Pressure Building: All Sides Are Turning Against Silicon Valley

Gene Veith correctly notes that Silicon Valley is angering both conservatives and liberals, but the correct reason is not revealed: Technocrats are apolitical and simply use politicians to further their own agenda. What is that agenda? It hasn’t changed since the 1930s: “Technocracy is the science of social engineering, the scientific operation of the entire social mechanism to produce and distribute goods and services to the entire population…” (The Technocrat, 1938) The bottom line is, nobody likes to be manipulated.  TN Editor

The tech geniuses and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley have been lauded for their creativity and innovation, held up as models of financial enterprise and economic brilliance.  But lately opinions have been changing.  Now the titans of technology are being regarded more as 19th century robber barons.

According to Ben Smith in There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley and Eric Newcomer in Backlash Against Silicon Valley is Heating Up, both conservatives and liberals–as well as people in between–are reacting against the magnates of the tech industry.

Conservatives are irked at the way the industry supports liberal causes.  Not only by funneling lots of money to Democrats but by firing employees who express politically-incorrect views and tamping down conservative voices in the search engines and social network sites that they rule.

But for all of their social and political liberalism, the technology industrialists have also angered the left.  A recent survey of tech company executives shows what activists have long been complaining about, an extreme hostility to labor unions and government regulation.

Meanwhile, conservatives, liberals, and moderates can all agree in resenting how the tech industry is endangering Americans’ privacy with its automatic information-gathering on consumers in order to target advertising.  In addition to the intentional information-gleaning, the technology that has been developed is easily exploited for government surveillance and identity theft.

The big tech corporations have also come under scrutiny under anti-trust and monopoly laws.  Both liberals and conservatives oppose monopolies, which happen when companies get so big that they buy up or run out of business their competition, so that they can become the sole provider of the service, cornering the market and letting them set prices to whatever they please. Conservatives dislike monopolies because they prevent the free market from functioning; liberals dislike them because of their general aversion to big corporations.

The European Union has slapped a $2.7 billion fine on Google for manipulating search requests to favor its businesses and advertisers.  Then, when a think-tanker praised the EU’s action, Google pressured the foundation to fire him!  (See this editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune.)

And although Silicon Valley says all the politically-correct things about diversity and feminism–and gets rid of employees who dissent–in practice, companies are coming under fire for their own lack of diversity and mistreatment of women!

And all sides complain about the “fake news” that the new technology makes possible, the way the internet can be used to recruit and motivate terrorists and extremists of both the left and the right, and how it all can be exploited politically.

Then there is all of the cultural disruption that the new technology is causing, such as the debasement of human relationships, the bankruptcy of local businesses due to online retail, the cyberbullying and trolling that comes from anonymous communication, etc., etc.  (For an example of a recent case that has sparked the ire of the general public, see this.)

Here is Eric Newcomer’s  list of grievances: 

  • Simmering 99 percenters angry over tech’s growing power
  • Mounting antitrust concerns
  • Animus from ad-dependent media companies
  • Bias charges from right-wingers without a seat at the table in Silicon Valley
  • Complaints, especially from Democrats, about Russian interference in the election, particularly via social media
  • An effort to reckon with gender discrimination and harassment at male dominated engineering companies
  • Accusations of fake news and clickbait all around.

Then again, all of these complaints about the technology companies are typed using word processing technology, posted on internet blogs, and discussed on social media.  The critics might pause to show at least a little gratitude.

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Bitcoin Losing Anonymity As IRS Tracks Bitcoiners With New Blockchain Analysis Tools

The Bitcoin community has desperately sought financial anonymity but now is at risk for total betrayal as the IRS and other nations have learned how to track and analyze encrypted blockchains. In the digital age, Technocrats rule anytime they choose to do so.  TN Editor

Last month founder Brandon Smith warned that Bitcoin may not be all that it’s cracked up to be in terms of its purported anonymity:

For years, one of the major original selling points of bitcoin was that it was “anonymous.” It always surprised me that so many people in the liberty movement bought into this scam. Surely after the revelations exposed by Edward Snowden and organizations like Wikileaks, it is utterly foolish to believe that anything in the digital world is truly “anonymous.” The feds have been proving there is no anonymity, even in bitcoin, for some time, as multiple arrests using bitcoin tracking have indeed occurred when the FBI decided it was in their interest. Meaning, when the feds want to track bitcoin transactions, they can, and it does not matter how well the people involved covered their actions.

