MayBot Ruler v2.0.1 Beta Release

Theresa May is our Prime Minister. That 57.7% of voters do not want her as Prime Minister is democracy. She’s here, and we have to deal with it. The problem is that as Prime Minister, indeed as a Member of Parliament, one is meant to serve the people. At some point, Theresa May and her cohorts have confused serve with rule. Consequently, ever the authoritarian, Theresa May has been using her position to pass some of the most civil liberty infringing legislation this country has seen in decades. Worse still, is that she hungers for more.

I don’t like May, I never have. I believe that is she an incompetent, sycophantic ass-kisser and game player. May has used what little charm she has to work her way up the political ladder into positions for which she is not remotely qualified. As Home Secretary, for example, she never once introduced the EU rules that would have given the country more powers over immigration. Boris and Nigel could continue parroting the lie that we have no such power. Although campaigning for Remain, her oft-repeated attacks against Human Rights law and her fondness for blanket surveillance technology suggests she’d much rather we were out of the EU.

As reported by The Register, the Maybot used her platform at the World Economic Forum to repeat her calls for a unique form of encryption. In her world, you can develop a type of encryption that opens a backdoor for security services and nobody else. I wonder whether any of her advisors have pointed out encryption is simply maths? May went on to disingenuously attempt to emotionally blackmail companies that provide encrypted services, arguing they wouldn’t want to be known as the “terrorist’s” platform.

Wanna Cry, May?

Perhaps May needs a refresher on recent history? You may recall (Theresa doesn’t) that in May 2017, the NHS was brought to its knees by a ransomware worm called WannaCry. The interesting thing about this infection is that we should have known about it. The exploit that allowed the deployment of WannaCry was known to US Intelligence Agencies (and by extension, very likely ours). When the NSA and their ilk discover a security vulnerability, they don’t alert Microsoft and co. No, they keep it for themselves. Somehow, this particular vulnerability leaked into the wild and was used to deploy the WannaCry cyberattack.

Yet the Investigatory Powers Act (Snooper’s Charter) allows for the security services to order the deliberate insertion of backdoors into software and firmware. May’s comments at the WEF only serve to underline her overall intentions. If such an exploit exists, there is a chance that a criminal or enemy state will find it. Poking holes in encryption will not protect people. All someone needs to do is turn their graphics-card away from mining bitcoins and into finding the flaw and attack consumers. Enemies of the UK with the resources to create huge farms to find such exploits will do so; and when they find them, they could cripple critical infrastructure.

That May doesn’t realise this and continues to spout bullshit in public is terrifying. We have a Prime Minister who is supposed to serve us, but whose grand plans would make everything a hell of a lot more dangerous than it currently is.

If You’ve Nothing to Hide, What Use is Your Data?

One could even argue that the Snooper’s Charter already makes things more dangerous. Right now, so much data is being collected. Information about Dave from Scunthorpe adding a new model train to his collection. Charlotte from Edinburgh might have just bought some shoes. Al from Norwich is busy pwning noobs in Overwatch. Kath from ‘oop north, duck’ is scribbling on her website. Phil from Devon is watching granny porn and wondering whether it’s worth a wank. None of that information helps protect the country. It’s just irrelevant data being collected and stored, just in case.

Meanwhile, actual threats to the country are going about business as usual. You see, they know the government is engaged in mass surveillance, so they’re a bit smarter. Perhaps they’ve constructed their own dark web? Maybe they’re meeting in person? They may have even developed various codes that look like perfectly innocuous messages about picking up cat litter. Putting everybody and their mother under surveillance only means that the people with something to hide become more careful. Everyone else just has to hope that our information isn’t left on a laptop in the back of a taxi, again.

No surveillance state in history has ever managed to surveil everybody it wanted to surveil. From the Gestapo to the Great Firewall of China, people who are determined enough will always find a way around it. The more pressure you exert, the more they up their game. The Snooper’s Charter does little to protect the average citizen. It will more likely be used for bollocks reasons like surveilling people who might have fed some pigeons than it will be to defend against terrorist attacks.

