If Google gives it to you for free, it merely means you are the commodity.


Two children sue Google for allegedly collecting students’ biometric data

Two children from Illinois are suing Google for allegedly collecting biometric data, including face scans, of millions of students through the search giant’s software tools for classrooms.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a federal court in San Jose, California, is seeking class-action status. The children, known only as H.K. and J.C. in the complaint, are suing through their father, Clinton Farwell.

Google is using its services to create face templates and “voiceprints” of children, the complaint says, through a program in which the search giant provides school districts across the country with Chromebooks and free access to G Suite for Education apps. Those apps include student versions of Gmail, Calendar and Google Docs.

The data collection would likely violate Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA, which regulates facial recognition, fingerprinting and other biometric technologies in the state. The practice would also likely run afoul of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, a federal law that requires sites to get parental consent when collecting personal information from users who are under 13 years old.

In August 2013, DEFCAD released the public alpha of its 3D search engine, which indexes public object repositories and allows users to add their own objects. The site soon closed down due to pressure from the United States State Department, under the pretense that distributing certain files online might violate US Arms Export ITAR regulations.

From 2013 to 2018, DEFCAD remained offline, pending resolution to the legal case Defense Distributed brought against the State Department, namely that ITAR regulations placed a prior restraint on Defense Distributed’s free speech, particularly since the speech in question regarded another constitutionally protected right: firearms. While the legal argument failed to gain support in federal court, in a surprise reversal in 2018, the State Department agreed that ITAR did in fact violate Defense Distributed’s free speech. Therefore, for a brief period in late 2018 DEFCAD was once again publicly available online.

Shortly thereafter, 20 states and Washington DC sued the State Department, in order to prevent DEFCAD from remaining online. At its core, this new suit (correctly) cited a procedural error: the proper notice had not been given prior to enacting the change in how ITAR applied to small arms. As such, DEFCAD was once again taken offline, pending the State Department providing proper notice via the Federal Register.

On March 28, 2020, DEFCAD once again became publicly available online

Gun-Rights Activist Releases Blueprints for Digital Guns
Cody Wilson calls the move impervious to legal challenge

A U.S. technology company made thousands of digital-gun files publicly available, including blueprints that will enable users to make plastic guns with three-dimensional printers, a scourge of gun-control advocates.
Cody Wilson, a director of the company, Defcad, has waged a multiyear legal battle against the federal government over the right to share 3-D-gun-related materials. This was the third time he has released such files, but the first time he has abided by U.S. foreign export controls online, using what he said are digital verification tools to ensure legal file downloads.
Mr. Wilson said he believed his release of the files would be “impervious” to legal challenge and would help normalize the distribution of such material for easy download in the future.
Mr. Wilson is offering access to the files for an annual fee of $50, characterizing his service as “Netflix for 3-D guns.”
His opponents quickly condemned the action, saying that he is bypassing federal gun laws, including those providing for background checks of gun buyers. Foes are also concerned about the proliferation of 3-D-printed guns, which don’t have serial numbers, making it difficult for law-enforcement officers to track them should they be involved in a crime.
“The biggest concern with 3-D-printed guns and the technical data for them is that they’re not traceable,” said Kelly Sampson, counsel at Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a gun-control group. “It’s a huge loophole and opportunity for people who would otherwise be unable to access firearms to be able to do so.”
Federal law generally permits the manufacture of guns for personal use.
The State Department, which oversees the distribution of 3-D-gun blueprints, regardless of export intent, has the responsibility of scrutinizing Mr. Wilson’s new effort. The department declined to comment.
Mr. Wilson said he is fighting the imposition of limits on personal freedoms and that he expects people to download the 3-D-gun files not necessarily to manufacture guns, but “as a form of internal resistance.”
“For me, this is a political battle,” Mr. Wilson said.
Mr. Wilson first alarmed lawmakers when his company, Defense Distributed, published 3-D-gun design files in 2012. In 2013, the State Department ordered him to take down the plans.
The Obama administration ultimately reasoned that the files could be downloaded by foreign nationals and were thus classified as exports regulated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, a U.S. control on the export of defense and military technology.
Mr. Wilson had run afoul of laws designed to control sales for export, not those restricting domestic transactions.
Mr. Wilson engaged in a lengthy legal fight with the federal government, ultimately prevailing in 2018 when the State Department amended its policy and allowed the files to be posted, issuing Mr. Wilson a license to do so.
President Trump waded into the discussion that summer, writing on Twitter that he was “looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!”
Mr. Wilson again published the plans on his site, before a group of 19 state attorneys general brought suit against him in Seattle federal court. U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik issued an injunction ordering Mr. Wilson to take down the plans.
In his ruling, Mr. Lasnik wrote that Mr. Wilson aimed “to arm every citizen outside of the government’s traditional control mechanism.”
Mr. Wilson said he had been waiting for a long-planned transfer of 3-D-gun oversight from ITAR to the Commerce Department to go through before reissuing the blueprints. Commerce Department oversight is in some respects more lenient than that of ITAR, as it isn’t subject to congressional approval.
But when a new suit was brought in Seattle federal court last year, blocking the transfer of 3-D guns to the Commerce Department’s oversight list, Mr. Wilson charted a new course.
Instead of openly publishing the plans, he said that he would now first vet people who would like to download them, ensuring that they are U.S. citizens or legal residents and that they are located within the U.S., maintaining compliance with ITAR export rules.
To achieve this, Mr. Wilson said he would employ four levels of security, including IP geolocation and proxy detection and technology developed for credit bureaus and anti-money-laundering specialists.
“The internet is not an airtight, hack-proof system,” Ms. Sampson said. “Even some of our most secure databases are vulnerable. It’s not quite living in reality to assume that you can 100% secure information that’s online.”
Mr. Wilson’s proposed system can’t prevent people who download blueprints from sharing them with others, including with those outside the U.S. “I can only tell them that it’s against the law to do so,” Mr. Wilson said.
Nevertheless, Mr. Wilson said his approach adheres to export rules. “I’m a compliant part of the system,” he said.
Defcad has so far made 3,680 files available. Mr. Wilson said that the site will ultimately offer more than 25,000 files, the great majority of which will be for traditional guns and gun components. Many of those are already in the public domain.
Mr. Wilson, who lives in Austin, Texas, timed his Friday release to coincide with the anniversary of the 1836 execution of several hundred soldiers in the Texas revolution in the town of Goliad.

