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Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs

Silicon Valley now can be renamed to Surveillance Valley
Mass surveillance is equal to totalitarism with the classic slogan of Third Reich
"if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear"

The slide above is courtesy of The Guardian

News National Security State Recommended Links Big Uncle is Watching You Nephophobia: avoiding clouds to reclaim bits of your privacy Search engines privacy Is Google evil? "Everything in the Cloud" Utopia
Reconciling Human Rights With Total Surveillance Issues of security and trust in "cloud" env Facebook as Giant Database about Users Blocking Facebook Email security MTA Log Analyzers HTTP Servers Log Analyses Cookie Cutting
Potemkin Villages of Computer Security Privacy is Dead – Get Over It Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance Cyberstalking How to collect and analyze your own Web activity metadata Steganography Anomaly detection Notes on Search Engines and Google
Malware Cyberwarfare Data Stealing Trojans Flame Duqu Trojan Magic Lantern CIPAV Google Toolbar
Nation under attack meme Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Search engines privacy Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Nineteen Eighty-Four Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State Prizm-related humor Etc
Version 1.2, November 20, 2013

Introduction

"As a totalitarian society, the Soviet Union valued eavesdropping and thus developed ingenious methods to accomplish it."

This NSA document

J. Edgar Hoover - Wikipedia

Americans live in Russia, but think they live in Sweden

Chrystia Freeland

You have nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide

--Joseph Goebbels

I was always suspicious about the success of "cloud" Web mail services starting with Hotmail. There was something fishy here including the purchase of Hotmail by Microsoft. The problem is that if your emails are being stored "in the cloud" each single email is exposed as if it is permanently "in transit". Moreover the collection of email in your Inbox and your email address book are a more valuable set of information than any single email and tells much more about you that any intercepted email can.  Now you see why the future won’t be like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Mechanisms were invented that provoke people voluntary spy on themselves.

This brief examination of the internet mail suggests that we should cultivate the heresies of secrets and silence. May people had been promoting the idea of lean email usage for a while. It's about recognizing both that emails are valuable and that it is a dangerous thing to put sensitive information in it or to overuse  email, when phone call suffice. Extending this to "lean data principles" forces you to clarify the data you want to store and think hard about the minimal set of information you need.

Facebook along with Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo is one of kings of "passive surveillance".  That means that they are able to keep a pretty detailed, day-to-day dossier on your actions and (in case Google and Android phones) movements by just analyzing data that are automatically streaming into their databases due to the fact that you have account.  Integration of those activities is NSA domain, but Facebook is pretty nasty in a sense that it tried to get more information about you then you wish to provide. As one of my friends pointed out "Facebook "like" button is watching you :-)"  

"Facebook "like" button is watching you

While Amazon connection to intelligence agencies is very well known (and only a complete idiot can assume that history of your purchases on Amazon or using any credit card is not goes directly to NSA, Langley and several other places), Facebook and Google connections became known only after Snowden revelations. 

But PRISM program is only logical and just utilized available technological capabilities for surveillance. The dream of total surveillance was always present in any state apparatus, democratic or totalitarian.  Moreover PRISM is an improvement over dystopia of 1984. After all, Big Brother needed electroshock, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, drugs and propaganda broadcasts to keep power. Confessions obtained by force has been replaced by voluntary disclosure due to new technologies available. And crushing of dissent became more sophistically and utilizes less brute force (look how effectively Occupy Wall Street movement was suppressed).  Now all you need is the cooperation of several large Internet  companies with intelligence agencies, control of MSM and infiltration. 

Returning to the issue of email. Contrarily to widespread myth, it not exactly necessary to read you email to understand who you are and what views you are holding. Just the set of headers of your email messages (along with the content of your address book) constitute something much tremendously more revealing (and from the point of view of your privacy more dangerous) then a single email.  Rephrasing well known quote we can say: "Give me access to your email headers,  I will say who you are" ;-). Or putting it into action plan: if you can accomplish anything without sending email, then do not send email.

All this talk about NSA or CIA ability to listen to your smartphone microphone or via microphones in your laptop, TV or other  devices looks like grossly exaggerated threat. Those are intrusive and expensive options and those agencies actually they do not need them, except is cases when the "suspect" needs 24 x 7 surveillance.   Other then pursuing real suspects this measure clearly is an overkill. Passive surveillance via data provided by big four (Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo) are enough so that you have no secrets from the government ;-).

At any day of the  year government can tell what are you interests, political views and the circle of fiends. STASI operatives would die to have this capability.  In other words just due to technology progress we are all now living in the "national security state", which as you can guess is governed by intelligence agencies brass. The latter along with financial oligarchy and top CEOs represents  what Orwell called "inner party".  And its existence was clearly revealed during Russiagate color revolution, launched after the election of Trump. With the explicit goal to depose of at least neuter elements of his election program that represent deviation from neocon/neolib policies (the latter goal was achieved). 

It not accidental that some prominent politicians have their career interlinked or even managed by intelligence agencies (George H. W. Bush,  Vladimir Putin, Theresa MayBarak Obama, Mike Pompeo, Hillary Clinton). There is even term "CIA democrats" which has double meaning.  With the second one more menacing then the first. To a certain extent, politicians who fight and win or lose election are just figureheads or puppets of the Deep State because since the time of J. Edgar Hoover there is enough dirt of each of them to keep them in check.  And if not, it can be fabricated as was the case with Steele dossier.

In other words, the emergence of powerful intelligence agencies after WWII (as well as technological progress, especially in the areas of computers and  communications) make transition to the national security state the "natural" path of the Western societies  evolution. Whether we can talk about democracy in such a state is an interesting question, but it is clearly beyond the scope of this  page.

Please note that your purchases history, the collection of just email headers and other information that which can be collected automatically and inexpensively is probably  stored "for the duration of your life."   And that includes emails voluntarily stored by you on your "cloud" provider (is not this stupid ?). The latter is the place over which you've absolutely no control (and as such you should have no expectation of privacy) . 

The same is true about your phone calls. The ability to listen to your phone calls in most cases is immaterial. The list of your connections is enough to tell everything about you, sometimes even better then the content of your conversations via phone.  And I doubt that the work of transcribing and analyzing your calls is done without some serious reason, just for completeness. On the current level of technology it costs serious money.

Typically those guys who suspect that their phones are listened behave more carefully. And that means all of us should not view phone as a device suitable for communication anything really private. At the same time rumors about phone converted into a listening device against your will looks like paranoia. This is not simple, as running phone consumes battery life and this allows easy detection of such activity. So if your fully changed phone that was on 100% and switched off shown 80% of change you would instantly understand that something is wrong. Moreover putting a cell phone into a metal box or a metal mesh, or metalized plastic envelope used for computer parts,  completely disables the communication with the tower.  Foam lining pretty much disables sound too. Both those materials are cheap and widely available.  But in most cases switching phone off is more then enough. 

The same is true about your usage of internet: as soon as you switch off your home router there is no way to spy on you at home via Internet, no matter how many computers that are connected to your home network. Of course theoretically there is a possibility of using wi-fi from your neighbor, but that's complex and costly path.

So the main danger is your own Internet activity. But here the situation is a little bit more complex as from now on the life of intelligence agencies is not that easy -- there is no guarantee that after Snowden revelation people do not try to distort their browsing profiles.  Even usage of your Amazon account by other members of family distort you profile enough to make making conclusion from it more difficult.  Sharing a single Amazon account for a family blurs your purchasing activity with "noise" as it is difficult automatically distinguish between your activities and activities of individual members of the family.

In this sense Snowden revelations were a severe hit, almost a knockdown for NSA. It is very easy to inject fake activity on your browsing profile, less so in your email and purchases profile. The simplest way for Internet is to use any programmable keyboard, or a scripting language with the Expect-like module (Perl, Python, etc).  You can visit arbitrarily website at your will, but you can't just call random people (actually you can, but the result will be disappointing ;-). As it's easy imitate "fake visits to sites"  analyzing web activity in "after-Snowden" world became more involved and complex task.

I can see why Brazil and Germany are now concerned about NSA activities. What I can't understand is why they are not concerned about stupidity of their citizens opening accounts on Gmail or Facebook and putting confidential information on the Webmail systems such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail and Gmail (all three are mentioned in Prism slide above ;-). Is not this a new mass form of masochism?   Or the case then they are more afraid of their own government.

But the first rule from now on should be: do not write email when something can be accomplished via phone call, and do not use phone, if something can be accomplished by personal contact.  Limit your Internet activity -- in most cases this is just a waste of time and electrons anyways

Do not write email when something can be accomplished via phone call, and do not use phone, if something can be accomplished by personal contact.

Trust in cloud providers is completely misplaced

As we have all found out, that trust in cloud providers is completely misplaced, as "cloud" services were systematically abused.  So when I read that some high level honcho emails were infiltrated (directly via  broken password, or indirectly or special interface in software) and published  the only reaction is -- Ohh God, yet another  idiot was caught in  this net and now will pay for his  transgressions. 

Accounts in Hotmail or Gmail has their value, but they are most useful as "spam folders." Do not behave like this highly placed idiot Podesta, who later of course regretted about his own stupidity, but it was too late.  Or another highly placed idiot  --  David Petraeus who decided that that internet mail is secure enough to communicate with his mistress. You can direct all emails from your subscriptions on newspapers, sites and magazines to Gmail or Hotmail, buit that's about  it. For any valuable email you need to buy  your own domain and account on one of dozens reputable ISPs. If you are more or less knowledgeable in computers there is no excuse for you to use services like Gmail (which is a very bad email client in any case; Google proved to be mediocre developer in this  particular case).

If you are knowledgeable about computers, the account you use for private emails should always be the account at one of small ISP on your own domain, and possibly using special DNS server. 

People who still remember what POP3 is, can download email to their laptops, which does not store any emails on the server.  Only the last week of email or even less should be stored on Web accessible storage, because sometimes it is vital to access email from your smartphone. Storing older emails on Internet servers is recommended only, if those emails do not represent any value to you. In this case why to store them at all? 

No "private mail" should not be stored in Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or similar accounts if you are concerned about consequences of leaking them. The simplest example is what a person has mistress like  General David Petraeus. and if you are unable to get rid of bad habit of using Google or similar "intelligence friendly" outlets, you at least should use dual authentication and systematically delete all emails older then a week.

In case  John Podesta emails leak  the most amazing fact is not only his stupidity of using Google mail for pretty sensitive communications, but that he failed to purchase $15 key for two factor authentication for Gmail.  Also Podesta also made a very common and stupid mistake -- clicking on the link in email, especially a email with the security alerts is really reckless.  It is undesirable even if you can verify that the URL used is not spoofed and generally should blocked automatically in your email client, like this is done in Thunderbird. But Microsoft Outlook pretends  to be "user-friendly".  At your expense.

Anyway this is very surprising that such person was Bill Clinton Chief of Staff (1998-2001) -- essentially former Grey Cardinal of the USA with the power comparable with the President (and in certain areas exceeding it).  Such a  person is as close to trained in computer security professional as one can get, taking into account the  sensitively of his position: Podesta at one time has access to highest level of US security clearness and needed to listens to all respective briefing and signing documents that his understands what he was told.  Is not this a sign of degeneration of the the USA neoliberal elite?  As a result of this  blunder on October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks started to publish thousands of emails reportedly retrieved from Podesta's private Gmail account, some of which contained controversial material regarding Clinton's positions or campaign strategy.

If publishing of your email box can cause you even slight embarrassment never keep it on Internet even if you use two factor authentication (may be outside the recent week or two). Use an encrypted thumb drive that is inserted in your laptop/desktop strictly for the period of your working with your email archive.

If publishing of your email box can cause you embarrassment or more serious harm the only place to keep this mailbox (may be outside the recent week or two) in encrypted thumb drive that is inserted in your laptop/desktop strictly for the period of your working with your email.

Similarly it is stupid to purchase anything that can compromise you with the credit cards, like was the case in Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal

The investigation of Spitzer was initiated after North Fork Bank[2] reported the suspicious transactions to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as required by the Bank Secrecy Act, which was enhanced by Patriot Act provisions, enacted to combat terrorist activity such as money laundering.[3] Spitzer had at least seven liaisons with prostitutes from the agency over six months, and paid more than $15,000 for their services. Federal agents had him under surveillance twice in 2008.[4][5][6] According to published reports, investigators believe Spitzer paid up to $80,000 for prostitutes over a period of several years – first while he was attorney general, and later as governor.[7][8][9] Governor Spitzer, referred to as "Client 9" in an affidavit filed in US Federal Court,[10] arranged to meet at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on February 13, 2008 with a prostitute named "Kristen". "Kristen" was later identified as 22-year-old Ashley Dupré.[11][12] She intended to travel from New York City for the planned tryst and Spitzer agreed in advance that he "would be paying for everything—train tickets, cab fare from the hotel and back, mini-bar or room service, travel time and hotel".[13] After the meeting on February 13, 2008, Spitzer paid her $4,300 in cash.[14] The payment included $1,100 as a deposit with the agency toward future services.[15]

See also Zipper, a 2015 political thriller film, is a thinly veiled dramatization of the Spitzer scandal.

The newly acquired value of Aesop language

People have nation aversion to invasions to their privacy and  invented  various methods to evade snooping even in "tightly controlled" environments. One of the simplest and proven method is to use Aesop language. 

The Soviet-era writer Lev Loseff noted that the use of Aesopian language remained a favorite technique of writers (including himself) under Soviet censorship.[2] Maliheh Tyrell defines the term in the Soviet context and observes that the use of Aesopian language extended to other national literatures under Soviet rule:

"In short, this form of literature, like Aesop's animal fables, veils itself in allegorical suggestions, hints, and euphemisms so as to elude political censorship. 'Aesopian language' or literature is a technical term used by Sovietologists to define allegorical language used by Russian or nationality [that is: non-Russian] nonconformist publicists to conceal antiregime sentiments. Under Soviet rule, this 'Aesopian' literature intended to confuse the Soviet authorities, yet illuminate the truth for native readers."[3]

According to one critic, "Censorship... had a positive, formative impact upon the Aesopian writers' style by obliging them to sharpen their thoughts."[4]

In a way after Snowden revelations we all now need to learn Aesop language (slang is actually almost in-penetratable to computer analysis; unless they are specifically programmed for the particular one) and be more careful.  Many people now understand why after Snowden revelation Facebook users should be very concerned. Facebook is nothing but an intelligence database about their users. That's their primary business model -- collect and sell the data about you to advertisers, and not only advertisers. 

The users data is what Facebook actually sells

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are no different.

Strangely enough, even after Snowden revelations the usage of Facebook/Yahoo/Gmail was not affected and the number of active accounts continued to grow. Nothing changes even after several high profile email leaks happened after Snowden revelations. So it looks like in cyberspace a large number of people is more reckless then they behave in a "normal" environment. 

So now it make sense to use context that is understandable only to you and your counterpart in particular electronic communication -- making is less understandable to outsiders. Please always use nicknames instead of real names in the first step. Mapping your organization to some film of novel is another simple step.

While it is stupid to try to guess how NSA pick up "interesting posts" it might make sense do not abuse words in your posts that might trigger surveillance  without necessity. Such as "attack", "epidemic" and like. 

Social sites promote "exhibitionism orgy"

Social sites, especially "Fecebook" skillfully promote what can be called "exhibitionism orgy"  People affected generally get what they deserve, but some teenagers paid with their life for this blunder. Not to say that feeling like each and every your "wall" post is like scrolled on NYC Times square is not very comfortable feeling for anybody except status hungry adolescent girls.  To say nothing that due to ubiquity of electronic communications all your life is watched anyway, as if East Germany STASI now became a universal world-wide phenomenon. Actually some details now available via electronic communications (your relocation data via your smartphone) were unavailable to STASI. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect, See Big Uncle is Watching You.

In a current NSA-inspired debate about the moral consequences of digital technologies, it is important to realize the danger of seamless integration of services under Google (especially within Android) as well as other Internet Oligopolies (I doubt that Microsoft with its Windows 10 is much better).  Everyone using an Android smartphone is forced to wear Google's digital straitjacket. This  can be a very bad thing. Why we should tell everything about yourself to Google? That's humiliating.

From this point of view a combination of a "regular phone" (and  and a 7 inch tablet that accepts the same simcard (in rare case when  WiFi is not available; you can also use it as navigator, if necessary) is much more attractive then a smartphone and available at a fraction of the cost: $30 (for example Alcatel Go flip)  + $150 Samsung tablet instead of $300 or more for a decent smartphone).

Android smartphones with GPS essentially invites snooping on you, especially government snooping as the less is the number of types of devices the government need to deal with, the cheaper is such mass collection of information on each citizen.

Smartphones essentially invites snooping on you, especially government snooping as the less type of devices the government need to deal with, the cheaper is such mass collection of information on each citizen

Whether this is done in the name of fighting terrorism, communist agents, or infiltration of Martians does not matter. As long as access to such data is extremely cheap, as is the case with both Android and Apple smartphones,  it will be abused by the government and some activities will be done without any court orders. In other words if technical means of snooping are cheap they will be  abused. It is a duty of concerned citizens who object this practice to make them more expensive and less effective.

If technical means of snooping are cheap they will be  abused. It is a duty of concerned citizens who object this practice to make them more expensive and less effective.

First of all we must fight against this strange "self-exposure" mania under which people have become enslaved to and endangered by the "cloud" sites they use. Again this nothing more nothing less then digital masochism.

First of all we must fight against this strange "self-exposure" mania under which people have become enslaved to and endangered by the "cloud" sites they use. Again this nothing more nothing less then digital masochism. But there is another important aspect of this problem which is different from the problem of unhealthy self-revelation zeal that large part of Facebook users demonstrates on the Net.

This second problem is often discussed under the meme Is Google evil ? and it is connected with inevitable corruption of Internet by large Internet oligopolies such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc. And they become oligopolies because we agree to use them as primary sources, for example Google for search, independently whether it is good for all types of searches or not.  Actually if you compare the quality of retuned results Google is not good for all searches. Bing often beats Google on searches connected with Windows (and even some pure Linux topics) and  duckduckgo.com while not bad in most categories really excels if you search information about Eastern Europe, as well on several political themes (I suspect some searches in Google are censored).

In any case after Snowden revelations it does not make sense to use a single search engine and in no way the default search engine should Google. You need  to spread your searches over several

After Snowden revelations it does not make sense to use a single search engine. You need  to spread your searches over several  with your primary/default search engine being anything but Google. The diversification (including diversification of search engines) is now a duty of concerned Internet users.

 IMHO if you did not put several search providers like say, duckduckgo.com in your browser and don't rotate them periodically, you are making a mistake. First of all you deprive yourself from the possibility to learn strong and weak point of different search engines. The second Google stores all searches, possibly indefinitely despite your ability to delete them from your personal history, so you potentially expose yourself to a larger extent by using a single provider.

And according to PRISM NSA is only one of possibly several agencies that can access your data.  Using three search engines you create the need to merge and correlate for example three sets of your activities (if you separates searches between different engine by topics), which slightly complicates the task. Also at least according to advertizing  duckduckgo.com does not store the history of your searches at all. Also if you use VPN there is no guarantee that those activities represent actions of a single person or a group of persons (especially, if you use a local proxy).  See Alternative Search Engines to Google

“Internet solutionism” exemplified by Google and push to the cloud services is the dangerous romantic utopia of our age. Google-style "cloud uber alles" push is often counter-productive, even dangerous

As Eugeny Morozov argued in The Net Delusion The Dark Side of Internet Freedom Internet solutionism” exemplified by Google, is the dangerous romantic utopia of our age. He regards Google-style "cloud uber alles" push as counter-productive, even dangerous:

...Wouldn’t it be nice if one day, told that Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” we would finally read between the lines and discover its true meaning: “to monetize all of the world’s information and make it universally inaccessible and profitable”? With this act of subversive interpretation, we might eventually hit upon the greatest emancipatory insight of all: Letting Google organize all of the world’s information makes as much sense as letting Halliburton organize all of the world’s oil.

The reason why the digital debate feels so empty and toothless is simple: framed as a debate over “the digital” rather than “the political” and “the economic,” it’s conducted on terms that are already beneficial to technology companies. Unbeknownst to most of us, the seemingly exceptional nature of commodities in question – from “information” to “networks” to “the Internet” – is coded into our language.

 It’s this hidden exceptionalism that allows Silicon Valley to dismiss its critics as Luddites who, by opposing “technology,” “information” or “the Internet”-- they don’t do plurals in Silicon Valley, for the nuance risks overwhelming their brains – must also be opposed to “progress.”

