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16 November Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective
🎉 Issue 52 🎉

Happy Birthday Baby!

We are one! Wow, just when you are having funnnnnnn….

EXACTLY one year ago, we said we need a special kind of magazine, one that is centred around us as digital citizens, our personal data and how we interact online. It was not only to build a community of people who cared, but also to inform one another and learn together. Too often what we hear in the news is either over hyped, scare mongering or biased towards some agenda or another, leaving out necessary details.

So we started MadHATTERs and I can’t believe we are one year old today! (See the first issue).

When we curate the news in this space, you will notice that we won’t hold back the punches, if indeed punches are needed. But we aim to explain the complexity as well. Because most news of this nature isn’t always straightforward. And often, because we have academic roots, we try to also explain why certain things happen the way they have… In a way that you and I can relate to as a person, perhaps with a little snide humour thrown in.

Have we achieved it? I think we have, but you, wonderful reader, is always the judge and the jury. We may not always get it right, but we try – with our slightly flippant if not snarky attitude while telling the news – probably because we don’t believe any news is objective and since it’s us telling it, we might as well tell you our biases! The first issue of MadHATTERs laid that bare….

“We're totally biased – towards personal data/digital empowerment, greater control, privacy, security, confidentiality and freedom. But we are pro-innovation, pro-economy; yes, some problems are complex, there are loads of tensions and we need innovation!”

We still have much more to do and MadHATTERs will be shape shifting quite a bit in 2018 (starting with a brand new look), so stay with us and enjoy the ride y’all!

Leila Trilby
MadHATTERs Editor-in-chief

Tech News

Busting Twitter open. Wired's reported on some seriously damning tweets from 2016, revealing the extent of Russian-based efforts to incite racial hatred and division in the UK. (I mean, we did already know that, right?). Twitter's clamp down on white supremacists’ verification is a step in the right direction, but it is way too little way too late. Too busy faffing about with 280 characters... 

Tesla's race problem. When you're facing some pretty serious allegations of racial harassement, it's best NOT TO USE THE WORDS ‘THICK SKINNED’. Ever. In any context. Musk allegedly said this in an email after reports of racist incidents. Four other employees have also filed racial harassment lawsuits against Tesla. 

7-0  what now? Privacy geeks are up in arms about something called section 702. It's a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is intended for intercepting terrorism, but contains provisions which allows the NSA to collect and search US citizens' data and communications as a byproduct. Guess what, it expires soon and is up for renewal. Call your congressional rep! A handful of law makers are taking a stand against the mass surveillance powers it grants over US citizens.

Be Cautious

Hackers could speak to your kids through their toys. Really. Research from Which? found that 5/7 popular IoT toys had security weaknesses which allowed their built-in voices to be manipulated, essentially allowing hackers to say whatever they want through the toy. Which is creepier – that clown toys or the hacker talking through a toy... or <shudder> the clown talking?

Who said data's not sexy? This sex toy covertly recorded audio while it was in use... ok ok, let's not let our imaginations run wild here... It's not the first connected sex toy security blunder (Bluetooth weaknesses, data hoovering), but I guess this is as personal as personal data can get...

The Doghouse

Sooo the latest big-revenues company ($11.2bn) hit by an annoying little data breach (350,000 customers) is Hilton. It's bad: it's credit card details, and they didn't notify the public for nine months. Still, they've been fined $700,000, but under GDPR it would be $420m. Let's just think about that for a moment… 

In Depth 

There's an AI religion now?? No, it's not a metaphor. Anthony Levandowski (of Waymo v. Uber fame) has actually created a church. Not a company that's called a church, not even a research institute heavily steeped in allegory. And actual church, and it's called Way Of The Future, or WOTF for short. It uses plenty of Christian language, like ‘Godhead’, has a gospel and a liturgy ‘in development’, and it's all based on a genuine belief that he's building a ‘divine AI’. Sound like a cult? That's cos it is. WOTF indeed.

Geek Out

For all you retro gamers out there, you can now build you own hand-held cute-as-a-button old school console. It's called GameShell, and comes as a modular kit you get to construct yourself, has wifi and a 3'' display (hey, it's retro!) Christmas?  

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief
HAT News

Innovation and chill. HAT's November Innovation Hangout will be in Cambridge! Come see us on Thursday 29th and chat all things innovative at the Pint Shop. The gin menu is major.

HATs in Boston! As part of our Great American Tour this winter, HAT will be setting up shop at Parker's Bar in Boston, MA on 12 December for a Personal Data Economy pub session. Join us for discussion of the digital self, the state of the data economy, and the possibilities of personal data accounts. 

Deck the halls! Sorry for the premature Christmas outburst, but just a reminder that if you'd like to come along to the HAT Christmas do, you can get yourself a ticket on Eventbrite. We're on a boat!  

Testers wanted. Think HAT apps are cool? Well you can become a tester, if you're so inclined. Get in touch if you'd like to sign up


Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

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