Winter April 12, 2022 10:03 AM

Watch it to the end, where they play a prank on Capitol Hill with, e.g., Ted Cruz XXX Fan Fiction. There were numerous takers.

Nothing awakens the Senate more than the Senators themselves being at risk.

Clive Robinson April 12, 2022 10:30 AM

@ John,

Amazing people paying for collected garbage.

In the UK there is are a couple of much used old saws of,

“Where there’s muck there’s brass”

And less used,

“With enough work you can polish a turd”

The first implies, there is always money to be made with anything you can find, the second, all you have to do to make it attractive to the buyer is put enough work in.

On a historical note what we now call “data brokering” actually started with criminals, of various forms, most notable being blackmailers gathering data on their soon to be victims, from servants etc.

It’s a thoroughly “dirty trade” and those in it get “mired in scat” but hey the us has a saying about a sandwich implying enough money takes the taste of effluent away…

Winter April 12, 2022 11:39 AM

“Video not available in my region (Canada).”


When I search in YouTube for: John Oliver Data Brokers
I get it as the first result. And it plays without problems.
I am in the Netherlands.

Ted April 12, 2022 12:55 PM

Humorously-spun and quite eye-opening research-tainment.

I appreciate that John Oliver threw the football into a main seat of the political class. Does the program dare try to de-anonymize who clicked on the ad “Can you vote twice?”

It almost feels like a version of the East German surveillance state. So much good info in the program.

Leon Theremin April 12, 2022 1:10 PM

Not deceiving me. All giant advertising based tech companies are using data obtained without consent by means of microwave imaging the throat of users and getting their inner speech. This data is also secretly given to terrorists, who have complete surveillance of victims, including all their passwords. The public shall know.

SpaceLifeForm April 12, 2022 1:55 PM

Watch this case


Allegedly, the company is paying car manufacturers (at least 16 allegedly) to install GPS and nailed-up cell radio into vehicles, to track location.

Otonomo is the broker.


rob April 12, 2022 3:18 PM

Re SpaceLifeForm’s link – this is nothing new. Motherboard wrote up the privacy story a year ago:

but drivers have seemingly little legal recourse wrt their connected cars, given the privacy policies to which they agreed upon purchase. For example, GM’s:

I read the complaint, which is of course aiming for class action status, but the plaintiff is not going after the carmaker but Otonomo, a “business partner” authorized by the carmaker under the broad “privacy” agreement the plaintiff signed.

It’s instructive to note that the carmakers are not defendants, nor is the plaintiff trying to invalidate agreement the plaintiff agreed to.

In sum, this sniffs of a 3rd-tier lawsuit on moderately shakey grounds.

lurker April 12, 2022 3:38 PM

@Bruce, @Winter

The link posted at the head of this thread returns for me in NZ:

Video unavailable
The uploader has not made this video available in your country

I suspect this is because the “uploader” is not the original rights holder for this video. If I search for “John Oliver Data Brokers” I get offered numerous results of the type “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Data Brokers (censored)” or “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Data Brokers – First part” &c. Please advise name of originator of this video, date, and duration, so those of us on bandwidth limited services can choose to watch the correct version. Thanks.

Mr. Peed Off April 12, 2022 4:26 PM

Automobile tracking can be partly eliminated by driving older vehicles which either pre date the tracking technology or use obsolete tech (analog cellular and soon 3g). Newer vehicles use a combination of cell and wifi (and possibly blue tooth) to escape that limit. Be aware that aftermarket gps mapping devices may also upload data. It is also possible some mobile entertainment devices may be uploading location and other data.

ResearcherZero April 12, 2022 11:50 PM

Consider not clicking on “optimize your H&R Block experience”, or similar options for services like TurboTax.

Unless you like handing over your financial data to third parties.

There is a condition that prevents tax-prep companies from disclosing the contents of your tax return.

Unless of course you decide to give up those rights.

lurkers April 12, 2022 11:56 PM

Thanks, the snag is probably HBO running a subscription model and allowing no YT freebies in some regions (until expiry of some unstated timeout).

Winter April 13, 2022 12:44 AM

@Leon Theremin
“All giant advertising based tech companies are using data obtained without consent by means of microwave imaging the throat of users and getting their inner speech.”

Please, can you tell me where I can find these people.

I know many speech therapists, speech pathologists etc who crave such a system. Speech scientists have been seeking such a tool for decades. All they found where cumbersome, imprecise methods using X-rays, MRI, bulky ultrasound, or magnetic sensors. Nothing that really works and nothing that is even borderline practical.

And now I have to tell them that it is all there, ready made and used in the ad tech without the speaker even noticing it is used. They will pull their hair out in frustration.

Clive Robinson April 13, 2022 3:39 AM

@ Winter,

Speech scientists have been seeking such a tool for decades.

And will probably continue to do do for decades to come…

There are at least five seperate parts to the voice tract. And some move only fractional and in very specific ways and directions. The wavelengths involved are as well quite short.

There is a rough rule of thumb used in radar and similar wave illumination and reflection systems of 16:1 that is the illumination / imaging wave length needs to be 1/16th or less than the wavelength of the target.

I’ll let you do the rest of the maths but realistically you are looking at an RF frequency getting on for 15-300GHz these just don’t penetrate the outer layers of skin and fat… Oh and the NRPB has some very strong “don’ts” when it comes to imaging certain parts of the body like the eyes, neck, head or spine with radient energy.