Because every transaction exists on a public blockchain ledger, an enterprising organization – say like the NSA or IRS – could conceivably implement blockchain analysis tools to track down Bitcoin fund transfers around the globe. These days most bitcoin transactions are originated on “trusted” exchanges that exist in Western nations, where governments have always found new and innovative ways to ensure citizens have no privacy whatsoever, especially when it comes to personal finances. This means that there is more than likely a record of your original Bitcoin transaction, perhaps involving a credit card or bank transfer, and if regulators ask an exchange to turn over the information you can bet they’ll do so in order to avoid unwanted government scrutiny. Moreover, most exchanges now require a driver’s license, passport and even a phone number in order to approve your account for trading.

The point is, for government investigators with a bone to pick, your crypto currency activities online may not be as anonymous and private as you may think.

In fact, so exposed is the blockchain to Big Brother monitoring and interference, that the Internal Revenue Service has now implemented blockchain analysis tools to help them track down individuals who are profiting off the crypto currency and not declaring these profits on their tax returns.


According to a contract recently obtained by the Daily Beast, the IRS can now track bitcoin and other cryptocurrency addresses. They can do this to route out potential tax evaders. They purchased software from the blockchain analysis group Chainalysis.

The document details that “criminals” have used digital currencies to launder money, deal drugs, and commit other unlawful behavior. However, criminals have also been using digital currencies to ignore tax liabilities and evade responsibility. The Daily Beast article elaborated:

The document highlights how law enforcement isn’t only concerned with criminals accumulating bitcoin from selling drugs or hacking targets, but also those who use the currency to hide wealth or avoid paying taxes.

Reason for IRS Crackdown; Tracking Bitcoiners

The reason the IRS is cracking down on digital currencies appears to be because only 802 people declared bitcoin profits or losses in 2015. The Daily Beast article suggests that many people may have not expected the IRS to collect on digital currencies. Others may have just thought they could easily sidestep this alleged obligation.

As a result of this failure to pay taxes, the IRS consulted with Chainalysis. They are now providing the IRS with tools to track bitcoin addresses through the blockchain and centralized exchanges. A Fortune article captured a screen shot of the letter:


The tool that Chainaylsis gave the IRS is called a refactor tool. It visualizes, tracks, and analysis transactions on the blockchain. Agencies from law enforcement, IRS, and banks will be able to use the tool, according to sources. To date, records show the IRS has paid Chainaylsis $88,700 since 2015 for its services.

Full article at

Prepare for a full-out onslaught against the government’s newest enemy: crypto terrorists.

That means YOU, if you happen to own any Bitcoin.

Because as we highlighted in 2014, under new directives passed by the Obama Administration, concrete facts are not necessary for you to be put on any number of government watch lists:

The recently declassified Watchlisting Guidance rule book issued in 2013 and developed by members of 19 law enforcement agencies that include the FBI, NSA, CIA, and NSA, outlines the rules for placing individuals, including American citizens, on the various watch lists currently in use. As noted by The Intercept, the rules, much like America’s secretive anti-terrorism laws, are vague and often contradict each other.

It reveals a confounding and convoluted system filled with exceptions to its own rules, and it relies on the elastic concept of “reasonable suspicion” as a standard for determining whether someone is a possible threat.

Because the government tracks “suspected terrorists” as well as “known terrorists,” individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being a suspected terrorist, or if they are suspected of associating with people who are suspected of terrorism activity.

“Instead of a watchlist limited to actual, known terrorists, the government has built a vast system based on the unproven and flawed premise that it can predict if a person will commit a terrorist act in the future,” says Hina Shamsi, the head of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “On that dangerous theory, the government is secretly blacklisting people as suspected terrorists and giving them the impossible task of proving themselves innocent of a threat they haven’t carried out.”