Internet started as a network of decentralized servers, able to withstand a nuclear attack. Now it probably will eventually return to a similar model on a new level as the danger to privacy of cloud providers exceed their usefulness. And from the point of view of enterprise cloud providers are not cheap, even calculating in additional cost of manpower (which is more loyal, if they are local) for administration of such servers. 

In any case now it looks like anybody who is greedy enough to use "free" (as in "The only free cheese is in the mouse trap") Gmail instead of getting webmail account via ISP with your own (let it call vanity, but it's your own :-) domain and the website which is used instead of Facebook is playing with fire. Even if they are nothing to hide, if they use Hotmail of Gmail for anything but spam (aka registrations, newsletters, etc) they are living in a virtual room with multiple hidden camera that record and store information including all their emails and address book forever. Private emails (if it is necessary to send email, often phone is enough)  should probably now be limited to regular SMTP accounts with client like Thunderbird (which actually is tremendously better then Gmail Web mail client with its Google+ perversions).  Of course, you can use pictures with handwriting instead of text , but this is too little too late as for your privacy concerns. In any case on Samsung tablets with  pen (like Tab A, Galaxy Tab S4, etc) this is very convenient  way to communicate, although images in email send to PC are generally a source of danger, as Microsoft Windows executes malicious attachment masquerading as images.

For personal, private information, you need to have your own servers and keep nothing in the "cloud". The network was originally designed to be "peer-to-peer" and the only hold back has been the cost of local infrastructure to do it and the availability of local technical talent to keep those services running. Now cost of hardware is trivial and services are so well known that running them is not a big problem even at home, especially a pre-configured virtual machines with "business" cable ISP account ( $29 per month from Cablevision).

Maybe the huge centralized services like Google and Yahoo have really been temporary anomalies of the adolescence of the Internet and given the breach of trust by governments and by these large corporations the next step will be return on a new level to Internet decentralized roots. Maybe local services can still be no less viable then cloud services. Even email, one of the most popular "in the cloud" services can be split into a small part of pure SMTP delivery (important mails) and bulk mail which can stay on Webmail (but preferably at your private ISP, not those monsters like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft). That does not exclude using "free" emails of this troika for storing spam :-). In short we actually don't have to be on Gmail to send or read email. And again, Google search is not the best search engine for everything. Moreover it is not wise to put all eggs in one basket. Microsoft Bing might be as bad and duckduckgo.com claims that they provide additional privacy and do not store your searches, but spreading your searches makes perfect sense. TCP connection to small ISP is as good as to Google or Yahoo and if you do not trust ISP you can use you home server with cable provider ISP account.

Where I have concern is if the network itself got partitioned along national borders as a result of NSA snooping, large portions of the net can become unreachable. That would be a balkanization we would end up regretting. It would be far better if we take a preemptive action against this abuse and limit the use of our Gmail, hotmail, Yahoo accounts for "non essential" correspondence, if we spread our search activities among multiple search engines and have our web pages, if any on personal ISP account. We need to enforce some level of privacy ourselves and don't behave like lemmings. Years ago there was similar situation with telephones wiretaps, and before laws preventing abuse of this capability were eventually passed people often used public phones for important calls they wanted to keep private.

Legally, if you join Google or Facebook you should have no expectations
 of privacy for any information you share on those sites

In Australia any expectations of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once people voluntarily offered data to the third party. And I think Australians are right. Here is a relevant Slashdot post:

General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Robert S. Litt explained that our expectation of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once we've offered it to a third party.

Thus, sifting through third party data doesn't qualify 'on a constitutional level' as invasive to our personal privacy. This he brought to an interesting point about volunteered personal data, and social media habits. Our willingness to give our information to companies and social networking websites is baffling to the ODNI.

'Why is it that people are willing to expose large quantities of information to private parties but don't want the Government to have the same information?,' he asked."

... ... ...

While Snowden's leaks have provoked Jimmy Carter into labeling this government a sham, and void of a functioning democracy, Litt presented how these wide data collection programs are in fact valued by our government, have legal justification, and all the necessary parameters.

Litt, echoing the president and his boss James Clapper, explained thusly:

"We do not use our foreign intelligence collection capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies in order to give American companies a competitive advantage. We do not indiscriminately sweep up and store the contents of the communications of Americans, or of the citizenry of any country. We do not use our intelligence collection for the purpose of repressing the citizens of any country because of their political, religious or other beliefs. We collect metadata—information about communications—more broadly than we collect the actual content of communications, because it is less intrusive than collecting content and in fact can provide us information that helps us more narrowly focus our collection of content on appropriate targets. But it simply is not true that the United States Government is listening to everything said by every citizen of any country."

It's great that the U.S. government behaves better than corporations on privacy—too bad it trusts/subcontracts corporations to deal with that privacy—but it's an uncomfortable thing to even be in a position of having to compare the two. This is the point Litt misses, and it's not a fine one.

Loss of privacy as a side effect of cloud-based Internet technologies

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Maybe Dante had some serious vision.

The Guardian

Technology development create new types of communications and simultaneously with those new types of communication, new types of government surveillance mechanisms emerge sooner  or later (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance using the fact that owner smartphones are connected to Internet all the time, unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. The same, but to a lesser extent is true about Microsoft Windows, especially Windows 10.

A crucial element of such the national security state is that blanket data gathering, sorting and correlation are continuous, cover the majority (or all)  citizens. With special attention to foreigners and cross-border communications (which actually is a part of protection of state sovereignty). Those activities are little known, little understood and are seldom exposed.  In this sense Snowden revelations represent a huge  anomaly.

Cloud computing as a technology that presuppose storing the data "offsite" on third party servers have several security problems, and one of them is that it is way too much "surveillance friendly" (Misunderstanding of issues of security and trust). With cloud computing powers that be do not need to do complex job of recreating TCP/IP conversations on router level to capture, say, all the emails or all your SMS. They can access Web-based email mailbox directly with all mails in appropriate mailboxes and spam filtered. Your address book is a bonus ;-). This is a huge saving of computational efforts.

It means two things:

Not only the USA government with its Prism program is involved in this activity. British security services are probably even more intrusive. Most governments probably try to do some subset of the above. Two important conclusions we can get are:

It puts you essentially in a situation of a bug under microscope on Big Brother. And please understand that modern storage capabilities are such that it is easy to store several years of at least some of your communications, especially emails.

The same is true about your phone calls metadata, credit card transactions and your activities on major shopping sites such as Amazon, and eBay. But here you can do almost nothing. Still I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. Phones are traditional target of government three letter agencies (WSJ) since the WWII. Smartphones with GPS in addition to land line metadata also provide your current geo location. I do not think you can do much here.

I think our support of "brick" merchants is long overdue. And paying cash in the store in not something that you should try to avoid because credit card returns you 1% of the cost of the purchase. This 1% is actually a privacy tax ;-)

The centralization of searches on Google (and to lesser extent on Bing) are also serious threats to your privacy. Here diversification between three or more search engines might help a bit. Other then that and generally limited your time behind the computer I do not think much can be done. Growth of popularity of Duckduckgo suggests that people are vary of Google monopolizing the search, but it is unclear how big are the advantages. You can also save searches as many searches are recurrent and generally you can benefit from using your personal Web proxy with private cashing DNS server. This way to can "shrink" your radar picture, but that's about it. Search engines are now an integral part of our civilization whether we want it or not.

Collection of your searches for the last several years can pretty precisely outline sphere of your interests. And again technical constrains on storage of data no longer exists: how we can talk about privacy at the age of 3 TB harddrives for $99. There are approximately 314 million of the US citizens and residents, so storing one gigabyte of information for each citizen requires just 400 petabytes. For comparison

Adding insult to injury: Self-profiling

Facebook has nothing without people
silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing

The key problem with social sites is that many people voluntarily post excessive amount of personal data about themselves, including keeping their photo archives online, etc. So while East Germany analog of the Department of Homeland Security called Ministry for State Security (Stasi) needed to recruit people to spy about you, now you yourself serves as a informer voluntarily providing all the tracking information about your activities ;-).

Scientella, palo alto

...Facebook always had a very low opinion of peoples intelligence - and rightly so!

I can tell you Silicon Valley is scared. Facebook's very existence depends upon trusting young persons, their celebrity wannabee parents and other inconsequential people being prepared to give up their private information to Facebook.

Google, now that SOCIAL IS DEAD, at least has their day job also, of paid referral advertising where someone can without divulging their "social" identity, and not linking their accounts, can look for a product on line and see next to it some useful ads.

But Facebook has nothing without people silly enough to exchange privacy for photosharing.

... ... ...

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

Cook, Brin, Gates, Zuckerberg, et al most certainly have lawyers and public relations hacks that have taught them the role of "plausible deniability."

Just as in the government, eventually some low or mid-level flunkie will likely be hung out to dry, when it becomes evident that the institution knew exactly what was going on and did nothing to oppose it. To believe any of these companies care about their users as anything other than cash cows is to believe in the tooth fairy.

The amount of personal data which users of site like Facebook put voluntarily on the Web is truly astonishing. Now anybody using just Google search can get quit substantial information about anybody who actively using social sites and post messages in discussion he/she particulates under his/her own name instead of a nickname. Just try to see what is available about you and most probably your jaw would drop...

Google Toolbar in advanced mode is another common snooping tool about your activities. It send each URL you visit to Google and you can be sure that from Google several three letter agencies get this information as well. After all Google has links to them from the very beginning:

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves. We all should became more aware about the risks involved as well as real implications of the catch phase Privacy is Dead – Get Over It.

This is probably right time for the users of social sites like Facebook, Google search, and Amazon (that means most of us ;-) to think a little bit more about the risks we are exposing ourselves.

As Peter Ludlow noted in NYT (The Real War on Reality):

If there is one thing we can take away from the news of recent weeks it is this: the modern American surveillance state is not really the stuff of paranoid fantasies; it has arrived.

Citizens of foreign countries have accounts at Facebook and mail accounts in Gmail, hotmail and Yahoo mail are even in less enviable position then the US citizens. They are legitimate prey. No legal protection for them exists, if they use those services. That means that they voluntarily open all the information they posted about themselves to the US government in addition to their own government. And the net is probably more wide then information leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggests. For any large company, especially a telecom corporation, operating is the USA it might be dangerous to refuse to cooperate (Qwest case).

Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, convicted of insider trading in April 2007, alleged in appeal documents that the NSA requested that Qwest participate in its wiretapping program more than six months before September 11, 2001. Nacchio recalls the meeting as occurring on February 27, 2001. Nacchio further claims that the NSA cancelled a lucrative contract with Qwest as a result of Qwest's refusal to participate in the wiretapping program.[13] Nacchio surrendered April 14, 2009 to a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania to begin serving a six-year sentence for the insider trading conviction. The United States Supreme Court denied bail pending appeal the same day.[15]

It is not the case of some special evilness of the US government. It simply is more agile to understand and capitalize on those new technical opportunities. It is also conveniently located at the center of Internet universe with most traffic is flowing via US owned or controlled routers (67% or more). But it goes without saying that several other national governments and a bunch of large corporations also try to mine this new gold throve of private information on citizens. Probably with less sophistication and having less financial resources.

In many cases corporations themselves are interested in partnership with the government. Here is one telling comment:

jrs says on June 8, 2013

Yea in my experience that’s how “public/private partnerships” really work:

  1. Companies DO need protection FROM the government. An ill-conceived piece of legislation can put a perfectly decent out of business. Building ties with the government is protection.
  2. Government represents a huge market and eventually becomes one of the top customers for I think most businesses (of course the very fact that a government agency is a main customer is often kept hush hush even within the company and something you are not supposed to speak of as an employee even though you are aware of it)
  3. Of course not every company proceeds to step 3 -- being basically an arm of the government but ..

That means that not only Chinese citizens already operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy. Even if you live outside the USA the chances are high that you automatically profiled by the USA in addition to your own government. Kind of neoliberalism in overdrive mode: looks like we all are already citizens of a global empire (Let's call it "Empire of Peace"  in best 1984 tradition ;-) with the capital in Washington.

It is reasonable to assume that a massive eavesdropping apparatus now tracks at least an "envelope" of every electronic communication you made during your lifetime. No need for somebody reporting about you like in "old" totalitarian state like East Germany with its analog of the Department of Homeland Security called the Ministry for State Security (Stasi). So in this new environment, you are like Russians used to say about dissidents who got under KGB surveillance is always "under the dome". In this sense this is just an old vine in a new bottles. But the global scope and lifetime storage of huge amount of personal information for each and every citizen is something new and was made possible the first time in world history by new technologies.

It goes without saying that records about time, sender and receiver of all your phone calls, emails, Amazon purchases, credit card transactions, and Web activities for the last decade are stored somewhere in a database and not necessary only government computers. And that means that your social circle (the set of people you associate with), books and films that you bought, your favorite websites, etc can be easily deducted from those records.

That brings us to an important question about whether we as consumers should support such ventures as Facebook and Google++ which profile you and after several years have a huge amount of pretty private and pretty damaging information about you, information which can get into wrong hands.

Recent discoveries about Prism program highlight additional possibilities of what Google and Facebook can do with our data

The most constructive approach to NSA is to view it as a large government bureaucracy that expanded their snooping activities due to new technological possibilities to the extent that "quantity turned into quality."  -- the state was converted into national security state.  Expansion of power on intelligence agencies since Truman is the key for understanding the evolution of the USA and other countries. Very soon (in the USA in early 60th with JFK assassination) they became political players. Latest saga of spying on Trump just confirms this by providing fascinating details of false flag operation  attempted in order  to enhance the scope of surveillance such  as DNC email break-in and Steele dossier.

Any large bureaucracy is a political coalition with the primary goal of preserving and enhancing of its own power (and, closely related to power, the level of financing), no matter what are official declarations. And if breaching your privacy helps with this noble goal, they will do it.

Which is what Bush government did after 9/11. The question is how much bureaucratic bloat resulting in classic dynamics of organizational self-aggrandizement and expansionism happened in NSA is open to review. We don't know how much we got in exchange for undermining internet security and the US constitution. But we do know the intelligence establishment happily appropriated billions of dollars, had grown by thousand of employees and got substantial "face lift" and additional power within the executive branch of government. To the extent that sometimes it really looks like a shadow government (with three branches NSA, CIA and FBI). And now they will fight tooth-and nail to protect the fruits of a decade long bureaucratic expansion. It is an Intelligence Church of sorts and like any religious organization they do not need facts to support their doctrine and influence.

Typically there is a high level of infighting and many factions within any large hierarchical organization, typically with cards hold close the west and limited or not awareness about those turf battles of the outsiders. Basically any hierarchical institution corporate, religious, or military will abuse available resources for internal political infighting. And with NSA "big data" push this is either happening or just waiting to happen. This is a danger of any warrantless wiretapping program: it naturally convert itself into a saga of eroding checks and disappearing balances. And this already happened in the past, so in a way it is just act two of the same drama (WhoWhatWhy):

After media revelations of intelligence abuses by the Nixon administration began to mount in the wake of Watergate, NSA became the subject of Congressional ire in the form of the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities—commonly known as the “Church Committee” after its chair, Senator Frank Church (D-ID)—established on January 17, 1975. This ad-hoc investigative body found itself unearthing troves of classified records from the FBI, NSA, CIA and Pentagon that detailed the murky pursuits of each during the first decades of the Cold War. Under the mantle of defeating communism, internal documents confirmed the executive branch’s use of said agencies in some of the most fiendish acts of human imagination (including refined psychological torture techniques), particularly by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Cold War mindset had incurably infected the nation’s security apparatus, establishing extralegal subversion efforts at home and brutish control abroad. It was revealed that the FBI undertook a war to destroy homegrown movements such as the Black Liberation Movement (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), and that NSA had indiscriminately intercepted the communications of Americans without warrant, even without the President’s knowledge. When confronted with such nefarious enterprises, Congress sought to rein in the excesses of the intelligence community, notably those directed at the American public.

The committee chair, Senator Frank Church, then issued this warning about NSA’s power:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. Telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capability that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

The reforms that followed, as enshrined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, included the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC): a specially-designated panel of judges who are allowed to review evidence before giving NSA a warrant to spy on Americans (only in the case of overseas communication). Hardly a contentious check or balance, FISC rejected zero warrant requests between its inception in 1979 and 2000, only asking that two warrants be “modified” out of an estimated 13,000.

In spite of FISC’s rubberstamping, following 9/11 the Bush administration began deliberately bypassing the court, because even its minimal evidentiary standard was too high a burden of proof for the blanket surveillance they wanted. So began the dragnet monitoring of the American public by tapping the country’s major electronic communication chokepoints in collusion with the nation’s largest telecommunications companies.

When confronted with the criminal conspiracy undertaken by the Bush administration and telecoms, Congress confirmed why it retains the lowest approval rating of any major American institution by “reforming” the statute to accommodate the massive law breaking. The 2008 FISA Amendments Act [FAA] entrenched the policy of mass eavesdropping and granted the telecoms retroactive immunity for their criminality, withdrawing even the negligible individual protections in effect since 1979. Despite initial opposition, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama voted for the act as one of his last deeds in the Senate. A few brave (and unsuccessful) lawsuits later, this policy remains the status quo.

Similarly we should naturally expect that the notion of "terrorist" is very flexible and in certain cases can be equal to "any opponent of regime" (any "dissident" n soviet terms). While I sympathize NYT readers reaction to this incident (see below), I think it is somewhat naive. They forget that they are living under neoliberal regime which like any rule of top 0.01% is afraid of and does not trust its own citizens. So massive surveillance program is a self-preservation measure which allow the neoliberal elite to crush or subvert the opposition at early stages. This is the same situation as existed with Soviet nomenklatura, with the only difference that Soviet nomenklatura was more modest in pushing the USSR as a beacon of progress and bright hope for establishing democratic governance for all mankind ;-). As Ron Paul noted:

Many of us are not so surprised.

Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with the introduction of the so-called PATRIOT Act that it would pave the way for massive US government surveillance—not targeting terrorists but rather aimed against American citizens. We were told we must accept this temporary measure to provide government the tools to catch those responsible for 9/11. That was nearly twelve years and at least four wars ago.

We should know by now that when it comes to government power-grabs, we never go back to the status quo even when the “crisis” has passed. That part of our freedom and civil liberties once lost is never regained. How many times did the PATRIOT Act need renewed? How many times did FISA authority need expanded? Why did we have to pass a law to grant immunity to companies who hand over our personal information to the government?

And while revealed sources of NSA Prism program include Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others major Internet players, that's probably just a tip of the iceberg. Ask yourself a question, why Amazon and VISA and MasterCard are not on the list? According to The Guardian:

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

... ... ...

Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007. It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks

... ... ...

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

So while the document does not list Amazon, but I would keep fingers crossed.

Questions that arise

To be aware about a situation you need to be able to formulate and answer key questions about it. The first and the most important question is whether the government is engaged in cyberstalking of law abiding citizens. Unfortunately the answer is definite yes, as oligarchy needs total control of prols. As a result National Security State rise to prominence as a dominant social organization of neoliberal societies, the societies which characterized by very high level of inequality.

But there are some additional, albeit less important questions. The answers to them determine utility or futility of small changes of our own behavior in view of uncovered evidence. Among possible set of such question I would list the following:

There are also some minor questions about efficiency of "total surveillance approach". Among them:

The other part of understand the threat is understanding is what data are collected. The short answer is all your phone records and Internet activity (RT USA):

The National Security Agency is collecting information on the Internet habits of millions of innocent Americans never suspected of criminal involvement, new NSA documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggest.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported Monday that top-secret documents included in the trove of files supplied by the NSA contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden reveal that the US intelligence community obtains and keeps information on American citizens accumulated off the Internet without ever issuing a search warrant or opening an investigation into that person.

The information is obtained using a program codenamed Marina, the documents suggest, and is kept by the government for up to a full year without investigators ever having to explain why the subject is being surveilled.

“Marina has the ability to look back on the last 365 days' worth of DNI metadata seen by the Sigint collection system, regardless whether or not it was tasked for collection,” the Guardian’s James Ball quotes from the documents.

According to a guide for intelligence analysts supplied by Mr. Snowden, “The Marina metadata application tracks a user's browser experience, gathers contact information/content and develops summaries of target.”

"This tool offers the ability to export the data in a variety of formats, as well as create various charts to assist in pattern-of-life development,” it continues.