Whilst there have been some experiments with 5GHz and people writing, from what I’ve read it’s not the hands they are imaging but the stylus the imaged hands are holding (the way some people write the free end of the pen moves about ten times the range that the nib end of the pen in contact with the paper does).

Winter April 13, 2022 4:00 AM

“And will probably continue to do do for decades to come…”

I am sure they will.

What they would like to have would be:
– Upright high field rtMRI to make 3D movies of a moving tongue
– Wireless high-density surface EMG arrays of the tongue
– Wireless EM Articulography

None are in the works.

But the point of my reply was that this @Leon Theremin seems to be under paranoid delusions, or is simply a conspiracy addict (which works out the same).

John April 13, 2022 6:08 AM

@Winter, Clive,


Well said.

It is an amazingly paranoid and fake news world we now live in.

The authoritarian governments have already lost but I suspect there are yet to be a lot of lives meaninglessly lost.



Paul Jacob April 13, 2022 6:30 AM

Those big bad data brokers. They pushed this E911 onto unsuspecting public so that every citizens location is known to within a meter; without a dip switch to disable gps chip. Oh wait, no it was the state that pushed this. My bad.

Winter April 13, 2022 6:30 AM

“It is an amazingly paranoid and fake news world we now live in.”

I have had this long standing hunch that true believers in Conspiracy Theories have an anxiety disorder that is related to an OCD. Only now I found some support for this hunch (see below).

It seems that believers in conspiracy theories should be treated like people with hypochondria or phobias. It is of no use to tell a hypochondriac or arachnophobia sufferer that she or he is fine, and spiders are harmless. Even if you would get them off their specific phobia or compulsion, that would not cure their anxiety/panic disorder and they would latch onto another strategy, possibly worse, to handle their panic.

OCD and QAnon: The Obsessive Appeal of Conspiracy Theories
Conspiracy theories can easily ensnare anyone with OCD or obsessive tendencies.

In psychology, the tendency to falsely perceive patterns in random data or unrelated things is referred to as apophenia — causing us to see images of animals and castles in the clouds, for example. This is the secret engine of conspiracy: a misapplication of the useful skills of pattern recognition and narrative construction.

When we are confounded by undesirable circumstances—such as election uncertainty, or an interminable pandemic—we desperately grasp for some explanation, any explanation, no matter how unlikely or unpleasant.

This is one of the areas where conspiracy thinking overlaps with OCD. OCD is known as “the doubting disorder”; when confronted with uncertainty, OCD sufferers experience irrational anxiety, circular obsessive thoughts, and compulsive ritual behaviors. Conspiracy theories, inspired by anxiety and reinforced by repetition, are perfect fodder for OCD to exploit.

Multisensory, longitudinal, experiential engagement with conspiracy materials is almost terrifyingly convincing, even when the conspiracy itself is totally unbelievable.

For an obsessive individual, this kind of prompt opens a door to unlimited conspiracy thinking; because the theories contain no substantive or falsifiable information, they can be interpreted as proof of almost anything.

Conspiracy theories can be terrifyingly effective at ensnaring anyone with OCD symptoms or obsessive tendencies. Conspiracies take advantage of a number of different patterns of thinking: relational framing, narrative psychology, apophenia, explanation-seeking, and experiential learning. And once they get in your head, they quickly become self-perpetuating and self-reinforcing. These patterns are tricky to escape.

Petre Peter April 13, 2022 7:22 AM

Thank you for sharing Professor Schneier. Too bad now it’s about life and property. I am wondering if John O. knows about Data and Goliath.

John April 13, 2022 8:03 AM


Yes. Of course!!

I focus on the solution [for me].

So, I am active in the 12 step stuff [AA,NA].

You can get the literature for both as ‘free’ pdfs on the web.

Get “Living Clean”[NA}. Start there. Then ‘Basic Text [NA} and The Big Book [AA].

These will lead you to the solution for you!!

The rest of the world will remain sick but you will not be bothered by them as much.

Lots of fun :).


Clive Robinson April 13, 2022 8:07 AM

@ John, Winter,

It is an amazingly paranoid and fake news world we now live in.

Made all the easier because of rapid technological progress.

So many things change so rapidly in to most incomprehensible ways, their thoughts can easily go to far either way. In essence “accepteng” that is just believing anything and everything, thus getting easily conned. Or “rejecting” or denying and believing anything and everything new is a con thus loosing any opportunities and benifits.

It does not help that sometimes things can actually be both, that is whilst technologically possible they are sociologicaly unacceptable.

We are moving into what many feel is a 100% Surveillance Society, and they feel powerless to stop it. Whilst they are wrong technologically on “the 100%” they are effectively right “sociologicaly” on their feelings of being powerless to stop it.

This is not new, and is something that swings back and forth more often these days as the cost of technology drops significantly and is driven by consumerism rather than militarianism a reverse that happened in the late 1970’s. As some of the founding fathers knew implicitly the push back from the citizens against those who have saught and obtained power and surrounded themselves with “guard labour” of what we would now call at best “authoritarian followers” or as we are witnessing currently on the far east of Europe “statists” is mostly not going to be bloodless. Hence the “tree of liberty” comments amongst many others.

