[Plura-list] Inaudible; The rise and rise of one of NYPD's dirtiest cops; Georgia voter suppression, quantified

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Thu Sep 10 15:33:26 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Inaudible: Let's make "Audible exclusive" mean "for sale everywhere
EXCEPT Audible."

* The rise and rise of one of NYPD's dirtiest cops: Violent, racist
repeat-offender Christopher McCormack, promoted to the top brass.

* Georgia voter suppression, quantified: Greg Palast counted all 313,242

* Kids' smart-watches unsafe at any speed: Still a garbage-fire.

* This day in history: 2005, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


🩱 Inaudible

Today in The Bookseller - the UK's trade magazine for the bookselling
industry - I published "Inaudible," in which I unpack my reason for
foregoing hundreds of thousands of dollars by refusing to allow Audible
to put DRM on my audiobooks.


DRM isn't hard to break (just google "break audible drm" if you don't
believe me!) but it IS a felony to traffick in tools that break DRM.
That means that the DRM that Amazon forces on creators and publishers in
the name of "protecting" them does nothing of the sort.

But it *does* lock their works to Amazon's platform...forever.

Labor economists talk about "chickenization" in markets where there is a
"monopsony" - that is, where a single seller controls access to the market.

The phrase comes from the US poultry industry, where three monopolistic
companies have divided up the country so that (nominally independent)
chicken farmers have only one processor who'll buy their birds.

Big Chicken uses this advantage to squeeze suppliers: chicken farmers
are told what kind of coop to build, which chicks to buy, what feed to
use, which medicines to dose, even when the lights go on and off.

Some farmers are unwitting subjects in experiments - Purdue might decide
to test the effect of a different feeding regime and order a farmer to
apply it.

When this is done, the farmer sells their birds to the monopolist, who
unilaterally names a price: the monopolists use their extensive
data-gathering to titrate the money-drip so farmers have just enough to
continue for another year, but not enough to get ahead.

Farmers who complain - especially to regulators and lawmakers - are shut
out of the market...permanently. One farmer went into the
coop-maintenance business and the meat packers told suppliers that if
they hired him, they'd be blackballed, too.

It's no wonder that farmers are one of the worst-off groups in the US
for "deaths of despair" (suicide and overdose).

Amazon's use of DRM is a key component in its campaign to chickenize
publishing, of course.

But it's not just publishers and writers who suffer here - readers get a
raw deal from DRM, too.

Recall that in 2009, Amazon remotely deleted purchased copies of 1984
from readers' Kindles, due to a complaint from the Orwell estate (you
can't make this up!)

In 2019, Microsoft decided to get out of the ebook business and
"deactivated" every book they'd ever sold, rendering them unreadable.

Both companies offered refunds, but come on.

From my editorial: "I was a bookseller for years and once I sold you a
book, it was yours. Nothing - not a claim from the useless professional
descendants of a long-dead writer nor the callous indifference of tech
execs in a Redmond boardroom - could compel me to come over to your
house and take the books back. And if I did, it would not be okay, not
even (and I can't stress this enough) if I gave you your money back."

Bookselling and books are older than DRM (hell, they're older than
copyright!). Publishers, booksellers and readers have a (literally)
ancient compact. The idea that tech monopolists get to wave a lawyer's
pen and declare it null and void is, frankly, bullshit.

It's unacceptable. So I don't accept it. And that's why I produced my
own audiobook and am selling it direct, first through the Kickstarter
campaign for presales, and then through all the retailers *except* Audible.

Today, "Audible exclusive" means "a book you can only get on Audible." I
want to sell so many audiobooks that publishers see a viable path to
boycotting Audible, too, so that "Audible exclusive" means "for sale
everywhere EXCEPT Audible."

I'm well on the way! My Kickstarter is about to hit the $100K mark after
48 hours. You can help me demonstrate the viability of an anti-monopoly
way of doing audiobooks by backing it (and if you already have, THANK YOU!)



🩱 The rise and rise of one of NYPD's dirtiest cops

In response to the June BLM uprising, the NY state legislature revoked
Bill 50a, which shielded police misconduct records from public scrutiny.


A police union lawsuit blocked the publication of these long-secret
records, but it came *after* Propublica had assembled a searchable
database of those dirty secrets, and they escaped the injunction:


Thanks to that fast action, we are now seeing inside the sordid,
violent, corrupt world of the multibillion-dollar private paramilitary
that is the NYPD.

Today, Propublica and The City jointly published the tale of Christopher
McCormack , "one of the NYPD's highest-ranking officers," whose
promotions came despite repeated, substantiated complaints of racist
violence and abuse."


McCormack's nickname was "Red Rage." He rose through the ranks like
"greased lightning." The city settled multiple lawsuits over his violent
and illegal conduct. The NYPD put him in charge of a precinct.