 

The First COVID-19 Vaccine Was Made in ‘Record’ Time and Phase 1 Trials Have Begun in Seattle.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health says the United States has developed a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19, in record time.  Fauci made the statement at the White House update on the coronavirus.

He told reporters that the first vaccine was given in Seattle on Monday.

“The vaccine candidate that was given the first injection for the first person took place today. You might recall that when we first started I said it would be two to three months and if we did that, that would be the fastest we’ve ever gone in obtaining the sequence to being able to do the Phase 1 trial. This has been now 65 days, which I believe is the record.”

Fauci told a White House briefing on the coronavirus that 45 people in the coronavirus hot-zone of Seattle were given the vaccine and will be watched over the next year to determine its efficacy:

“What it is, the trial of 45 normal individuals between the ages of 18 and 55. The trial is taking place in Seattle. There will be two injections, one at zero day, the first one, then 28 days. There will be three separate doses, 25 illigrams, 100 milligrams, 250 milligrams, and the individuals will be followed for one year, both for safety and whether it will induce the kind of response that we predict would be detected. So it’s happened. The first injection was today.”

President Trump announced more efforts to quash the virus on Monday at the update. He urged people to avoid groups of more than ten people.

So far, there are about 4,100 confirmed coronavirus, COVID-19, cases in 49 states, Puerto Rico, and in Washington, D.C.

School Canceled Because of Coronavirus? A Homeschooler Offers Some Tips.

For those parents who haven’t already converted to home schooling to remove their children from public school those cesspools of leftist indoctrination

COVID-19 is in the news with new cases reported every day. The list of schools, colleges, and other institutions suspending their efforts is also adding up. But there’s one education sector that may get away with minimal disruption: homeschoolers. Families that take responsibility for their kids’ education have a distinct edge in terms of flexibility and adaptability when it comes to unexpected events like … well … a worldwide pandemic that has people on edge.

“Closing schools and using internet-based teleschooling to continue education” was the scenario envisioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Nancy Messonier in a February 25 press conference. “You should ask your children’s school about their plans for school dismissals or school closures. Ask if there are plans for teleschool.”

Teleschool? Homeschoolers are so on that. Or if they’re not into teleschooling, they have a stack of books and papers, kitchen-counter science experiments, video lectures … The list goes on, and much of it adds up to the “social distancing measures” of which teleschooling is supposed to be part.

What’s “social distancing”? As Messonnier noted, social distancing is “designed to keep people who are sick away from others.” That means breaking up large gatherings where germs can be shared and spread.

Discouraging gatherings is an important move from a public health perspective, but it’s enormously disruptive to businesses, government bodies, and organizations that are designed around assembling large numbers of people in one place. That means big challenges for, among other institutions, traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Homeschoolers, however, have an edge because their efforts are not inherently constructed around large gatherings.

