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The scourge of data brokers.

Note: playing video here may allow YouTube to track you across sites. View at source.

If you haven't seen it yet, this segment from John Oliver about data brokers is worth a watch, particularly the magnificent ending.

Added on the 17th of April, 2022 Details

The Bitcoin bust that took down the web's biggest child abuse site.

It's a long read, but well worth it. The story of how investigators followed Bitcoin transactions to bring down a large child abuse site.

Bitcoin isn't as anonymous as most people think:

Within a few years of Bitcoin’s arrival, academic security researchers—and then companies like Chainalysis—began to tear gaping holes in the masks separating Bitcoin users’ addresses and their real-world identities. They could follow bitcoins on the blockchain as they moved from address to address until they reached one that could be tied to a known identity. In some cases, an investigator could learn someone’s Bitcoin addresses by transacting with them, the way an undercover narcotics agent might conduct a buy-and-bust. In other cases, they could trace a target’s coins to an account at a cryptocurrency exchange where financial regulations required users to prove their identity. A quick subpoena to the exchange from one of Chainalysis’ customers in law enforcement was then enough to strip away any illusion of Bitcoin’s anonymity.

Warning: there's some disturbing content in the article. It's depressing to read about these people.

Linked on the 17th of April, 2022 Details

The messy side of plastic recycling.

Bloomberg reporters placed tracking devices in plastic bags to see what happened to them. They made quite a journey and revealed how obscure and problematic the recycling business can be.

It made me wonder about how local recycling is processed but all I could find was vague rhetoric.

Linked on the 16th of April, 2022 Details

How dark patterns work.

Note: playing video here may allow YouTube to track you across sites. View at source.

Nothing new here but this video is a nice clear explanation of how dark patterns work. They're everywhere, and companies using them don't realise how much goodwill they lose from their visitors.

Added on the 11th of April, 2022 Details

Bitcoin miners revived a dying coal plant – then CO2 emissions soared.

Cryptocurrencies are regularly criticised for their energy waste and climate impact. In this case, bitcoin is directly burning coal. A Bitcoin mining company bought a powerstation to fuel their mining.

In a deal struck in late 2020, Marathon, a bitcoin “mining” company, became the sole recipient of the power station’s electricity. It established an elongated data center on 20 acres of land beside the facility that is packed with more than 30,000 Antminer S19 units, a specialized computer that mines for bitcoin. Such thirst for power is common in crypto – globally bitcoin mining consumes more electricity than Norway, a country of 5.3 million people.
Linked on the 27th of February, 2022 Details

A Novelist Invented a Fake Startup, investors want to fund it.

Not The Onion:

When Tahmima Anam set out to write her popular new novel The Startup Wife, she created a world for its characters to live in, including a secretive incubator called Utopia and the fictional startups it helped launch, complete with website. One of those fake companies has captured the imagination of VCs and other investors who don't know it's a fake -- and are interested in funding it.
Linked on the 27th of February, 2022 Details