Ball writes that the program collects “almost anything” a Web user does online, “from browsing history – such as map searches and websites visited – to account details, email activity, and even some account passwords.”

Only days earlier, separate disclosures attributed to Snowden revealed that the NSA was using a massive collection of metadata to create complex graphs of social connections for foreign intelligence purposes, although that program had pulled in intelligence about Americans as well.

After the New York Times broke news of that program, a NSA spokesperson said that “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.” As Snowden documents continue to surface, however, it’s becoming clear that personal information pertaining to millions of US citizens is routinely raked in by the NSA and other agencies as the intelligence community collects as much data as possible.

In June, a top-secret document also attributed to Mr. Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting the telephony metadata for millions of Americans from their telecom providers. The government has defended this practice by saying that the metadata — rough information that does not include the content of communications — is not protected by the US Constitution’s prohibition against unlawful search and seizure.

“Metadata can be very revealing,” George Washington University law professor Orin S. Kerr told the Times this week. “Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person’s cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

According to the Guardian’s Ball, Internet metadata picked up by the NSA is routed to the Marina database, which is kept separate from the servers where telephony metadata is stored.

Only moments after the Guardian wrote of its latest leak on Monday, Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project read a statement before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs penned by none other than Snowden himself.

When I began my work, it was with the sole intention of making possible the debate we see occurring here in this body,” Snowden said.

Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia after being charged with espionage in the US, said through Raddack that “The cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile.”

Infoglut and the limits to spying via data collected about you

If the NSA's mining of data traffic is so effective, why weren't Tsarnaev's family's overseas calls predictive of a bombing at the Boston Marathon?

-Helen Corey WSJ.com

There are limits of this "powerful analytical software" used. First of all Snowden revelations constitute a blow (but not a knockout) for all NSA activities against really serious opponents. Now they are forewarned and that mean forearmed. That simply means that they might start feeding NSA disinformation and that's a tremendous danger for NSA that far outweigh the value of any real information collected.

The main danger for NSA is the deliberate feeding of false information into the collection scream

There is another side of this story. As we mentioned above, even if NSA algorithms are incredibly clever they can't avoid producing large number of false positives taking into account that they are drinking from a fire hose. Especially now when people will try to bury useful signal in noise. And it is not that difficult to replay somebody else Web logs on a periodic basis -- that means that the task of analysis of web logs became not only more complex. It changed. The assumption that that the set of visited sites represents real activity of a particular user is now just a plausible hypothesis. Not  more then that. 

Inefficiency is another problem. After two year investigation into the post 9/11 intelligence agencies, the Washington Post came to conclusion that they were collecting far more information than anyone can comprehend (aka "drowning is a sea of data"):

Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billions e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases"

Such volume along creates a classic problem of "signal vs. noise" (infoglut).  And this is insolvable problem, which became only worse with the availability of more information. In this  sense Prism program which deals with already filtered by user information is a great help to NSA (and that  means that Goggle, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and fiends are very valuable for NSA partners and will remain partners despite all claims of their top honchos).

Unless special care is exercised by collection everything from the "line" NSA is like drinking from  the firehose:  

...Infoglut raises disturbing questions regarding new operations of power and control in a world of algorithms." —Jodi Dean, author of Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies

...Andrejevic argues that people prioritize correlation over comprehension - "what" and facts are more important than "why" and reasons.

As Washington Post noted:

Analysts who make sense of document and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year -- a volume so large that many are routinely ignored

In plain English that means that analysts produce reports, lion share of which is never read. The enormity of the database exacerbate the problems. That's why NSA is hunting for email on cloud providers, where they are already filtered from spam, and where processing required is so much less than for the same information intercepted from the wire. Still even with the direct access to user accounts, the volume of data, especially graphic info (pictures), sound and video data, is really huge and that stress the limits of processing capabilities and storage.

Which means that  switch to hieroglyphs in communication theoretically creates serious problems in intercepting the data stream.  Deciphering a meaning of pictograms used is not that easy. Classic captcha methods can be used to make direct conversion to text impossible. This method was actually widely used in letters in the past (when some words were deliberately replaced by hand written pictures. ). For one thing  that approach make it more  difficult "keyword-based" searches for relevant information in email as "trigger-words" can  be replaced by pictograms.  Add to this that the meaning of pictograms can be individualized and you can see that this is an approach close to stenography.

Presence of noise in the channel also makes signal much more difficult to detect. Now you can be sure that any serious opponent will try to disguise the traffic by all means available. So getting a "clean" steam of data for a given IP is now a pipe dream.

Problems typical for large bureaucracies also place limits of effective large scale data collection

Existence of Snowden saga when a single analyst was able to penetrate the system and extract considerable amount information with impunity suggests that the whole Agency is a mess with a lot of incompetents at the helm. Which is typical for large government agencies and large corporations. Still the level of logs collection and monitoring proved to be surprisingly weak, and those are indirect signs of other rot. It looks like the agency does not even know what reports Snowden get into his hands. Unless this is a very clever insider operation, we need to assume that Edward Snowden stole thousands of documents, abused his sysadmin position in the NSA, and was never caught. The fact that he was able to bypass logs tells that the whole place is a complete  mess. In other words "The shoemaker’s children go barefoot."

the level of logs collection and monitoring proved to be surprisingly weak, and those are indirect signs of other rot. It looks like the agency does not even know what reports Snowden get into his hands.

 Here is one relevant comment from The Guardian

carlitoontour

Oh NSA......that´s fine that you cannot find something......what did you tell us, the World and the US Congress about the "intelligence" of Edward Snowden and the low access he had?

SNOWDEN SUSPECTED OF BYPASSING ELECTRONIC LOGS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. government's efforts to determine which highly classified materials leaker Edward Snowden took from the National Security Agency have been frustrated by Snowden's sophisticated efforts to cover his digital trail by deleting or bypassing electronic logs, government officials told The Associated Press. Such logs would have showed what information Snowden viewed or downloaded.

The government's forensic investigation is wrestling with Snowden's apparent ability to defeat safeguards established to monitor and deter people looking at information without proper permission, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the sensitive developments publicly.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NSA_SURVEILLANCE_SNOWDEN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-08-24-09-41-24

On the other hand government agencies were never too good in making huge and complex software projects work. And any large software project is a very difficult undertaking in any case, which require talented and dedicated manager at the helm. In large bureaucracies such people are filtered out long before that get to the necessary position. Mostly sycophants, "yes men", or people who can well mask their real identities,  prosper. 

Even in industry 50% of software projects fail, and anybody who works in the industry knows, that the more complex the project is the higher are chances that it will be mismanaged and its functionality crippled due to architectural defects ("a camel is a horse designed by a committee"). The Conway law also suggest that the structure of software product reflect communication channels in the organization.

With pretty bizarre communication channels in a large hierarchical organization like NSA you can expect huge problems on architectural level. There are also counterexamples to that. Google Earth was initially a project of three letter agencies, which was "donated" to Google.  And this is a very good software product. Still it is given that large projects will be over budget. Possibly several times over. But if money is not a problem such system will eventually be completed ("with enough thrust pigs can fly").

Any large software project is a very difficult undertaking in any case, which require talented and dedicated manager at the helm. In large bureaucracies such people are filtered out long before that get to the necessary position. Mostly sycophants, "yes men", or people who can well mask their real identities,  prosper.

Still there’s no particular reason to think that corruption (major work was probably outsourced) and incompetence (on higher management levels and, especially on architectural level as in "camel is a horse designed by a committee") don't affect the design and functionality of such government project. Now when this activity come under fire some "ad hoc" adjustments might be especially badly thought out and could potentially cripple even the existing functionality. As J. Kirk Wiebe, a NSA insider, noted

"The way the government was going about those digital data flows was poor formed, uninformed. There seen to be more of a desire to contract out and capture money flow then there was a [desire} to actually perform the mission".

See the interview of a trio of former National Security Agency whistle-blowers to USA TODAY ( J. Kirk Wiebe remarks starts at 2:06 and the second half of it continues from 6:10):

In military organizations the problem is seldom with the talent (or lack of thereof) of individual contributors. The problem is with the bureaucracy that is very effective in preventing people from exercising their talents at the service of their country. Such system is deformed in such a way that it hamstrings the men who are serving in it. As a results, more often then not the talents are squandered or misused by patching holes created by incompetence of higher-up or or just pushed aside in the interdepartmental warfare.

In a way, incompetence can be defined as the inability to avoid mistakes which, in a "normal" course of project development could and should be avoided. And that's the nature of military bureaucracy with its strict hierarchy, multiple layer of command and compete lack of accountability on higher levels.

In addition, despite the respectable name of the organization many members of technical staff are amateurs. They never managed to sharpen their technical skills, while at the same time acquiring the skills necessary to survive the bureaucracy. Many do not have basic academic education and are self-taught hackers and/or "grow on the job" type of personnel. Such people often have difficulties seeing "the bigger picture".  Typically people at higher level of hierarchy, are simply not experts in software engineering, but more like typical corporate "PowerPoint warriors." They can be very shred managers and accomplished political fighters, but that's it.  Death by PowerPoint  of good ideas in large bureaucracies is a fact of life.

This is the same situation that exists in security departments of large multinationals, so we can extrapolate from that. The word of Admiral Nelson "If the enemy would know what officer corps will confront them, it will be trembling, like I am". Here is Bill Gross recollection of his service as a naval officer (The Tipping Point) that illustrate the problems:

A few years ago I wrote about the time that our ship (on my watch) was almost cut in half by an auto-piloted tanker at midnight, but never have I divulged the day that the USS Diachenko came within one degree of heeling over during a typhoon in the South China Sea. “Engage emergency ballast,” the Captain roared at yours truly – the one and only chief engineer.

Little did he know that Ensign Gross had slept through his classes at Philadelphia’s damage control school and had no idea what he was talking about. I could hardly find the oil dipstick on my car back in San Diego, let alone conceive of emergency ballast procedures in 50 foot seas.

And so…the ship rolled to starboard, the ship rolled to port, the ship heeled at the extreme to 36 degrees (within 1 degree, as I later read in the ship’s manual, of the ultimate tipping point). One hundred sailors at risk, because of one twenty-three-year-old mechanically challenged officer, and a Captain who should have known better than to trust him.

Huge part of this work is outsourced to various contractors and this is where corruption really creeps in. So the system might be not as powerful as many people automatically assume when they hear the abbreviation of NSA. So in a way when news about such system reaches public it might serve not weakening but strengthening of the capabilities of the system. Moreover, nobody would question the ability of such system to store huge amount of raw or semi-processed data including all metadata for your transactions on the Internet.

Also while it is a large agency with a lot of top mathematic talent, NSA is not NASA and motivation of the people (and probably quality of architectural thinking about software projects involved) is different despite much better financing. While they do have high quality people, like most US agencies in general, large bureaucracies usually are unable to utilize their talent. Mediocrities with sharp elbows, political talent, as well as sociopaths typically rule the show.

That means two things:

So even with huge amount of subcontractors they can chase mostly "big fish". Although one nasty question is why with all those treasure trove of data organized crime is so hard to defeat. Having dataset like this should generally expose all the members of any gang. Or, say, network of blue collar insider traders. So in an indirect way the fact that organized crime not only exists and in some cities even flourish can suggest one of two things:

There is also a question of complexity of analysis:

Possibility of abuses of collected data

Mass collection of data represent dangers outside activities of three latter agencies. Data collected about you by Google, Facebook, etc are also very dangerous. And they are for sell. Errors in algorithms and bugs in data mining programs can bite some people in a different way then branding them as "terrorists". Such people have no way of knowing why all of a sudden, for example, they are paying a more for insurance, why their credit score is so low no matter what they do, etc.

In no way government in the only one who are using the mass of data collected via Google / Facebook / Yahoo / Microsoft / Verizon / Optonline / AT&T / Comcast, etc. It also can lead to certain subtle types of bias if not error. And there are always problems of intentional misuse of data sets having extremely intimate knowledge about you such as your medical history.

Corporate corruption can lead to those data that are shared with the government can also be shared for money with private actors. Inept use of this unconstitutionally obtained data is a threat to all of us.

Then there can be cases when you can be targeted just because you are critical to the particular area of government policy, for example the US foreign policy. This is "Back in the USSR" situation in full swing, with its prosecution of dissidents. Labeling you as a "disloyal/suspicious element" in one of government "terrorism tracking" databases can have drastic result to your career and you never even realize whats happened. Kind of Internet era McCarthyism .

Obama claims that the government is aware about this danger and tried not to overstep, but he is an interested party in this discussion. In a way all governments over the world are pushed into this shady area by the new technologies that open tremendous opportunities for collecting data and making correlations.

That's why even if you are doing nothing wrong, it is still important to know your enemy, as well as avoid getting into some traps. As we already mentioned several times before, one typical trap is excessive centralization of your email on social sites, including using a single Webmail provider. It is much safer to have mail delivery to your computer via POP3 and to use Thunderbird or other email client. If your computer is a laptop, you achieve, say, 80% of portability that Web-based email providers like Google Gmail offers. That does not mean that you should close your Gmail or Yahoo account. More important is separating email accounts into "important" and "everything else". "Junk mail" can be stored on Web-based email providers without any problems. Personal emails is completely another matter.

Email privacy

I do not like when stranger is reading my mail,
overlooking over my shoulder

Famous Russian bard Vladimir Vissotsky,
Also on YouTube

Email security is a large and complex subject. It is a typical "bullet vs. armor" type of topic. In this respect the fact the US government were highly alarmed by Snowden revelations is understandable as this shift the balance from dominance of "bullet" by stimulating the development of various "armor" style methods to enhance email privacy. It also undermines/discredits cloud-based email services, especially large one such as Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo mail, which are the most important providers of emails.

You can't hide your correspondents so recreation of network of your email correspondents is a fact of life that you can do nothing about. But you can make searching emails for keywords and snooping of the text of your email considerably more difficult. And those methods not necessary means using PGP (actually from NSA point of view using PGP is warning sign that you has something to hide and that increase interest to your mailbox; and this is a pretty logical assumption).

First of all using traditional POP3 account now makes much more sense (although on most ISPs undelivered mail is available via Web interface). In case of email security those who know Linux/Unix have a distinct advantage. Those OSes provide the ability to have a home server that performs most functions of the cloud services at a very moderate cost (essentially the cost of web connection, or an ISP Web account; sometime you need to convert you cable Internet account to "business" to open ports). Open source software for running Webmail on your own server is readily available and while it has its security holes at least they are not as evident as those in Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail. And what is the most important you escape aggregation of your emails on a large provider.

IMHO putting content in attachment, be it gif of a handwritten letter in DOC document, or MP3 file presents serious technical problems for snoopers. First of all any multimedia attachment, such a gif of your handwriting (plus a jpeg of your favorite cat ;-), dramatically increase the necessary storage and thus processing time. Samsung Note 10.1 and Microsoft Surface PRO tablets provide opportunity to add both audio and handwriting files to your letter with minimal effort. If you have those device, use them. Actually this is one of few areas when tablets are really useful. Sending content as a multimedia file makes snooping more difficult for several reasons:

Another important privacy enhancing feature of emails is related to a classic "noise vs. useful signal" problem. In this respect the existence of spam looks like a blessing. In case of mimicry filtering "signal from noise" became a complex problem. That's why NSA prefers accessing mail at final destination as we saw from slides published in Guardian. But using local delivery and Thunderbird or any other mail client make this avenue of snooping easily defeatable. Intercepted on the router, spam can clog arteries of automatic processing really fast. It also might slightly distort your "network of contacts" So if you switch off ISP provided spam filter and filter spam locally on your computer, the problem of "useful sig   le border="2" width="90%" bgcolor="#FFFF00">   " is offloaded to those who try to snoop your mail. And there are ways to ensure that they will filter out wrong emails ;-). Here is a one day sample of spam:

Subject: Hello!
Subject: Gold Watches
Subject: Cufflinks
Subject: Join us and Lose 8-12 lbs. in Only 7-10 Days!
Subject: New private social network for Ukrainian available ladies and foreign men.
Subject: Fresh closed social network for Russian attractive girls and foreigners.
Subject: hoy!
Subject: Daily Market Movers Digest
h=Content-Transfer-Encoding:Content-Type:MIME-Version:Subject:To:Message-ID:From:Date; bh=rabQUxPZjHIp1RwoC7c+cj41NudW37VFkMlmNcq4yig=;
Subject: =?utf-8?Q?=E1=B9=BD=E2=80=8D=C7=8F=E2=80=8D=E1=BE=B6=E2=80=8D=C4=A0=E2=80=8D=E1=B9=99=E2=80=8D=E1=BE=B6?=
Subject: IMPORTANT - WellsFargo
Subject: =?Windows-1251?B?z29j8nBv5e3o5SBj6GPyZez7IO7v62Hy+yDvbyBwZefz6/zy4PLz?=
Subject: New private social network for beautiful Ukrainian women and foreign men.
Subject: Fresh closed social network for Russian sexy women and foreign men.
Subject: Cufflinks
Subject: (SECURE)Electronic Account Statement 0558932870_06112013
Subject: (SECURE)Electronic Account Statement 0690671601_06112013
Subject: Returned mail: see transcript for details
Subject: Bothered with censorship restrictions on Social networks?
Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure) - [AKO Content Violation - SPAM]Are
Subject: (SECURE)Electronic Account Statement 0355009837_06112013
Subject: You need Ukrainian with large breasts that Madame ready to correspond to intimate topics?
Subject: =?Windows-1251?B?wfPy/CDjb/Lu4iDqIO/wb+Ll8Org7A==?=
Subject: You need a Russian woman with beautiful eyes is ready to correspond to private theme?
Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender
Subject: Are you bored with censorship limits at Social networks?
Subject: =?windows-1254?B?U0VSVN1G3UtBTEkgWUFOR0lOIEXQ3VTdTd0gSEVNRU4gQkHeVlVSVU4=?=
Subject: Join us and Lose 8-12 lbs. in Only 7-10 Days!
Subject: Important Activation needed
Subject: Hi!
Subject: WebSayt Sadece 35 Azn
Subject: Join us and Lose 8-12 lbs. in Only 7-10 Days!

Note the line "Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender". That means that in the spam filter you need to fight with the impersonalization (fake sender) as well. While typically this is easy based on content of "Received:" headers, there are some complex cases, especially with bounced mails and "onetime" identities (when the sender each time assumes a different identity at the same large provider). See also Using “impersonalization” in your email campaigns.

BTW fake erotic spam provides tremendous steganography opportunities. Here is a very simplistic example.

Subject: Do you want a Ukrainian girl with large breasts ready to chat with you on intimate topics?

New closed social network with hot Ukrainian ladies is open. If you want to talk on erotic themes, with sweet women then this is for you!

I dropped my previous girlfriend. Things deteriorates dramatically here and all my plans are now on hold.

So I decided to find a lady friend for regular erotic conversations! And I am now completely satisfied customer.

Give it is try. "http://t.co/FP8AnKQOyV" Free Registration and first three sessions !!!

Does the second paragraph starting with the phrase "I dropped my previous girlfriend..." in the email below contain real information masked in erotic spam, or the message is a regular junk?

Typical spam filter would filter this message out as spam, especially with such a subject line ;-).

You can also play a practical joke imitating spammer activity. Inform a couple of your friends about it and then send similar letter from one of your Gmail account to your friends. Enjoy change in advertisements ;-).

In many cases what you want to send via email, can be done more securely using phone. Avoid unnecessary emails like a plague. And not only because of NSA existence. Snooping into your mailbox is not limited to three-letter agencies.

Facebook Problem

I always wondered why Facebook -- a cluelessly designed site which imitates AOL, the hack written in PHP which provide no, or very little value to users, other then a poorly integrated environment for personal Web page (simple "vanity fair" pages), blog and email. It is definitely oriented on the most clueless or at least less sophisticated users and that's probably why it has such a level of popularity. They boast almost billion customers, although I suspect that half of those customers check their account only once a month or so. Kind of electronic tombstone to people's vanity...

The interface is second rate and just attests a very mediocre level of software engineering. It is difficult to imagine that serious guys are using Facebook. And those who do use it, usually are of no interest to three letter agencies. Due to this ability of the government to mine Facebook might be a less of a problem then people assume, much less of a problem than mining Hotmail or Gmail.

But that does not mean that Facebook does not have value. Just those entities for whom it provides tremendous value are not users ;-) Like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are actually extremely powerful tools for centralized information gathering that can used by advertisers, merchants, government, financial institutions and other powerful/wealthy players.