That doesn’t mean that homeschoolers never get together. Contrary to accusations from critics, family-based education is not an inherently solitary venture.

Homeschooling often involves group lessons that take advantage of specialized expertise, collaborative projects, field trips with homeschooling associations, sports teams, and more—which means that homeschoolers have changes to make in a time of pandemic, too, in terms of reducing or eliminating outings and activities. But that doesn’t mean cutting down on education; these days, there are loads of relatively easy work-arounds for homeschooling families.

If you’re new to family-based education, and especially if you’re busy with your own remote work, you may find it best to go with a comprehensive online program, like a virtual publicly-funded charter school or tuition-charging private school.

Virtual private schools are available anywhere in the United States, while the availability of charters depends on your local laws. Arizona, where I live, maintains a list of virtual charter schools, but you’ll need to do a bit of research for your own state.

Besides full schools, the Internet is a treasure-trove of learning materials that don’t require you to trek to a bookstore, a lecture hall, or even to wait for package delivery. Classic literature is available for free in electronic format through Project GutenbergKhan Academy has long since expanded beyond its original mission of delivering math lessons, the American Chemical Society gives away a complete chemistry curriculum, and a variety of lesson plans are freely available from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Edsitement. If you’re interested, I’ve prepared a downloadable list of resources.

I’ve never met a conference software that I’ve loved—video sometimes freezes, audio drops out, and connections fail. That said, my son has used both Blackboard and Zoom in the course of his lessons, and he and his peers as young as 10 or so took to it naturally, even troubleshooting glitches as needed. Conferencing software will accommodate presentations, feedback, shared screens, and other means of simulating a classroom across distances and without putting students in one place to share germs. Teachers and students can even transfer files back and forth.

Skype is an excellent stand-by for online meetings with teachers. Yes, your kids can be verbally quizzed in a foreign language across that platform while the teacher looks on to check for cheat sheets or other shortcuts. The kids might then receive messaged feedback through the same software.

For teamwork on projects, I think working online may be more effective than getting a bunch of kids together in one room. Recently, I got to listen to a bunch of 14- and 15-year-olds collaborate on a script for a skit that they edited in Google Docs. For presentations, they’ve worked the same way in Google Slides. One nice feature is that the technological solutions really cut down on the “I left my work at my friend’s house” factor. No, you didn’t, kid; it’s sitting in the cloud.

(Incidentally, collaborative software doesn’t make teenagers act any less like teenagers. If forced to listen in, you will still want to bang your head on a table.)

When it comes to sharing short pieces of work, art, and the like, my son and his friends sometimes take photos of their efforts and text them to each other or to an instructor. That’s a quick and easy solution in many cases when uploading and downloading documents is more effort than necessary.

The hard part isn’t finding work for your home students to do; it’s keeping them focused. Every child is different, and some are more self-directed than others.

Yes, you will have to check on them even if you’re not directly administering their lessons. That can be a challenge for new homeschoolers, but my experience is that most kids respond better to mom and dad than they do to teachers they barely know and won’t see after the year’s end.

Socializing is where the “social distancing” recommended for our virus-ridden times bites deep. But I have to imagine that cell phones, social media, and video chat make easier work of dealing with the requirements of the pandemic than what our ancestors suffered when they dodged polio or the Spanish flu. The kids can all complain to each other over their favorite apps about the privations they’re suffering in these hard times.

Fast delivery, downloadable books, and streaming video do away with a bit of the sting, too. The kids can still consume current media and discuss their favorite shows and novels—just not face-to-face for a while.

And here’s the thing. If you try homeschooling, you may discover that it’s not just a good way to keep COVID-19 at bay, but an effective approach to education more generally and a good fit for your family. If so, well, welcome to a happy, healthy, and growing club.

Microsoft, the ID2020 Alliance, universal digital identification and you

I don’t know what it may sound like to you, but to me, I remember something in a book written by a man named John, that was along the lines of referring to something like an issued universal identity being needed for any and all commerce.

Last year Microsoft joined ID2020, a global Alliance whose goal is to create universal digital identities for everyone. What are the social, economic and ethical implications of such an initiative?

Our digital activity increasingly parallels our real-world activity. Participation in the modern economy, the ability to buy and sell, attain employment, healthcare, social services and more are virtually impossible without a digital identity. In May of 2016, at the United Nations Headquarters in NY, ID2020, an alliance of governments, non-profits, academia, over 150 private sector companies and 11 United Nations agencies collaborated on how to provide a unique digital identity to everyone on the planet.