The guidelines for who is or is not a terrorist are now so vague that any American could potentially be added to a list for something as menial as knowing someone who has committed an activity deemed to be of terrorist nature. And as has been highlighted previously, those activities could range from making a hand gesture that looks like a gun or manufacturing your own gold and silver coins.

And now, of course, trading or owning Bitcoin.

Read full story here…

turbine blade

Local Missouri Citizens Block Massive Midwest Wind Power Transmission Line

It was local citizens in several Missouri counties who defeated Clean Line‘s plan to build a high-power transmission line through their state. The state was compelled to block the Clean Line application because the counties said ‘No.”  TN Editor

Missouri utility regulators on Wednesday rejected a proposed high-voltage power line to carry wind power across the Midwest to eastern states, delivering a significant setback to developers of one of the nation’s longest transmission lines.

The decision marked the second time in a little over two years that the Missouri Public Service Commission has denied a request from Clean Line Energy Partners to build its power line through the state.

The 780-mile-long line would run from wind farms in western Kansas through Missouri and Illinois to Indiana, where it would connect with a power grid for eastern states. All the other states along its route already have granted approval to the $2.3 billion project.

Most members of Missouri’s regulatory panel said they, too, wanted to approve the high-profile project but felt compelled to vote against it because of a recent state appeals court ruling. The judges in that case said utilities must first get the consent of counties to string a power line across roads before state approval can be granted. Clean Line lacks approval from several Missouri counties where its line is opposed by local residents.

It’s not clear whether Missouri’s decision will kill the project.

The Houston-based wind energy company could appeal the denial in court. It could try to win support from counties and apply for a third time to Missouri regulators. Or it could attempt to circumvent Missouri by seeking federal approval to build the line through the state, as it did for an Oklahoma-to-Tennessee power line after Arkansas regulators ruled against it in 2011.

Clean Line executives said Wednesday that they were weighing their options for the Grain Belt Express power line, though they acknowledged that the “legal and regulatory conundrum” could add many months or years to the project if they decide to keep trying.

“We absolutely want to do the project,” said Mark Lawlor, development director for Grain Belt Express. But he added: “Unfortunately, the message that we’re getting from Missouri is that investments of these kind might be better spent in other places.”

The rejected power line highlights one of the largest challenges for renewable energy developers in the U.S. Although converting wind and sun into electricity is increasingly affordable, it can be hard to get the regulatory and legal approval needed to transmit the power from remote areas where it’s produced to the places where it’s most needed.

Other large-scale renewable energy projects in the Midwest, South and West also have faced denials or delays in transmission line approvals from federal and state regulators and courts.

Opponents of the Grain Belt Express power line rejoiced Wednesday, even though the fight could continue.

“They’re done at this point. We won. They can’t build the line,” said Paul Agathen, an attorney for the Missouri Landowners Alliance. “So it’s up to them as to what steps, if any, they take.”

Read full story here…

Fighting Back Against Corporate Technocrats Who Abuse Product Owners

Technocrats at corporate giants like to project their autocracy on their products’ owner, but several states are fighting back. Oppressive and unfair practices to deny product repairs except through them is keeping lawmakers busy. Technocrat lawyers are out in force to shut down consumer legislation.  TN Editor

Planned obsolescence has long been a consumer expense and irritation. Now brand-name profiteers are pushing a new abuse: Repair prevention. This treacherous corporate scheme does more than gouge buyers on the original purchase. Using both legal ruses and digital lockdowns, major manufacturers are quietly attempting to outlaw the natural instinct of us humanoids to fiddle with and improve the material things we own in order to charge us to fix it. Indeed, the absurdity and arrogance of their overreach is even more basic: They’re out to corporatize the very idea of “owning.”

Chances are you’ve bought an Apple iPad, Chevy Malibu, Amazon Kindle, Samsung TV, GE Frigidaire or some other brand-name consumer product equipped with a dazzling array of digital doodads. And in doing so, you unwittingly consented to the corporation’s repair-prevention “gotcha” tucked into its license agreement. But in addition to deceiving and/or intimidating buyers into believing they’re legally required to trek to the high-dollar Corporate Tech Genius Store for routine maintenance, powerhouse corporate marketers are increasingly forcing customers to bring all their repair business to them.

