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LVFS, firmware updates for GNU/Linux and the GCHQ

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#1

I just came across this amusing blog post on the GCHQ website (of all places)! The amusing bit is that the GCHQ is a major player in the Five Eyes program, and yet the way the introduce the LVFS article, the need for firmware patches, and (here’s the amusing bit) the implications for SPECTRE and MELTDOWN!
Firmware updates on Linux, and using data to influence procurement decisions


#2

That’s from the NCSC, they do great work so you shouldn’t discount that. (Can read more here https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/annual-review-2018)

Part of GCHQs job is the protection of the UK from criminals and state actors, part of that is ensuring the protection of the UKs infrastructure, businesses, and citizens.


#3

I agree. However, part of its job is also mass surveillance. The moral of the story of the Snowden Files is that alphabet cereal agencies straddle two boundaries of “jobs” – one that form part of its job description and one that form part of its job-actions.

Remember, the FIRST 9/11? The one in 1969. The CIA, whose job description is " to analyze and inform the U.S. govt. of external threats […]", organized and executed a coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Chile, murdered its entire body of ministers, several Jesuit priests, and installed one of the worst juntas in human history? That’s pretty much what the CIA has done all through its history, and that is not part of its job description.

The GCHQ was involved to the greatest extent possible in the Five Eyes program, and an enthusiastic supporter of the NSA for the most part. I am sure they do things to protect “UK”. But how do you define “UK”? Whose interest comes first for the GCHQ – the average Joe in the streets of London? If you look at most of the history of GCHQ, including their role in Turkey and Guatemala, you will find the answer is negative.

The point of my post was that we need to remember Oscar Wilde’s old warning, “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious”, and not blindly believe State rhetoric. The article itself, at face value, is excellent and makes valid points. Hence the irony… that it came from GCHQ adjacent quarters! That’s all!


#4

You might remember 1969, but even amongst most of the older members of these forums it preceeds our births… By ten years in my case :stuck_out_tongue:

I am not sure bringing up what the CIA did (or didn’t do, depending on who you believe) to Marxist leaning politicians has much relevance to the advice published by NCSC you linked to. As @Eden points out part of GCHQ’s role in the modern era is to help UK interests, which includes helping UK businesses to stay secure against hacking etc.

Maybe a history thread somewhere else would be best for the other stuff? It’s probably a good job @Zoltan seems to have dropped off the forum, a thread between you two on this would run, and run, and run :smiley:

All meant in good humour, please don’t take any offence :slight_smile:


#5

exactly. don’t hate the player.


#6

None taken. And the CIA did not just do things to Marxist leaning politicians, they did things to ordinary people. Much as the GCHQ.

My original point about description and explanation remains. The article, as I noted, was flawless. But it’s the “face value” aspect of it that was more “curious” to me.

I sincerely hope this was a trump-like joke! Henry Kissinger is on record, in the Pentagon files, issuing the order “Everything that flies against everything that moves”. Geneva called it the most blatant call for genocide in recorded history. Simply equivocating about history does not erase our responsibility, nor does time diminish it. If I did something to wipe out your family, time would not diminish my crime nor your pain. That is my point here. If it’s wrong when I do it, it’s wrong when you do it.


#7

I don’t. I hate the game.


#8

Yes.

Your Kissenger quote is about the bombing of Cambodia. I believe it was the USAF that dropped the equivilent in HE of Hisoshima and Nagasaka (plus a few million more tons) and not the CIA but point taken. Although I think we’re getting dates and nasty events muddled (CIA helping pinochet was early 70’s. Cambodia bombing started in '69?) but now I think we are now into major thread drift territory :slight_smile:


#9

Agreed!

As for thread drift, nobody wishes more than me that the world would just go away so we could talk technology and science in abstract idealism. But the world has a nasty habit of fucking with peoples’ lives, and to hide behind the relative privilege we have and pretend that just because something doesn’t inconvenience us it’s okay to abstract away from it… that is not something I can afford to do.

