This week’s installment of #error451 podcast, Bursts and William Budington speak about facial recognition technology. We chat about how different methods are employed, scanning of social media by police and security forces, different methods used to avoid it such as camouflage, lights, makeup and masks, the Google Arts & Culture app comparing people’s selfies to the contents of art museums and more.
This week on Error451, William Budington and Bursts chat about eavesdropping by digital devices. This conversation happened before the Cambridge Analytica & Facebook scandal, but covers some of the same material.
Do Facebook, Amazon, Google and other big data companies listen through your device to your conversations and target marketing at you based on your choices? What tools do platforms like those mentioned above have and what are their interests in your real-life movements, the sites you visit, how long you stay on a page and where you go next?
In a past episode, we had spoken about Apps tracking us and communicating via mic and speaker in subsonic levels with advertising devices. More on specifically Cambridge Analytica and Facebook is coming to Error451 soon!
In this week’s episode of The Final Straw Radio, we have three segments on two subjects. This week there’ll be no Sean Swain segment due to technical difficulties, but we hope to be hearing his clarion call towards dancing around the ashes of swivelization next week.
In part one, I spoke with Friday, a former J20 defendant and a supporter of the remaining 59 facing charges. We talk about the arrests, the case so far, what we saw come out of the first trial group in November of last year and the upcoming trail date set for April 17th, 2018. On Monday and Tuesday, April 2nd and 3rd there will be a call-in campaign for the for U.S. Attorney Liu to #DropJ20 and on Tuesday, April 10th there is a call for a day of solidarity with the J20 defendants. More info on that can be found in this episodes show notes or up at defendj20resistance.org alongside printable pdf’s plus ideas for solidarity actions alongside the #’s and scripts for the call-in campaign.
In part two of this episode, we’ll be airing a statement from episode 24 of the Hotwire. Here, you’ll hear LX, an anarchist and sex worker in the Midwest, where they’ll talk about their perspectives about the impacts of the laws, as well as views of recent struggles among strippers in NYC, NOLA & RVA, tools sex workers have made for themselves to share information, as well as words of encouragement for sex workers and ways that non-sex-workers can offer solidarity . You can find a full transcript of what LX has to say, alongside the rest of the Hotwire episode which we recommend giving a gander and listen, at their website.
Following LX’s breakdown of the law and some of the views around it, you’ll hear William Budington in the inaugural episode of season 2 of the occasionally weekly tech podcast from an anarchist perspective, #error451. William (a tech expert and trainer who is employed at the Electronic Frontier Foundation) breaks down the development of SESTA (which has been folded into the now-passed FOSTA (or Fight Online Sex Trafficking)) ACT, which awaits Trumps signature. The bills posed as anti-sex or human trafficking laws, however William argues, as do many groups who fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. plus consensual sex workers and their advocates, that FOSTA will hurt adults engaging in erotic services and drive them into the shadows where they in fact face more dangers, that FOSTA will take tools from their hands in keeping safer, and that even the US Department of Justice has warned that the Act will making finding and prosecuting actual human traffickers much, much harder.
Though there’ll be some overlap in what is said between William and LX, we wanted to keep the two presentations intact.
A few links that both folks mentioned to pay attention to include: Tits And Sass ; SWOP ; Tech Dirt #157 ; Strippers organizing in NOLA ; Desiree Alliance ; Survive The Club ; An informative IGD article we pulled some links from with MORE INFO.
