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Comment: Re:Let's get this straight (Score 1) 137

by wvmarle (#48924525) Attached to: How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year

In that case, they would be allowed to block any robocalls originating from their network (because those customers are violating their contract); not the ones entering their network. That'd be a legal quagmire: how do they know for sure it's a robocall until it's answered and listened in to? They're not legally allowed to listen in to calls, a warrant is needed for that.

Comment: Re:Let's get this straight (Score 2) 137

by wvmarle (#48922823) Attached to: How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year

NSA et.al. work in secret, outside the law. Formally they're covered by the law, but the problem is that this includes many secret laws giving them lots of leeway, and if the law gets in the way they'll ignore it anyway.

The FCC and phone companies however work more in the open, and are bound by the law. One such laws says that the phone company must do their best to make all phone calls come through, no matter the content. This is typical part of being a common carrier (like the postal service): they can not discriminate against content, they have to put through the message, and also are not liable for any content of the message.

While technically easy, it's legally not so. The phone company must put through those calls, even if they know this are robocalls and the customer doesn't like robocalls. The customer however is free to install blockers on their phone, or to have their calls rerouted through a third party which helps them filtering the calls. This is exactly how it's done now.

Finally, you should really equate this with Internet filters. They're hated here - yet phone filters are asked for. Phone filters can also be used to block political rivals and let your own calls go through, for example. That will give your party an edge at the next elections.

Comment: Re:Implement locally? (Score 1) 137

by wvmarle (#48922765) Attached to: How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year

Technically, I'm sure is totally doable. Myself I have an app called "SudioKuma Call Filter" installed, this is a blacklist for Hong Kong local junk calls. Also I am on a government do-not-call list, which blocks robocalls, but allows calls made by humans - the call filter takes care of that one. They have a blacklist of some 20k numbers, and a whitelist of some 162k numbers, so far less than what this company is dealing with. The size of that blacklist (TFA mentions 850,000 numbers, and hundreds of changes a day) may be an issue for a regular phone, particularly the database lookups may be too slow for it to work well.

More of an issue is that most land line phones (at least the ones that I used when I still had a land line, this may have changed) do not have any significant computing power in them. They may have a small memory for some fast calls or a simple address book; nothing near the computing power of a mobile phone - which is comparable to that of desktop computers less than a decade older.

Comment: Re:Not quite (Score 1) 389

Actually, no. In order to do the more involved things, "physical observation, bugging rooms, and breaking into phones or computers", they have to get a warrant.

No need for that. They only have to get a warrant if they want to use the evidence in a court of law - most intelligence gathered by the secret services (which is what this is about, not about police investigations) never makes it to the court, and is not even intended for that purpose. Only when they want to actually go and catch someone they start to play by the books - that moment it's getting simple as they know everything already, just have to redo bits of their work the proper way.

Comment: Re:Translation ... (Score 2) 389

Wrong translation. It's much simpler.

"Allow us to break encryption, or we go back to the methods we've been using for decades, if not centuries!" Because that's exactly what they say they have to "start using": methods that have been used for a very long time. Methods that overall worked quite well.

Comment: Re:Telegram (Score 1) 191

by wvmarle (#48896713) Attached to: WhatsApp vs. WhatsApp Plus Fight Gets Ugly For Users

One serious issue with that one - the same issue with WhatsApp:

It's free forever. No ads, no subscription fees.

Now how're they going to pay their developers, their (cloud) servers, etc? These apps don't come into existence by themselves. They don't maintain themselves. Those servers also cost real money to run and maintain. Doesn't sound sustainable to me.

WhatsApp was supposed to be free for a year, after which you were to start paying a small yearly fee. Apparently even that part they dropped, as I'm using it for well over a year and have never had to pay anything. Now how WhatsApp is paying for the service they provide me I don't know - they don't sell ads on the platform, and they claim at least they don't sell my personal information (message content, whatever) to third parties.

Comment: Re:tag, but don't hide! (Score 1) 224

by wvmarle (#48866149) Attached to: Facebook Will Let You Flag Content As 'False'

Adding the note that it may be false will likely make many people believe it's false, whether that's the case or not. People generally follow other people's opinions, or are at least strongly influenced by them.

Even if you're sure something is true but it's tagged as "potentially false" then at the very least it will seed doubts.

Comment: Robotic warfare (Score 5, Insightful) 208

by wvmarle (#48863635) Attached to: US Army Wants Weapon To Destroy Drone Swarms

No doubt, these drones will be more and more automatic, where commands from their human controllers become more and more abstract. Maybe now they're being flown like an RC aircraft, soon it'll be "go to this location, launch bomb to hit that location", or "fly search patterns in this area and shoot anything that doesn't respond to your coded signals out of the sky".

And so, step by step, we enter the era of robotic warfare. No matter how often the various militaries and politicians pledge that this will not happen.

Comment: Re:Language is not truly unique to humans (Score 1) 154

by wvmarle (#48811067) Attached to: Human Language May Have Evolved To Help Our Ancestors Make Tools

The summary doesn't do this, it just states "If there's one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals, it's our ability to use language", moving on to mentioning the skill of conversation. That are things that are not totally unique to humans, other species can communicate in that way as well. But just being able to use language is not enough; it's abstract language that's really unique to humans.

Things that really do set us apart are very different. One thing that I really can't think of an animal equivalent is how much we care about our looks, and then specifically about how other people see us. Clothes, make-up, haircuts, shaving, etc. all go that way: we care about how we look because we care about how other people see us. Other animals may show off their bodies, like peacock males showing off their massive tail feathers to a female; I can't think of any example where an animal deliberately decorates its body to impress others of its species.

Comment: Language is not truly unique to humans (Score 3, Interesting) 154

by wvmarle (#48809805) Attached to: Human Language May Have Evolved To Help Our Ancestors Make Tools

There are many more animals that are known to communicate through sound, some rather sophisticated. Various whales and dolphins are known to use different calls, some primates, even some species of bat are believed to exchange information such as where to find food through sounds. Calls are also a common way of parents finding their children when living in big groups. Of course it's not as advanced as human speech, and almost certainly not useful to communicate about abstract topics. To me, it is a form of speech nonetheless.

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