Beyond 2FA: carrier responsibility

When Verizon announced it was buying Tumblr, then Automattic got their bid with a massive devaluation, people didn’t seem to think it was odd that an Internet service provider was passing on a social media company to a structural systems programming company, the one who’s “passionate about making the web a better place” but whose CEO says they’re “much better at writing code than haiku”, with a spectrum of influence that spans to 96 countries. As you can expect by now, I did find it odd, in case nobody else did. It can’t be said enough: how does a company value go from 1.1 billion dollars to 3 million? And just to keep it less cryptical, who sold what, to whom? Marrisa Mayer has the answer, but she’s too busy working on the model for correcting Tinder culture, which has been reported.

No, we’re not all posting haikus. We don’t all love Japanese culture, by the way. But we wanna know why tech’s profit is really dependant on sales links, which are in turn promoted due to payments to these platforms, and are only successful when you “play your cards right”. One has to wonder: what cards? Do they put fruit instead of numbers, so we have an banana King, a peach Queen, a lemon Jack and an orange Ace? Because multiculturalism is a thing, and president Biden has been in Japan, I’m reminded of a video, where a Motorhead classic is covered (and Yoshiki’s buddy, unfortunately, didn’t get to record with St, Vincent). That was the Tokyo Yankees.

The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say / I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is the ace of spades”

Of course, language is an issue. But the fact is most ISPs operate in their own standards… except in Brazil. The largest broadband and mobile coverage is by telecommunications company Vivo, a branch of Spanish Telefónica. They’ve done things with AI, but not enough. From registering every user with social security to calling on spam to ask for someone else and their late bills, then eventually hanging up on your face with nobody on the other side of the line, the company policy and third party services with telemarketing are far from following clear policies, and the products show an immeasurable number of inconsistencies.

I’m not sure if I’m speaking a different language when I talk to them. I hire a plan because I want a bill on my name for the first time. I go for the cheapest plan possible, 17 real for 2GBs over a month (you’ll notice I’m not a gamer) and extras for social media. As it turns out, you need to access an app to activate it. Who says the app works? Then suddenly you get an SMS saying the plan is now 5GBs a month, and it’s called “Vivo Control”. Instead of 17 real, which had already been discounted from my credit card immediately, I have to pay 60 real now for something they put me in apparently at ramdom (poor guys, can’t control the system —Vivo’s profit was over 11 billion real in 2021. And of course, over SMS. That’s how easy it was to get my approval: don’t even ask, shove it in. Great policy, you’d think, right? If you’re on the wrong side of the law, of course. I had to go over a number of physical entourages with store managers who humiliated me while they sold someone next to me the newest 256GBs storage phones, foldable pieces, 5G and all, and then tried to argue that I did have to pay for the 60 bucks, or I’d have to call a hotline. I did. They had at least 8 protocols of service requests that were never made, but they created. The lady on the phone promised to cancel that bill. Next month, I got an extra (because cancellation is charged over the following month as a fee, but I also got that first 17 bucks. I am abolutely not paying.

What comes to mind is how other ISPs deal with systems. A 2018 report from Ars Technica clarified that “mobile providers [were] struggling to protect customers against scams designed to seize control over a target’s mobile phone number”; but the discussion is very old, and you can find Q&A’s dating from 2006, as this NBC issue. What doesn’t seem to be clear is how people have taken the phone number and given it a new purpose: you’d have to question the whole business model of WhatsApp, and some people have in the EU, while others sticked to a known strategy of being pedagogical to the unaware user, who doesn’t practice reporting, and that being emphasized.

It seems that we’re playing some kind of game of cards with the internet. No, maybe the fruit thing isn’t a good analogy. We don’t want to eat our phones. We want functionality, fair use and good treatment. Common sense? No, we also want to advance in our exercise of freedom of speech. But a consumer habit today is not just the bananas or oranges you buy at the market (although financial apps on your phone already have that information); consumer information is everything you ever look at when you’re connected to the internet, and the best thing you can do, if you haven’t already, is install a VPN — if you don’t know who’s calling you, or why you’re being charged, why not invert the dynamics and make them wonder why you’re tweeting from a different country? Exercise that, and go for an alternative backed by the likes of Freedom of Press Foundation, like Tunnel Bear. And when the govenment asks why your logins look suspicious, tell them you’re an internetional citizen, bitch!

Image: Pexels

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