Such an attack on individual and independent fixers is unprecedented – with cabals in industry after industry asserting their ownership control far after sales. This explosive, defining issue of the people’s democratic authority over corporate behavior has received little media coverage, is not on the radar of either major political party, and it is not widely understood – even by people who rely on the repair economy. But that lack of public awareness is about to change. Consumer advocates, small businesses, farm groups, computer activists and environmentalists are coming together in a unified, bipartisan, full-throated rebellion: The “Right-to-Repair” Movement.

This challenge to the collective might of many of the richest corporations on the globe has a solid chance of succeeding because in addition to anger, this corporate overreach stirs a visceral reaction: The profiteers are not merely messing with our “stuff,” but with us – our sense of ourselves as self-reliant, in-charge people.

This year, the grassroots groups got lawmakers in 11 state legislatures to introduce and begin pushing various versions of “Fair Repair” bills. This show of strength has startled the likes of Apple, Deere, and IBM, flushing their policies from the shadows and leading the companies to mount public, lobbying campaigns to protect their greed.

The manufacturers’ influence peddlers have killed this year’s right-to-repair bills in Minnesota and Nebraska, and punted Tennessee’s into the 2018 legislative session. But efforts are still alive in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Wyoming. Each attempt is a terrific organizing tool to expand the coalition, raise public awareness, extend the effort into other states, and come back stronger next year.

One very helpful group is iFixit, a jack-of-all trades wiki that demystifies technology and repair tasks. iFixit obtains and posts repair manuals for every Apple product made in the last decade. It also publishes step-by-step repair guides for thousands of products, from trucks to toasters; invites skilled people to help write open-source repair manuals; shows novices hacks like using a guitar pick as a cheap, effective tool for fixing electronics; hooks people up with local “bike kitchens” and repair collectives; and promotes the fix-it-yourself culture through such means as “repair fairs,” with kids joining in the fun of taking apart broken items and making them work again.

People have been fixing stuff ever since stuff was invented. Tinkering is a natural expression of the human spirit – and it is folly (not to mention insulting) for corporate executives to think that even their enormous monopoly power will be enough to crush that spirit. As awareness of this attempt by manufacturers to steal such a basic right spreads across grassroots America, so will people’s understanding of the rapacious nature of the unrestrained corporate beast – and that knowledge will fuel the people’s determination to rein the beast in. The corporatists’ narcissistic arrogance could explode in their faces.

Read full story here…

Nations Push Back: The Imperative Of Replacing Google And Facebook

Nation-states are slow to react to threats against citizen allegiance, but they are now reacting against Google and Facebook to take back their own digital space. Social networks are truly trans-national in nature, and are not respecters of  borders, language or culture.  TN Editor

Nations are beginning to take more seriously the control of their respective information space after years of allowing US-based tech giants Google and Facebook to monopolize and exploit them.

Vietnam, according to a recent GeekTime article, is the latest nation to begin encouraging local alternatives to the search engine and social media network in order to rebalance the monopoly over information both tech giants enjoy in the Southeast Asian country today.

Google and Facebook: More than Search Engines and Social Media

The two tech giants and others like them may have appeared at their inceptions to political, business, and military leaders around the world as merely opportunistic corporations seeking profits and expansion.

However, Google and Facebook, among others, have become clearly much more than that.

Both have verifiably worked with the US State Department in pursuit of geopolitical objectives around the world, from the collapse of the Libyan government to attempts at regime change in Syria, and using social media and information technology around the world to manipulate public perception and achieve sociopolitical goals on behalf of Wall Street and Washington for years.

The use of social media to control a targeted nation’s information space, and use it as a means of carrying out sociopolitical subversion and even regime change reached its pinnacle in 2011 during the US-engineered “Arab Spring.”

Portrayed at first as spontaneous demonstrations organize
d organically over Facebook and other social media platforms, it is now revealed in articles like the New York Times’, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” that the US government had trained activists years ahead of the protests, with Google and Facebook participating directly in making preparations.