A quick announcement about former black panther and political prisoner, Herman Bell. Herman has been in prison for 45 years for the killing of two police officers during his time with the Black Liberation Army. He has expressed remorse for the killings and family members of one dead cops has expressed that they want Herman released. He has been granted parole to be released on April 17th but there has been a pushback by the Policeman’s Benevolent Association in NY state and they’ve been backed by Mayor deBlasio and Governor Cuomo in attempting to block Herman’s release. If you want to help press back, you can:
Here are THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW to keep the pressure on in support of Herman Bell::
CALL New York State Governor Cuomo’s Office NOW
EMAIL New York State Governor Cuomo’s Office
Script for phone calls and emails:
“Governor Cuomo, my name is __________and I am a resident of [New York State/other state/other country]. I support the Parole Board’s decision to release Herman Bell and urge you and the Board to stand by the decision. I also support the recent appointment of new Parole Board Commissioners, and the direction of the new parole regulations, which base release decisions more on who a person is today than on the nature of their crime committed years ago. Returning Herman to his friends and family will help the heal the many harms caused by crime and decades of incarceration. The Board’s decision was just, merciful and lawful, and it will benefit our communities and New York State as a whole.”
TWEET at Governor Cuomo: use the following sample tweet:
“.@NYGovCuomo: stand by the Parole Board’s lawful & just decision to release Herman Bell. At 70 years old and after more than 40 years of incarceration, his release is overdue. #BringHermanHome.”
Before we start, we want to share the great news that we can now be heard Mondays at 8pm on the airwaves of KRJF-LP on 92.3FM in Santa Rosa, California! Hella hello, buddies!! We also can be heard on air Sundays on WSFM-LP in Asheville (NC), Mondays on KWRK in Fairbanks (AK) and KWTF in Bodega Bay (CA), Tuesdays on KOWA-LP in Olympia (WA) and Sundays at WCRS in Columbus (OH). If you are hearing this show and want it up on your local airwaves, please consider visiting our website and clicking the Radio Broadcasting link for details and ideas about how you can make that happen. The more stations our free radio show airs on, the more people get to hear the voices we’re presenting.
We’d like to remind you that if you appreciate the Final Straw, you can show that appreciation by sharing this show with your friends (we are on most of the crappy social networks out there), by rating us on iTunes, by sending us an email or a letter with suggestions and feedback, and also by making a onetime donation via paypal or a recurring donation via Patreon. Your donations help us to pay for equipment and attend events like the upcoming A-Radio Gathering in Germany from which we’ll surely bring you voices you won’t hear anywhere else. Thanks and have a great week!
This week on error451, the occasionally-weekly tech podcast from an anarchist perspective brought to you by The Final Straw Radio, Bursts and William Budington chat about devices crossing the U.S. border. Now, neither of us are lawyers and situations change according to laws, precedence and actual practice with border security, so consider these better practice suggestions. We talk about full disk encryption, cloud solutions, planning a trip, if some devices are more secure than others and safer-practices if you’ve lost control of your device.
William B suggests the Security Self-Defense series from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (which employs William) as a great, free resource for getting prepared for travel and other situations and keeping up on current developments in tech.
This week, Bursts was joined by Pat Boyle, a collective member at Unicorn Riot (more about them later in this post), radical independent media project. We chatted about crypto-currency, Bitcoin in particular, technologies and strategies involved in the implementation of crypto-currency, recent comings to light of increased wealth coming via Bitcoin into the hands of far right racists and ecological impacts of crypto-mining.
As to the far right, we referenced an article from IdaVox and one from Mic.com, as well as the twitterbot @NeoNaziWallets that can be visited to track transactions with the bitcoin wallets of well-known white supremacists.
Some great Unicorn Riot content that Pat & company have been releasing this year (an incomplete list):
- Black Snake Killaz, full length documentary about resistance to the #DAPL;
- Coverage from Greece & the G20 in Hamburg, Germany;
- on the ground in Charlottesville, VA for Unite The Right;
the processing of TONS of documentation of the UTR organizing on the (leaked) Discord chat platform;
track heard: Traffic by Babyland from their 1992 album, You Suck Crap.
This week, William Budington chats with Bursts about the recent exposé published by Yael Grauer at The Intercept about research by Exodus and Yale Research Group leading to the findings that hundreds of common apps available from the Android Google Play Store contain clandestine tracking apps, allowing for the scooping up of the data a phone user gives off throughout their use of the device. Ever wonder why a free flashlight app needs permission to access your microphone? Here’s why!
