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The Sundar-ing

12 December Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective
Issue 54 

Oh dear oh dear oh dear… The US Federal Communications Commission want to repeal Net Neutrality (it seems Trump wants this too), and will be voting on – and likely passing – the repeal in December.

What even is Net Neutrality?

If the Internet is a commodity, and requires wiring and piping to run, then who pays to power it, and who controls the power flow? Net Neutrality is the basic idea that information on the Internet is equal, and no one provider or service or website can pay to one-up its competitors. We pay for our broadband or high speed Internet, and it speeds up all of the Internet equally. Without Net Neutrality, it's pretty obvious who would be able to grab up larger and larger chunks of the road…

So why would anyone want that?

Supporters of the repeal say that competition would improve services, and make them better for consumers. And there are examples of this, like Netflix improving video speeds after it hooked up with Comcast. Should we really regard the Internet as a public utility? Maybe it should be a space for competition and innovation, which is what supporters of the repeal say. The problem though, is that the competition may not always be fair and transparent i.e. it will favour those with more money. Yet, some people will prefer cheap Internet to open Internet. Whatever you think, it's guaranteed to make your brain bend. Here's how to argue.

And the comment bots don't help…

Public opinion seems to sit pretty solidly with neutrality. Over a million pro-repeal comments to the FCC's proposal were fake, and one Data Scientist used Natural Language Processing techniques to show it. Even with the investigation into the 2016 election trolls raging on, it's still happening right in front of us. Full of the same pro-America anti-Washington rhetoric you'd expect, but tacked on to a different Obama-era policy this time… Not exactly helping. 

Geek Out

Check out the satellites broadcasting the Bitcoin blockchain from space. Where we're going we won't even need Internet. Nearly 4 billion people in the world who don't have Internet access could use Bitcoin. Mad. 
Be Cautious

What the hell are shadow profiles? One writer did some serious digging around Facebook's People You May Know engine. Even if you don't share your contact list with Facebook, if someone you know does, that email address or phone number is filed in your shadow profile. And you can't really opt out. Facebook can make some seemingly impossible connections. It's creepy. 

How Android is tracking you. Yale's Privacy Lab and French non-profit Exodus published research showing snoopware in common Android apps like Uber, Tinder, Spotify and Snapchat. The tracking is used for things like behavioural analysis (whatever that means, I bet advertisers love it) and also tracks your locations, and operates without users' knowledge. The project's analysis software is on GitHub.
The Doghouse

Just when things were looking up. Surprise, surprise, Uber's in the doghouse again. Turns out they concealed a huge data breach from last year. The Chief Security Officer covered up the breach by paying hackers $100,000 to delete the stolen drivers' licence numbers and mobile phone numbers. As if there was anything else to throw at Khosrowshahi... 
Elsewhere in Techland 

The dark side of the iPhone X. Chinese high school students were reportedly forced to work in Foxconn iPhone X factories, as part of what they were told was a compulsory internship. Pretty appalling.

Hate people on the phone on public transport? Well Transport for London have announced that from 2019 there'll be full mobile network coverage, even in tunnels. Now we have no excuse not to look down at our phones...

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief
HAT News

The king is dead, long live the king. HAT App 1.0.2 is out – update today for a stabler, pleasanter hatting experience. 

New yawk. We’re hitting up some big meetings in the big apple – if you have someone you know and love there put us in touch

The roof. We are raising money to pursue projects, working with our partners in Cambridge and internationally. Get in touch for more info.

Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

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