Opposition fronts funded and supported by the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its subsidiaries Freedom House, International Republican Institute (IRI), and National Democratic Institute (NDI) were invited to several summits where executives and technical support teams from Google and Facebook provided them with the game plans they would execute in 2011 in coordination with US and European media who also attended the summits.

The end result was the virtual weaponization of social media, serving as cover for what was a long-planned, regional series of coups including heavily armed militants who eventually overthrew the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, with Syria now locked in 6 years of war as a result.

It was during Syria’s ongoing conflict that Google would find itself involved again. The Guardian in a 2012 article titled, “Syria: is it possible to rename streets on Google Maps?,” would report:

In their struggle to free Syria from the clutches of President Bashar al-Assad, anti-government activists have embarked on a project to wipe him off the map. Literally. On Google Maps, major Damascus thoroughfares named after the Assad family have appeared renamed after heroes of the uprising. The Arab Spring has form in this regard. When anti-Gadaffi rebels tore into Tripoli last August, the name of the city’s main square on the mapping service changed overnight – from “Green Square”, the name given to it by the erstwhile dictator, to “Martyr’s Square”, its former title.

The internet giant’s mapping service has a history of weighing in on political disputes.

Google’s monopoly in nations without local alternatives ensures that public perception is lopsidedly influenced by these deceptive methods.

The Independent in a 2016 article titled, “Google planned to help Syrian rebels bring down Assad regime, leaked Hillary Clinton emails claim,” would expand on Google’s activities regarding Syria:

An interactive tool created by Google was designed to encourage Syrian rebels and help bring down the Assad regime, Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails have reportedly revealed. 

By tracking and mapping defections within the Syrian leadership, it was reportedly designed to encourage more people to defect and ‘give confidence’ to the rebel opposition.

Clearly, more is going on at Google than Internet searches.

Nations would be equally irresponsible to allow a foreign corporation to exercise control over their respective information space – especially in light of verified, documented abuses – as they would by allowing foreign corporations to exercise control over other essential aspects of national infrastructure.

Read full story here…

bioethics film festival

Bioethics Film Festival Urges Scientists To Heed Warnings Of Science-Fiction

A public dialog on ‘what-could-go-wrong?’ with misdirected science is always welcome, but it will take more than 50 people to make it to truly make it to the public arena. Nevertheless, some people are alarmed that scientists are going too far and will harm society more than help it.  TN Editor

The Penn Bioethics Film fest is trying to start a public dialog about the real scientific issues that appear in films such as ‘Ex Machina,’ and ‘Her.’

In Spike Jones’ Her we were faced with the a rare positive depiction of invasive technology. While the human counterpart in the film becomes dependent on his AI operating system, voiced by the breathy Scarlett Johansson, there’s no hidden evil agenda of the machine. Instead, the film represents the computer as innocent—eerily similar fashion to Siri and Alexa. The integral question of the film is close to my heart: Namely, by learning to love, does it become a her?

Her is not the first charge into our dependency on complex machines. Artificial Intelligence, environmental impact, pandemic diseases, cyber-body modifications, and any point of tech often expand into a plot based on the question, “What if this went wrong?”

However, while films might implant multiple visions of a dystopian future, a real world discussion in the ethics of experimentation can be surprisingly absent. That void can breed a whole host of misunderstandings about real world science, leading us to treat revolutionary ideas, whether CRISPR or AI, only as things to fear.

Jonathan Moreno, a bioethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is trying to bridge the gap of public concern, pop culture, and the isolation of the lab through movies. He launched the Penn Bioethics Film Festival in 2016 with the intent of opening a public dialogue between relevant films and bioethical issues. This year’s festival ran April 4-6, showing Ex Machina, Her and Avatar chosen for this year’s theme, “Almost Human.” Around 50 students, professors, and Philadelphia natives attended the screening of Her on Wednesday night representing this cross section of sci-fi and academics.

“People will simply allude to Spock or Data or some science fiction film in their lectures,” Moreno told me, “we do it all the time. There’s an implicit conversation between the entertainment industry and people who are interested in bioethical issues. Our biggest problem is trying to figure out what not to show.”