Along with the old dark triad of narcissism, psychopathic and sadistic behaviours, there is a fourth that sometimes gets ignored as it appears to be a consequence of the triad rather than a distinct mental disorder in it’s own right and that is “Machiavellism”. It features in the newer dark triad with the aurhoritarian guard labour sadistic trait dropped. In a way Machiavellianism is what makes a difference between what some call psychopaths and other sociopaths. That is the impulse control or lack there off seen in gang leaders versus the manipulative charm of political leaders.

But at another level Machiavellianism is about neither status or power, but control. It’s a trait of the “facilitator” who stands behind the throne and acts as a “King Maker” or broker. Apparently humble, and subserviant to the wishes of others, but actually treating them as “useful idiots” or puppets that dance to the facilitators wishes.

It’s a trait that is almost self selecting not just in politics but inteligence analysis and journalism and down through PR and marketing. The latter of which is the biggest business alongside religion.

Thus people who do not have a rational and stable bedrock to their thinking will be as a boat on the sea drifting or worse to influances that are not easily apparent for them. That is they do not see the vagaries of tide and wind thus do not know how to account for it and thus mitigate it.

The more they drift the worse the problem and the further they get from the “norm” or actual “reality” by their level of acceptance or rejection behaviour.

To make things worse, the “norm” as seen by society often is significantly behind the actual “reality”. In essence those of a conservative outlook reject reality or at best accept it considerably more slowely. Thus there can be a significant time lag.

Sociologically we have reached a point where the change of actual reality has got two far ahead of sociatal norms. This has driven those who are accepting very much further appart from those that are rejecting, and the middle ground is begining to look decidedly different. The result being that you get two predominant norms rather than one and these tend not to be as easily reconcilable as many would hope.

This makes the increasing middle ground more and more chaotic…

Which is the ground in which amongst other things “Disaster Capitalism” likes to very profitably play…

So those “facilitators” see great profit in widening the gap…

The only solution to this is to ensure people have a solid bedrock. That is by reasoned education, not the alternatives that demand belief in the irrational… This is not encoraged in Capatilistic societies, for obvious reasons.

Winter April 13, 2022 9:58 AM

“We are moving into what many feel is a 100% Surveillance Society, and they feel powerless to stop it. ”

The only solution to this is political. Even in Roman times a “person of interest” could be tracked down inside the Empire. Technology is not the problem. Corrupt politicians are also a symptom, not the cause (symptoms can kill). I do not feel able to pin-point the underlying cause why all over the world, people flock to tribal leaders that promise to protect the “Native People” against those subhuman “Others”. But I have a strong suspicion that Neo-Con free market ideology and growing inequality play a role.

Why should anyone trust a system that helps Jeff Bezos’ amass wealth by denying his employees the right to use a bathroom during working hours?

Propaganda and fake news followed the invention of printing pretty fast, with the “Witches Hammer” (Malleus Maleficarum) as a very early example that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

People got very edgy after the French Revolution, and also during the industrial revolution. The infamous “Protocols of the elders of Z***” were Russian made propaganda “Fake News” that found a timeless audience.

And what distinguishes the witch hunts of the early modern world from the hunt for communists in 1950s USA?

4ndr34 April 13, 2022 10:51 AM


“The only solution to this is political.”
Maybe, I’m not even sure about the existence of a solution, maybe you are right, but just if and only if a solution really exists. Using your own historical argument it could seem very related to human nature beyond any culture and any historical period…

“Why should anyone trust a system that helps Jeff Bezos’ amass wealth by denying his employees the right to use a bathroom during working hours?”
This is very simple: Because anyone can get more spending less, and naturally because that anyone don’t give a f**k about someone other’s human condition. Welcome to the hypocritical quantity above quality lifestyle.

Winter April 13, 2022 11:04 AM

“and naturally because that anyone don’t give a f**k about someone other’s human condition. ”

But everyone feels the same, one way or another. Be it an American who finds out his health insurance is capped when he needs it most, or a French pensioner who cannot make ends meet anymore, or the German unemployed who gets into Harz4 “benefits” without hope.

4ndr34 April 13, 2022 11:16 AM


I agree that it’s something that everyone could feel the same.

But not for everyone at the same time, and anyway not forever and mostly just for some somewhat period after we are aware and we acknowledge the situation, here the temporal variable is paramount.

In the end there is no shortage of that anyone at any time.

Clive Robinson April 13, 2022 11:20 AM

@ Paul Jacob,

Oh wait, no it was the state that pushed this. My bad.

Actually it was only ONE “state that pushed this”, the US Government. Who’s legislators are so much in thr pocket of US big business, which is why you still do not have privacy legislation in the US to stop this sort of data collection. In fact you have legislation that makes it legal as long as those who collect it give it to the US Government agencies…

But importantly they implemented the mandatory fitting of GPS in phones, knowing full well the result would be inflicted not just on US Citizens but most Citizens in the Western World.

The reason being they knew what would happen with regards “inventory control” and “Regulatory Aproval”.

Regulatory approval is carried out on individual products. That is if you have one phone design and fit a chip in one but leave it off of the PCB in another then thats two lots of regulatory approval you end up going through. So double the price and double the time. Oh and obviously you want a phone that can be used anywhere not “Model A” can be used in US North America but “Model C” which can be used in Canadian North America but can not be sold/used in the US…

The manufacture does not wish to risk fines the US Gov regulators and enforcment agencies takes great pleasure in extorting where they can especially from non-US entities.