Such sites are also very valuable tools for advertisers who try to capitalize of the information about your Facebook or Google profile, Gmail messages content, network of fiends and activities. And this is pretty deep pool of information.

"Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented," Assange said in the interview, which was videotaped and published on the site. "Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible ..."

That's why Google, who also lives and dies by advertising revenue put so much efforts at Google+. And promotes so heavily +1 button. They sense the opportunity for additional advertising revenue due to more precise targeting and try to replicate Facebook success on a better technological platform (Facebook is a hack written in PHP -- and writing in PHP tells a lot about real technological level of Mark Zuckerberg and friends).

But government is one think, advertisers is another. The magnitude of online information Facebook has available about each of us for targeted marketing is stunning. In Europe, laws give people the right to know what data companies have about them, but that is not the case in the United States. Here is what Wikipedia writes about Facebook data mining efforts:

There have been some concerns expressed regarding the use of Facebook as a means of surveillance and data mining. The Facebook privacy policy once stated,

"We may use information about you that we collect from other sources, including but not limited to newspapers and Internet sources such as blogs, instant messaging services and other users of Facebook, to supplement your profile."[23]

However, the policy was later updated and now states: "We may use information about you that we collect from other Facebook users to supplement your profile (such as when you are tagged in a photo or mentioned in a status update). In such cases we generally give you the ability to remove the content (such as allowing you to remove a photo tag of you) or limit its visibility on your profile."[23] The terminology regarding the use of collecting information from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, and instant messaging services, has been removed.

The possibility of data mining by private individuals unaffiliated with Facebook has been a concern, as evidenced by the fact that two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students were able to download, using an automated script, over 70,000 Facebook profiles from four schools (MIT, NYU, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard University) as part of a research project on Facebook privacy published on December 14, 2005.[24] Since then, Facebook has bolstered security protection for users, responding: "We’ve built numerous defenses to combat phishing and malware, including complex automated systems that work behind the scenes to detect and flag Facebook accounts that are likely to be compromised (based on anomalous activity like lots of messages sent in a short period of time, or messages with links that are known to be bad)."[25]

A second clause that brought criticism from some users allowed Facebook the right to sell users' data to private companies, stating "We may share your information with third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a relationship." This concern was addressed by spokesman Chris Hughes, who said "Simply put, we have never provided our users' information to third party companies, nor do we intend to."[26] Facebook eventually removed this clause from its privacy policy.[27]

Previously, third party applications had access to almost all user information. Facebook's privacy policy previously stated: "Facebook does not screen or approve Platform Developers and cannot control how such Platform Developers use any personal information."[28] However, that language has since been removed. Regarding use of user data by third party applications, the ‘Pre-Approved Third-Party Websites and Applications’ section of the Facebook privacy policy now states:

In order to provide you with useful social experiences off of Facebook, we occasionally need to provide General Information about you to pre-approved third party websites and applications that use Platform at the time you visit them (if you are still logged in to Facebook). Similarly, when one of your friends visits a pre-approved website or application, it will receive General Information about you so you and your friend can be connected on that website as well (if you also have an account with that website). In these cases we require these websites and applications to go through an approval process, and to enter into separate agreements designed to protect your privacy…You can disable instant personalization on all pre-approved websites and applications using your Applications and Websites privacy setting. You can also block a particular pre-approved website or application by clicking "No Thanks" in the blue bar when you visit that application or website. In addition, if you log out of Facebook before visiting a pre-approved application or website, it will not be able to access your information.

In the United Kingdom, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has encouraged employers to allow their staff to access Facebook and other social-networking sites from work, provided they proceed with caution.[29]

In September 2007, Facebook drew a fresh round of criticism after it began allowing non-members to search for users, with the intent of opening limited "public profiles" up to search engines such as Google in the following months.[30] Facebook's privacy settings, however, allow users to block their profiles from search engines.

Concerns were also raised on the BBC's Watchdog programme in October 2007 when Facebook was shown to be an easy way in which to collect an individual's personal information in order to facilitate identity theft.[31] However, there is barely any personal information presented to non-friends - if users leave the privacy controls on their default settings, the only personal information visible to a non-friend is the user's name, gender, profile picture, networks, and user name.[32]

In addition, a New York Times article in February 2008 pointed out that Facebook does not actually provide a mechanism for users to close their accounts, and thus raised the concern that private user data would remain indefinitely on Facebook's servers.[33] However, Facebook now gives users the options to deactivate or delete their accounts, according to the Facebook Privacy Policy. "When you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted. We save your profile information (connections, photos, etc.) in case you later decide to reactivate your account." The policy further states: "When you delete an account, it is permanently deleted from Facebook."[23]

A third party site, USocial, was involved in a controversy surrounding the sale of fans and friends. USocial received a cease-and-desist letter from Facebook and has stopped selling friends.[34]

Inability to voluntarily terminate accounts

Facebook had allowed users to deactivate their accounts but not actually remove account content from its servers. A Facebook representative explained to a student from the University of British Columbia that users had to clear their own accounts by manually deleting all of the content including wall posts, friends, and groups. A New York Times article noted the issue, and also raised a concern that emails and other private user data remain indefinitely on Facebook's servers.[35]

Facebook subsequently began allowing users to permanently delete their accounts in 2010. Facebook's Privacy Policy now states: "When you delete an account, it is permanently deleted from Facebook."[23]

... ... ...

Quit Facebook Day

Quit Facebook Day was an online event which took place on May 31, 2010 (coinciding with Memorial Day), in which Facebook users stated that they would quit the social network, due to privacy concerns.[54] It was estimated that 2% of Facebook users coming from the United States would delete their accounts.[55] However, only 33,000 users quit the site.[56]

... ... ...

Tracking cookies

Facebook has been criticized heavily for 'tracking' users, even when logged out of the site. Australian technologist Nik Cubrilovic discovered that when a user logs out of Facebook, the cookies from that login are still kept in the browser, allowing Facebook to track users on websites that include "social widgets" distributed by the social network. Facebook has denied the claims, saying they have 'no interest' in tracking users or their activity. They also promised after the discovery of the cookies that they would remove them, saying they will no longer have them on the site. A group of users in the United States have sued Facebook for breaching privacy laws.[citation needed]

Read more at Facebook as Giant Database about Users

Google search monopoly

Google wants to be a sole intermediary between you and Internet. As Rebecca Solnit pointed out (Google eats the world):

Google, the company with the motto "Don't be evil", is rapidly becoming an empire. Not an empire of territory, as was Rome or the Soviet Union, but an empire controlling our access to data and our data itself. Antitrust lawsuits proliferating around the company demonstrate its quest for monopoly control over information in the information age.

Its search engine has become indispensable for most of us, and as Google critic and media professor Siva Vaidhyanathan puts it in his 2012 book The Googlization of Everything,

"[W]e now allow Google to determine what is important, relevant, and true on the Web and in the world. We trust and believe that Google acts in our best interest. But we have surrendered control over the values, methods, and processes that make sense of our information ecosystem."

And that's just the search engine. About three-quarters of a billion people use Gmail, which conveniently gives Google access to the content of their communications (scanned in such a way that they can target ads at you).

Now with Prism-related revelations, those guys are on the defensive as they sense a threat to their franchise. And the threat is quite real: if Google, Microsoft, Yahoo all work for NSA, why not feed them only a proportionate amount of your searches. And why not feed them with "search spam"?

Now with Prism-related revelations, those guys are on the defensive as they sense a threat to their franchise. And the threat is quite real: if Google, Microsoft, Yahoo all work for NSA, why not feed them only a proportionate amount of your searches. And why not feed them with "search spam"?

One third to Google and one third to Bing with the rest to https://duckduckgo.com/ (Yahoo uses Bing internally). You can rotate days and hope that the level of integration of searches from multiple providers is a weak point of the program ;-). After all while Google is still better on some searches, Bing comes close on typical searches and is superior in searches about Microsoft Windows and similar Microsoft related themes. It is only fair to diversify providers.

Here is one take from Is Google a threat to privacy from Digital Freedoms

Google’s motto may be ‘don’t be evil’ but people are increasingly unconvinced that it is as good as it says it is. The Guardian is currently running a poll asking users ‘Does Google ‘do evil’?’ and currently the Guardian reading public seems to think yes it does. This is partially about Google's attempt to minimize taxes in the UK but there are other concerns that are much more integral to what Google is about. At its core Google is an information business, so accusations that it is a threat to privacy strike at what it does rather than just its profits.

Google recently got a slap on the wrist by Germany for its intrusion of privacy through its street view and received a $189,225 fine. This was followed in April with several European privacy regulators criticizing the company for how it changed its privacy policy in 2012. Google attempted to simplify its privacy policy by having one that would operate across its services rather than the 70 different ones it had. Unfortunately it was not transparent in how it implemented the changes bringing the ire of the European regulators. This was followed by not implementing their suggested changes leading to the regulators considering more fines.

Facebook’s inventory of data and its revenue from advertising are small potatoes compared to Google. Google took in more than 10 times as much, with an estimated $36.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2011, by analyzing what people sent over Gmail and what they searched on the Web, and then using that data to sell ads. Hundreds of other companies (Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon to name a few) have also staked claims on people’s online data by depositing cookies or other tracking mechanisms on people’s browsers. If you’ve mentioned anxiety in an e-mail, done a Google search for “stress” or started using an online medical diary that lets you monitor your mood, expect ads for medications and services to treat your anxiety.

In other words stereotyping rules in data aggregation. Your application for credit could be declined not on the basis of your own finances or credit history, but on the basis of aggregate data — what other people whose likes and dislikes are similar to yours have done. If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you’ve looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer might cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy. When an Atlanta man returned from his honeymoon, he found that his credit limit had been lowered to $3,800 from $10,800. The switch was not based on anything he had done but on aggregate data. A letter from the company told him, “Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.”

Even though laws allow people to challenge false information in credit reports, there are no laws that require data aggregators to reveal what they know about you. If I’ve Googled “diabetes” for my mother or “date rape drugs” for a mystery I’m writing, data aggregators assume those searches reflect my own health and proclivities. Because no laws regulate what types of data these aggregators can collect, they make their own rules.

In another post Frank Schaeffer (Google, Microsoft and Facebook Are More of a Threat to Privacy Than the US Government, June 7, 2013) thinks the Google and other companies actually represent a different threat then the government due to viewing themselves as a special privileged caste:

It’s amazing that there are naive people who worry about government intrusion into our privacy when we already gave away our civil rights to the billionaires in Silicon Valley. The NSA is taking note of our calls and emails, but anyone – me included! — who uses the internet and social media has already sold out our privacy rights to the trillion dollar multinational companies now dominating our lives and – literally – buying and selling us.

The NSA isn’t our biggest worry when it comes to who is using our calls, emails and records for purposes we didn’t intend. We are going to pay forever for trusting Google, Facebook. Microsoft, AOL and all the rest. They and the companies that follow them are the real threat to liberty and privacy.

The government may be wrong in how it is trying to protect us but at least it isn’t literally selling us. Google’s and Facebook’s et al highest purpose is to control our lives, what we buy, sell, like and do for money. Broken as our democracy is we citizens at least still have a voice and ultimately decide on who runs Congress. Google and company answer to no one. They see themselves as an elite and superior to everyone else.

In fact they are part of a business culture that sees itself not only above the law but believes it’s run by superior beings. Google even has its own bus line, closed to the public, so its “genius” employees don’t have to be bothered mingling with us regular folk. A top internet exec just ruined the America’s Cup race by making it so exclusive that so far only four groups have been able to sign up for the next race to be held in San Francisco because all but billionaires are now excluded because this internet genius changed the rules to favor his kind of elite.

Google and Facebook have done little-to-nothing to curb human trafficking pleading free speech as the reason their search engines and social networks have become the new slave ships “carrying” child rape victims to their new masters internationally. That’s just who and what these internet profiteers are.

Face it: the big tech companies aren’t run by nice people even if they do make it pleasant for their workers by letting them skateboard in the hallways and offering them free sushi. They aren’t smarter than anyone else, just lucky to be riding a new tech wave. That wave is cresting.

Lots of us lesser mortals are wondering just what we get from people storing all our private data. For a start we have a generation hooked on a mediated reality. They look at the world through a screen.

In other words these profiteers are selling reality back to us, packaged by them into entertainment. And they want to put a computer on every desk to make sure that no child ever develops an attention span long enough so that they might actually read a book or look up from whatever tech device they are holding. These are the billionaires determined to make real life so boring that you won’t be able to concentrate long enough pee without using an app that makes bodily functions more entertaining.

These guys are also the world’s biggest hypocrites. The New York Times published a story about how some of the top executives in Silicon Valley send their own children to a school that does not allow computers. In “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” (October 22, 2011) the Times revealed that the leaders who run the computer business demand a computer-free, hands-on approach to education for their own children.

Usage of home Web Proxy is a must

This new situation makes usage of Web proxy at home a must. Not to protect yourself ( this is still impossible ), but to control what information you release and to whom. See Squid. It provides powerful means to analyze your Web traffic as well as Web site blocking techniques:

In my experience, Squid’s built-in blocking mechanism or access control is the easiest method to use for implementing web site blocking policy. All you need to do is modify the Squid configuration file.

Before you can implement web site blocking policy, you have to make sure that you have already installed Squid and that it works. You can consult the Squid web site to get the latest version of Squid and a guide for installing it.

To deploy the web-site blocking mechanism in Squid, add the following entries to your Squid configuration file (in my system, it’s called squid.conf and it’s located in the /etc/squid directory):

acl bad url_regex "/etc/squid/squid-block.acl"
http_access deny bad

The file /etc/squid/squid-block.acl contains web sites or words you want to block. You can name the file whatever you like. If a site has the URL or word listed in squid-block.acl file, it won’t be accessible to your users. The entries below are found in squid-block.acl file used by my clients:

.oracle.com
.playboy.com.br
sex
...

With the squid-block.acl file in action, internet users cannot access the following sites:

You should beware that by blocking sites containing the word “sex”, you will also block sites such as Middlesex University, Sussex University, etc. To resolve this problem, you can put those sites in a special file called squid-noblock.acl:

^http://www.middlesex.ac.uk
^http://www.sussex.ac.uk 

You must also put the “no-block” rule before the “block” rule in the Squid configuration file:

...
acl special_urls url_regex "/etc/squid/squid-noblock.acl"
http_access allow admin_ips special_urls

acl bad url_regex "/etc/squid/squid-block.acl"
http_access deny bad
...

Sometimes you also need to add a no-block file to allow access to useful sites

After editing the ACL files (squid-block.acl and squid-noblock.acl), you need to restart Squid. If you install the RPM version, usually there is a script in the /etc/rc.d/init.d directory to help you manage Squid:

# /etc/rc.d/init.d/squid reload

To test to see if your Squid blocking mechanism has worked, you can use your browser. Just enter a site whose address is listed on the squid-block.acl file in the URL address.

In the example above, I block .oracle.com, and when I try to access oracle.com, the browser returns an error page.

Limiting your activity on social sites

Vanity fair posting should probably now be severely limited. Self-exposure entails dangers that can became evident only in retrospect. The key problem is that nothing that you post is ever erased. Ever. Limiting your activity in social network to few things that are of real value, or what is necessary for business or professional development, not just vanity fair staff or, God forbid, shady activities is now a must.

And remember that those days information about your searches, books that you bought on Amazon, your friends in Facebook, your connections in LinkedIn, etc are public. If you want to buy a used book without it getting into your database, go to the major city and buy with cash.

Also getting you own email address and simple web site at any hosting site is easy and does not require extraordinary technical sophistication. Prices are starting from $3 per month. Storing your data on Facebook servers might cost you more. See Guide for selecting Web hosting provider with SSH access for some ideas for programmers and system administrators.

Conclusions: Death of Privacy

In a way the situation with cloud sites providing feeds to spy on the users is a version of autoimmune disease: defense systems are attacking other critical systems instead of rogue agents.

As we mentioned before, technological development has their set of externalities. One side effect of internet technologies and, especially, cloud technologies as well as wide proliferation of smartphones is that they greatly simplify "total surveillance." Previously total surveillance was a very expensive proposition, now it became vey cheap. In a way technological genie is out of the bottle. And it is impossible to put him back. Youtube (funny, it's another site targeted by NSA) contains several informative talks about this issue. From the talk:

“This is the current state of affairs. There is no more sense of privacy. Not because it’s been ripped away from you in some Orwellian way, but because you flushed it down the toilet”.

All-in-all on Internet on one hand provides excellent, unique capability of searching information (and search sites are really amplifiers of human intelligence) , but on the other put you like a bug under microscope. Of course, as so many Internet users exists, the time to store all the information about you is probably less then your lifespan, but considerable part of it can be stored for a long time (measured in years, not months, or days) and some part is stored forever. In other words both government and several large companies and first of all Facebook and Google are constantly profiling you. That's why we can talk about death of privacy.

Add to this a real possibility that malware is installed on your PC (and Google Bar and similar applications are as close to spyware as one can get) and situation became really interesting.

Looking at the headlines about the government’s documents on how to use social networking and it’s surprising that anyone thinks this is a big deal. Undercover Feds on Facebook? Gasp! IRS using social networking to piece together a few facts that illustrate you lied about your taxes? Oooh.

Give me a break. Why wouldn’t the Feds use these tools? They’d be idiots if they didn’t. Repeat after me:

Let’s face it; folks are broadcasting everything from the breakfast they eat to their bowel movements to when and where they are on vacation. They use services that track every movement they make (willingly!) on Foursquare and Google Latitude. Why wouldn’t an FBI agent chasing a perp get into some idiot’s network so he can track him everywhere? It’s called efficiency people.

Here are some simple measures that might help, although they can't change the situation:

Again, none of those measures change the situation dramatically, but each of them slightly increase the level of your privacy.


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

For details of NSA collection of Internet traffic and major cloud provider data see Big Brother is Watching You

[Mar 17, 2019] Mueller uses the same old false flag scams, just different packaging of his forensics-free findings

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It appears the FBI, CIA, and NSA have great difficulty in differentiating between Russians and Democrats posing as Russians. ..."
"... Maybe the VIPS should look into the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who had the security clearance required to access the DNC servers, and who was murdered in the same week as the emails were taken. In particular, they should ask why the police were told to stand down and close the murder case without further investigation. ..."
"... What a brilliant article, so logical, methodical & a forensic, scientific breakdown of the phony Russiagate project? And there's no doubt, this was a co-ordinated, determined Intelligence project to reverse the results of the 2016 Election by initiating a soft coup or Regime change op on a elected Leader, a very American Coup, something the American Intelligence Agencies specialise in, everywhere else, on a Global scale, too get Trump impeached & removed from the Whitehouse? ..."
"... Right. Since its purpose is to destroy Trump politically, the investigation should go on as long as Trump is in office. Alternatively, if at this point Trump has completely sold out, that would be another reason to stop the investigation. ..."
"... Nancy Pelosi's announcement two days ago that the Democrats will not seek impeachment for Trump suggests the emptiness of the Mueller investigation on the specific "collusion" issue. ..."
"... We know and Assange has confirmed Seth Rich, assassinated in D.C. for his deed, downloaded the emails and most likely passed them on to former British ambassador Craig Murray in a D.C. park for transport to Wikileaks. ..."
"... This so-called "Russiagate" narrative is an illustration of our "freedom of the press" failure in the US due to groupthink and self censorship. He who pays the piper is apt to call the tune. ..."
"... Barr, Sessions, every congressmen all the corporate MSM war profiteer mouth pieces. They all know that "Russia hacked the DNC" and "Russia meddled" is fabricated garbage. They don't care, because their chosen war beast corporate candidate couldn't beat Donald goofball Trump. So it has to be shown that the war beast only lost because of nefarious reasons. Because they're gonna run another war beast cut from the same cloth as Hillary in 2020. ..."
"... Mar 4, 2019 Tom Fitton: President Trump a 'Crime Victim' by Illegal Deep State DOJ & FBI Abuses: https://youtu.be/ixWMorWAC7c ..."
"... Trump is a willing player in this game. The anti-Russian Crusade was, quite simply, a stunningly reckless, short-sighted effort to overturn the 2016 election, removing Trump to install Hillary Clinton in office. ..."
"... Much ado about nothing. All the talk and chatter and media airplay about "Russian meddling" in the 2016 election only tells me that these liars think the American public is that stupid. ..."
"... Andrew Thomas I'm afraid that huge amounts of our History post 1947 is organized and propagandized disinformation. There is an incredible page that John Simpkin has organized over the years that specifically addresses individuals, click on a name and read about them. https://spartacus-educational.com/USAdisinformation.htm ..."
"... It's pretty astonishing that Mueller was more interested in Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi as credible sources about Wikileaks and the DNC release than Craig Murray! ..."
"... Yes, he has done his job. And his job was to bring his royal Orangeness to heel, and to make sure that detente and co-operation with Russia remained impossible. The forever war continues. Mission Accomplished. ..."
Mar 17, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

O Society , March 16, 2019 at 7:55 am

The Truth is Out There. I Want to Believe!