Most coverage of the ID2020 Alliance focuses on its noble objective to provide digital identities to the over one billion refugees, women, children and others without any form of identification. The message of providing digital identification for this “invisible” portion of the earth’s population to enable their participation in society places a human face over the true mission. It also creates a rallying point that this open alliance hopes other entities will, like Microsoft, embrace and become a part of this global effort.

The fundamental mission of creating a universal identification system that incorporates every person on the globe, using modern technology and the support of various governments, financial institutions and more is the goal hidden behind the humanitarian cause.

The ID2020 Alliance and its 2030 goal

According to the Alliance’s Governance material “by 2030 it aims to have facilitated the scaling of a safe, verifiable, persistent digital identity system, consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals” agreed upon by the United Nations.” It’s short-term focus toward that goal is the development and testing of the best technological solutions for digital identity; and working with governments and other entities in their implementation. The focus on the 1.5 billion people without identification is part of that short-term vision.

The long-term vision revolves around the Alliances “Case for Action” which states a convergence of trends provides an unprecedented opportunity to make a coordinated, concerted push towards the goal of universal digital identity. Those trends include political accord among United Nations members, growing global connectivity, emerging technologies and global calls for a new model of identity.

  • Political Unity: In 2015 all United Nations countries made a global commitment to provide legal identity for everyone by 2030.
  • Global connectivity: Smart device proliferation allows new registration methods and enables consistent interaction with identity data.
  • Emerging technology: Block-chain technology, like that used with Bitcoin, and into which Microsoft has invested to create a decentralized id (DID) makes secure and verifiable tech accessible to the masses.
  • New Identity Model: Consumers want a seamless and secure digital experience.

Microsoft, in a recent announcement regarding using blockchain technology for decentralized identification further articulated its support of this initiative stating, “Each of us needs a digital identity we own, one which securely and privately stores all elements of our digital identity.”

You Can Now Stop Facebook From Tracking Your Activity on Other Websites. Here’s How
The ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ tool allows you to control what information about you is tracked and associated with your Facebook account.

As of Tuesday, you can now turn off the collection and sharing of data that sites and apps send to Facebook. You might have had some idea that Facebook was keeping tabs on what you do, but I’m willing to bet you’ll be surprised by the volume of information Facebook has about you. In fact, as I wrote earlier today, even your Ring doorbell app is sharing information with Facebook.

Websites and apps use Facebook’s Pixel and software development kit (SDK) to collect information about your device and your activity, and send that to Facebook. Facebook uses that information to then show you targeted ads.

It’s why people are convinced Facebook must be listening to their conversations since they see ads in their News Feed for the very products or items they were just talking about. Here’s a newsflash: Facebook doesn’t need to listen to your conversations. It already knows so much about you, it can practically read your thoughts.

If you don’t believe me, the “Off-Facebook Activity” tool that Facebook announced back in August is finally available. Go take a look at exactly what Facebook has collected about you. You might be surprised at all of the sites and apps you use on a regular basis who are sharing information about what you do.

Here’s how to find out what sites are sending information to Facebook about you. The “Off-Facebook-Activity” tool isn’t easy to find (though you can click that link to go directly to it). If you want to navigate there, click on the drop-down carrot in the top right of the desktop version of Facebook. Then select “Settings” and “Your Facebook Information.” There you’ll find an option for “Off-Facebook Activity.”

JASON ATEN

There you’ll find a list of all the sites that are sharing information with Facebook, and you can clear your history (removing this information from your account), turn off tracking for specific sites, or disable this tracking completely. To be clear, if you turn it off, Facebook will still receive information about your activity, it just won’t be associated with your account.

also, turning off this type of data sharing does mean that you won’t be able to use Facebook to log in to other apps or sites. Never mind that you shouldn’t be using it, for this very reason, but if you are, you’ll be logged out and have to create a new login for those accounts or apps.

I don’t often give Facebook credit for considering the privacy interests of its users, but this is a welcome step in the right direction. The company has often had a hard time balancing its need to know as much as it can about you so that it can monetize that information, with the ability for users to control what information is being collected and tracked. While there are still a lot of changes Facebook will have to make before it can really claim to be a “privacy-protective” platform, this is a good start.

14 January Patch Was the Last for Windows 7. Also Microsoft: Actually… Wallpaper-Stripping Bug Will be Fixed

Microsoft has quietly admitted that it will be fixing the final Windows 7 patch that left some stretched wallpapers borked.