Some amount of abstraction is okay, even necessary, because without it we get so focused on the negatives that we tend to miss the possibilities for optimism. But I certainly don’t think that optimism equals indifference. Quite the contrary, really!


#10

Agreed,

I probably do that, I have my own work and family to distract me from wider problems in the world. I suppose choosing to use closed source software, because it’s convenient, instead of using free/libre software and actually having to help solve the bugs or capability gaps is a microcosm of what you speak. E.g. one could contribute to open source projects, but if you have access to software by Microsoft, Google, Apple et al. it’s easier to use that and gloss over the lack of freedom to use it how you please.

Speaking of optimism - a smaller percentage of people today live in absolute poverty than at any time in the past 200 years. Yet you might not think so looking at newspaper headlines. So that’s something to be optimistic about. But, I suppose addressing absolute poverty is only the first layer in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, addressing corruption and political liberty barely features - even if one wants to realize their full potential…

Still, interesting times. If the dollar stops being the world reserve currency by 2030 or so what does that mean for the USA and the post-war world order? We can only hope there will be an orderly retraction of empire and a graceful tilt to a multi-polar world; although the Forever War since 2001, events in 2008 and the militarization of the entire planet doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Ho hum, back to my computers :smiley:


#11

I agree… but disagree! (I will try to explain later)… but, you’ve been reading Pinker :-P! Steven is an excellent scientist, but a very distorted moral relativist. The key to that phrase, “absolute poverty”, is the modifier “absolute”. Pinker’s books are awefully bad. Better Angels was a sham, and Enlightenment Now is absolutely disgusting, in that it is not even clever like Better Angels was. Better Angels of Our Nature played on a clever juxtaposition of the biological sense of the word “violence”, then tried to use that data (accurate, by the way) to make sociological points. There’s an excellent criticism by a famous anthropologist called “Pinker’s List: Exaggerating Pre-Historic Mortality” that deconstructs the statistics, and uses Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper to expose what Pinker was trying to do. I believe Stephen Hawking had a review of the statistical vacuousness as well.

Old age must be slowing Steve down, because Enlightenment Now is not even clever – he misrepresents almost every enlightenment thinker he cites, most notably Adam Smith.

That being said, “absolute poverty” is kind of like “GDP”… it’s a perfectly valid thing, as measures go. But if someone tells you that “Country X is doing great, because the GDP was THIS high”, the hidden question there is, "Great! But where is the product, and who has it? Nobody is questioning that it is actually that high. The measure is fine!

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being concerned about our families! In fact, I would say there is something wrong with you if you were not concerned. But that does not mean you can’t be concerned about others’ families. The concern is in the same direction obviously! Think of it like this: unless you are demanding that they shut down every public school, and give the funds to a private school where your children will have five horses and three elephants as after school activity, while your neighbour’s kids scourge for breadcrumbs… which I highly doubt you will ever demand… your demand would be something like this: “I want a better education system for my kids”, and since I live next door, you’re already demanding better education for my kids too. That’s the normal structure along which a society works.

What’s abnormal is when someone demands that a few people have horses and elephants, to continue that metaphor, while most have to chose between going to college and getting health care! It doesn’t matter if the rest are not starving on the streets! That’s not the measure of a functioning society! That is the bare minimum, of course, and it is better than starving! Absolutely! But that does not mean it is good enough! Nor that demanding something on top of two bread-meals a day (like the right to education and health care), in a society where some people have the ability to burn money, is unreasonable!

That’s how I define privilege – the demand that I have the right to dictate what’s enough for you (irrespective of what you may or may not have), because such demands are rooted in the knowledge that while we both have some, I have a LOT MORE than I would ever need while you have a LOT LESS than you actually should!


#12

You flatter me too much, I’ve just watched a TED talk or two :smiley:

Interesting points and discourse, food for thought. Thanks for the reply :slight_smile:


#13

Thanks for the interesting conversation!