Same old scams, different packaging. That's New & Improved for you.

http://opensociet.org/2019/03/16/the-return-of-the-hidden-persuaders

Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:35 pm

I could not suffer through reading the whole article. This is mainly because I have watched the news daily about Mueller's Investigation and I sincerely believe that Mueller is Champion of the Democrats who are trying to depose President Donald Trump at any cost.

For what Mueller found any decent lawyer with a Degree and a few years of experience could have found what Mueller found for far far less money. Mueller only found common crimes AND NO COLLUSION BETWEEN PRESIDENT TRUMP AND PUTIN!

The Mueller Investigation should be given to an honest broker to review, and Mueller should be paid only what it would cost to produce the commonplace crimes Mueller, The Democrats, and CNN has tried to convince the people that indeed Trump COLLUDED with RUSSIA. Mueller is, a BIG NOTHING BURGER and THE DEMOCRATS AND CNN ARE MUELLER'S SINGING CANARYS! Mueller should be jailed.

Bogdan Miller , March 15, 2019 at 11:04 am

This article explains why the Mueller Report is already highly suspect. For another thing, we know that since before 2016, Democrats have been studying Russian Internet and hacking tactics, and posing as Russian Bots/Trolls on Facebook and other media outlets, all in an effort to harm President Trump.

It appears the FBI, CIA, and NSA have great difficulty in differentiating between Russians and Democrats posing as Russians.

B.J.M. Former Intelligence Analyst and Humint Collector

vinnieoh , March 15, 2019 at 8:17 am

Moving on: the US House yesterday voted UNANIMOUSLY (remember that word, so foreign these days to US governance?) to "urge" the new AG to release the complete Mueller report.

A non-binding resolution, but you would think that the Democrats can't see the diesel locomotive bearing down on their clown car, about to smash it to pieces. The new AG in turn says he will summarize the report and that is what we will see, not the entire report. And taxation without representation takes a new twist.

... ... ...

Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:38 pm

What else would you expect from two Political Parties who are really branches of the ONE Party which Represents DEEP STATE".

DWS , March 15, 2019 at 5:58 am

Maybe the VIPS should look into the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who had the security clearance required to access the DNC servers, and who was murdered in the same week as the emails were taken. In particular, they should ask why the police were told to stand down and close the murder case without further investigation.

Raymond Comeau , March 15, 2019 at 12:47 pm

EXACTLY! But, Deep State will not allow that. And, it would ruin the USA' plan to continue to invade more sovereign countries and steal their resources such as oil and Minerals. The people of the USA must be Ostriches or are so terrified that they accept anything their Criminal Governments tell them.

Eventually, the chickens will come home to roost and perhaps the USA voters will ROAST when the crimes of the USA sink the whole country. It is time for a few Brave Men and Women to find their backbones and throw out the warmongers and their leading Oligarchs!

KiwiAntz , March 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm

What a brilliant article, so logical, methodical & a forensic, scientific breakdown of the phony Russiagate project? And there's no doubt, this was a co-ordinated, determined Intelligence project to reverse the results of the 2016 Election by initiating a soft coup or Regime change op on a elected Leader, a very American Coup, something the American Intelligence Agencies specialise in, everywhere else, on a Global scale, too get Trump impeached & removed from the Whitehouse?

If you can't get him out via a Election, try & try again, like Maduro in Venezuela, to forcibly remove the targeted person by setting him up with fake, false accusations & fabricated evidence? How very predictable & how very American of Mueller & the Democratic Party. Absolute American Corruption, corrupts absolutely?

Brian Murphy , March 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

Right. Since its purpose is to destroy Trump politically, the investigation should go on as long as Trump is in office. Alternatively, if at this point Trump has completely sold out, that would be another reason to stop the investigation.

If the investigation wraps up and finds nothing, that means Trump has already completely sold out. If the investigation continues, it means someone important still thinks Trump retains some vestige of his balls.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:19 pm

By last June or July the Mueller investigation has resulted in roughly 150 indictments for perjury/financial crimes, and there was a handful of convictions to date. The report did not support the Clinton wing's anti-Russian allegations about the 2016 election, and was largely brushed aside by media. Mueller was then reportedly sent back in to "find something." presumably to support the anti-Russian claims.

mike k , March 14, 2019 at 12:57 pm

From the beginning of the Russia did it story, right after Trump's electoral victory, it was apparent that this was a fraud. The democratic party however has locked onto this preposterous story, and they will go to their graves denying this was a scam to deny their presidential defeat, and somehow reverse the result of Trump's election. My sincere hope is that this blatant lie will be an albatross around the party's neck, that will carry them down into oblivion. They have betrayed those of us who supported them for so many years. They are in many ways now worse than the republican scum they seek to replace.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Trump is almost certain to be re-elected in 2020, and we'll go through this all over again.

Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm

The very fact that the FBI never had access to the servers and took the word of a private company that had a history of being anti-Russian is enough to throw the entire ruse out.

LJ , March 14, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Agreed!!!! and don't forget the FBI/Comey gave Hillary and her Campaign a head's up before they moved to seize the evidence. . So too, Comey said he stopped the Investigation , thereby rendering judgement of innocence, even though by his own words 'gross negligence' had a occurred (which is normally considered grounds for prosecution). In doing so he exceeded the FBI's investigative mandate. He rationalized that decision was appropriate because of the appearance of impropriety that resulted from Attorney General Lynch having a private meeting on a plane on a runway with Bill and Hillary . Where was the logic in that. Who called the meeting? All were Lawyers who had served as President, Senator, Attorney General and knew that the meeting was absolutely inappropriate. . Comey should be prosecuted if they want to prosecute anyone else because of this CRAP. PS Trump is an idiot. Uhinfortunately he is just a symptom of the disease at this point. Look at the cover of Rolling Stone magazine , carry a barf bag.

Jane Christ , March 14, 2019 at 6:51 pm

Exactly. This throws doubt on the ability of the FBI to work independently. They are working for those who want to cover -up the Hillary mess . She evidently has sufficient funds to pay them off. I am disgusted with the level of corruption.

hetro , March 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

Nancy Pelosi's announcement two days ago that the Democrats will not seek impeachment for Trump suggests the emptiness of the Mueller investigation on the specific "collusion" issue. If there were something hot and lingering and about to emerge, this decision is highly unlikely, especially with the reasoning she gave at "so as not to divide the American people." Dividing the people hasn't been of much concern throughout this bogus witch hunt on Trump, which has added to his incompetence in leavening a growing hysteria and confusion in this country. If there is something, anything at all, in the Mueller report to support the collusion theory, Pelosi would I'm sure gleefully trot it out to get a lesser candidate like Pence as opposition for 2020.

James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:17 am

We know and Assange has confirmed Seth Rich, assassinated in D.C. for his deed, downloaded the emails and most likely passed them on to former British ambassador Craig Murray in a D.C. park for transport to Wikileaks.

We must also honor Shawn Lucas assassinated for serving DNC with a litigation notice exposing the DNC conspiracy against Sanders.

hetro , March 14, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Where has Assange confirmed this? Assange's long-standing position is NOT to reveal his sources. I believe he has continued to honor this position.

Skip Scott , March 15, 2019 at 7:15 am

It has merely been insinuated by the offering of a reward for info on Seth's murder. In one breath he says wikileaks will never divulge a source, and in the next he offers a $20k reward saying that sources take tremendous risk. Doesn't take much of a logical leap to connect A to B.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Are you aware that Democrats split apart their 0wn voting base in the 1990s, middle class vs. poor? The Obama years merely confirmed that this split is permanent. This is particularly relevant for Democrats, as their voting base had long consisted of the poor and middle class, for the common good. Ignoring this deep split hasn't made it go away.

hetro , March 14, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Even more important is how the Democrats have sold out to an Establishment view favoring neocon theory, since at least Bill Clinton. Pelosi's recent behavior with Ilhan Omar confirms this and the split you're talking about. My point is it is distinctly odd that Pelosi is discouraging impeachment on "dividing the Party" (already divided, of course, as you say), whereas the Russia-gate fantasy was so hot not that long ago. Again it points to a cynical opportunism and manipulation of the electorate. Both parties are a sad excuse to represent ordinary people's interests.

Skip Scott , March 15, 2019 at 7:21 am

She said "dividing the country", not the party. I think she may have concerns over Trump's heavily armed base. That said, the statement may have been a ruse. There are plenty of Republicans that would cross the line in favor of impeachment with the right "conclusions" by Mueller. Pelosi may be setting up for a "bombshell" conclusion by Mueller. One must never forget that we are watching theater, and that Trump was a "mistake" to be controlled or eliminated.

Cindy Haddix , March 14, 2019 at 8:04 am

Mueller should be ashamed that he has made President Trump his main concern!! If all this investigation would stop he could save America millions!!! He needs to quit this witch-hunt and worry about things that really need to be handled!!! If the democrats and Trump haters would stop pushing senseless lies hopefully this would stop ? It's so disgusting that his democrat friend was never really investigated ? stop the witch-hunt and move forward!!!!

torture this , March 14, 2019 at 7:29 am

According to this letter, mistakes might have been made on Rachel Maddow's show. I can't wait to read how she responds. I'd watch her show, myself except that it has the same effect on me as ipecac.

Zhu , March 14, 2019 at 3:37 am

People will cling to "Putin made Trump President!!!" much as many cling "Obama's a Kenyan Muslim! Not a real American!!!". Both nut theories are emotionally satisfying, no matter what the historical facts are. Many Americans just can't admit their mistakes and blaming a scapegoat is a way out.

O Society , March 14, 2019 at 2:03 am

Thank you VIPS for organizing this legit dissent consisting of experts in the field of intelligence and computer forensics.

This so-called "Russiagate" narrative is an illustration of our "freedom of the press" failure in the US due to groupthink and self censorship. He who pays the piper is apt to call the tune.

It is astounding how little skepticism and scientifically-informed reasoning goes on in our media. These folks show themselves to be native advertising rather than authentic journalists at every turn.

DH Fabian , March 14, 2019 at 1:33 pm

But it has been Democrats and the media that market to middle class Dems, who persist in trying to sell the Russian Tale. They excel at ignoring the evidence that utterly contradicts their claims.

O Society , March 15, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Oh, we're well beyond your "Blame the middle class Dems" stage.

The WINNING!!! team sports bullshit drowns the entire country now the latrine's sprung a leak. People pretend to live in bubbles made of blue or red quite like the Three Little Pigs, isn't it? Except instead of a house made of bricks saving the day for the littlepiggies, what we've got here is a purple puddle of piss.

Everyone's more than glad to project all our problems on "THEM" though, aren't we?

Meanwhile, the White House smells like a urinal not washed since the 1950s and simpletons still get their rocks off arguing about whether Mickey Mouse can beat up Ronald McDonald.

T'would be comic except what's so tragic is the desperate need Americans have to believe, oh just believe! in something. Never mind the sound of the jackhammer on your skull dear, there's an app for that or is it a pill?

I don't know, don't ask me, I'm busy watching TV. Have a cheeto.

https://opensociet.org/2018/12/18/the-disneyfication-of-america/

Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Very good analysis clearly stated, especially adding the FAT timestamps to the transmission speeds.

Minor corrections: "The emails were copied from the network" should be "from the much faster local network" because this is to Contradict the notion that they were copied over the internet network, which most readers will equate with "network." Also "reportedin" should be "reported in."

Michael , March 13, 2019 at 6:25 pm

It is likely that New Knowledge was actually "the Russians", possibly working in concert with Crowdstrike. Once an intelligence agency gets away with something like pretending to be Russian hackers and bots, they tend to re-use their model; it is too tempting to discard an effective model after a one-off accomplishment. New Knowledge was caught interfering/ determining the outcome in the Alabama Senate race on the side of Democrat Doug Jones, and claimed they were merely trying to mimic Russian methods to see if they worked (they did; not sure of their punishment?). Occam's razor would suggest that New Knowledge would be competent to mimic/ pretend to be "Russians" after the fact of wikileaks' publication of emails. New Knowledge has employees from the NSA and State department sympathetic to/ working with(?) Hillary, and were the "outside" agency hired to evaluate and report on the "Russian" hacking of the DNC emails/ servers.

DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Mueller released report last summer, which resulted in (the last I checked) roughly 150 indictments, a handful of convictions to date, all for perjury/financial (not political) crimes. This wasn't kept secret. It simply wasn't what Democrats wanted to hear, so although it was mentioned in some lib media (which overwhelmingly supported neoliberal Hillary Clinton), it was essentially swept under the carpet.

Billy , March 13, 2019 at 11:11 pm

Barr, Sessions, every congressmen all the corporate MSM war profiteer mouth pieces. They all know that "Russia hacked the DNC" and "Russia meddled" is fabricated garbage. They don't care, because their chosen war beast corporate candidate couldn't beat Donald goofball Trump. So it has to be shown that the war beast only lost because of nefarious reasons. Because they're gonna run another war beast cut from the same cloth as Hillary in 2020.

Realist , March 14, 2019 at 3:22 am

You betcha. Moreover, who but the Russians do these idiots have left to blame? Everybody else is now off limits due to political correctness. Sigh Those Catholics, Jews, "ethnics" and sundry "deviants" used to be such reliable scapegoats, to say nothing of the "undeveloped" world. As Clapper "authoritatively" says, only this vile lineage still carries the genes for the most extremes of human perfidy. Squirrels in your attic? It must be the damned Russkies! The bastards impudently tried to copy our democracy, economic system and free press and only besmirched those institutions, ruining all of Hillary's glorious plans for a worldwide benevolent dictatorship. All this might be humorous if it weren't so funny.

And those Chinese better not get to thinking they are somehow our equals just because all their trillions invested in U.S. Treasury bonds have paid for all our wars of choice and MIC boondoggles since before the turn of the century. Unless they start delivering Trump some "free stuff" the big man is gonna cut off their water. No more affordable manufactured goods for the American public! So there!

As to the article: impeccable research and analysis by the VIPS crew yet again. They've proven to me that, to a near certainty, the Easter Bunny is not likely to exist. Mueller won't read it. Clapper will still prance around a free man, as will Brennan. The Democrats won't care, that is until November of 2020. And Hillary will continue to skate, unhindered in larding up the Clinton Foundation to purposes one can only imagine.

Joe Tedesky , March 14, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Realist,

I have posted this article 'the Russia they Lost' before and from time to time but once again it seems appropriate to add this link to expound upon for what you've been saying. It's an article written by a Russian who in they're youth growing up in the USSR dreamed of living the American lifestyle if Russia were to ever ditch communism. But . Starting with Kosovo this Russian's youthful dream turned nightmarishly ugly and, as time went by with more and yet even more USA aggression this Russian author loss his admiration and desire for all things American to be proudly envied. This is a story where USA hard power destroyed any hope of American soft power for world unity. But hey that unity business was never part of the plan anyway.

https://slavyangrad.org/2014/09/24/the-russia-they-lost/

Realist , March 15, 2019 at 10:38 pm

right you are, joe. if america was smart rather than arrogant, it would have cooperated with china and russia to see the belt and road initiative succeed by perhaps building a bridge or tunnel from siberia to alaska, and by building its own fleet of icebreakers to open up its part of the northwest passage. but no, it only wants to sabotage what others propose. that's not being a leader, it's being a dick.

i'm gonna have to go on the disabled list here until the sudden neurological problem with my right hand clears up–it's like paralysed. too difficult to do this one-handed using hunt and peck. at least the problem was not in the old bean, according to the scans. carry on, sir.

Brian James , March 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm

Mar 4, 2019 Tom Fitton: President Trump a 'Crime Victim' by Illegal Deep State DOJ & FBI Abuses: https://youtu.be/ixWMorWAC7c

DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 5:55 pm

Trump is a willing player in this game. The anti-Russian Crusade was, quite simply, a stunningly reckless, short-sighted effort to overturn the 2016 election, removing Trump to install Hillary Clinton in office. Trump and the Republicans continue to win by default, as Democrats only drive more voters away.

Howard , March 13, 2019 at 4:36 pm

Thank you Ray McGovern and the Other 17 VIPS C0-Signers of your National Security Essay for Truth. Along with Craig Murray and Seymour Hirsch, former Sam Adams Award winners for "shining light into dark places", you are national resources for objectivity in critical survival information matters for our country. It is more than a pity that our mainstream media are so beholden to their corporate task masters that they cannot depart from the company line for fear of losing their livelihoods, and in the process we risk losing life on the planet because of unconstrained nuclear war on the part of the two main adversaries facing off in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. Let me speak plainly. THEY SHOULD BE TALKING TO YOU AND NOT THE VESTED INTERESTS' MOUTHPIECES. Thank you for your continued leadership!

James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:28 am

Roger Ailes founder of FOX news died, "falling down stairs" within a week of FOX news exposing to the world that the assassinated Seth Rich downloaded the DNC emails.

DH Fabian , March 13, 2019 at 6:03 pm

Google the Mueller investigation report from last June or July. When it was released, the public response was like a deflated balloon. It did not support the "Russian collusion" allegations -- the only thing Democrats still had left to sell. The report resulted in roughly 150 indictments for perjury/financial crimes (not political), and a handful of convictions to date -- none of which had anything to do with the election results.

Hank , March 13, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Much ado about nothing. All the talk and chatter and media airplay about "Russian meddling" in the 2016 election only tells me that these liars think the American public is that stupid. They are probably right, but the REAL reason that Hillary lost is because there ARE enough informed people now in this nation who are quite aware of the Clinton's sordid history where scandals seem to follow every where they go, but indictments and/or investigations don't. There IS an internet nowadays with lots of FACTUAL DOCUMENTED information. That's a lot more than I can say about the mainstream corporate-controlled media!

I know this won't ever happen, but an HONEST investigation into the Democratic Party and their actions during the 2016 election would make ANY collusion with ANY nation look like a mole hill next to a mountain! One of the problems with living in this nation is if you are truly informed and make an effort 24/7 to be that way by doing your own research, you more-than-likely can be considered an "island in a sea of ignorance".

Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:13 pm

We know that the FBI never had access to the servers and a private company was allowed to handle the evidence. Wasnt it a crime scene? The evidence was tampered with And we will never know what was on the servers.

Mark McCarty , March 13, 2019 at 4:10 pm

As a complement to this excellent analysis, I would like to make 2 further points:

The Mueller indictment of Russian Intelligence for hacking the DNC and transferring their booty to Wikileaks is absurd on its face for this reason: Assange announced on June 12th the impending release of Hillary-related emails. Yet the indictment claims that Guccifer 2.0 did not succeed in transferring the DNC emails to Wikileaks until the time period of July 14-18th – after which they were released online on July 22nd. Are we to suppose that Assange, a publisher of impeccable integrity, publicly announced the publication of emails he had not yet seen, and which he was obtaining from a source of murky provenance? And are we further to suppose that Wikileaks could have processed 20K emails and 20K attachments to insure their genuineness in a period of only several days? As you will recall, Wikileaks subsequently took a number of weeks to process the Podesta emails they released in October.

And another peculiarity merits attention. Assange did not state on June 12th that he was releasing DNC emails – and yet Crowdstrike and the Guccifer 2.0 personna evidently knew that this was in store. A likely resolution of this conundrum is that US intelligence had been monitoring all communications to Wikileaks, and had informed the DNC that their hacked emails had been offered to Wikileaks. A further reasonable prospect is that US intelligence subsequently unmasked the leaker to the DNC; as Assange has strongly hinted, this likely was Seth Rich. This could explain Rich's subsequent murder, as Rich would have been in a position to unmask the Guccifer 2.0 hoax and the entire Russian hacking narrative.

https://medium.com/@markfmccarty/muellers-new-indictment-do-the-feds-take-us-for-idiots-5406ef955406

https://medium.com/@markfmccarty/how-did-crowdstrike-guccifer-2-0-know-that-wikileaks-was-planning-to-release-dnc-emails-42e6db334053

Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Curious that Assange has Not explicitly stated that the leaker was Seth Rich, if it was, as this would take pressure from himself and incriminate the DNC in the murder of Rich. Perhaps he doesn't know, and has the honor not to take the opportunity, or perhaps he knows that it was not Rich.