So from the manufacturers perspective one “global model” is desirable. But also it cuts inventory costs more than not fitting the GPS chip…

So the world gets forced to have GPS in their phones…

Clive Robinson April 13, 2022 11:37 AM

@ Winter,

The only solution to this is political.

That rather deprnds on your definition of “political”, personally I thing that most politics these days are every much as much of a controlled belief system as religion and cults are.

As you know I’ve mentioned in times past “the church” was in effect the government of it’s day. Representing both the equivalent of “civil government” and “political messaging” and worse a legal system based not on facts and evidence but belief and mysticism. It was and still is a very powerful control system in much of the globe.

Unfortunately the worst of it appears to be returning.

4ndr34 April 13, 2022 11:42 AM

@Clive, @Paul Jacob,

GPS is just one not the only one way to locate a phone, even without any GPS, just as a mere example, if you have the wi-fi permission you can list the wi-fi networks in range ad their signal power, above all in urban environments where the density of already geo-tagged wi-fi networks is enough high, it can be used to get a pretty decent location of the smartphones. It can also be used to guess whom you are close to, eventually guessing who is in company of whom.

GPS is more convenient and more intrusive because it works pretty well in the outside.

Winter April 13, 2022 12:01 PM

“That rather deprnds on your definition of “political”,”

Political, as the system that abolished torture, slavery, religious persecution, child labor, and lynching. Not perfect, but mostly effective.

“Unfortunately the worst of it appears to be returning.”

If people consciously want to return to the middle ages or barbarous times, like they did in 1990 Serbia, there is little that can be done.

4ndr34 April 13, 2022 1:02 PM

Even data brokers aren’t fully aware of the true quantity and quality of information that they sell, I mean that it’s probable that someone different from the data broker is able to infer new and more data than expected by the data broker that has sold it.

lurker April 13, 2022 6:04 PM

@Clive Robinson

So from the manufacturers perspective one “global model” is desirable. But also it cuts inventory costs more than not fitting the GPS chip…

Then it becomes a “simple” software exercise to cobble up 257 different rom images for the different carriers in each market. Which spawns a hacker sub-culture who hastily analyse each new model as it appears to determine inter alia whether the software “switches” do in fact disable the various bits of hardware they claim to control.

The informed buyer thus has to ignore the makers’ and vendors’ claims, and sift through the hacker forums to find a device that can behave in a desirable manner. This effort, plus rooting without bricking, and loading a custom rom, is unfortunately beyond most mere mortals…

Clive Robinson April 13, 2022 9:37 PM

But I have a strong suspicion that Neo-Con free market ideology and growing inequality play a role.

Are they, a symptom, an opportunistic parasite or the disease themselves?

Neo-Con thinking when you look at it in a little more depth, behind the nonsense rhetoric, or something global throws it’s failings into stark brutalist relief is about one thing only.

It’s about transferring assets out of the hands of the masses into the hands of the few, but in a curious way.

It realy started with the breaking of the Bretton-Woods Agreement. The agreement had brought stability to financial markets and forced investment from speculation into actual real investment thus growth.

Stability and actuall growth is not what certain people want. They see it as tying down their resources.

Think back in your history, briefly mentioned will have been the “Black Tulip Market” or the “Tea Pot Dome” scandle”. The latter being remembered for all the wrong reasons, of political scandle and bribary rather than the underlying issue.

Whilst “natural growth” will over time produce significant wealth, to some eyes it is both slow and divided. Thus they see it as money being they are “entitled to” being stolen from their pockets. This “entitlement” is not to accrue wealth, but to use it for obtaining status, so influance, so control. In effect they are to quote the film line “On a mission from God” or other higher calling, so morals, ethics, legality are “impediments of the devil” via his “evil and corrupt agents on earth” or similar dillusional reasoning.

In reality what they do is to plan market chaos and “get in cheap, and get out rich and quick” before the bubbles or other non natural growth of speculation colapses. Sometimes called a “Hot Potato Game” where you pass something through your hands taking a nice percentage off of the top that you then divert away for other purposes in a “one way fashion”. The result the last “savy seller” dumps the faux-asset / investment and the person buying usually through ignorance pays the most and if they are lucky gets nothing, if unlucky hugh amounts of hidden debt.

The trick is to create market noise thus froth and excitment thus “draw the suckers in” and give the early ones “a taste” thus make them the equivalent of “shills” when the market reaches the right pitch the scheme originators let out their supposed assets at well well above what they aquired, take the money and “invest it” in either another bubble or use it for what they see as their “calling”.

In the case of the “black tulip market” we now look back and incorrectly think “how could they have been so silly” or in the case of “teapot dome” we see only the political scandle, not the scheme where Mammoth Oil deliberately created as a vehicle for the scheme by Sinclair Oil owner Harry Ford Sinclair should have been lucrative. What knocked Sinclairs little bubble scheme investments was that everyone started following and a spiral built up and at the end of the 1920’s what had become a massive bubble burst and the Great Depression kicked in for the next decade. However some were laughing for a while as they got out in time[1]. Then the fall out from an earlier global event caused things to change rapidly and a different sort of financial and political bubble got created that ended in a squalid suicide in a bunker in Berlin, and the face of Europe forever changed.

