Friday roundup: A week in tech


The head of a tech firm has been arrested for doing unspeakably immoral things – well, it could be almost anyone, couldn’t it?

But it’s actually Vincent Ramos, CEO of Phantom Secure, a Canadian firm that has made $millions and $millions selling specially encrypted phones to drug dealers.

The company modified Blackberry devices to make them more secure for dangerous criminals, selling them on six-month subscriptions for between $2,000-$3,000.

America’s Department of Justice swooped on Mr Ramos in Seattle, and he faces life imprisonment if found guilty of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute drugs.

Speaking to the BBC, US attorney Adam Braverman said: ‘This organisation Phantom Secure was designed to facilitate international drug trafficking all throughout the entire world. These traffickers, including members of the Sinaloa Cartel, would use these fully-encrypted devices to facilitate their drug trafficking activities in order to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.’

Well. I don’t suppose Phantom Secure stand a ghost of a chance in court; their defence will simply be spirited away by the prosecution. A haunting case.


This is quite funny. Or sickening. Both, probably.

Uber-rich tax-hater Peter Thiel has accused European regulators of being driven by jealously, as they try to clampdown on the activities of Silicon Valley firms.

Speaking about EU plans to improve data privacy conditions across the continent, the PayPal co-founder whined: ‘The good reasons are these privacy concerns and the bad reasons are there are no successful tech companies in Europe and they are jealous of the US so they are punishing us.’ 

He went to say that ‘privacy in a digital era deserves to be rethought,’ however ‘as a libertarian I always dislike regulation’. As a ‘libertarian’…I ask you.

Anyway, Mr Thiel apparently has an emergency contingency plan to zip to a presumably comfy safe house in New Zealand at the first sign of societal collapse, where he will no doubt be free to practice unbridled unregulated libertarianism while the rest of us burn/starve/etc. Bully for him.


There’s a nice article here, so there is, about tech journalism’s tendency to consist almost entirely of what amounts to the promotion of new products, rather than critical analysis of said products, companies and other things.

Quoting another article, the piece reads: ‘Tech journalism has become tedious product journalism where printing the spec sheets for mass produced consumer products is celebrated as a great story and where there appears to be little understanding of bigger picture stories about how our digital technologies are transforming our industries, cities, and our societies, at a pace and scale that’s never been seen in our history.’

Well, regular readers will be well aware that words such as ‘celebrated’ and ‘spec sheets’ are rare if not unheard-of occurrences on this blog. So, tell your friends, tired as they probably are of boring, hype-filled product reviews dressed up as journalism, to bookmark, where a lugubrious cynicism still reigns.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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