James Clooney , March 14, 2019 at 11:40 am

View the Dutch TV interview with Asssange and there is another interview available on youtube in which Assange DOES subtly confirmed it was Seth Rich.

Assange posted a $10,000 reward for Seth Rich's murders capture.

Abby , March 13, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Another mistaken issue with the "Russia hacked the DNC computers on Trump's command" is that he never asked Russia to do that. His words were, "Russia if you 'find' Hillary's missing emails let us know." He said that after she advised congress that she wouldn't be turning in all of the emails they asked for because she deleted 30,000 of them and said that they were personal.

But if Mueller or the FBI wants to look at all of them they can find them at the NYC FBI office because they are on Weiner's laptop. Why? Because Hillary's aid Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife sent them to it. Just another security risk that Hillary had because of her private email server. This is why Comey had to tell congress that more of them had been found 11 days before the election. If Comey hadn't done that then the FBI would have.

But did Comey or McCabe look at her emails there to see if any of them were classified? No they did not do that. And today we find out that Lisa Page told congress that it was Obama's decision not to charge Hillary for being grossly negligent on using her private email server. This has been known by congress for many months and now we know that the fix was always in for her to get off.

robert e williamson jr , March 13, 2019 at 3:26 pm

I want to thank you folks at VIPS. Like I have been saying for years now the relationship between CIA, NSA and DOJ is an incestuous one at best. A perverse corrupted bond to control the masses. A large group of religious fanatics who want things "ONE WAY". They are the facilitators for the rogue government known as the "DEEP STATE"!

Just ask billy barr.

More truth is a very good thing. I believe DOJ is supporting the intelligence community because of blackmail. They can't come clean because they all risk doing lots of time if a new judicial mechanism replaces them. We are in big trouble here.

Apparently the rule of law is not!

You folks that keep claiming we live in the post truth era! Get off me. Demand the truth and nothing else. Best be getting ready for the fight of your lives. The truth is you have to look yourself in the mirror every morning, deny that truth. The claim you are living in the post truth era is an admission your life is a lie. Now grab a hold of yourself pick a dogdamned side and stand for something,.

Thank You VIPS!

Joe Tedesky , March 13, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Hats off to the VIP's who have investigated this Russian hacking that wasn't a hacking for without them what would we news junkies have otherwise to lift open the hood of Mueller's never ending Russia-gate investigation. Although the one thing this Russia-gate nonsense has accomplished is it has destroyed with our freedom of speech when it comes to how we citizens gather our news. Much like everything else that has been done during these post 9/11 years of continual wars our civil rights have been marginalized down to zero or, a bit above if that's even still an argument to be made for the sake of numbers.

Watching the Manafort sentencing is quite interesting for the fact that Manafort didn't conclude in as much as he played fast and loose with his income. In fact maybe Manafort's case should have been prosecuted by the State Department or, how about the IRS? Also wouldn't it be worth investigating other Geopolitical Rain Makers like Manafort for similar crimes of financial wrongdoing? I mean is it possible Manafort is or was the only one of his type to do such dishonest things? In any case Manafort wasn't charged with concluding with any Russians in regard to the 2016 presidential election and, with that we all fall down.

I guess the best thing (not) that came out of this Russia-gate silliness is Rachel Maddow's tv ratings zoomed upwards. But I hate to tell you that the only ones buying what Ms Maddow is selling are the died in the wool Hillary supporters along with the chicken-hawks who rally to the MIC lobby for more war. It's all a game and yet there are many of us who just don't wish to play it but still we must because no one will listen to the sanity that gets ignored keep up the good work VIP's some of us are listening.

Andrew Thomas , March 13, 2019 at 12:42 pm

The article did not mention something called to my attention for the first time by one of the outstanding members of your commentariat just a couple of days ago- that Ambassador Murray stayed publicly, over two years ago, that he had been given the thumb drive by a go-between in D.C. and had somehow gotten it to Wikileaks. And, that he has NEVER BEEN INTERVIEWED by Mueller &Company. I was blown away by this, and found the original articles just by googling Murray. The excuse given is that Murray "lacks credibility ", or some such, because of his prior relationship with Assange and/or Wikileaks. This is so ludicrous I can't even get my head around it. And now, you have given me a new detail-the meeting with Pompeo, and the complete lack of follow-up thereafter. Here all this time I thought I was the most cynical SOB who existed, and now I feel as naive as when I was 13 and believed what Dean Rusk was saying like it was holy writ. I am in your debt.

Bob Van Noy , March 13, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Andrew Thomas I'm afraid that huge amounts of our History post 1947 is organized and propagandized disinformation. There is an incredible page that John Simpkin has organized over the years that specifically addresses individuals, click on a name and read about them. https://spartacus-educational.com/USAdisinformation.htm

Mark McCarty , March 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm

A small correction: the Daily Mail article regarding Murray claimed that Murray was given a thumbdrive which he subsequently carried back to Wikileaks. On his blog, Murray subsequently disputed this part of the story, indicating that, while he had met with a leaker or confederate of a leaker in Washington DC, the Podesta emails were already in possession of Wikileaks at the time. Murray refused to clarify the reason for his meeting with this source, but he is adamant in maintaining that the DNC and Podesta emails were leaked, not hacked.

And it is indeed ludicrous that Mueller, given the mandate to investigate the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Podesta, has never attempted to question either Assange or Murray. That in itself is enough for us to conclude that the Mueller investigation is a complete sham.

Ian Brown , March 13, 2019 at 4:43 pm

It's pretty astonishing that Mueller was more interested in Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi as credible sources about Wikileaks and the DNC release than Craig Murray!

LJ , March 13, 2019 at 12:29 pm

A guy comes in with a pedigree like that, """ former FBI head """ to examine and validate if possible an FBI sting manufactured off a phony FISA indictment based on the Steele Report, It immediately reminded me of the 9-11 Commission with Thomas Kean, former Board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, being appointed by GW Bush the Simple to head an investigation that he had previously said he did not want to authorize( and of course bi partisan yes man Lee Hamilton as #2, lest we forget) . Really this should be seen as another low point in our Democracy. Uncle Sam is the Limbo Man, How low can you go?

After Bill and Hillary and Monica and Paula Jones and Blue Dresses well, Golden Showers in a Moscow luxury hotel, I guess that make it just salacious enough.

Mueller looks just like what he is. He has that same phony self important air as Comey . In 2 years this will be forgotten.. I do not think this hurts Trumps chances at re-election as much as the Democrats are hurting themselves. This has already gone on way too long.

Drew Hunkins , March 13, 2019 at 11:59 am

Mueller has nothing and he well knows it. He was willingly roped into this whole pathetic charade and he's left grasping for anything remotely tied to Trump campaign officials and Russians.

Even the most tenuous connections and weak relationships are splashed across the mass media in breathless headlines. Meanwhile, NONE of the supposed skulduggery unearthed by Mueller has anything to do with the Kremlin "hacking" the election to favor Trump, which was the entire raison d'etre behind Rosenstein, Brennan, Podesta and Mueller's crusade on behalf of the deplorable DNC and Washington militarist-imperialists. It will be fascinating to witness how Mueller and his crew ultimately extricate themselves from this giant fraudulent edifice of deceit. Will they even be able to save the most rudimentary amount of face?

So sickening to see the manner in which many DNC sycophants obsequiously genuflect to their godlike Mueller. A damn prosecutor who was likely in bed with the Winter Hill Gang.

Jack , March 13, 2019 at 12:21 pm

You have failed. An investigation is just that, a finding of the facts. What would Mueller have to extricate himself from? If nothing is found, he has still done his job. You are a divisive idiot.

Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Yes, he has done his job. And his job was to bring his royal Orangeness to heel, and to make sure that detente and co-operation with Russia remained impossible. The forever war continues. Mission Accomplished.

Drew Hunkins , March 13, 2019 at 2:12 pm

@Jack,
Keep running cover for an out of control prosecutor, who, if he had any integrity, would have hit the bully pulpit mos ago declaring there's nothing of substance to one of the most potentially dangerous accusations in world history: the Kremlin hacking the election. Last I checked it puts two nuclear nation-states on the brink of potential war. And you call me divisive? Mueller's now a willing accomplice to this entire McCarthyite smear and disinformation campaign. It's all so pathetic that folks such as yourself try and mislead and feed half-truths to the people.

You're failing Jack, in more ways than you know.

Gregory Herr , March 13, 2019 at 9:13 pm

https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/liberals-are-digging-their-own-grave-with-russiagate-2019-03-08

Drew, you might enjoy this discussion Robert Scheer has with Stephen Cohen and Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Realist , March 15, 2019 at 3:38 am

Moreover, as the Saker pointed out in his most recent column in the Unz Review, the entire Deep State conspiracy, in an ad hoc alliance with the embarrassed and embarrassing Democrats, have made an absolute sham of due process in their blatant witch hunt to bag the president. This reached an apex when his personal lawyer, Mr. Cohen, was trotted out before congress to violate Trump's confidentiality in every mortifying way he could even vaguely reconstruct. The man was expected to say anything to mitigate the anticipated tortures to come in the course of this modern day inquisition by our latter day Torquemada. To his credit though, even with his ass in a sling, he could simply not confabulate the smoking gun evidence for the alleged Russian collusion that this whole farce was built around.

Tom , March 14, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Mueller stood with Bush as he lied the world into war based on lies and illegally spied on America and tortured some folks.

George Collins , March 13, 2019 at 2:02 pm

QED: as to the nexus with the Winter Hill gang wasn't there litigation involving the Boston FBI, condonation of murder by the FBI and damages awarded to or on behalf of convicted parties that the FBI had reason to know were innocent? The malfeasance reportedly occurred during Mueller time. Further on the sanctified diligence of Mr. Mueller can be gleaned from the reports of Coleen Rowley, former FBI attorney stationed in Milwaukee??? when the DC FBI office was ignoring warnings sent about 9/11. See also Sibel Edmonds who knew to much and was court order muzzled about FBI mis/malfeasance in the aftermath of 9/11.

I'd say it's game, set, match VIPS and a pox on Clapper and the complicit intelligence folk complicit in the nuclear loaded Russia-gate fibs.

Kiers , March 13, 2019 at 11:47 am

How can we expect the DNC to "hand it " to Trumpf, when, behind the scenes, THEY ARE ONE PARTY. They are throwing faux-scary pillow bombs at each other because they are both complicit in a long chain of corruptions. Business as usual for the "principled" two party system! Democracy! Through the gauze of corporate media! You must be joking!

Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 11:28 am

"We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of "evidence," particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions."

I wish I shared this belief. However, as with Nancy Pelosi's recent statement regarding pursuing impeachment, I smell a rat. I believe with the help of what the late Robert Parry called "the Mighty Wurlitzer", Mueller is going to use coerced false testimony and fabricated forensics to drop a bombshell the size of 911. I think Nancy's statement was just a feint before throwing the knockout punch.

If reason ruled the day, we should have nothing to worry about. But considering all the perfidy that the so-called "Intelligence" Agencies and their MSM lackeys get away with daily, I think we are in for more theater; and I think VIPS will receive a cold shoulder outside of venues like CN.

I pray to God I'm wrong.

Sam F , March 13, 2019 at 7:32 pm

My extensive experience with DOJ and the federal judiciary establishes that at least 98% of them are dedicated career liars, engaged in organized crime to serve political gangs, and make only a fanatical pretense of patriotism or legality. They are loyal to money alone, deeply cynical and opposed to the US Constitution and laws, with no credibility at all beyond any real evidence.

Eric32 , March 14, 2019 at 4:24 pm

As near I can see, Federal Govt. careers at the higher levels depend on having dirt on other players, and helping, not hurting, the money/power schemes of the players above you.

The Clintons (through their foundation) apparently have a lot of corruption dirt on CIA, FBI etc. top players, some of whom somehow became multi-millionaires during their civil service careers.

Trump, who was only running for President as a name brand marketing ploy with little desire to actually win, apparently came into the Presidency with no dirt arsenal and little idea of where to go from there.

Bob Van Noy , March 13, 2019 at 11:09 am

I remember reading with dismay how Russians were propagandized by the Soviet Press Management only to find out later the depth of disbelief within the Russian population itself. We now know what that feels like. The good part of this disastrous scenario for America is that for careful readers, disinformation becomes revelatory. For instance, if one reads an editorial that refers to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or continually refers to Russian interference in the last Presidential election, then one can immediately dismiss the article and question the motivation for the presentation. Of course the problem is how to establish truth in reporting

Jeff Harrison , March 13, 2019 at 10:41 am

Thank you, VIPs. Hopefully, you don't expect this to make a difference. The US has moved into a post truth, post reality existence best characterized by Karl Rove's declaration: "we're an empire now, when we act, we create our own reality." What Mr. Rove in his arrogance fails to appreciate is that it is his reality but not anyone else's. Thus Pompous can claim that Guaido is the democratic leader in Venezuela even though he's never been elected .

Gary Weglarz , March 13, 2019 at 10:21 am

Thank you. The next time one of my friends or family give me that glazed over stare and utters anymore of the "but, RUSSIA" nonsense I will refer them directly to this article. Your collective work and ethical stand on this matter is deeply appreciated by anyone who values the truth.

Russiagate stands with past government propaganda operations that were simply made up out of thin air: i.e. Kuwaiti incubator babies, WMD's, Gaddafi's viagra fueled rape camps, Assad can't sleep at night unless he's gassing his own people, to the latest, "Maduro can't sleep at night unless he's starving his own people."

The complete and utter amorality of the deep state remains on display for all to see with "Russiagate," which is as fact-free a propaganda campaign as any of those just mentioned.

Marc , March 13, 2019 at 10:13 am

I am a computer naif, so I am prepared to accept the VIPS analysis about FAT and transfer rates. However, the presentation here leaves me with several questions. First, do I understand correctly that the FAT rounding to even numbers is introduced by the thumb drive? And if so, does the FAT analysis show only that the DNC data passed through a thumb drive? That is, does the analysis distinguish whether the DNC data were directly transferred to a thumb drive, or whether the data were hacked and then transferred to a thumb drive, eg, to give a copy to Wikileaks? Second, although the transatlantic transfer rate is too slow to fit some time stamps, is it possible that the data were hacked onto a local computer that was under the control of some faraway agent?

Jeff Harrison , March 13, 2019 at 11:12 am

Not quite. FAT is the crappy storage system developed by Microsoft (and not used by UNIX). The metadata associated with any file gets rewritten when it gets moved. If that movement is to a storage device that uses FAT, the timestamp on the file will end in an even number. If it were moved to a unix server (and most of the major servers run Unix) it would be in the UFS (unix file system) and it would be the actual time from the system clock. Every storage device has a utility that tells it where to write the data and what to write. Since it's writing to a storage device using FAT, it'll round the numbers. To get to your real question, yes, you could hack and then transfer the data to a thumb drive but if you did that the dates wouldn't line up.

Skip Scott , March 14, 2019 at 8:05 am

Jeff-

Which dates wouldn't line up? Is there a history of metadata available, or just metadata for the most recent move?

David G , March 13, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Marc asks: "[D]oes the analysis distinguish whether the DNC data were directly transferred to a thumb drive, or whether the data were hacked and then transferred to a thumb drive, eg, to give a copy to Wikileaks?"

I asked that question in comments under a previous CN piece; other people have asked that question elsewhere.

To my knowledge, it hasn't been addressed directly by the VIPS, and I think they should do so. (If they already have, someone please enlighten me.)

Skip Scott , March 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm

I am no computer wiz, but Binney has repeatedly made the point that the NSA scoops up everything. If there had been a hack, they'd know it, and they wouldn't only have had "moderate" confidence in the Jan. assessment. I believe that although farfetched, an argument could be made that a Russian spy got into the DNC, loaded a thumb drive, and gave it to Craig Murray.

David G , March 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Respectfully, that's a separate point, which may or may not raise issues of its own.

But I think the question Marc posed stands.

Skip Scott , March 14, 2019 at 7:59 am

Hi David-

I don't see how it's separate. If the NSA scoops up everything, they'd have solid evidence of the hack, and wouldn't have only had "moderate" confidence, which Bill Binney says is equivalent to them saying "we don't have squat". They wouldn't even have needed Mueller at all, except to possibly build a "parallel case" due to classification issues. Also, the FBI not demanding direct access to the DNC server tells you something is fishy. They could easily have gotten a warrant to examine the server, but chose not to. They also purposely refuse to get testimony from Craig Murray and Julian Assange, which rings alarm bells on its own.

As for the technical aspect of Marc's question, I agree that I'd like to see Bill Binney directly answer it.

[Mar 17, 2019] VIPS- Mueller's Forensics-Free Findings

Highly recommended!
Mar 13, 2019 | Consortiumnews

The final Mueller report should be graded "incomplete," says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The Attorney General

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Mueller's Forensics-Free Findings

Executive Summary

Media reports are predicting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is about to give you the findings of his probe into any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump. If Mueller gives you his "completed" report anytime soon, it should be graded "incomplete."

Major deficiencies include depending on a DNC-hired cybersecurity company for forensics and failure to consult with those who have done original forensic work, including us and the independent forensic investigators with whom we have examined the data. We stand ready to help.

We veteran intelligence professionals (VIPS) have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

There is an overabundance of "assessments" but a lack of hard evidence to support that prevailing narrative. We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of "evidence," particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions. We know only too well -- and did our best to expose -- how our former colleagues in the intelligence community manufactured fraudulent "evidence" of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

We have scrutinized publicly available physical data -- the "trail" that every cyber operation leaves behind. And we have had support from highly experienced independent forensic investigators who, like us, have no axes to grind. We can prove that the conventional-wisdom story about Russian-hacking-DNC-emails-for-WikiLeaks is false. Drawing largely on the unique expertise of two VIPS scientists who worked for a combined total of 70 years at the National Security Agency and became Technical Directors there, we have regularly published our findings. But we have been deprived of a hearing in mainstream media -- an experience painfully reminiscent of what we had to endure when we exposed the corruption of intelligence before the attack on Iraq 16 years ago.

This time, with the principles of physics and forensic science to rely on, we are able to adduce solid evidence exposing mistakes and distortions in the dominant story. We offer you below -- as a kind of aide-memoire -- a discussion of some of the key factors related to what has become known as "Russia-gate." And we include our most recent findings drawn from forensic work on data associated with WikiLeaks' publication of the DNC emails.

We do not claim our conclusions are "irrefutable and undeniable," a la Colin Powell at the UN before the Iraq war. Our judgments, however, are based on the scientific method -- not "assessments." We decided to put this memorandum together in hopes of ensuring that you hear that directly from us.

If the Mueller team remains reluctant to review our work -- or even to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks' Julian Assange and former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, we fear that many of those yearning earnestly for the truth on Russia-gate will come to the corrosive conclusion that the Mueller investigation was a sham.

In sum, we are concerned that, at this point, an incomplete Mueller report will fall far short of the commitment made by then Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "to ensure a full and thorough investigation," when he appointed Mueller in May 2017. Again, we are at your disposal.

Discussion

The centerpiece accusation of Kremlin "interference" in the 2016 presidential election was the charge that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee emails and gave them to WikiLeaks to embarrass Secretary Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win. The weeks following the election witnessed multiple leak-based media allegations to that effect. These culminated on January 6, 2017 in an evidence-light, rump report misleadingly labeled "Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA)." Prepared by "handpicked analysts" from only three of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, and NSA), the assessment expressed "high confidence" in the Russia-hacking-to-WikiLeaks story, but lacked so much as a hint that the authors had sought access to independent forensics to support their "assessment."

The media immediately awarded the ICA the status of Holy Writ, choosing to overlook an assortment of banal, full-disclosure-type caveats included in the assessment itself -- such as:

" When Intelligence Community analysts use words such as 'we assess' or 'we judge,' they are conveying an analytic assessment or judgment. Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary High confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong."

To their credit, however, the authors of the ICA did make a highly germane point in introductory remarks on "cyber incident attribution." They noted: "The nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. Every kind of cyber operation -- malicious or not -- leaves a trail." [Emphasis added.]

Forensics

The imperative is to get on that "trail" -- and quickly, before red herrings can be swept across it. The best way to establish attribution is to apply the methodology and processes of forensic science. Intrusions into computers leave behind discernible physical data that can be examined scientifically by forensic experts. Risk to "sources and methods" is normally not a problem.