Victory in Court!

Fortunately, this very morning, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government is breaking the law with its blanket surveillance policy but only insofar as to who has access to that data and specific parts of the legislation. It has not ruled that data retention in itself is illegal. What effect this has on the Maybot’s plans for an authoritarian New Britannia are yet to be seen.

Yep, You Knew it Was Coming!

No rant about Theresa May’s technological ineptitude would be complete without recovering the good ol’ Digital Economy Act. Having seen Ashley Madison, Naughty America, Brazzers, Digital Playground, Youporn and co. all suffer severe data breaches, May thought it would be a genuinely spiffing idea to put all of our most sensitive, personal information in the hands of private companies. I have covered this at length, but I will reiterate some points.

Firstly, it’s not going to protect children from porn. The government’s own impact assessments highlighted that not only will the DEA fail to protect children, but it might also push them towards more extreme material they would not have encountered. The government can’t block torrents, VPNs, Tor and other ways around the block nor will they be able to stop the proliferation of adult content across non-adult spaces such as Twitter and Reddit. In short, it’s a fucking failure before it’s started.

Privacy, Where Art Thou?

Secondly, it’s the world’s most nightmarish data leak waiting to happen. The act contains no requirement for user privacy to be respected. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport published guidelines which amounted to “We’d like you to consider privacy, but it’s not a big deal” eliciting many facepalms. Even with the GDPR putting more pressure on businesses to gain explicit consent from consumers, a worrying Privacy Policy related to AgeID can be found here.

My summary of that policy can be found on my Twitter feed.

If you’re LGBTQ living in an environment where there is a genuine threat to your safety if you’re outed, or you are merely somebody who would suffer extreme embarrassment if your porn viewing habits were made public, that privacy policy – as a statement of intent – should be alarming. Pornhub has contacted me (words I never thought I’d say) to inform me a more GDPR-compliant Privacy Policy is to follow but what is there right now is a hacker’s mucky wet dream. Unless serious changes are made in this act concerning privacy, many people could be put at risk unless they cease viewing adult content. This is neither safe nor the mark of a free society.

Social Conditioning for the 21st Century

We should consider the implications of conditioning people to accept age verification as normal. We’ve already seen the consequences of ramping up the surveillance state to extreme levels – a collective “who fucking cares?”. Criminals may well use age verification to create their own dodgy platforms, harvesting personal info and payment data for fraud and/or blackmail. In the wake of the Snooper’s Charter, a bunch of extremely iffy-looking VPNs popped up offering a way to protect one’s personal data, although some likely harvested it instead.

Thirdly, the effect all this has on the Digital Economy for adult content producers and workers. ‘Free’ sites have already cut into the profit margins of adult producers, meaning that workers earn less from their efforts. The Digital Economy Act makes it clear they will be going after payment processors in addition to adult sites. Therefore, those who value their privacy (you know, normal people) might circumvent age verification through one of the methods above. However, those who might previously have paid to access content rather than sift through the tube sites may be unable to purchase it with a UK credit/debit card via this method. Consequently, smaller producers who will already be forced to adopt a costly age verification programme may see their margins further hit.

Such concern isn’t without grounds. Smaller studios are forced to distinguish themselves from larger sites, and most do this by offering niche content. In our sexually-repressed society, niche means weird, and people into niche content are far more likely to value their privacy, lest their friends, family and colleagues discover their particular interests. Again, we have to look at the possibility of harm in such a scenario.

Who Listens to Experts?

What pisses me off the most is that the impact assessment I mentioned covered this. May, however, just isn’t interested. She giddily gallops through the wheat field of sanity and reason, twirling away until she reaches the quaint little village of Fuckem. And in Fuckem, people yield to her every desire, gay people are cured, the NHS doesn’t exist, and the only person with access to technology is her. It’s a wind-up wristwatch.

We don’t live in Theresa’s view of an idyllic world. Thus it behoves her to stop and think about whether she actually knows what she’s doing, and if not, defer to someone who does.