Now a century after the “Great War” and “Spanish Flu” history appears to be repeating it’s self.

The Neo-Con created bubble markets that created the repeated Financial Crisises have not gone away. The “Get in low, pump it up, get out quick” mentality is still very much there, but also the “I’m on a mission” attitude is very much strengthened and is strongly aligning it’s self to “The Moral Right” which it is anything but, using cultish behaviour. The ludicrous “Tea Baggers” and similar being just one of many “cults” being exploited. It’s become clear to several that the move has either been moved into or absorbed into religion, which is gaining it’s old political control purposess. Worse the “Born to be King” mentality is becoming wider and wider. Whilst the would be Kings are buffoons and Clowns, it is the fascilitators behind them pulling the strings that should scare people.

If people think the events in the Ukraine are in some way special, they are not. History shows that all major events have flash points. In reality it seldom matters where the flash point is, just that as with any avalanche or landslide, a tipping point has been reached, and just one snow flake or drop of water will be what takes it past the point, where things start moving under their own gravity.

Others are now saying Syria will be a warning to Russian’s about Putin, but equally we can say Belarus was a warning to the Ukrainians. We can point out many other pre-cursors and flash points. What they nearly all have in common is the majority only see them as such in retrospect.

There is a saying about the “Three sign posts to disaster”,

“The first is only revealed with hindsight. The second can be seen at the time by the wise. The third is quickly obvious to most.”

These “Flash Point” or “Tipping Point” events are realy the third signpost, but even then many people will be in denial in anyway they can.

Some will have noticed and others indicated years ago that Germany going non nuclear energy wise would create an issue where they would become effectively controled by others beyond their boarders. Actually it was sign-posted over thirty years ago, which culminated in a rather more talked about flash point event that will have it’s thirtieth aniversery later this year.

There was a very strong indicator of “trouble ahead” when the “European Exchange Rate Mechanism”(ERM) was overly quickly established by politicians wanting to carve out a little fame for themselves. It was created with a hard and fast mandated currency exchange bound, specifically a lower limit, that had not just to be met but maintained for a time period. Worse other “rules” ment not just a “fixed time table” but that a Nation had to declare their ERM intent publically prior to starting… This created not just an artificial tipping point, it created a time line which a currency trader could exploit into a very profitable strangle hold.

Supposadly nobody thought of it at the time (which I very much doubt, the same time-table mistake has been repeatedly made). So when the UK Government decided to enter the ERM it created an opportunity that someone decided to exploit. The result was the then UK Government after desperately selling currency reserves and taking inflation into double digits to try to keep “the pound” / sterling above the currency exchange limit mandated by the ERM lost to a handfull of currency traders. The attempt to stat in the ERM failed and the UK Government was forced to conceed and withdraw from the ERM.

Or more correctly “Crash Out” with billions lost, on the 16th of September 1992 still known today as “Black Wednesday”. It did two things that people should note,

1, The ERM created a strangle hold.
2, The event was a tipping point that changed the political direction of over thirty nations.

The result of both culminating in Russian actions currently…

Germany decided against all warnings to the contrary –and there have been a lot of them,– to alow Russia via Gazprom and Nord Stream to get a direct strangle hold on Germany and also weaken much of the East of Europe. Despite Putin having turned the gas tap off previously with other Nations in the East European region for political control. I won’t go into all the details as that involves rather more than a decade and a half of rather tedious European History and the build up to it involving much other Fall out of the ERM (think “Euro Crisis” and the following problems from the US State Dept inspired “Middle East Crisis”).

The point is on one side of the coin,

1, If you create a strangle hold.
2, Someone will exploit it.
3, You will loose by it.

On the obverse then,

1, If there is crisis.
2, Someone will exploit it.
3, You will loose by it.

It does not take much study to realise that,

1, People create strangle holds and crisises to exploit.
2, There are many useful idiots that will act as enablers.
3, Most will be either wilfully ignorant or in denial all the way down.
4, Few will even admit to failing so further fail by not taking remedial action.
5, This just emboldens people on their self styled “mission from God”
6, So the wheel turns and makes the rut deeper.

And so it progresss round and round on a downward path, the loosers being the majority via what we glibly call “Disaster Capitalism” or “Lost Opportunity Costs” of which war is the most obvious, but poor education the most insidious and harmful to humanity.

[1] One for instance is one of my distant Scottish relatives… They came to own vasts amounts of land in various places and became “Gentrified”. The story “as told” is fairly simple… A young “American on holiday” who’s lowland ancestors had emigrated to the US had become wealthy speculating in the “Roaring Twenties” if not earlier, met a young Scottish lady who he fancied greatly. So he sold up in the US and “moved back” at an opportune time, in the process bying up large amounts of land etc outside of the US. Thus married the young lady and gave up his US Citizenship and settled into a new “Laird’s Life”. Shortly there after the Great Depression started… But took a masive hit due to WWII, even though to old to fight and the children to young. But the children re-built via more conservative investment and diversified. Now a couple of generations later they have invested very widely in ways I’m not sure any single person knows, but resisted the urge to go public or similar get rich quick schemes.

