. Why the OTT should be let alone, when an ISP is burdened (often for free, BTW), to provide a public prosecutor with wiretapping, data-retention, forensic support, and data-mining services? Like it or not, corporate criminal liability and obstruction to justice regulation still work for the OTT too, and the OTT must live with it.
This Facebook case further supports the opinion I’ve expressed about the true issue at stake: by one side, the lack of confidence is our social and legal system as a whole and thus the fact that you can’t actually trust a magistrate and a law enforcement agency; by the other side the “ubermensch” syndrome that affects (not only high-tech) companies and that leads them into thinking that they have the “right” (or the power) to part the right from wrong.
The US District Court for the Eastern District of New York Order that prevented the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to force Apple to provide support in bypassing the passcode security on an Apple device is another chapter of the “Should-we-allow-State-to-mess-with-our-intellectual-property” saga, starring Apple.
Now that another Court ruled in a different way than the previous one, the score is even: 1 for the “crack-the-iphone” team, 1 for the “don’t-even-think-about-it” Cupertino’s.
To me, this legal uncertainty shows the mistake underlying the whole issue.
A public prosecutor has the power to do whatever it takes to finalize an investigation, provided that his powers are scrutinized by a judge. This is the theory, and a fair compromise under the “check-and-balance” doctrine.
So, from a strictly legal point, Apple and the NY court are wrong, since the privacy threats and the possibility of abuse were still there with the wiretapping, remote surveillance and so on. The Iphone issue is just a variation of a known “breed”. We all know that the legal system is not “foolproof”, and that sometimes somebody abuses of his prerogatives, but
this is not a reason to stop allowing a law enforcement entity to do its job by way of technical means.
Again, the actual point is whether the private interests of a company can overrule the State duty to seek for justice.
And even if Apple were right, this would make things worser, because it would means that we live in a society that we ourselves don’t trust enough. And if so it is, obviously the problem is neither Apple nor the Iphone encryption…
Although PGP is widely spread and used since 25 years, after the first, early complaints nobody heard a single hiss from the FBI and its siblings about the IOS-like “problems”. Maybe this is because of the open source license attached to PGP that allows whoever has enough brain, power and money to find ways to crack it. In the past, for instance, the FBI has been able to crack a Truecrypt password belonging to a suspect.
To balance people rights with the needs of the investigation, Apple might just go open source or, at least, disclose to the law enforcement community the IOS source code, thus allowing the “good guys” to develop long-term tools for forensic purposes.
Of course, to Apple, this is an absolutely nonviable option, nevertheless the point stays: should a government be entitled to access each and every source code of critical software?
To put it short, the Apple vs FBI quarrel involves the role of proprietary copyright and has about nothing to do with the “we protect our customer rights” claim.