It was to be the last hurrah for Windows 7: After the 14 January patch there would be no more freebies from Microsoft as extended support was turned off in favour of its paid-for Extended Security Update (ESU) program.

The up to three years of extra patches is being punted to enterprises or badly organised Germans, but out of reach for most ordinary users.

Those ordinary users, however, could be forgiven for feeling a little hard done by after an image of a favourite kitten or corporate logo was replaced, just by the act of applying the final patch — something more representative of the black heart of the Microsoft of yesteryear.

Microsoft updated its support page for the patch, suggesting those afflicted by the curse of KB4534310 should stop using the Stretch option wallpaper, or go for something that matched the desktop resolution.

Why Unlocking More Oil and Gas is Good for Every American – And the Environment

What if gasoline prices doubled?  In other words, if you had to pay $5.00 per gallon, how much would that hurt your life?

That’s what happened during the 1970s oil crisis. The Middle East-led Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) weaponized oil by embargoing the United States twice. At that time, America lacked the capacity to make up for the lost oil. In 1978, the average price per gallon was around 60 cents.  By 1981, it reached $1.35.  The economy went into severe recession and millions lost their jobs.

But more recently, major unrest in the Middle East has not affected Americans as strongly as it used to.

On September 14, 2019, Iranian-backed militias attacked the world’s largest oil refinery, in Saudi Arabia. The attack cut the refinery’s capacity in half.

But despite some expert predictions, oil prices barely flinched. Americans saw no price spike at the pump.

Iran escalated the violence. Its proxies assaulted the American embassy in Baghdad just before New Year’s Day. This attack could have sent fuel prices through the roof, hurting our economy. But even after the United States responded by killing the Iranian terrorist general who orchestrated the attacks, fuel prices rose a little and then dropped back to where they were before the hostilities. If you blinked, you missed it.

The likelihood that Iran or any other bad actor can use violence or weaponize oil to hurt the global economy has dramatically receded. Why?

American energy leadership is why. As the chief regulator of oil and gas production in Texas, I am on the front lines of American energy production. And I am seeing a revolution that helps all Americans.

Our modern economy needs energy. From the smart phone in your hand to the lights in your home to the electric cars more Americans drive, we depend on affordable and reliable energy. We have vast proven oil reserves, we have the technology to extract it, and under the Trump administration we have the freedom to produce it and get it to market. Americans produce oil and gas more affordably and reliably than anyone else.

This affects everything for the better, including the environment. When I was building my business, I visited about half the world’s refineries. No one produces energy more cleanly than Americans do. Some point to flaring natural gas as an issue. Natural gas is a by-product of oil production. No one likes flaring, but producers are flaring just one to three percent of the total natural gas produced in Texas.

The solution to flaring is not to slow down oil production, or ban fossil fuels as some suggest, but to speed development of pipelines and other capacity to get natural gas to market. America has actually reduced emissions faster than any other industrialized country, thanks to the market-driven switch to natural gas. We just need to get more of it to market here and around the world.

The United States was once desperately dependent on foreign oil. In 1973 we imported about 35% of our oil from the Middle East. In 2019, the United States became a net oil exporter. Now, we produce 12 million barrels per day (5 million in Texas alone) and import less than 10% of our oil from the Middle East.

We have diversified our other foreign sources. When we were dependent on Middle Eastern oil, American forces had to stand cop on the beat to keep the oil flowing through chokepoints such as the Straits of Hormuz. This made us more likely to get into wars. Now our energy sources are more stable and reliable than ever.

Energy is one cost that no one in our modern economy can avoid. Unlocking America’s energy makes us safer and richer. For the teacher or nurse making $60,000 per year, at current gas prices you’re paying about $2,600 per year for gas if you commute 25 minutes to and from work every day. A 1973-size gas price spike would raise your costs significantly, to around $4,000 per year – just to drive to work. The price of the electricity to power your home would also rise significantly. You’d feel that pinch right in the wallet. I’m working every day to make sure that doesn’t happen.

What do Americans really want from oil and gas producers? Affordable and reliable energy produced as cleanly and safely as possible. How do we get that?

Drill baby drill. Right here in America.

Ryan Sitton is the Texas Railroad Commissioner. 

Microsoft is replacing Edge with its new Chromium browser
Users will be automatically transitioned

Heads Up!

Microsoft is replacing its Edge browser with the updated, Chromium-based version

We already knew this was coming because Microsoft announced the new Edge’s launch date last month, but it wasn’t clear that users would be pushed to the new version. Thankfully it will look mostly the same as the existing Edge browser, with all the same proprietary Microsoft features, except for a slightly more Chrome-esque look.

