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Roger Ailes Got Us To Mistrust Everyone—Including Himself

Roger Ailes Got Us To Mistrust Everyone—Including Himself:

The best evidence that Ailes no longer wields the power he once did? If reports are to be believed, Ailes himself is about to step down from the network he defined. On its surface, the reasons have nothing to do with Fox News’ diminishing political influence. Gretchen Carlson, a former anchor, has accused Ailes of harassment, and apparently a number of other women—including Kelly—have come forward with their own accusations. James and Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s sons, have long looked to boot Ailes, and now they seem to have found the opportunity to do so. Still, it’s hard to imagine that Ailes would be so vulnerable if his role as GOP kingmaker were still secure.

He wouldn’t be ‘vulnerable’ to being fired for sexual misconduct if he still was influential in, or with, the Republican Party. This is the definition of casual sexism in journalism.

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Transparency certainly destroys secrecy: but it may not limit the deception and deliberate misinformation that undermine relations of trust. If we want to restore trust we need to reduce deception and lies rather than secrecy. Some sorts of secrecy indeed support deception, others do not. Transparency and openness may not be the unconditional goods that they are fashionably supposed to be. By the same token, secrecy and lack of transparency may not be the enemies of trust.

* Onora O’Neill, “Trust and Transparency”, the BBC Reith Lectures.
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Should childhood vaccines be mandatory?

The Current ran an excellent piece yesterday on the importance of child vaccinations. Guests included Margaret Somerville (founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law) and Paul Offit (head of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccination Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). One of his more memorable statements was:

Is it your inalienable right to catch and transmit a potentially fatal infection? I think the answer is no.

Towards the end of the interview the panelists were asked whether a distrust in authority promotes anti-vaccine attitudes. Both said yes. I tend to agree, but think that this response has to be put in a broader context: distrust in authority must be combined with a devastatingly poor science literacy amongst Americans and Canadians alike to appreciate the pushback against vaccination. In the US in particular there is rampant skepticism about basic truths about the development of the planet, of core scientific theories concerning biology, and a valourization of those who deliberately remain ignorant of these core scientific facts and theories. While the situation isn’t quite bad in Canada there remains pervasive failures in scientific education and distrust in medical doctors.

From a regulatory and public health standpoint the response to the ‘vaccine problem’ might be a more coercive public health agenda that actively works to improve ‘herd immunity’. But that would be correcting a symptom of a much broader problem: trust in authority and understanding of science. And there isn’t a clear political approach that’s likely to address this broader problem absent radical depolarization of the North American political climate and attempts to increase scientific literacy amongst children and their parents.

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Privacy is not simply an individual right or civil liberty; it is a vital component of the social contract between Canadians and their government. Without privacy, without protective boundaries between government and citizens, trust begins to erode. Good governance requires mutual trust between state and citizen. Otherwise, alienation and a sense of inequality begin to spread, circumstances under which no program for public scrutiny can be tenable or effective in the long term. Where citizen trust hits a low point, in fact, such security measures may be undermined, ignored, circumvented – or in the most egregious cases – passively or actively resisted.

* Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, “A Matter of Trust: Integrating Privacy and Public Safety in the 21st Century
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Less Than Impressed With 1Password

First, the good news: 1Password has released a new version of their product on iOS. The company outlines a whole pile of reasons for supposedly delaying security upgrades – some of which include the updates will slow the speed at which users can access their encrypted data – but fail to identify what I suspect is a key motive behind the upgrade. If you recall, I wrote a while ago about key failures in mobile password managers. 1Password was amongst those who had flawed security implementations.

To be clear: security, especially good security, is damn hard to engineer. 1Password didn’t have the gaping flaw that others did – i.e. storing passwords in plaintext!! – but it was flawed. In the security community this (ideally) is resolved when someone critiques your secured infrastructure. In today’s world you should also credit the security researcher(s) who identified the flaw.

Unfortunately, this isn’t what 1Password has done. As far as I can tell, there is no formal recognition from the company that they have had flaws in their mobile security model pointed out by a third-party. This is a shame, given that a key factor that builds genuine trust in security is transparency. It seems like 1Password is willing to address problems – they’re not dwelling in a security by obscurity paradigm, to be sure! – but not credit others with finding those problems in the first place.

Update: My very, very bad. I missed an earlier piece from 1Password, where they note the research. That is available here. It would have been ideal to see a reference to this in their update but, admittedly, credit had previously been given.

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Good, Brief, Interview on Trust and Security

An excellent piece from Bruce Schneier, in interview, concerning the relationship between trust and security. It’s short, so just go read it. For a taste:

My primary concerns are threats from the powerful. I’m not worried about criminals, even organised crime. Or terrorists, even organised terrorists. Those groups have always existed, always will, and they’ll always operate on the fringes of society. Societal pressures have done a good job of keeping them that way. It’s much more dangerous when those in power use that power to subvert trust. Specifically, I am thinking of governments and corporations.