Direct access to the actual computers is the first requirement -- the more so when an intrusion is termed "an act of war" and blamed on a nuclear-armed foreign government (the words used by the late Sen. John McCain and other senior officials). In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in March 2017, former FBI Director James Comey admitted that he did not insist on physical access to the DNC computers even though, as he conceded, "best practices" dictate direct access.

In June 2017, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr asked Comey whether he ever had "access to the actual hardware that was hacked." Comey answered, "In the case of the DNC we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work. " Sen. Burr followed up: "But no content? Isn't content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?" Comey: "It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016."

The "private party/high-class entity" to which Comey refers is CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm of checkered reputation and multiple conflicts of interest, including very close ties to a number of key anti-Russian organizations. Comey indicated that the DNC hired CrowdStrike in the spring of 2016.

Given the stakes involved in the Russia-gate investigation – including a possible impeachment battle and greatly increased tension between Russia and the U.S. -- it is difficult to understand why Comey did not move quickly to seize the computer hardware so the FBI could perform an independent examination of what quickly became the major predicate for investigating election interference by Russia. Fortunately, enough data remain on the forensic "trail" to arrive at evidence-anchored conclusions. The work we have done shows the prevailing narrative to be false. We have been suggesting this for over two years. Recent forensic work significantly strengthens that conclusion.

We Do Forensics

Recent forensic examination of the Wikileaks DNC files shows they were created on 23, 25 and 26 May 2016. (On June 12, Julian Assange announced he had them; WikiLeaks published them on July 22.) We recently discovered that the files reveal a FAT (File Allocation Table) system property. This shows that the data had been transferred to an external storage device, such as a thumb drive, before WikiLeaks posted them.

FAT is a simple file system named for its method of organization, the File Allocation Table. It is used for storage only and is not related to internet transfers like hacking. Were WikiLeaks to have received the DNC files via a hack, the last modified times on the files would be a random mixture of odd-and even-ending numbers.

Why is that important? The evidence lies in the "last modified" time stamps on the Wikileaks files. When a file is stored under the FAT file system the software rounds the time to the nearest even-numbered second. Every single one of the time stamps in the DNC files on WikiLeaks' site ends in an even number.

We have examined 500 DNC email files stored on the Wikileaks site. All 500 files end in an even number -- 2, 4, 6, 8 or 0. If those files had been hacked over the Internet, there would be an equal probability of the time stamp ending in an odd number. The random probability that FAT was not used is 1 chance in 2 to the 500th power. Thus, these data show that the DNC emails posted by WikiLeaks went through a storage device, like a thumb drive, and were physically moved before Wikileaks posted the emails on the World Wide Web.

This finding alone is enough to raise reasonable doubts, for example, about Mueller's indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the DNC emails given to WikiLeaks. A defense attorney could easily use the forensics to argue that someone copied the DNC files to a storage device like a USB thumb drive and got them physically to WikiLeaks -- not electronically via a hack.

Role of NSA

For more than two years, we strongly suspected that the DNC emails were copied/leaked in that way, not hacked. And we said so. We remain intrigued by the apparent failure of NSA's dragnet, collect-it-all approach -- including "cast-iron" coverage of WikiLeaks -- to provide forensic evidence (as opposed to "assessments") as to how the DNC emails got to WikiLeaks and who sent them. Well before the telling evidence drawn from the use of FAT, other technical evidence led us to conclude that the DNC emails were not hacked over the network, but rather physically moved over, say, the Atlantic Ocean.

Is it possible that NSA has not yet been asked to produce the collected packets of DNC email data claimed to have been hacked by Russia? Surely, this should be done before Mueller competes his investigation. NSA has taps on all the transoceanic cables leaving the U.S. and would almost certainly have such packets if they exist. (The detailed slides released by Edward Snowden actually show the routes that trace the packets.)

The forensics we examined shed no direct light on who may have been behind the leak. The only thing we know for sure is that the person had to have direct access to the DNC computers or servers in order to copy the emails. The apparent lack of evidence from the most likely source, NSA, regarding a hack may help explain the FBI's curious preference for forensic data from CrowdStrike. No less puzzling is why Comey would choose to call CrowdStrike a "high-class entity."

Comey was one of the intelligence chiefs briefing President Obama on January 5, 2017 on the "Intelligence Community Assessment," which was then briefed to President-elect Trump and published the following day. That Obama found a key part of the ICA narrative less than persuasive became clear at his last press conference (January 18), when he told the media, "The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to how 'the DNC emails that were leaked' got to WikiLeaks.

Is Guccifer 2.0 a Fraud?

There is further compelling technical evidence that undermines the claim that the DNC emails were downloaded over the internet as a result of a spearphishing attack. William Binney, one of VIPS' two former Technical Directors at NSA, along with other former intelligence community experts, examined files posted by Guccifer 2.0 and discovered that those files could not have been downloaded over the internet. It is a simple matter of mathematics and physics.

There was a flurry of activity after Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016: "We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication." On June 14, DNC contractor CrowdStrike announced that malware was found on the DNC server and claimed there was evidence it was injected by Russians. On June 15, the Guccifer 2.0 persona emerged on the public stage, affirmed the DNC statement, claimed to be responsible for hacking the DNC, claimed to be a WikiLeaks source, and posted a document that forensics show was synthetically tainted with "Russian fingerprints."

Our suspicions about the Guccifer 2.0 persona grew when G-2 claimed responsibility for a "hack" of the DNC on July 5, 2016, which released DNC data that was rather bland compared to what WikiLeaks published 17 days later (showing how the DNC had tipped the primary scales against Sen. Bernie Sanders). As VIPS reported in a wrap-up Memorandum for the President on July 24, 2017 (titled "Intel Vets Challenge 'Russia Hack' Evidence)," forensic examination of the July 5, 2016 cyber intrusion into the DNC showed it NOT to be a hack by the Russians or by anyone else, but rather a copy onto an external storage device. It seemed a good guess that the July 5 intrusion was a contrivance to preemptively taint anything WikiLeaks might later publish from the DNC, by "showing" it came from a "Russian hack." WikiLeaks published the DNC emails on July 22, three days before the Democratic convention.

As we prepared our July 24 memo for the President, we chose to begin by taking Guccifer 2.0 at face value; i. e., that the documents he posted on July 5, 2016 were obtained via a hack over the Internet. Binney conducted a forensic examination of the metadata contained in the posted documents and compared that metadata with the known capacity of Internet connection speeds at the time in the U.S. This analysis showed a transfer rate as high as 49.1 megabytes per second, which is much faster than was possible from a remote online Internet connection. The 49.1 megabytes speed coincided, though, with the rate that copying onto a thumb drive could accommodate.

Binney, assisted by colleagues with relevant technical expertise, then extended the examination and ran various forensic tests from the U.S. to the Netherlands, Albania, Belgrade and the UK. The fastest Internet rate obtained -- from a data center in New Jersey to a data center in the UK -- was 12 megabytes per second, which is less than a fourth of the capacity typical of a copy onto a thumb drive.

The findings from the examination of the Guccifer 2.0 data and the WikiLeaks data does not indicate who copied the information to an external storage device (probably a thumb drive). But our examination does disprove that G.2 hacked into the DNC on July 5, 2016. Forensic evidence for the Guccifer 2.0 data adds to other evidence that the DNC emails were not taken by an internet spearphishing attack. The data breach was local. The emails were copied from the network.

Presidential Interest

After VIPS' July 24, 2017 Memorandum for the President, Binney, one of its principal authors, was invited to share his insights with Mike Pompeo, CIA Director at the time. When Binney arrived in Pompeo's office at CIA Headquarters on October 24, 2017 for an hour-long discussion, the director made no secret of the reason for the invitation: "You are here because the President told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk with you."

Binney warned Pompeo -- to stares of incredulity -- that his people should stop lying about the Russian hacking. Binney then started to explain the VIPS findings that had caught President Trump's attention. Pompeo asked Binney if he would talk to the FBI and NSA. Binney agreed, but has not been contacted by those agencies. With that, Pompeo had done what the President asked. There was no follow-up.

Confronting James Clapper on Forensics

We, the hoi polloi, do not often get a chance to talk to people like Pompeo -- and still less to the former intelligence chiefs who are the leading purveyors of the prevailing Russia-gate narrative. An exception came on November 13, when former National Intelligence Director James Clapper came to the Carnegie Endowment in Washington to hawk his memoir. Answering a question during the Q&A about Russian "hacking" and NSA, Clapper said:

" Well, I have talked with NSA a lot And in my mind, I spent a lot of time in the SIGINT business, the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever." [Emphasis added]

Clapper added: " as a private citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the number of citizens in our country they reached and the different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to think they didn't have a profound impact on election on the outcome of the election."

(A transcript of the interesting Q&A can be found here and a commentary on Clapper's performance at Carnegie, as well as on his longstanding lack of credibility, is here .)

Normally soft-spoken Ron Wyden, Democratic senator from Oregon, lost his patience with Clapper last week when he learned that Clapper is still denying that he lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the extent of NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens. In an unusual outburst, Wyden said: "James Clapper needs to stop making excuses for lying to the American people about mass surveillance. To be clear: I sent him the question in advance. I asked him to correct the record afterward. He chose to let the lie stand."

The materials brought out by Edward Snowden in June 2013 showed Clapper to have lied under oath to the committee on March 12, 2013; he was, nevertheless, allowed to stay on as Director of National Intelligence for three and half more years. Clapper fancies himself an expert on Russia, telling Meet the Press on May 28, 2017 that Russia's history shows that Russians are "typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever."

Clapper ought to be asked about the "forensics" he said were "overwhelming about what the Russians had done." And that, too, before Mueller completes his investigation.

For the steering group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington's justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at Consortiumnews.com.

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Tags: Bill Binney Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Clapper James Comey Mike Pompeo Robert Mueller Veteran Intelligence Professional for Sanity VIPS WikiLeaks


[Mar 09, 2019] Zuckerberg's new 'privacy-focused vision' for Facebook is just PR and damage control by Danielle Ryan

Notable quotes:
"... While it's nice that Zuckerberg has suddenly realized that people value their privacy online, and end-to-end encryption for private conversations is obviously a positive step, his critics aren't entirely buying the new image. One technology writer described the move as "a power grab disguised as an act of contrition." ..."
"... Why? Because the long-winded spiel about the importance of privacy masks the fact that Zuckerberg's real motivation for combining the three services is to stave off efforts by US and EU regulators to force the unbundling of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram and introduce new competition to the market. ..."
Mar 09, 2019 | www.rt.com

Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to rehabilitate Facebook's image. The CEO announced his new "privacy-focused vision" for the social media platform this week – but it looks more like a PR stunt than anything else. "Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks," Zuckerberg wrote . Now, is there anyone who really believes Facebook was built to give people "the freedom to be themselves?"

Zuckerberg does understand, however, why people are questioning Facebook's newfound commitment to privacy, "...because frankly we don't currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services." For a company plagued with privacy scandal after privacy scandal, that seems like a bit of an understatement.

Putting "Privacy-focussed" in the headline is a great strategy, but none of the things mentioned stop Facebook knowing who you are, your location, mobile number, who you're connected to, linking this to other data sets, or following you around the web https://t.co/iKhYUtl4CC pic.twitter.com/UeRRpxWzz2

-- Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) March 6, 2019

Still, reading through Zuckerberg's grand vision for a new kind of privacy-focused Facebook, we are given the impression that the company is about to completely revamp itself from top to bottom – but the only real concrete change proposed is one that critics are already saying might not enhance privacy that much and isn't even really motivated by privacy concerns at all. Essentially, Zuckerberg plans to integrate Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram direct messages to build a kind of single, end-to-end messaging system (which we've actually known-about since January). This change is because he now believes "the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure."

*LOL* So @facebook merges all the data from #Instagram , #WhatsApp and #Facebook , while only encrypting the content data (not the meta data) of Facebook messages and sells the package as a #privacy move - a PR masterpiece and the media falls for it.. 😜😂

-- Max Schrems (@maxschrems) March 7, 2019

While it's nice that Zuckerberg has suddenly realized that people value their privacy online, and end-to-end encryption for private conversations is obviously a positive step, his critics aren't entirely buying the new image. One technology writer described the move as "a power grab disguised as an act of contrition."

Why? Because the long-winded spiel about the importance of privacy masks the fact that Zuckerberg's real motivation for combining the three services is to stave off efforts by US and EU regulators to force the unbundling of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram and introduce new competition to the market.

Does anybody think that Facebook owning Instagram and WhatsApp is a good thing for America, privacy, journalism, or anything except Zuck & shareholders getting rich?

Breaking up Facebook from Instagram and WhatsApp seems like the least radical idea, and I hope we do it soon.

-- Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) March 7, 2019

Zuckerberg is now firmly on a collision course with regulators around the world. Germany's antitrust body ruled last month that Facebook was abusing its dominant position in the market by combining the three services. Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote, has been "obsessed" with creating an "intimate environment" for WhatsApp users. But an "intimate" feeling "environment" isn't really going to cut it. Facebook has already been fined $122 million by the EU for misleading antitrust regulators when it said its WhatsApp acquisition would not mean user information from the two platforms would be combined (which, of course, it was).

Facebook exists primarily to sell advertisements – and its entire business model rests on mining our data to do just that. So while protecting private conversations is a good thing in and of itself, it doesn't appear that anything else fundamental about Facebook will really be changing. Facebook still has a million other ways to get hold of our data and monitor our online activity – and even with stronger messaging encryption, Facebook can still use metadata to tell who we are talking to and when, which is valuable information in itself.

This wasn't Zuckerberg's first effort to redeem himself and do damage control for Facebook and its multiplying privacy scandals – and it certainly won't be his last. A blog post laying out a blueprint for a "privacy-focused" company that doesn't actually exist doesn't mean much. Zuckerberg has been offering apologies left, right and center for the last year.

He doesn't have a great track record when it comes to keeping his promises, though. Plenty of privacy tools Facebook has promised in the past never came to fruition. Remember that "clear history" button that Zuckerberg promised nearly two years ago and users are still waiting for today?

Anyone who thinks Facebook is really going to put its business model at risk, as it scrambles to shield itself from regulators and maintain its monolithic status is more than likely deluded.

Danielle Ryan, RT

Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won't tell you.

See also

[Mar 09, 2019] Government-To-Facebook Pipeline Reveals A Corrupt Mix Of Social Media The State

Mar 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Government-To-Facebook Pipeline Reveals A Corrupt Mix Of Social Media & The State

by Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2019 - 18:40 525 SHARES Authored by Matt Agorist via TheFreeThoughtProject.com,

The next time someone tells you that "Facebook is a private company" ask them if they know about the dozens of government employees who fill its ranks...

As the Free Thought Project has previously reported, the phrase "Facebook is a private company" is not accurate as they have formed a partnership with an insidious neoconservative "think tank" known as the Atlantic Council which is directly funded and made up of groups tied to the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, and even government itself. The Atlantic Council dictates to Facebook who is allowed on the platform and who is purged.

Because the Atlantic Council is funded in part by the United States government -- and they are making decisions for Facebook -- this negates the claim that the company is private.

Since our six million followers and years of hard work were wiped off the platform during the October purge , TFTP has consistently reported on the Atlantic Council and their ties to the social media giant. This week, however, we've discovered something just as ominous -- the government to Facebook pipeline and revolving door.

It is a telltale sign of a corrupt industry or company when they create a revolving door between themselves and the state. Just like Monsanto has former employees on the Supreme Court and Pharmaceutical industry insiders move back and fourth from the FDA to their companies, we found that Facebook is doing the same thing.

Below are just a few of corrupt connections we've discovered while digging through the list of current and former employees within Facebook.

Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy -- aka, the man who doles out the ban hammer to anyone he wishes -- is Nathaniel Gleicher. Before Gleicher was censoring people at Facebook, he prosecuted cybercrime at the U.S. Department of Justice, and served as Director for Cybersecurity Policy at the National Security Council (NSC) in the Obama White House.

While Facebook may have an interest in seeking out Gleicher's expertise, this man is an outspoken advocate of tyranny.

After deleting the pages of hundreds of antiwar and pro-peace media and activist outlets in October, last month, Facebook made another giant move to silence. This time, they had no problem noting that they went after pages whose specific missions were "anti-corruption" or "protest" movements. And it was all headed up by Gleicher.

"Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption ," Gleicher wrote in a blog post.

"We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people."

Seems totally legit, right?

The list goes on.

In 2017, as the Russian/Trump propaganda ramped up, Facebook hired Joel Benenson , a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 presidential campaign, as a consultant.

While filling team Zuck with Obama and Clinton advisers, Facebook hired Aneesh Raman , a former Obama speechwriter who now heads up Facebook's "economic impact programming."

Highlighting the revolving door aspect of Facebook and the US government is Sarah Feinberg who left the Obama train in 2011 to join Facebook as the director of corporate and strategic communications. She then moved on after and went back to Obama in 2015 to act as the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

David Recordon also highlights the revolving door between Facebook and the government. Recordon was the former Director of IT for Obama's White House. He was also Engineering Director at Facebook prior to his role at the White House, and returned to the position after the 2016 election. He is currently Engineering Director for the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative.

Starting to see a pattern of political influence here? You should. But just in case you don't, the list goes on.

Meredith Carden -- who, you guessed, came from the Obama administration -- joined the Facebook clan last year to be a part of Facebook's "News Integrity Team." Now, she's battling fake news on the platform and as we've shown, there is a ridiculous amount of selective enforcement of these so-called "standards."

In fact, there are dozens of former Obama staffers, advisers, and campaign associates who quite literally fill Facebook's ranks. It is no wonder the platform has taken such a political shift over the past few years. David Ploufe, Josh W. Higgins, Lauryn Ogbechie, Danielle Cwirko-Godycki , Sarah Pollack, Ben Forer, Bonnie Calvin , and Juliane Sun , are just some of the many Facebook execs hailing out of the Obama era White House.

But fret not right wingers, Facebook likes their neocons too.

Jamie Fly, who was a top adviser to neocon Florida Senator Marco Rubio and who started his career in US political circles as an adviser to the George W. Bush administration, actually took credit for the massive purge of peaceful antiwar pages that took place last October.

"They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning," Fly said in December.

Fly backs up his words with the fact that he works with Facebook's arm of the Atlantic Council to ensure those dangerous antiwar folks don't keep pushing their propaganda of peace and community.

And yes, this list goes on.

Joel David Kaplan is Facebook's vice president of global public policy. Prior to his major role within Facebook, Kaplan took the place of neocon extraordinaire Karl Rove as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for George W. Bush. Before that, from 2001 to 2003 he was Special Assistant to the President for Policy within the White House Chief of Staff's office. Then he served as Deputy Director of the Office of Management And Budget (OMB).

Myriah Jordan was a special policy assistant in the Bush White House, who was hired on as a policy manager for Facebook's congressional relations team -- aka, a lobbyist. Jordan has moved back and forth between the private sector and the US government multiple times over his career as he's made millions greasing the skids of the state for his corrupt employers.

So there you have it. Facebook, who claims to be a private entity, is quite literally made up of and advised by dozens of members of government. We're ready for a change, are you?


Jung , 1 hour ago link

As q just posted, FB is backed completely by the CIA, so this is all part of still needs to be drained in this swamp where the CIA calls the shots. A lot of people will have to be replaced, not only in the FBI and DOJ where a lot has already happened.

So far, against my early prejudice against Q, all he posted has come true and it has been a news source where facts have found a place.

StarGate , 3 hours ago link

It's been reported Facebook is the 2nd incarnation of DARPA's (US military intel) program "Lifelog". Lifelog stopped one day and Facebook launched the next on the Lifelog platform. Sort of a friendly way to collect everyone's personal data as they mindlessly volunteer it.

So the govt tech geniuses just moved over too.

FGopher , 5 hours ago link

"It is a telltale sign of a corrupt industry or company when they create a revolving door between themselves and the state."

It is also a sign of a corrupt and fascist government.

wolf pup , 7 hours ago link

The revolving door to and from EvilGoogle and the Obama White House never stopped rotating, either. Far more Wh->EvilGoogle back to WH then again EvilGoogle employees than even Facebook. Even the WaPo and NYT wrote of the "peculiar" nature of those employments. It went on for years.

That was BT; Before Trump. Every so often WaPo etc. could still write a few items in a less than fully politicized tone.