THE BENEFITS OF SWITCHING TO CHROMIUM — Since the new Chromium Edge will be based off the same browser as Google Chrome, Edge will now support all the same extensions. Last month developers were invited to port their Chrome extensions over to the Microsoft Store, with the company saying that most extensions could be transferred over without any additional work. Edge is the default browser for all 900 million Windows 10 users, so there’s obviously an incentive there to port extensions.

Being based off Chromium also means that any site optimized for Chrome will look the same in Edge, because they share the same rendering engine, and web developers won’t have to design their sites with Edge in mind. That’s important because Chrome is by far the most popular internet browser with a 70 percent market share.

MICROSOFT HAS TAKEN STEPS TO MAKE IN UN-GOOGLE — Some might be displeased about the change due to opposition over Google’s business model. By developing on the open-source Chromium project, Microsoft is helping to improve Google’s browser, which it uses to collect data for advertising purposes. There was a brief uproar last month when world spread that Apple might rebuild Safari on Chromium, a rumor that was quickly killed to the relief of anti-Google, Apple loyalists. Microsoft has actually taken pains to introduce privacy features into its flavor of Chromium that will make it less permissive of the fingerprinting and other tracking methods that Chrome supports.

Microsoft says that enterprise customers won’t see their browser actually upgraded, but will rather have the choice to stick with the “traditional” Edge or the Chromium flavor.

The Real Reason the UN Wants Control Over the Internet

Obama allowed the US contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to expire in 2016. ICANN assigns IP addresses and maintains the stability and security of the internet. As planned, the UN picked up that contract and now has the power to throttle the Internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the big prize that will fund total control over human activity and is expected to generate $3-trillion in revenue by 2025 — and continue to grow by 30% per year. If the UN taxes the Internet of Things, as it plans to do, it finally will be self funded without relying on member states. ICANN has the ability to assign a unique and directly addressable number to every electronic device on Earth, including air conditioners, computers, automobiles, cameras, phones, refrigerators, articles of clothing, and much more…

The reason that ICANN formerly served the interests of the United States was simply that it answered to our government’s judicial, legislative and executive branches. In other words, the U.S. held the umbrella over ICANN and that was enough to keep it working for our national interests and not for someone else’s interests.

Obama changed that when he cut ICANN loose on September 30, 2016 by letting the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract expire without being renewed. After expiration, we forever lost the right to renew the contract again.

So, ICANN is now a “free-agent” looking for shelter in the same way that a boll weevil looks for a cotton plant: it needs a host organization in order to practice its craft, and, I dare say, it doesn’t care one whit who that host is.

Hundreds of millions of Android phone cameras can be hijacked by spyware.

Rogue Android apps can hijack the default camera apps on Google and Samsung smartphones, and probably the camera apps on many other brands of Android phones, to take photos and record video and audio without the device users’ permission.

The apps can also view phone locations and other apps’ files, turning the phones into perfect spying devices. Even the best Android antivirus apps might not be able to protect you.

This flaw has been patched in Google and Samsung devices, according to Checkmarx, the Israeli security firm that found the vulnerability. But it’s not clear how many other phone makers have taken similar steps.

Internet Must be Decentralized, Says Wikipedia Founder

In this exclusive interview with The New American’s Alex Newman, Wikipedia Founder Larry Sanger explained why he is now a critic of the online encyclopedia he helped to create. Sanger, who serves as executive director of the Knowledge Standards Foundation, blasted the liberal bias of Wikipedia, as well as the lack of public participation. He says the Big Tech companies have centralized the Internet, and that must be reversed. And finally, he talks about the pedophilia scandals involving elites from Silicon Valley, Hollywood, government, and beyond, saying humanity must understand how the world really works.

NOTICE: Facebook And Google Indexing Your Firearm Serial Numbers

Google and Facebook have now made it possible to find photos of firearms by simply typing a serial number into the search box.  Earlier today, the automotive website Jalopnik published a story showing how license plate numbers are evidently scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) on Google images, allowing them to be searchable using text queries. Using the OCR hypothesis, TFB wondered if this image data mining technique might be able to be used to search for firearm serial numbers. Using images posted previously on TFB with serial numbers displayed on firearms, we tested the serial number search technique.  As you can see from the results below, firearm serial numbers are in fact part of this apparent large-scale data mining operation by companies like Google and Facebook.

Facebook and Google are Reading and Cataloging Your Firearm Serial Numbers

It appears Google, with the help of Facebook, is archiving this information and making it easier to aggregate.  In order to further test this theory, I tried a different serial number, this time from a silencer review. Placing the search term in quotes, Google is forced to search for only that specific character string. Here are the results.