Clive Robinson April 13, 2022 10:46 PM

@ 4ndr34,

GPS is just one not the only one way to locate a phone,

Nothing exists in issolation, thus has an effect on all that is around it.

Much like the ripples on a pond when you throw a couple of small pebbles in, the waves spread out, they become dim especially when close to the water and also appear chaotic.

Yet from a birds eye perspective the effects are much clearer to see, especially how the ripples interfere and reflect back and forth.

As I’ve noted before on this blog, nearly all modern tecunology is underlied by location identifing technology for it to work.

Put overly simply such location information is a requirment to,

1, Make link budgets less expensive.
2, Reduce interference potential.
3, Increase the number of users in any given area or volume.

There are others such as reducing transit time, upping link bandwidth, etc, etc, and they are all seen as highly desirable.

Very much of what we do in the First World especially in the US is “absolutly predicated” on technology that in turn is “absolutely predicated” on location being known to second or third parties.

It’s something I keep pointing out and how it can be used to carry out the likes of “traffic analysis” which removes the pseudonymity of things like Tor.

It’s why I designed a “Fleet Broadcast” network protocol to break the link. The major unsolved problem of which is the “Rendezvous System” by which the communicating parties establish shared secrets etc.

pup vas April 14, 2022 2:12 PM

Elon Musk makes offer to buy Twitter

=Tesla boss Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter, saying he is the right person to “unlock” the social media platform’s “extraordinary potential”.

In a surprise announcement, Mr Musk said he would pay $54.20 a share for Twitter, valuing it at about $40bn.

It recently emerged that Mr Musk was Twitter’s biggest shareholder after he built up a large stake in the firm.

He said that if his offer was not accepted: “I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder”.

“This is not a threat, it’s simply not a good investment without the changes that need to be made,” he added.

“However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”=

Control is key in any business in particular business which could substantially affect opinion of population.

pup vas April 14, 2022 2:31 PM

Criminal Procedure Identification Bill raises fears of surveillance in India

=A proposed new Indian law gives sweeping powers to law enforcement agencies to collect biometric data – a move that has sparked concerns over privacy.

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) bill, which was passed in parliament last week, makes it compulsory for those arrested or detained to share sensitive data – like iris and retina scans. The police can retain this data for up to 75 years. The bill will now be sent to the president for his assent.

One of the biggest concerns is that it hands over too much personal data to the state.

India does not have data protection laws, so critics say this is akin to giving the government a dangerous snooping weapon – one it could wield against dissenters.

“Since the depth of the data that can be collected is very serious, and the bill lacks any safeguards to prevent the arbitrary collection or the misuse of data, the potential for misuse is extreme,” tech and policy analyst Aditya Sharma says.

Do other countries have such laws?

It’s not uncommon for investigative agencies to mine personal data. Several countries including the US and the UK, collect biometric identifiers – facial features, fingerprints or retina scans – of people who are arrested or convicted.

But unlike the UK and US, India also doesn’t have robust systems to investigate alleged police misconduct, Mr Kodali says.=

SpaceLifeForm April 15, 2022 1:42 PM

@ Clive


The major unsolved problem of which is the “Rendezvous System” by which the communicating parties establish shared secrets etc.

I must be missing an angle or use case.

Why do Alice and Bob have to share a secret, and why is it actually a problem?

Why can’t they let each other know, publicly, what their pubkeys are?

They just announce what the pubkeys are, one for encryption, one for signing.



SpaceLifeForm April 15, 2022 2:27 PM

@ pup vas, ALL

Yes, I was cryptic because I was trolling. 😉

Not really. I was just noting some breaking stuff.

Fire: That’s an interesting crowded theater you have there.

The Fire is Elon Musk. The interesting crowded theater is Twitter.

For some reason he thinks it is his role to disrupt. Someone has some leverage on Musk. Someone wants to disrupt the Twitter moderation system. Someone wants to be able to spread propaganda far and wide on Twitter.

Twitter Board has now implemented a Poison Pill.

You can find the ref to fire in crowded theater here.

lurker April 15, 2022 4:35 PM


Musk: So, obviously there are some limitations on free speech in the US.

What Musk and Anderson and many who pontificate on this forget in their blinkered views, is that 96% of the world’s population is not subject to US law. Or should not be if we could eliminate the extraterritoriality the US has assumed to itself. Many, if not most, of the countries in the rest of the world have a complex web of laws, mostly stricter than the US, on “free” speech, and on the sale and purchase of other people’s personal data. Anyone acting on the internet* should be aware of this.

(* The internet is an interesting case, because it is widely believed to be an international medium, but the US seems to believe it owns the ‘net.

Clive Robinson April 16, 2022 1:46 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

I must be missing an angle or use case.

Nearly everyone does till you tell them, then it is so obvious…

To communicate between point A and point B you have two options,

1, Broadcast to everyone.
2, Send to a known location.

In a networked environment the first is decidedly undesirable. The same is true if you want to communicate privately, which requires not just message content privacy but traffic privacy as well. If your desire is to be covert then you need one or two other things as well.

So for point A to send to point B, point A has to know where point B is otherwise communications is not possible.

So how does point A find point B without any third parties becoming privy to party A wishing to know where party B is?

That is at the simplest level what a “Rendezvous Protocol” does.

As you start to think on what is involved you discover that it’s very far from simple to keep information from a third party observer, even before you start considering “Man in The Middle”(MiTM) attacks.

