Thursday, 30 June 2016

Swefilmer case might follow Sanoma / Playboy into the rabbit hole

Followers of the intracacies of copyright law will know that a core requirement of infringement is the communication to a new public.

The global nature of the internet however can be taken to mean that once something is available anywhere online it is therefore not an offence to re-publish it.

In the current Swefilmer case leave has just been granted to apply to the ECJ for a ruling on this point and the case has been suspended.

If this goes the way of Sanoma / Playboy the rights holders are going to need to adjust their approach to IP protection and allocate resources to tracing and stopping the "first seeders" rather than the aggregators even though it is mass distribution that really does the damage to exclusivity.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Ethical Hacking

It causes amusement sometimes when we explain that we work with Ethical Hackers - or more specifically graduates in Ethical Hacking.

The choice of the word ethical seems very vague to some as there is a general sense that ethics are very subjective and it is pretty easy to get drawn into the circular debate about one mans freedom fighter being another mans terrorist.

However the choice of the word Ethical as opposed to Legal is possibly down to the fact that the Law is very badly out of date and totally inconsistent around the world and the internet is a global thing.

A man sitting in switzerland remotely logged in to a PC in London accessing a DDoS attack tool hosted in multiple locations decides to attack an online store in Texas because they over charged him and did not deliver what he ordered. Go figure the legal issues but the ethical issues are pretty easy.

Hacker groups like Anonymous and Our Mine test to destruction the idea of ethical hacking and re-emphasize the need for global co-operation and regulation.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Brexit and the Digital Age

In all the back and forth over whether the UK will vote to leave or remain in the European Union we have been deluged with carefully timed statements from various business leaders telling us what would be best.

Notable by their absence (unless I missed it) are statements from some some of world's biggest digital businesses whether we should leave or stay. Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others have all kept a pretty low profile even though they are generally enthusiastic lobbyists of Government.

Perhaps they are anticipating an interconnected fluid global economy where location and government matter far less and only to the extent that it dictates the tax base and weather you enjoy (or not). If you want to sell online services to an international customer simply target your marketing at them and ensure your online presence can be viewed by the correct IP address range.

To defend their world view the Digital Single Market is being pushed hard by the EU but it remains the case that policing the internet proves much more difficult than policing physical goods.

The role of an entity such as the EU is less in the Digital Age as we are all by default trading or starting to trade on a global basis and others are doing the same.

In the event that the UK voted for Brexit how would the EU actually enforce the new general data protection regulations for example ?

There are many good reasons to both vote leave and vote remain but either way the role of the EU as an "aggregator" is less needed than in the pre-internet era when it was originally conceived.

Meanwhile - something from the archives about why we joined the EU to begin with;

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Pepper the Robot - do you want fries with that ?

When Softbank placed 1000 of its new emotionally intelligent robots (Pepper) on sale for $2000 each they sold out in under 1 minute. It has also just been announced that Pepper has secured a number of jobs in Pizza Hut across Asia taking orders and payments.  Next stop USA and Europe.

Take a look at the video of Pepper talking to Rory Cellan-Jones in Estate Agent mode. She is very cute and if we assume a shelf life of 3 years would cost about $55 dollars per month.

As previously commented on automation has been creeping up on us since the dawn of the digital computer  but suddenly this starts to look like mass job replacement on an industrial scale as opposed to tools which help people do their jobs more efficiently.

News that Apple supplier FoxConn recently replaced 60,000 staff with Robots in a single factory supports this view. Estimates vary by work sector but in some sectors such as call centre activity 75% of jobs are expected to be replaced by automation and respected surveys show 45% of jobs will be lost in manufacturing.

All good maybe - more time to loaf around, watch some TV and idly sip on a cold beer while pondering the facts of life. The slight flaw in that brief sketch of nirvana is the complete lack of earned income to support those worthy activities.  On a macro scale will the politicians be able to maintain the types of distinctions they enjoy between the workers and the shirkers and the deserving and un-deserving poor as the tax base shrinks faster than a EU politician can claim his expenses ?

600 factories in Kunshan Province in China are looking at similar proposals and since average local annual income is @$4000 per annum if the numbers work in China they are a no-brainer in Europe and the UK.

The rapid rise of inequality and emergence of a global "elite" has a tang of Feudalism about it but in reality free market capitalism was dead and buried when the banks were bailed out by the taxpayer during the financial crisis. That issue however has not really gone away and in the US a new group is in place to address this - Take on Wall Street - who argue that since the crash 90% of the income growth has been captured by the top 1%.

If predictions are correct on automation inequality is about to become much more severe due to high levels of unemployment and these will make the issues around the financial crisis look small by comparison.

However - top prize will go to the hacker who breaks in to Pepper's operating system while she is talking to customers.............................