Facebook and Google are Reading and Cataloging Your Firearm Serial Numbers. If you’re an avid TFB reader, you might have read our article about how we’re not concerned about posting firearms serial numbers.  However, this does not mean that we should be complacent in the information that we share being controlled or censored.

It’s clear that the firearms community is not being singled out by this data mining operation.  And no, you as an individual cannot readily lookup someone’s personal information with only firearm serial numbers.  Regardless of this, Instagram is owned by Facebook, and YouTube is owned by Google.  As both of these companies are privately owned, but heavily relied upon, the knowledge of this publicly available data mine is unsettling.

Samsung proves the folly of so called ‘smart guns’

Why cant we have thumbprint guns, they said. It would work just like my cell phone, they said. Noted gun expert and Silicone Valley consultant Joe Biden has pushed this on many occasions.

“My cell phone – like yours -I just put my thumbprint on, and that is my access to everything. (…) Why can’t you do that for a gun?”

Well, Samsung just blew that entire argument out of the water, now didn’t they?

Headline: Samsung: Anyone’s thumbprint can unlock Galaxy S10 phone

DOH! Thats a big F-UP. Inconvenient if its a phone, tragic if its a ‘smart gun’.

The scanner sends ultrasounds to detect 3D ridges of fingerprints in order to recognise users.

Samsung said it was “aware of the case of S10’s malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch”.

South Korea’s online-only KaKao Bank told customers to switch off the fingerprint-recognition option to log in to its services until the issue was fixed.

Previous reports suggested some screen protectors were incompatible with Samsung’s reader because they left a small air gap that interfered with the scanning.

On This Day in Space Oct. 14, 1947: Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier


I’d like to think this was like it was.

On Oct. 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the first time! Yeager was a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force who made history by flying an aircraft faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager made his historic flight in a Bell X-1 rocket plane that he named “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife. Yeager had broken two ribs the night before when he fell off a horse, but that didn’t stop him!

His aircraft was dropped from a Boeing B-29 bomber before accelerating to a speed of Mach 1.07, which is about 821 miles per hour. The speed of sound, Mach 1, is about 760 miles per hour.

California Turns Off a Lot More Than Just the Lights.

Going solar isn’t necessarily any protection from California’s new “planned” power outages, and local residents and businesses are enduring a lot more than just a few inconveniences.

Bloomberg’s Chris Martin has a story on California’s troubles with one of my favorite headlines ever: “Californians Learning That Solar Panels Don’t Work in Blackouts.” Apparently, many of California’s would-be Earth-savers had no idea that just putting solar panels on their roofs doesn’t mean they’ll have power when PG&E switches it off. As Martin explains:

Most panels are designed to supply power to the grid — not directly to houses. During the heat of the day, solar systems can crank out more juice than a home can handle. Conversely, they don’t produce power at all at night. So systems are tied into the grid, and the vast majority aren’t working this week as PG&E Corp. cuts power to much of Northern California to prevent wildfires.

The only way for most solar panels to work during a blackout is pairing them with batteries. That market is just starting to take off. Sunrun Inc., the largest U.S. rooftop solar company, said some of its customers are making it through the blackouts with batteries, but it’s a tiny group — countable in the hundreds.

Martin quotes Sunrun Chairman Ed Fenster explaining that solar power with local battery storage is “the perfect combination for getting through these shutdowns,” although he fails to mention just what an expensive proposition that is, especially in the rural areas most affected by California’s return to the primitive. Fester, whose company sells those very batteries, expects battery sales “to boom” now that the promised blackouts have begun.

If you’re wondering what that smell is, it’s the scent of crony capitalism — and it stinks.

At UC Berkeley, where you’d expect all this planet-saving to be applauded, at least one student is probably less than thrilled. ABC7 reports that biochem grad student Sarah Morris says that the recent outage — again, a planned and on-purpose outage — “may have destroyed two years of her ground-breaking cancer research, valued at $500,000.” If you’re wondering what its value could have been to cancer victims who now might never receive the benefits of Morris’s research, I suspect you’re not alone.

Latest Mac Pro to be made in Texas after securing tariff exemptions.

Apple is boosting its commitment to the American workforce, part of a push to invest hundreds of billions into the U.S. economy.

In a major announcement on Monday, Apple said it will build its redesigned Mac Pro in Austin, Texas.

The move comes three days after U.S. trade officials approved exemptions that allow Apple to import key Mac Pro parts from China without them being subject to tariffs.