His go-to tactic was strip searching Latinx and Black men in public:
pulling down their pants and exposing their genitals, sticking his
fingers in their anuses. As Matt Taibbi writes in his 2017 book "I Can't
Breathe," NY cops called this "social rape."


When McCormack socially raped a suspect, shoving his hand in their
assholes on a public street, he was so violent that the man had to go to
the hospital.

77 complaints were made against McCormack. No other high-ranking officer
has so many.

A dozen of these were substantiated by the CCRB, a toothless agency that
almost never substantiates civilian complaints. Only the most egregious,
violent, public abuses are upheld. McCormack had 12 of 'em.

Black and Latinx officers who complained about McCormack (including one
who made damning recordings of McCormack's racist rants) faced internal

McCormack was promoted.


🩱 Georgia voter suppression, quantified

Last October, Georgia's Secretary of State purged 313,243 citizens from
the state's voter rolls. Greg Palast and ACLU of Georgia hired America's
five leading address verification firms to analyze the purge, using 240

They found 63% of those purged were deleted in error and were being
illegally deprived of their right to vote.

This analysis was done for every single name of the list, all 313k of
them - not statistical sampling, but one-at-a-time verification.


Tens of thousands of other citizens in the purge are also having their
votes illegally suppressed - they moved addresses, but not counties, and
yet their registration was cancelled in violation of the National Voter
Registration Act.

One of the most significant elements of the Greg Palast Investigations
Team's output is the section on "Bias" (p18), which finds that voter
suppression targets voters who are younger, urban, and racialized.


🩱 Kids' smart-watches unsafe at any speed

When it comes to the security defects in kids' smart watches: "Once is
happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."
For years, these tracking-cuffs have been the locus of awful security
scandals. Now it's happened again.


Some background: in 2017, the Norwegian Consumer Council audited 4
brands of kids' smart watch and revealed that strangers could monitor
children's movements and see where they've gone, covertly listen in on
them, and steal their personal information.

The watches gathered copious amount of data and sent it, in the clear,
to offshore servers. The watches incorporate cameras and the photos
children take were also easily plundered by hackers.


A year later, Pen Test Partners audited the popular MiSafes watches for
3-12 year olds were also insecure, and could be used as covert listening
and tracking devices, and even to alert attackers when a target child
was nearby.


Six months after that, Pen Test followed up to test the manufactuer's
claims that they'd fixed these defects.

They hadn't.


After two years of this nonsense, the EU started to recall some of these


But it's been a year since that happened, and guess what? The watches
are still flaming garbage that you strap to your kids' wrists. Writing
in Wired, Andy Greenberg reports on a Münster University of Applied
Sciences paper analyzing the watches.


Tldr: the paper is called "STALK."

The watches could be attacked to

* get kids' locations

* send voice and text messages to children that appear to come from
their parents

* intercept communications between parents and children

* as listening bugs

The manufacturers were informed of all this in April, and they didn't
fix it.

It's not like these are subtle errors. The watches have no
authentication, no encryption, and can be tracked with their SIMs' IMEIs.

The backend servers are vulnerable to SQL injections.

"When WIRED asked Schinzel if three years of security analyses gave him
the confidence to put these smartwatches on his own children, he
answered without hesitation: 'Definitely not.'"


🩱 This day in history

#15yrsago Anti-trusted-computing video https://www.lafkon.net/tc/

#15yrsago Super Mario Brothers implemented in Javascript

#5yrsago Ashley Madison's passwords were badly encrypted, 15 million+
passwords headed for the Web

#5yrsago Government-run egg board waged high-price, secret PSYOPS war on
vegan egg-replacement

#5yrsago Library offers Tor nodes; DHS tells them to stop

#1yrago Why haven't cyberinsurers exerted more pressure on companies to
be better at security? https://tylermoore.utulsa.edu/govins20.pdf

#1yrago Charles de Lint on Radicalized: "among my favorite things I've
read so far this year" https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/2019/cdl1909.htm

#1yrago Juul gave marketing presentations to schoolchildren in the guise
of "mental health/addiction" seminars

#1yrago Phoenix's police union has a secret deal with the department to
purge dirty cops' disciplinary records

#1yrago Everyone's investigating Google for antitrust violations…except
California and Alabama

#1yrago America's life-expectancy income-gap widens precipitously

#1yrago California to force NCAA to pay athletes


🩱 Colophon

Today's top sources: Boing Boing (https://boingboing.net/)

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 569 words (58897

Currently reading: Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Latest podcast: Chapter 1 of Attack Surface, the third Little Brother

Upcoming appearances:

* Keynote for Law Via the Internet conference, Sept 22,

* Writing into an Uncertain Future, Afterwords Festival, Oct 1,

Latest book:

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

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*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla* -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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