Clubhouse’s Database of User Records was Scraped



Clubhouse has had an SQL database containing 1.3 million user records scraped and linked for free on a “popular hacker forum”, CyberNews reported. Clubhouse claims that this is false, and that it has not been breached. The situation appears to have led to some speculation on Twitter.

According to CyberNews, the leaked database contains a variety of user-related information from Clubhouse profiles including: user ID, name, photo URL, username, Twitter handle, Instagram handle, number of followers, number of people followed by the users, account creation date, and invited by user profile name.

CyberNews speculates that the leaked data could be used by threat actors against Clubhouse. It could be used to carry out targeted phishing or other types of social engineering attacks. CyberNews reported that they did not find sensitive data like credit card details or legal documents in the archive that was posted online.

Business Insider also reported about the leak of the personal data of Clubhouse users. It is not the only social media platform that has had this problem. Business Insider said that LinkedIn confirmed that about two-thirds of the platform’s userbase was scraped and posted publicly online. Previous to that, Facebook had a data leak that included the full names, location, email addresses, and other sensitive pieces of information of 533 million Facebook users. That data was posted in a forum.

Clubhouse responded to the situation by quote-tweeting a tweet from Techmeme about the CyberNews article that reported the scraping of Clubhouse’s user data. Clubhouse tweeted: “This is misleading and false. Clubhouse has not been breached or hacked. The data referred to is all public profile information from our app, which anyone can access via the app or our API.”

I do not use Clubhouse, mostly because I personally feel that it lacks proper support for user privacy. There has been at least one situation in which a Clubhouse user recorded a Clubhouse chat and streamed it online. At the time Clubhouse stated that they permanently banned the user and installed new “safeguards”. It is unclear what those “safeguards” are.

Personally, I feel that Clubhouse’s tweet, insisting that the app had not been breached or hacked, is not enough to convince me Clubhouse will protect user’s information. Clubhouse stated that the data obtained is all public profile information, which anyone who has access to the app can see. Just because the profile is public doesn’t mean people are happy to have that information posted online outside of the Clubhouse app.


100 Billion in EV Rebates #1519



The 2.25 Trillion stimulus package being promoted by the White House contains 100 billion dollars for EV rebates. So if you were thinking about an Electric Vehicle I think I would delay in going picking one up before seeing what kind of free cash from the taxpayers you can get for your next car. Just what I don’t want to do is go out and pay for someone’s car.

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The Battle Between Epic Games and Apple Continues



Today, 9To5Mac reported a significant update to the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games – “Project Liberty”.

According to Apple, Epic Games hired PR firms in 2019 to work on a media strategy called “Project Liberty” aimed at portraying Apple “as the bad guy.” In October 2020, Judge Yvonne Rogers had concerns that Epic knew exactly what they were doing with the controversial Fortnite update, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.

Here is a quote from Apple:

Epic’s monopoly maintenance claim is premised on the notion that the antitrust laws preclude Apple from imposing conditions on the licensed use of its intellectual property, and impose on Apple a duty to deal with Epic on the terms preferred by Epic – to the detriment of other developers and consumers alike. But Apple has no obligation to license its intellectual property, aside from a limited exception not applicable here, businesses are free to choose the parties with whom they will deal, as well as the prices, terms and conditions of that dealing.

CNBC provided a summary of what Apple, and Epic, will argue in court. The case could be heard on May 3, 2021, (but the date could change due to the pandemic).

Apple will argue:

  • Its 30% commission is essentially the same as other online software stores like Google Play or stores for video game consoles and Apple’s fee has decreased over time.
  • It faces competition both for iPhones as well as other platforms to play games.
  • Its App Store policies have led to a boom in the software industry and result in greater safety and security for users.
  • The App Store is a core, integrated feature of the iPhone, and that using Apple payments for digital purchases is a key feature.

Epic will argue:

  • Apple forces consumers to bear high switching costs to stop using Apple products, locking them in.
  • As Apple has accumulated more customers and locked them in, the importance of selling software to Apple customers has grown.
  • Apple controls the only way to install software on an iPhone through the App Store.
  • Apple uses its App Review process, which manually screens individual apps, for anti-competitive purposes, removing apps for business reasons under the pretext of security.
  • Because some developers have chosen to raise iPhone software prices because of Apple’s 30% fee, it causes consumers to pay more, and Fortnite is an example.

Voyagers Film Review (2021)



This new film is the classic storyline that the human race is at stake and at the same time we have only marginally advanced having not yet achieved speed of light travel. Imagine being raised in a sterile environment as an infant and bio-engineered to travel in a largely automated spacecraft over many years and multiple generations to reach a new home among the stars. As young teenagers grow into adults, they embark on a mission in which they know they will die before they see the results of what could be man’s greatest attempt to colonize another planet.

Throw in some drugs to keep the emotions of young adults in check, and when they discover this fact and refuse to take it. The results are for the first time they feel fear, lust, passion, and want power. What could go wrong well let’s just say human nature is one that cannot be kept on reserve for long. This is a great movie that will think about the possibilities in the future and also not be so outlandish that we all could see ourselves being on that ship 50 years from now.

