Bizzare Debate Over iPad Pinch-Zoom Function Erupts in Rittenhouse Trial

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All Eyes Are On Rittenhouse Trial as Court Deliberations Continue

On Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse took the witness stand at his own trial in connection with a 2020 shooting in Kenosha, Wis., that left two dead and one wounded. The shooting took place during civil unrest following the police killing of 29-year-old Jacob Blake.

Rittenhouse, now 18-years old, faces several charges, including one charge of first-degree intentional homicide related to the murders of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber on Aug. 25, 2020. Then 17-year-old Rittenhouse had traveled to Wisconsin from his residence in Illinois as a counter-protestor to the demonstration in Kenosha. He maintains that he was present in Kenosha to protect businesses from looting and that he fired his weapon as an act of self-defense. 

Even as the trial is ongoing, the politicized rhetoric around the shooting — and the fear of rising right-wing violence at social justice protests — has already begun an outpour of media and pundit takeaways

Also particular to the trial is the presence of much video evidence, including footage of the shooting widely shared on social media that shows Rittenhouse holding an AK-47 walking towards police in the aftermath of shots fired. Several news outlets have even managed to trace Rittenhouse’s movements that night using various clips taken at the demonstration.

However, it was video evidence that caused a debate in the courtroom on Wednesday when the defense team made the claim that pinch-zooming on an Apple iPad prompts artificial intelligence to distort video footage by adding pixels. The defense then argued that the jurors should not be allowed to examine the footage using the pinch-zoom function. 

The judge preceding over the case (who has made other decisions in this case that have come under scrutiny) ultimately decided to burden the prosecution, not the defense team, to prove that pinch-zooming would not unreasonably distort the video image. You can watch the exchange here.

Hacking and Breach Headlines

  • [Department of Justice] The U.S. Justice Department announced charges against two foreign nationals for deploying ransomware to attack business and government entities in the U.S.

  • [Forbes] Last month the annual hacking competition known as Tianfu Cup resulted in an onslaught of attacks on systems such as Apple iOS and Google Chrome by Chinese hackers. 

  • [Haaretz] Last week an Iranian-linked hacker group known as Black Shadow released a massive data dump from the LGBTQ dating app Atraf. 

  • [Zimperium] Zimperium has discovered an active malware campaign called PhoneSpy which is aimed at South Korean residents with Android devices.

  • [Qihoo NetLab] This report breaks down an incredibly large botnet nicknamed ‘pink botnet’. At its peak, it had infected over 1.6 million devices, the majority located in China. 

Facebook Fall Out Continues

  • [The New York Times] [Meta] Facebook announced last week that it would be shutting down its decades-old facial recognition program and will delete the face scan data of more than one billion users. 

  • [Gizmodo] Internal documents released by Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee and whistleblower, reveal that the 2019 Christchurch Massacre forced the company to address failed algorithms and issues with reporting violent content. 

  • [Twitter] Facebook filed its trademark application for Meta last week and the application is revealing about the company’s future ambitions. 

On Our Radar...

  • [Unicorn Riot] Unicorn Riot has launched a series on the security firm called Conflict Resolution Group and reports that the firm recently assaulted anti-Police protestors in Minneapolis. 

  • [Fast Company] An intense profile on technologist Tracy Chou that follows her successes and experiences with online harassment. 

  • [Cloudflare] A historical look at the massive botnet known as Meris, which attacked approximately 50 websites and deployed an average of over 100 DDoS attacks every active day.

Hate speech website: understandingthethreat[.]com

Who hosts: OVH

Today’s site is understandingthethreat[.]com. It is the homepage for the Lads Society, a far-right white-nationalist group based in Australia and New Zealand. The site was recently cited in the New Zealand government’s inquiry on the Christchurch attack as an influence of the terrorist responsible.

We have observed that Understanding the Threat resolves to an IP address hosted by OVH, a global hosting and services provider known for nefarious customers, at 54.39.233[.]197.

Surveillance Capitalism: How Your Data Means Dollars (Nov. 11 - 11:30 am ET)

This conversation, moderated by Emily Wenger of the SAND Lab at the University of Chicago, features leading researchers on the subject and will delve into issues around surveillance capitalism and its impact on our lives. [RSVP]


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LaBac is a hacker collective combatting tech-enabled abuse and serves on the NYC Cyber Sexual Assault Taskforce. Learn more here.