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Touché: Users Stick It To ISPs, Learn How To “Pollute” Their Web Browser History

Truly, necessity is the mother of invention. So ISPs can now sell your browser history without your consent, but users figure out how pollute it so that its worthless and misleading.  TN Editor

While the US government is giving ISPs free rein to track their customers’ Internet usage for purposes of serving personalized advertisements, some Internet users are determined to fill their browsing history with junk so ISPs can’t discover their real browsing habits.

Scripts and browser extensions might be able to fill your Web history with random searches and site visits. But will this actually fool an ISP that scans your Web traffic and shares it with advertising networks?

Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula is skeptical but hopes he’s wrong. “I’d love to be proven wrong about this,” he told Ars. “I’d want to see solid research showing how well such a noise-creation system works on a large scale before I trust it.”

Steve Smith of Cambridge, Massachusetts contacted Ars and Gillula after our recent article about how the US Senate vote to eliminate ISP privacy rules affects users and what Internet users can do to hide their browsing history. He’s a subscriber to this browser pollution approach.

“Perhaps more constructively than using a VPN or Tor, fill up your monthly bandwidth allotment with data pollution,” Smith wrote to us. “You’re already paying for the bandwidth, so use it all if your ISP is going to sell your private data. This has the dual benefits of obscuring your actual browsing habits, and, if enough people adopt this practice, discouraging ISPs from selling private data.

“I’ve written a Python class to do this for my household—it crawls for links it finds using random word searches—and have shared the code,” he continued. Smith’s code is available on GitHub. Internet users often have to worry about data caps, but Smith set the default rate to use 50GB a month, or about five percent of a 1TB data cap.

Smith’s “ISP Data Pollution” project isn’t the only such effort. For instance, there’s a project called “RuinMyHistory” that opens a popup window that cycles through different websites and a browser plugin called Noiszy designed to “create meaningless Web data” by visiting various websites.

Browsing data sensitive even if surrounded by noise

A big challenge for attempts to pollute browsing history is that computers are extremely good at finding patterns, even when the data you want to hide is surrounded by a huge number of random data points. This is the kind of problem that “big data” systems are built to solve.

Gillula believes that data pollution systems may not be sophisticated enough to fool ISPs.

“In the end, it turns into a game of statistical cat-and-mouse between you and your ISP: Can they figure out how to separate the signal from the noise?” Gillula wrote in the e-mail thread with Ars and Smith. “I think ISPs will have a lot more resources (money and smart engineers who will be paid a lot) to try to figure out how to do that—way more resources than any individual or small open source project will.”

Browser noise also doesn’t eliminate the existence of sensitive browsing.

“Some information is sensitive even if it’s surrounded by noise,” Gillula wrote. “Imagine if hackers targeted your ISP, your browsing history was leaked, and it showed you visiting specific controversial websites (Democratic websites when you live in a Republican town or vice versa, or maybe looking for a divorce lawyer). Even if that was surrounded by noise, it would be very hard to get the sort of noise that would give you plausible deniability.”

This type of browser pollution system “might work for a bit,” but “if it becomes widespread then ISPs will start throwing resources at solving it,” Gillula wrote.

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Nevada Senator: Should We Outlaw Microchipping Of Humans?

Nevada State Senator Becky Harris has submitted SB 109 that would make it a Class-C felony to microchip a human. Technocrats are not amused.  TN Editor

State Sen. Becky Harris said a bill to prohibit forced microchipping of people is not as far-fetched as it might seem, because it happens in some places around the world.

Senate Bill 109 would make it a Class C felony to require someone to be implanted with a radio frequency identifier, such as microchips placed in pets.

The idea for the bill came from a constituent, the Las Vegas Republican said.

“As I began to look into the issue, I was surprised with the merit that I believe the issue warrants,” Harris told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

She said sales of radio frequency identifiers are escalating around the world, and a company in Australia as of June 2016 sold more than 10,000 implantable chips with do-it-yourself kits.

“Each kit costs about $100 and includes a tag and an injection tool,” Harris said.

The Wall Street Journal has reported an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 chips have been sold globally, she said.

Harris said the technology is used by companies in Belgium and Sweden to identify employees.

“It’s done under the idea to unlock doors or use copy machines or maybe pay for lunch, you could use your hand,” she said.