“The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer ever and we’re proud to be building it in Austin,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “We thank the administration for their support enabling this opportunity.”

ATF Admits No Legal Authority For Bump Stock Ruling

Show of hands, who has been paying attention to the various lawsuits dealing with the ATF’s reinterpretation of Bump Stocks? Because to be completely honest, I haven’t been paying as much attention as I clearly should have been. In their most recent court filing, the ATF has admitted some truly explosive news. Namely, they concede that they do not have the authority to reinterpret the definition of machine guns in the  bump stock ruling under the National Firearms Act (NFA).

ATF Admits No Legal Authority for Bump Stock Ruling

Let’s back up and provide some context. So, on December 26th, 2018, the ATF issued a final ruling on “bump stocks”. A bump-stock is a device that allows an operator of a firearm to simulate automatic fire by muscle power. While previously the ATF had decided that bump-fire or slide-fire stocks were legal devices, they then reclassified them as illegal machineguns. All current owners were ordered to destroy them. If you did not do so, you faced up to 10 years in federal prison.

Naturally, a lot of people became somewhat ticked off that the ATF would seemingly arbitrarily change their ruling to make thousands of Americans potential felons overnight. As a result, many people filed lawsuits. One such lawsuit was filed by the New Civil Liberties Alliance on behalf of plaintiff W. Clark Aposhian.

This Case in Particular

This lawsuit rests on a fairly straightforward presumption. The complaint states that since all legislative powers lie with Congress, the ATF, as a part of the executive branch, cannot reinterpret statutes to mean something else. Since the law regarding machineguns has not changed, bump stocks can’t be reclassified as machineguns.

There are another 30 odd pages of the original complaint, but that’s about the gist of things. Mr. Aposhian is a law-abiding citizen, the ATF told him that bump stocks were legal so he bought one. The filing states that the ATF lacks the authority to reclassify bump stocks, and thus the ATF has violated Mr. Aposhian’s constitutional rights, as well as exceeding its constitutional remit as part of the executive branch.

ATF Bump Stock Ruling Admission – Why Should We Care?

The million-dollar question. Why do we care? Because as of September 18th, the ATF has written a court brief that admits it exceeded its constitutional remit as part of the executive branch. The court filing states specifically that;

The statutory scheme does not, however, appear to provide the Attorney General the authority to engage in “gap-filling” interpretations of what qualifies as a “machinegun”. Congress has provided a detailed definition of the term “machinegun”…

The New Civil Liberties Alliance, on behalf of Mr. Aposhian, quickly filed a for a preliminary injunction. Essentially, as Mr. Aposhian has suffered “irreparable harm” from the deprivation of his lawfully-acquired bump stock, and the ATF (in the opinion of the Plaintiffs) clearly lacks the authority to cause such deprivation, the Final Rule on Bump Stocks should be struck down.

NCLA Brief

ATF’s Brief on the bump stock ruling is behind a login-wall in the PACER system. It can be found in the 10th Circuit Court’s filings, case number 19-4036, Aposhian v. Barr, et al.


ATF Admits It Lacked Authority to Issue Legislative Rule, NCLA Condemns the Agency’s Attempt to Ban Bump Stocks Anyway

This case is not about whether gun control is a good idea. Rather, Mr. Aposhian’s appeal raises key issues about how an agency may create such a ban—that is, whether agency regulations may contradict a statute passed by Congress. The appeal also challenges the notion that a mere interpretive rule can bind third parties, such as owners of bump stocks.

The bump stock rule made it a new federal crime to own a bump stock, even one purchased with ATF’s prior permission. ATF knows it didn’t have the authority to enact such a law. Instead of defending the rule, ATF now pretends the ban is just a recommendation for the public. NCLA is confident the court will see through ATF’s games and strike down this invalid rule.” Caleb Kruckenberg, Litigation Counsel

ATF is caught between a rock and a hard place. The agency lacks legal authority to issue a so-called legislative rule, but a mere interpretive rule is not legally allowed to bind any third parties outside the government. By ordering half a million bump stock owners to surrender their devices—or face prosecution—ATF has acted in a completely unconstitutional fashion. It is high time for the federal courts to put a stop to this regulatory nonsense.”
Mark Chenoweth, Executive Director and General Counsel

Congress could have passed bipartisan legislation making bump stocks illegal. Instead, ATF has tried to ban them via administrative action in the Bump Stock Final Rule. This Court has a constitutional obligation to strike down ATF’s attempted legislative rewrite. Otherwise, the Executive Branch will usurp Congress’ legislative function in other areas, and the Constitution’s careful limits on how laws are made will be undone.