Whilst traffic analysis can be beaten –under certain assumptions–
when you know where you are sending to, it remains an open question as to if you can do it when you do not.

John April 16, 2022 2:46 AM


I plug a homebrew adapter into my cell phone to separate mike from speaker to 3 individual 3.5 mm jacks

I plug a real speaker in… Peavey Minx.

I also plug in a real stereo headset with sound in both ears and a noise cancelling mike with flat audio response.

Sounds GREAT in both directions. Wprks GREAT also!!

No tiney sounding audio. Great audio from Peavey amp. with real bass. Voices I hear are amazing.

No bluetooth or other RF crap in the path.

Try it yourself.


lurker April 16, 2022 7:24 AM

@John, “I plug a homebrew adapter into my cell phone…”

Sorry, all bets are off. It might sound nice, but do you really know where those signals are going inside that black box you call a cell phone? Or where they are going outside the other end of it?

If I can’t see all the wires, then there might be magic happening[1]. And if it’s not my own magic then why should I trust it?

[1] Note for @Clive: sometimes magic happens (mine or others’) even when I can see all the wires…

John April 16, 2022 12:13 PM


I always thought a wireless phone with a headset would be perfect.

Now I have it. Works great. And it is low cost!

I have both hands free and no external connecting wires.


SpaceLifeForm April 16, 2022 12:36 PM

@ Clive

1, Broadcast to everyone.
2, Send to a known location.

Yes, 1 is not a option.

But, 2 could be locations, plural.

Alice drops a signed encrypted blob at one or more of the known locations. Background processes distribute the blobs to all of the known locations. Think Usenet.

Bob checks one or more of the known locations, and discovers a blob intended for Bob.

Charlie and Diane also pull a copy of the blob intended for Bob. Worthless to them, but it creates traffic noise to prevent traffic analysis that can directly link Alice and Bob.

Eve can pull all the copies of the blobs she wants.

JonKnowsNothing April 16, 2022 2:36 PM

@SpaceLifeForm, @Clive, @All

re: Send to multiple known locations

This is also known as a “Dead drop” and it doesn’t work that well in RL. All you have to do now is put a Tile-FindMe on one of the people suspected.

Broadcast to All is aka “Live drop” where the people hope The Zebra Effect hides their connection. This is not working too well for Dec37 folks. Zebras may look alike, but if what you are looking for are zebras: Bob’s Your Uncle.


Search Terms

Dead drop

USB dead drop

Wifi Spy Rock

SpaceLifeForm April 16, 2022 4:05 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing, Clive, ALL

re: Send to multiple known locations

This is also known as a “Dead drop” and it doesn’t work that well in RL.

It can, as long as the intended recipient never shows up at any of the “Dead Drop” locations by themselves.

If many show up within say 24 hours, and make a copy, which of the many is the intended recipient?

Will Eve know for sure? If hundreds, thousands, or millions make a copy, how will Eve know who was the intended recipient?

There is security in numbers.

Clive Robinson April 16, 2022 5:06 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, JonKnowsNothing, ALL,

Bob checks one or more of the known locations, and discovers a blob intended for Bob.

There is a problem or two there…

1, Alice has to know where Bob will look.
2, Bob has to know when to check for something for him.

In essence what is needed which is an “End to End” problem, becomes a “meet in the middle” problem.

All a third party has to do to see what is going on is watch the mid point.

So how to remove the mid point?

Back in times past not only did every phone subscriber get sent “their own phone book” there were also plenty of phone booths on the street where by you could –unless under 24×365.25 surveillance– walk up to and look up the number. If you were under surveillance and unless you used your “finger to read”, all they got was the sight of a page with a couple of hundred numbers on it…

In effect the midpoint is not removed but as everyone gets a copy you can not see what they look up.

The problem these days is mobile phones / Smart devices are not at fixed locations they move rather rapidly. With a billion odd such devices sending out a “phone directory” is at best impractical.

So how to get the “private search” benifit of a personal “phone directory” style database. Whilst also getting it sufficiently uptodate to alow an End to End Encrypted call to be placed between two mobiles that are changing their “effective address” every few minutes. Staying current with a billion or more mobiles involved…

Remember the “Private search” is effectively everything because if you can not do it the whole privacy unravels from that…

Then you have to worry about timelyness of updating “effective addresssses” that can become a covert side channel for a third party.

Not forgetting the scalability issue and the shear bulk data transferes involved…

And that’s the easy stuff to solve.

SpaceLifeForm April 16, 2022 5:23 PM

@ Clive, JonKnowsNothing, ALL

There is a problem or two there…

1, Alice has to know where Bob will look.
2, Bob has to know when to check for something for him.

A big NO to both points.

Think cloud, Usenet. Alice does not need to know where Bob will look.

Bob does need to look constantly.

Eve can look constantly, but will learn nothing.

SpaceLifeForm April 16, 2022 5:30 PM

@ Clive, JonKnowsNothing, ALL

Typo. Bob does not need to look constantly, just within, say a 24 hour period. Maybe random intervals.

How is that Random working for you today?

interested April 18, 2022 11:14 PM

thank you. my two cents, is there’s gonna be a bit of “watch what happens” with this in cultural zeitgeist…

Clive Robinson April 19, 2022 3:14 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Sorry missed your earlier reply for some reason. Blaim the time of year postion of the planets and weather (ie it’s that movable feast of Easter with unreliable weather again).