For those that love Space Odyssey, you’re going to want Act 2…

Written and directed by Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist), the film stars Tye Sheridan (The X-Men franchise), Lily-Rose Depp (The King), Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), Chanté Adams (Roxanne, Roxanne), Isaac Hempstead Wright (“Game of Thrones”), Viveik Kalra (Blinded by the Light), Archie Madekwe (Midsommar), Quintessa Swindell (“Trinkets”), Madison Hu (“Bizaardvark”), and Colin Farrell (The Gentlemen).


The Email Double Standard



Every day, emails come in from favourite stores extolling their latest offers or newest stock, but try to contact the shop’s customer services by email and it’s a different matter.

I’m a fan of Bulldog‘s male grooming products and recently went to replenish the bathroom cabinet but was unable to get hold of one particular product. I visited four stores familiar to the British High Street – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Boots and Superdrug –  and for those who don’t live in the UK, the first two are supermarkets and the others are health and beauty retailers. All the stores stocked Bulldog’s line and just this one thing was missing.

It’s always an annoyance when a favourite product is withdrawn and a replacement needs to be found, so I thought that I’d email the stores and the manufacturer to find out why there was a stock shortage before trying out alternatives. Easy-peasy, I thought. One email with five bcc’s would do the job…

After having a rummage on their respective websites, I discovered that email is not always their preferred method of contact. Not so easy-peasy after all. Of the five I wanted to email, only one, Boots, actually offers an email address. Here are the main customer service contact points.

  • Bulldog Skincare – single form on website
  • Sainsbury’s – selection from topic areas on website that ends in offering phone, Facebook, Twitter or BSL (British Sign Language)
  • Tesco – click-through several pages to get to form on website.
  • Boots – boots.customercare_team@boots.co.uk, plus phone and web form.
  • Superdrug – online chat, Facebook and Twitter

Well done Boots and kudos to Sainsbury’s for offering BSL upfront to customers, but I’m really disappointed as to how few offer email as a method of communication with customer services. To be fair to the shops, when and where I contacted their customer services, they did respond promptly and with relevant information, so I can’t complain too much.  However, there does seem to be a double standard here: the stores seem very happy to spam us with promotional email but if we need to contact them in return, it’s not so easy.


E3 Goes Online for 2021



E3 2021 LogoIt’s “Game On” for this year’s E3 Expo with the flagship gaming event taking place completely online in 2021 from 12-15 June. This is great news for gamers and gaming fans who will be to see what’s coming soon to their consoles and PCs from some of the biggest names in the industry. Early indications are that Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games and Koch Media will be showing off their latest wares with more to come.

Usually, E3 takes place in June at the Los Angeles Convention Center and until only a few years ago was a trade-only event. Last year’s show was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic and this year will be an all-digital event. This is great for enthusiasts across the world who wouldn’t be able to travel to the West Coast under normal conditions, never mind during the pandemic: they’ll get a front-row seat to the latest releases in the industry.

For more than two decades, E3 has been the premier venue to showcase the best that the video game industry has to offer, while uniting the world through games,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, President & CEO of the ESA. “We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games.

For E3 2021, there will be live press conferences and a four-day video stream. An E3 app is mentioned as well which would be a very slick way to bundle the event into a single point of presence. Other elements of the website are still a work-in-progress and fan registration is expected to open in “Spring 2021”. Keep an eye on the registration page here but all the indications are that this will be a free event.

Now I’m wondering if Nintendo will use E3 to drop the widely-expected revised Switch…


Discord Banned More than 2,000 Extremist Groups



Discord is a group-chat app that is often used by people who enjoy playing video games with their friends who live far away. I use Discord to play Dungeons & Dragons with my friends, and have used it to talk to people while playing Diablo III. Unfortunately, it appears that a lot of terrible people had been using Discord for nefarious reasons. Discord has rightfully banned them.

Discord provided a lot of information in their Transparency Report which covers July through December of 2020. There is a pie chart that shows user reports by category. Harassment was the largest category, with 132,817 reports. This was followed by Cybercrime (42,588) and NSFW (33,106).

NPR reported that Discord removed more than 2,000 communities dedicated to extremism and other violent content in the second half of last year. NPR noted that the enforcement actions by Discord come at a time when Microsoft is (reportedly) in talks to acquire Discord for $10 billion.

Discord’s transparency report points out that it has invested in resources that enable it to proactively detect and remove the highest-harm groups from their platform. This includes many categories including: Exploitative Content, and Violent Extremist groups.

We also worked in the second half of 2020 to take action against militarized movements like the “Boogaloo Boys” and dangerous conspiratorial groups like QAnon. We continue to believe there is no place on Discord for groups organizing around hate, violence, or extremist ideologies.

Discord’s Trust & Safety team removed 1,504 servers for Violent Extremism in the second half of 2020. That is nearly a 93% increase from the first half of the year. According to Discord, the increase can be attributed to the expansion of their anti-extremism efforts as well as growing trends in the online extremism space.

One of the online trends Discord observed in that period of time was the growth of QAnon. Discord adjusted their efforts to address that movement and removed 334 QAnon-related servers.

Personally, I’m happy that Discord has been making efforts to remove violent extremism and conspiracy theories. Some of the Discords that I am connected to, and participate in, are open to anyone who wants to join. Knowing that Discord has been actively removing bad actors from its service makes me feel safer using it.