At one point, Bursts brings up criticisms aired about the F-Droid repository by Moxie Marlinspike, a founder of Open Whisper Systems, which makes the Signal App for free end-to-end encryption. William is kind enough to explain what the concerns come from and his views on the subject.
This week on the occasionally-weekly tech podcast from The Final Straw, Error451, Bursts and guest William Budington, a tech security expert, talk about Net Neutrality. The context is that it’s back in the news as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai appears to be pushing for the revocation of the 2015 FCC decision to declare the Internet a Title II public utility in U.S. law. The upside of this is that access to un-inhindered Internet is then supposedly enshrined in the law as a public good. The current make up of the court includes 3 Republicans (including Pai) and 2 Democrats, so if a vote happens in mid-December along party lines, the Title II status may be revoked, possibly allowing for tiered access, which would possibly allow internet service providers and comms giants who are the gatekeepers to the web to throttle access to lower-paying services or outright deny access to certain sites and services.
We chat about how Tiered Access looks in countries like Portugal, the very curious padding of at least 1.1 million online submissions to the FCC’s Open Comment period misrepresenting U.S. voters perspectives on Net Neutrality and the FCC’s apparent disinterest in investigating the stunt.
William suggests that one action listeners can take immediately, which sadly is far from a direct action is to lobby congresspeople to block the move by Chairman Pai and protect the Internet as it is. He suggests visiting BattleForTheNet.Com and petitioning the powers that be via their suggestions. As far as a wider lense of what we might do to increase autonomy and integrity in our information technologies, William suggests listeners check out and start playing with Mesh Networking technologies. Mentioned in the episode are People’s Open in Oakland, CA, USA & Friefunk in Germany
In perfect timing for holiday driving many will be doing in the U.S., we’re releasing episode 3 of Error451, The Final Straw’s occasionally weekly tech security podcast with William Budington. This episode is about GPS navigation on mobile devices and ways to use it without disclosing your information to service providers.
Oh, hand here’s a link to one of those Motherboard chat logs about Mr. Robot.
If you have ideas for topics you’d like to hear discussed or researched, send us an email at email@example.com.
This is the first standalone episode of Error451, The Final Straw’s occasionally weekly podcast featuring a conversation between Bursts and William Budington about tech, security and safer practices. Upcoming episodes include how to avoid leaking info while using maps on your device and safer practices at borders. If you have other topics you’d like to see covered, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this episode, we have a brief conversation about the idea of burner phones, mobile devices kept insulated from the users personal information and which can just be dumped when no longer useful. We talk about reasons one might use them, approaches to getting them and using them and how to dispose of them after usefulness has ceased.
Hopefully you’ll find this helpful in your endeavors!
For a 59 minute long, radio clean version for syndication purposes, please visit the archive.org collection.
Support Herman Bell
First this week, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr Kihana Mariah Ross, who is the daughter in law of Herman Bell, a former member of the Black Panther Party and a political prisoner who is currently clocking 44 years behind bars. We will speak about recent developments in his case, plus some historical context, and actionable items moving forward.
To learn more about Herman Bell and to read some of his writings, you can visit freehermanbell.org. To send him a card – and be aware that his 70th birthday is on January 14th and his upcoming parole hearing is in February 2018 – you can write to him at
Herman Bell 79 C 0262
P.O. Box 700
Wallkill, NY 12589-0700
How Best to use Signal?
In the second segment of today’s episode, we’ll air another conversation with William Budington, a digital security expert and trainer about the Signal end-to-end text encryption app for smart phones and desktops. Signal, produced by WhisperSys, is an easy to use, free means for folks to avoid one type of surveillance in their day to day communication. The ubiquitous, normalized use of encryption shields the purpose of the use, obscuring whether the practice is to shield illegal activity or not. In the conversation we talk about the human failure side of communication, as well as the informational leakage possibilities of the devices we use to engage Signal app. If you really enjoy the pie-baking/Betty Crocker metaphor, don’t despair, it doesn’t end with this segment. Check out more on this topic in our occasional series, Error451.