Besides privacy concerns, Harris said the concept raises ethical questions, such as who owns the chip or the information contained on it, and how does someone get “de-chipped” if they are no longer employed by the company that required it. She also wondered if a chip could be hacked to harass or stalk someone.

Harris said the Nevada bill is modeled after legislation passed by at least 10 other states.

Read full story here…


‘Reflectable’ Glasses Thwart Camera Surveillance

Necessity is the mother of invention, and a creative inventor has found a way to completely thwart iris scanning by CCTV cameras during low-light conditions. Expect other ‘resistance’ items to appear in the future.  TN Editor

An innovative design for glasses that reflect both visible and infrared light will help budding criminals to dodge CCTV cameras. Scott Urban, 35, has developed retro-style glasses that keep people’s face hidden from cameras.

Two designs, Reflectacles Ghost and Originals, bounce light back from where it comes from causing their faces to appear blurred in images.

Mr Urban says he created the design for people who are “just completely fed up with the massive surveillance state”.

He claims the products are made from micro-prismatic retro-reflective materials.

Mr Urban said: “If the material were to be viewed under a microscope, one would see many very small cube-like prisms that bounce light along each edge of the prism surface and then bounce it right back in the direction the light originated from.

“The material for Reflectacles Ghost works on the same concept, but is even more intensified by having micro-corner-cubes incorporated into the material.

“This material is the most reflective material that currently exists and it is used in laboratory situations or for signal/controller applications.


ATM in India

Cashless India Update: Angry Mobs Revolt, Raid ATMs, Demand Cash

The first identifiable global battle over cashless society has begun in India. The central bank is withdrawing cash from the financial system and the people are revolting. Bankers are bracing for angry mobs as payday approaches. If the people lose this battle, then the cashless society will sweep the world like a wildfire.  TN Editor

India’s demonetization campaign is not going as expected.

Overnight, banks played down expectations of a dramatic improvement in currency availability, raising the prospect of queues lengthening as salaries get paid and people look to withdraw money from their accounts the Economic Times reported.

While much of India has become habituated to the sight of people lining up at banks and cash dispensers since the November 8 demonetisation announcement, bank officials said the message from the Reserve Bank of India is that supplies may not get any easier in the near future and that they should push digital transactions.  “We had sought a hearing with RBI as we were not allocated enough cash, but we were told that rationing of cash may continue for some time,” said a banker who was present at one of several meetings with central bank officials.

Reserve Bank has asked us to push the use of digital channels to all our customers and ensure that we bring down use of cash in the economy,” said a banker. This confirms a previous report according to which the demonstization campaign has been a not so subtle attempt to impose digital currency on the entire population.

Bankers have been making several trips to the central bank’s headquarters in Mumbai to get a sense of whether currency availability will improve.  Some automated teller machines haven’t been filled even once since the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes ceased to be legal tender, they said.  Typically, households pay milkmen, domestic helps, drivers, etc, at the start of the month in cash. The idea is that all these payments should become electronic, using computers or mobiles.

This strategy however, appears to not have been conveyed to the public, and as Bloomberg adds, “bankers are bracing for long hours and angry mobs as pay day approaches in India.”

“Already people who are frustrated are locking branches from outside in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu and abusing staff as enough cash is not available,” said CH Venkatachalam, general secretary of the All India Bank Employees’ Association. The group has sought police protection at bank branches for the next 10 days, he added.

Joining many others who have slammed Modi’s decision, the banker said that “this is the fallout of one of the worst planned and executed government decisions in decades.” He estimates that about 20 million people – almost twice the population of Greece – will queue up at bank branches and ATMs over the coming week, when most employers in India pay their staff. In an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are in cash, banks are functioning with about half the amount of currency they need.

As Bloomberg notes, retaining public support is crucial for Modi before key state elections next year and a national contest in 2019, however it appears he is starting to lose it.

“We are bracing ourselves for payday and fearing the worst,” said Parthasarathi Mukherjee, chief executive officer at Chennai-based Laxmi Vilas Bank Ltd. “If we run out of cash we will have to approach the Reserve Bank of India for more. It is tough.”

Read full article here…