With regards,

A big NO to both points.


In reply to “Alice has to know where Bob will look” you say,

Think cloud, Usenet. Alice does not need to know where Bob will look.

The answer questions of, “Which Cloud?” and “When did the average user last look at Usenet?” spring up.

This is a “rendezvous protocol” the primary assumption is that neither Alice or Bob have knowledge of each other only that a communications path needs to be established.

In real life, history dictates that a minimum of two pieces of “valid” information about an “entity”are required,

1, An identifier or ID.
2, A location or Address.

Provided Alice and Bob are “not mobile” you can develop a routing protocol. If however both live in caravans or camper vans trundling around the US or Continental Europe then their chance of “connecting” without the use of a central authority is about as close to zero as it’s going to get.

It’s why there is a legal requirment in many places for a “contact address” or being “Registered” with an legal/state entity that holds an official registry.

For obvious reasons a central registry effectively de-cloaks any entity anonymity.

But the process of “searching the registry” also reveals that a “first party” entity has a need to contact a “second party” entity for some reason. Thus falls into the “traffic analysis” trap. Worse in this day and age that search is in no way ephemeral, it remains under “collect it all” and all sorts of “entity mapping” systems.

Thus the question of how to construct an “anonymous rendezvous protocol” has many issues.

The obvious route to take is the old “give everyone their own private database, so they can search it privately” only realy works when the data involved is more or less static for long periods of time. With a billion plus mobile devices connected to the Internet, that has obvious problems.

The next obvious route is to try to anonymize connections to the search database. Without going into lots of detail, so far we’ve failed to come up with such a system.

One idea you hear a lot about is “add noise to the signal” well mostly it does not work for various reasons.

But consider it this way,

1, Signal is determanistic
2, Signal has inherant purpose
3, Noise is generally random.
4, Noise has no inherent purpose.

There is enough difference there to discern the difference between actual desired signal from random or pseudorandom noise.

Especially in retrospect with collect it all. That is there is no amount of random noise that would cause an incorrect answer to,

“Has A obtained B’s details in the past?”.

The best you can hope for is that sufficient people have received B’s details such that it’s of low meaning…

Unfortunately with mobile usage B’s details change so frequently the “time window” is so short that the probability of more than a very very very tiny fraction of users “randomly” getting B’s details is not just a handfull, but worse the connections they send out within that time window can all be trivially checked… Thus A rises to the top of the heap in mear milliseconds or a lot less.

So party A has to somehow entirely seperate the “search” and “communicate establish” phases in what is very likely a very short time window. If it fails, trying a second time will have almost definately put the scope if not the cross hairs in A’s direction. At which point their “freedom of action” has ceased.

As I said it’s a bit of a problem and the likes of Tor don’t help as many would like to think.

JonKnowsNothing April 19, 2022 9:33 AM

@ Clive, @ SpaceLifeForm, @All

re: rendezvous search

A more simplistic way to consider the rendezvous search field depth:

  • How many searches does it take for Amz$Alle$ to know you are looking for camping gear, furniture, an apartment, car, techno gear or (fill in the blank) ?

Trying to hide smoke signals in wild fire smoke doesn’t work either.

SpaceLifeForm April 19, 2022 2:34 PM

@ Clive, JonKnowsNothing, ALL

Do not think about any Real-Time comms.

Think Store-and-Foward. Like Usenet, but not Usenet.

Think how Usenet pulls headers, but not content.

Except, there is no content to pull.

The payload is in the headers. Maybe.

Think back to pre-DNS days.

Clive Robinson April 19, 2022 4:13 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, JonKnowsNothing, ALL,

Do not think about any Real-Time comms.

Remember this is an “Anonymous Rendezvous Protocol for Mobile Devices” we are talking about here.

If it’s not effectively near or “Real-Time” then it can not work, as the mobiles will have moved.

Fixed point / address is as I noted a solved problem before the Intetnet even existed due to “Printed Telephone Directories”.

The simple fact is we have stopped “living” in a “Fixed Point” world, we only “work” in the last vestiges of it and “The Human Malware Virus” has made a major change in “work practice” towards “Officeless working”. If the change will become permenant or not is yet to be seen, but some now think that “Home-Working” being in reality “Mobile Device Working” is now an “accepted work mode” for an increasing many rather than the few.

So fixing the lack of an “Anonymous Rendezvous Protocol for Mobile Devices” has become very much more important than it was just a couple of years ago.

If we can fix it and do it efficiently –and I see no proof that we can not– then it will replace DNS and much else besides.

SpaceLifeForm April 19, 2022 5:47 PM

@ Clive, JonKnowsNothing, ALL

If it’s not effectively near or “Real-Time” then it can not work, as the mobiles will have moved.

Is ten Minutes or so near Real-time enough?

Why would the handy moving from one cell to another really be an issue if it has ip connectivity?

If many in a given cell or nearby cells pull the same blobs in a small window of time, how is Eve going to know who is the intended recipient?

Hell, I’ll betcha I can transmit a signed encrypted base64 encoded blob over twitter under 280 characters. Though, that would reveal Alice and Bob, which is not the point of this exercise. 🙂

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