Stay tuned soon for a conversation with William about burner phones and more. If you have a topic about digital security, devices and programs, surveillance or related topics, leave us a suggestion at email@example.com ! If you want our pgp key, check our website.
Now, it’s my turn for a brief editorial, dear listeners. This is Bursts. I grew up in a part of so-called California known as Sonoma County, lands stolen from the Pomo and the Miwok peoples first by the Spanish, then by Mexico and Russia and then the U.S. I lived there from the mid-1980’s through 2009 and consider it my home in a way I could no other place. The rolling hills, the foggy mornings, the Coastal Live Oak groves, the nasty but 100 year old Eucalyptis groves, the early evening sky that turns a goldish orange into purple, the Manzanita, the people, the ocean breeze coming out from Bodega. These are things that I remember fondly from the deeply damaged yet still beautiful biome I called home for most (and definitely the more formative years) of my life.
This has been a year for spectacular disasters around this hemisphere, with a record 10th hurricane now appearing in the Carribean and southern U.S., 2 major earthquakes rocking Mexico and now the fires in Northern and Southern California. The fires in the north, which I’ve been paying more attention to because they QUITE literally bring home to me a sense of devastation I still haven’t been able to digest from this distance, have been whipped up by winds, a seasonal dryness out of the ordinary and fed by the aftermath of a wet winter that created a ton of easy-to-burn fuels. California has long been racked by fires, but never this many deaths and never have they consumed large parts of cities as they have with Santa Rosa. Thousands of homes have been turned to ash, monuments standing over a hundred years are cinders, human and non-human animals have been killed, damaged and displaced. California is yet another part of the world feeling the first hand effects of anthropogenic climate change, after years of over-taxing it’s water levels with large scale and animal and food agriculture, it’s manicured industrial lawns, the barely regulated weed industry booming, the building of human settlements in the middle of deserts and the idea promoted by high levels of industry and state that as the 6th largest economy in the world it could buy itself climate chaos. Day by day, year by year, this is proven more and more a delusion. But I digress.
I’d like to give a shout out to the brave folks doing search and rescue in my home away from home, the neighbors who look out for each other, that roused each other from sleep to escape the fire storms, who shelter and feed each other. Also to the fire professionals who are working to fight back the fires. An element of this that is under reported, of course, is the fact that over a thousand prisoners of the state of California and it’s included counties, are putting their lives on the line for $1 to $2.56 a day to train and then fight these blazes. That can be compared to the $31.85 an hour of the median hourly wage for non-inmate firefighters. I would like to bring this up because as the climate becomes more chaotic and the ever-tighter squeeze of austerity capitalism turns further and further away from more sustainable and stable incomes like unionized firefighters this continues a nasty trend.
Putting prisoners on the fire lines to fight the blazes, while more deadly for them than other modes of work, arguably offers them a potentially more meaningful and lucrative engagement with community service. This also fuels the profit motive of governments bent on incarcerating mostly poor communities of color, often people with chemical dependencies and neuro-divergencies the state can’t be bothered to treat but to stick them in a concrete and steel cage. More prisoners means more low-pay and expendable firefighters who’s crime was to be born the wrong color or class in the age of mass incarceration. I don’t bring this up to denigrate those risking themselves to save lives and homes, whether a prisoner or not, but to point out that this is not how a community organizes itself for it’s members, this is the logic of capital and thus streams value to the top of the pyramid.
My heart goes out to those who suffer at the hands of these fires. Let’s fight for futures where we are better prepared, where we don’t employ slave labor to fight them, and everyone has what they need to live in true community, which means true accountability to the impact of our survival on the non-human environment with which we share this awesome world.
If you’d like to help by sending some money to autonomous organizing for relief in Sonoma County, consider visiting https://generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/northbay-iww-fire-relief-fund