What “Big Brother” and “Orwellian” actually mean

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.

Apple Update’s Options. Freedom the Apple Way

Whenever Apple releases a software update, a badge like that shows on your desktop

deceivingoptionApple 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…

Kirin’s Gogo Kocha and Glico’s Pocky: A Great Online Marketing Stunt

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.kiringlicoOf 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.)

After Apple, Facebook Is the Next Target of Judicial Orders to Cooperate With Prosecutors

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.

Apple, the FBI and the All Writ Act. Why the New York Court is 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…

Apple vs FBI: A Disturbing Option (for Apple)

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.

No, Mr. Cook, A Flawed IOS Is Not Like A Sort Of Cancer

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, talking about the request made by the law enforcement community to weakens IOS  stated that to comply to what the FBI is asking, would mean write a software that is sort of the equivalent of cancer.

The statement is technically wrong , a slap in the face of the people who are plagued by this deadly disease and the evidence that talk is cheap.

First: cancer is an highly evolved entity (being around since 4 billions of years or so) made of mutated cells that have lost its “self-killing” mechanism, that keep mutating and growing and creating new forms of cancer elsewhere in the body once removed by surgery or other therapies. This has nothing to do with a piece of software kept under strict control by a private company.

Second: Mr. Cook is absolutely within his rights when he tries to defend his company’s Intellectual Property, but this time Apple’s spin doctors pushed the limits much too far when for the sake of the controversy they involved people that are meeting their fate in a dire straits.

Third, of all arguments that could have been exploited by Mr. Cook’s spin doctors, referring to such a dramatic disease shows a true lack of compassion toward our fellows human beings. Maybe this is not what Mr. Cook had in mind, but this is how his statement looks like.