I saved several such items as links, but alas, funny thing happened on the way to viewing them; they've been deleted. It was noteworthy in its numbers. Only several months would pass and the original EvilGoogle or WH employees would have come and gone to and from the other.

uhland62 , 7 hours ago link

Where the Atlantic Council has its finger in, there is propaganda and brainwashing.

Before 1989 they had a right to exist as we did not really want the corruption and militarism from the Warsaw Pact countries. Now we have a worse militarism and corruption under the NATO umbrella.

The Atlantic Council is another tool for fleecing us through NATO and by global companies operating from tax havens. (never been on FB)

[Mar 07, 2019] Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you by Dylan Curran

Highly recommended!
Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you've been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone. After reading this you might start sympathizing to Ted Kaczynski ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices . ..."
"... Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep. ..."
"... Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether you're going to be a parent soon, if you're a conservative, if you're a progressive, if you're Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you're feeling depressed or suicidal, if you're anorexic ..."
"... Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you've liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic "girl"). ..."
"... The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to. ..."
Mar 28, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look .

A slice of the data that Facebook keeps on the author: 'This information has millions of nefarious uses.' Photograph: Dylan Curran W ant to freak yourself out? I'm going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it. Google knows where you've been

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you've been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Here is every place I have been in the last 12 months in Ireland. You can see the time of day that I was in the location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices .

Click on this link to see your own data: myactivity.google.com/myactivity

Why have we given up our privacy to Facebook and other sites so willingly?
Google has an advertisement profile of you

Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/settings/ads/

Google knows all the apps you use

Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.

Click on this link to see your own data: security.google.com/settings/secur

Google has all of your YouTube history

Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether you're going to be a parent soon, if you're a conservative, if you're a progressive, if you're Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you're feeling depressed or suicidal, if you're anorexic

Click on this link to see your own data: youtube.com/feed/history/s

The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents

Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. I've requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big , which is roughly 3m Word documents.

Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a diary of everything that person has done

This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos you've taken on your phone, the businesses you've bought from, the products you've bought through Google

They also have data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books you've purchased, the Google groups you're in, the websites you've created, the phones you've owned, the pages you've shared, how many steps you walk in a day

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/takeout

Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too

Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600MB, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents.

This includes every message you've ever sent or been sent, every file you've ever sent or been sent, all the contacts in your phone, and all the audio messages you've ever sent or been sent.

Click here to see your data: https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'A snapshot of the data Facebook has saved on me.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location

Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you've liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic "girl").

Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers you've ever sent on Facebook (I have no idea why they do this. It's just a joke at this stage).

They also store every time you log in to Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device.

And they store all the applications you've ever had connected to your Facebook account, so they can guess I'm interested in politics and web and graphic design, that I was single between X and Y period with the installation of Tinder, and I got a HTC phone in November.

(Side note, if you have Windows 10 installed, this is a picture of just the privacy options with 16 different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows 10)

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Privacy options in Windows 10. Photograph: Dylan Curran They can access your webcam and microphone

The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.

Facebook told me it would act swiftly on data misuse – in 2015 | Harry Davies
Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data

I got the Google Takeout document with all my information, and this is a breakdown of all the different ways they get your information.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'My Google Takeout document.' Photograph: Dylan Curran

Here's the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed (I showed the Pirate Bay section to show how much damage this information can do).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'My search history document has 90,000 different entries.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Google knows which events you attended, and when

Here's my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events I've ever added, whether I actually attended them, and what time I attended them at (this part is when I went for an interview for a marketing job, and what time I arrived).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Here is my Google calendar showing a job interview I attended.' Photograph: Dylan Curran And Google has information you deleted

This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted including my résumé, my monthly budget, and all the code, files and websites I've ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google can know your workout routine

This is my Google Fit, which shows all of the steps I've ever taken, any time I walked anywhere, and all the times I've recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts I've done (I deleted this information and revoked Google Fit's permissions).

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And they have years' worth of photos

This is all the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where I took the photos

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google has every email you ever sent

Every email I've ever sent, that's been sent to me, including the ones I deleted or were categorised as spam.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And there is more

I'll just do a short summary of what's in the thousands of files I received under my Google Activity.

First, every Google Ad I've ever viewed or clicked on, every app I've ever launched or used and when I did it, every website I've ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app I've ever installed or searched for.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'They have every single Google search I've made since 2009.'

They also have every image I've ever searched for and saved, every location I've ever searched for or clicked on, every news article I've ever searched for or read, and every single Google search I've made since 2009. And then finally, every YouTube video I've ever searched for or viewed, since 2008.

This information has millions of nefarious uses. You say you're not a terrorist. Then how come you were googling Isis? Work at Google and you're suspicious of your wife? Perfect, just look up her location and search history for the last 10 years. Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last 10 years.

This is one of the craziest things about the modern age. We would never let the government or a corporation put cameras/microphones in our homes or location trackers on us. But we just went ahead and did it ourselves because – to hell with it! – I want to watch cute dog videos.

NOTE: A caption was corrected on 28 March 2018 to replace "privacy options in Facebook" with "privacy options in Windows 10".

Dylan Curran is a data consultant and web developer, who does extensive research into spreading technical awareness and improving digital etiquette

[Mar 02, 2019] How do you like the NKVD libruls afraid of Trump bringing fascism who were running a gestapo (the FBI wiring tapping other countrys Ministers) on US citizens of the opposing party?

Feb 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ilsm : , February 18, 2017 at 04:45 AM
Vox, what about reporting from a crystal ball requires truth?
Peter K. -> ilsm... , February 18, 2017 at 07:37 AM
The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! Hide under your bed.
ilsm -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 12:42 PM
Flynn could have said something "inappropriate" by a Clintonista definition of "inappropriate", and he "could" be prosecuted under a law designed to muzzle US citizens, that has never been tried bc a Bill of rights argument would win!

How do you like the NKVD libruls afraid of Trump bringing fascism who were running a gestapo (the FBI wiring tapping other country's Ministers) on US citizens of the opposing party?

If the fascists are coming they would keep Obama's FBI!

[Feb 26, 2019] Banning Huawei in the US will hurt US Huawei dealers more than it will hurt Huawei.

Feb 26, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hoarsewhisperer , Feb 24, 2019 1:29:18 PM | link

I'm watching CGTN ... Huawei are telling the Yanks that they can live without the USA market and will NOT allow back doors in their phones; adding that banning Huawei in the US will hurt US Huawei dealers more than it will hurt Huawei. The report also included an Advertorial for the new Huawei folding smart phone. It looks like a 7" tablet when open and folds down the centre with the screen on the OUTSIDE of the closed phone. It can download a 1 Gb movie in 3 (three) seconds and will cost $2600-00, making it the most expensive smartphone on the market.
Sounds like a great big FU AmeriKKKa to me.

[Feb 23, 2019] Smartphone Apps Sending Intensely Personal Information To Facebook - Whether Or Not You Have An Account

Feb 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Smartphone Apps Sending "Intensely Personal Information" To Facebook - Whether Or Not You Have An Account

by Tyler Durden Fri, 02/22/2019 - 18:05 72 SHARES

Facebook has been collecting "intensely personal information" from millions of people - whether they have Facebook accounts or not, according to testing performed by the Wall Street Journal .

According to tests of more than 70 apps using software to monitor internet communications, the Journal found that "the apps often send the data without any prominent or specific disclosure," and that " Facebook software collects data from many apps even if no Facebook account is used to log in and if the end user isn't a Facebook member. "

Eleven of the apps tested sent Facebook "potentially sensitive information about how users behaved or actual data they entered."

For example, Flo Health Inc.'s "Period & Ovulation Tracker" - which boasts 25 million active users, was sending Facebook information on when women were having their periods - or indicated their desire to get pregnant , according to the tests.

Note: After being contacted by the Journal, Flo said it has 'substantially limited' data sharing with third-party analytics services.

Source: Wall Street Journal testing of the app

Other apps found sending Facebook information include; Instant Heart Rate: HR MOnitor, Realtor.com's app, "at least six of the top 15 health and fitness apps" and BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts"

Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, which operate the two dominant app stores, don't require apps to disclose all the partners with whom data is shared. Users can decide not to grant permission for an app to access certain types of information, such as their contacts or locations. But these permissions generally don't apply to the information users supply directly to apps, which is sometimes the most personal.

In the Journal's testing, Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, the most popular heart-rate app on Apple's iOS, made by California-based Azumio Inc., sent a user's heart rate to Facebook immediately after it was recorded . - Wall Street Journal

Facebook told The Journal that some of the data sharing uncovered by the tests violate its business terms , by which app developers are instructed not to send "health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information." The company has notified app developers identified in the tests to stop sending sensitive information to them, and it may take additional steps if the apps don't adhere to their requests.

""We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us," said a Facebook spokeswoman. In other words, they're sorry they got caught and are now on a finger-wagging campaign.

Apple and Google had relatively lawyerly responses to the investigation; Apple said its guidelines require apps to seek "prior user consent" before collecting user data, adding "When we hear of any developer violating these strict privacy terms and guidelines, we quickly investigate and, if necessary, take immediate action." Google declined to comment - pointing to the company's policy requiring that apps which handle sensitive data prominently "disclose the type of parties to which any personal or sensitive user data is shared."

Flo initially said in a written statement that it doesn't send "critical user data" and that the data it does send Facebook is "depersonalized" to keep it private and secure.

The Journal's testing, however, showed sensitive information was sent with a unique advertising identifier that can be matched to a device or profile. A Flo spokeswoman subsequently said the company will "substantially limit" its use of external analytics systems while it conducts a privacy audit.

Move, the owner of real-estate app Realtor.com -- which sent information to Facebook about properties that users liked, according to the Journal's tests -- said "we strictly adhere to all local, state and federal requirements," and that its privacy policy "clearly states how user information is collected and shared." The policy says the app collects a variety of information, including content in which users are interested, and may share it with third parties. It doesn't mention Facebook. - Wall Street Journal

"This is a big mess," said Disconnect's chief technology officer Patrick Johnson, who analyzed apps for the Journal analysis. "This is completely independent of the functionality of the app."

While the software used by the Journal wasn't able to decipher specific content sent by Android apps, Defensive Lab Agency's Esther Onfroy found in a separate test that at least one Android app flagged by the Journal - BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts, shared users' weights and heights with Facebook almost immediately after they were entered.

How is this possible?

Apps often incorporate code known as software-development kits (SDKs) which allow developers to integrate various features or functions across platforms. One of these is Facebook's SDK - which allow apps to collect data for targeted advertising or to allow apps to beter understand user behavior.

Facebook's SDK, which is contained in thousands of apps, includes an analytics service called "App Events" that allows developers to look at trends among their users. Apps can tell the SDK to record a set of standardized actions taken by users, such as when a user completes a purchase. App developers also can define "custom app events" for Facebook to capture -- and that is how the sensitive information the Journal detected was sent.

Facebook says on its website it uses customer data from its SDK, combined with other data it collects, to personalize ads and content, as well as to "improve other experiences on Facebook, including News Feed and Search content ranking capabilities." - Wall Street Journal

A Facebook spokeswoman said that Facebook is now looking into how to search for apps violating its data sharing terms, and will build safeguards to prevent the company from storing any sensitive data which may be provided by apps.

Last year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the company would create a "Clear History" feature to allow users to analyze data which had been collected about them from various apps and websites - and then delete it from Facebook.

We're still waiting on that...


Thom Paine , 3 minutes ago link

keep a separate camera

message via Wickr

Use a VPN on phone and PC

encrypt all personal data immediately (cards, passwords etc) and keep under two factor security (I do this)

If you use your phone as camera disconnect from networks first, then bluetooth to somewhere else, delete - if you are photographing the misstress.

me or you , 14 minutes ago link

Time for all of you to consider an Open Source Android OS.

- /e/

- UbuntuTouch

- LineageOS for MicroG

I've been using /e/ for almost a year already and all my apps are Open Source...I don't nedd Google for anything.

smacker , 18 minutes ago link

Solution's easy. Shut down Phacephuq and deal with Zuckerslimeberg.

GeezerGeek , 22 seconds ago link

Try Linux. Create multiple user accounts. Use a VPN. If you do wireless, use a few extra cheap wireless USB devices to swap MACs. On a wired (ethernet) connection, see if you can sometimes use wireless, and vice versa. Use different size monitors. It's frightening what your PC tells the rest of the world about your system so web sites know what to send you.

For linux, use Ubuntu because more people use that than any other distro, I think. That is part of what gets sent out when you connect to the internet.

You may want to load up VirtualBox and create a handful of different virtual machines. That, too, can add to the confusion.

Alternate solution: read a book.

Rockwell , 32 minutes ago link

Surveilo Capitalism at its finest. This won't stop until blood is spilt.

itstippy , 1 hour ago link

Some clever hacking group is going to start massively corrupting Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Alphabet data (and thus NSA data) instead of stealing it. It can't be too difficult to submit bogus data if these idiot data collectors are so cavalier about their sources that they accept info from "Flo Health Inc."

Send 'em intel on Maxine Water's preferred brand of cigars, Donald Trump's menstrual cycle, Ralph Crandon's interest in high end Manhattan real estate, Carrot Top's NASCAR obsession, Mitch McConnel's "How To Make A Bomb" searches, that kind of thing, only on a grand scale. Make the databases so corrupted that they're utterly unreliable and useless to advertisers and spooks.

yourlifeisamyth , 1 hour ago link

You are the product... but then do you really care?

Lucky Guesst , 1 hour ago link

My daughter and her husband have this experiment where they pick a random product that they don't own and have never researched online. They start saying the name of that item out loud randomly when they are on the phone with each other. Two out of the three times they started getting ads for that item on FB. I'm still working on getting her to delete FB.

Consuelo , 1 hour ago link

Most of the know-nothings using this waste of time & space don't know what the F they care about, other than that their daily hedonistic rituals of eating, entertaining and cell-phoning aren't interrupted by a bolt of clear thinking.

[Feb 18, 2019] Facebook labelled 'digital gangsters' by report on fake news Technology by David Pegg

Notable quotes:
"... The report accuses Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook's co-founder and chief executive, of contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee's questions. ..."
Feb 18, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Company broke privacy and competition law and should be regulated urgently, say MPs

Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as "digital gangsters".

The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee's 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections.

"Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised 'dark adverts' from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day," warned the committee's chairman, Damian Collins.

The report accuses Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook's co-founder and chief executive, of contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee's questions.

Warns British electoral law is unfit for purpose and vulnerable to interference by hostile foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government attempting to discredit democracy. Calls on the British government to establish an independent investigation into "foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation and the sharing of data" in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 general election.

[Feb 12, 2019] Snowden revelations did not chnage thebahviour of JoeUser

Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Despite the Snowden revelations of the extent of official data gathering and storage on individuals, the overwhelming majority of citizens have not only resigned themselves to electronic surveillance but are putting themselves in a position to have their habits examined microscopically by bringing eavesdropping digital assistants into their home and buying "smart" home appliances.

[Feb 09, 2019] Facebook The Government's Propaganda Arm

Feb 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation,

The social media giant has a disturbing number of former Obama officials in key positions of authority over content...

Imagine for a moment what it would look like if the federal government launched its own social media network. Every day, Americans could freely use the platform to express their views on everything from economic theory to the best tips for baking peanut butter cookies. They could even discuss their political views and debate the important issues of the day.

But what if the government were empowered to determine which political views are appropriate and which are too obscene for the American public? Well, it looks like this is already happening. Of course, the state has not created a social media network; they didn't have to. It appears the government is using Facebook – the world's largest social media company – to sway public opinion.

The Government's Fingers In Facebook

The Free Thought Project recently published a report revealing that Facebook has some troubling ties to the federal government and that this connection could be enabling former state officials to influence the content displayed. The social media provider has partnered with various think tanks which receive state funding, while hiring an alarming number of individuals who have held prominent positions in the federal government.

Facebook recently announced their partnership with the Atlantic Council – which is partly funded by tax dollars – to ensure that users are presented with quality news stories. And by "quality," it seems that they mean "progressive." The council is well known for promoting far-left news sources, including the Xinhua News Agency, which was founded by the Communist Party of China. Well, that's reassuring. What red-blooded American capitalist doesn't want to get the news from a communist regime?

But there one aspect of this story is even more troubling: the government-to-Facebook pipeline. The company has employed a significant number of former officials in positions that grant them influence over what content is allowed on the platform.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy, prosecuted cybercrimes at the Department of Justice under President Obama. Now, he is responsible for determining who gets banned or suspended from the network. But that's not the worst of it. He also spearheaded the company's initiative to scrub anti-war content and "protest" movements. In a blog post, Gleicher wrote: "Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption." He continued, "We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people."

The company has also hired others who served in key positions in the Obama administration. Some of these include:

To make things more interesting, Facebook has also hired neocons to help them determine the type of content that is being published. So if you happen to be a conservative that isn't too crazy about interventionism, your views are not as welcome on the network as others. After all, how many times have you heard of people being banned for posting pro-war or socialist propaganda?

Are Private Companies Truly Private?

The notion that government officials could be using positions of power in the private industry to advance a statist agenda is disturbing, but the fact that most Americans are unaware of this is far worse. It would be inaccurate to argue that the government is controlling Facebook's content, but the level of the state's involvement in the world's biggest social media company is a disturbing development.

This is not the only case of state officials becoming involved with certain industries. This trend is rampant in the certain industries in which individuals move back and forth between private organizations and the FDA. For example, Monsanto, an agricultural and agrochemical company, has been under scrutiny for its ties to the federal government.

It is not clear if there is anything that can be done to counteract inappropriate relations between the government and certain companies – especially organizations with the level of influence enjoyed by the likes of Facebook. But it essential that the public is made aware of these relations, otherwise the state will continue to exert influence over society – with Americans none the wiser.

[Feb 08, 2019] Amazing that a bunch of academics would "criticize" the CIA and leave out all the real facts about the CIA.

Feb 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

never-anonymous , says: Next New Comment February 8, 2019 at 9:26 pm GMT

Edward Curtain writes for the CIA about the CIA. Amazing that a bunch of academics would "criticize" the CIA and leave out all the real facts about the CIA.

ISIS, Al Qaeda, Pornhub, Facebook, Google – or whatever the CIA calls themselves and their weapons isn't in the business of informing you about anything at all.

Read 1984, it will explain it to you, another psychological warfare treatise written by a Government agent.

Agent76 , says: Next New Comment February 8, 2019 at 10:03 pm GMT
Documentary: On Company Business [1980] FULL [Remaster]

Rare award winning CIA documentary, On Company Business painfully restored from VHS.

[Feb 08, 2019] The CIA Then and Now Old Wine in New Bottles by Edward Curtin

Intelligence agencies like CIA is a threat to "normal" societies as they tend to acquire power with time and tail start wagging the dog. Mechanism of control are usually subverted and considerable part of their activities is dome without informing "supervisory" structures.
In the USA sometimes CIA monitor Congress communications and tries to coerce them like was the case when the torture program was revealed. In other words intelligence agencies are the core neofascist structures in modern society and as such represent a distinct danger.
Notable quotes:
"... Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. ..."
"... The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad. ..."
"... Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves. But they are pimps. ..."
"... Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought. ..."
"... The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. ..."
"... Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth? ..."
Feb 08, 2019 | www.unz.com
Edward Curtin • January 31, 2019 • 3,100 Words • 24 CommentsReply

...The Nazis had a name for their propaganda and mind-control operations: weltanschauungskrieg -- "world view warfare." As good students, they had learned many tricks of the trade from their American teachers, including Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d'etre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological warfare," a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now. Of course, the American propaganda apparatus was just then getting started on an enterprise that has become the epitome of successful world view warfare programs, a colossal beast whose tentacles have spread to every corner of the globe and whose fabrications have nestled deep within the psyches of many hundreds of millions of Americans and people around the world. And true to form in this circle game of friends helping friends, this propaganda program was ably assisted after WW II by all the Nazis secreted into the U.S. ("Operation Paperclip") by Allen Dulles and his henchmen in the OSS and then the CIA to make sure the U.S. had operatives to carry on the Nazi legacy (see David Talbot's The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA, and The Rise of America's Secret Government , an extraordinary book that will make your skin crawl with disgust).

This went along quite smoothly until some people started to question the Warren Commission's JFK assassination story. The CIA then went on the offensive in 1967 and put out the word to all its people in the agency and throughout the media and academia to use the phrase "conspiracy theory" to ridicule these skeptics, which they have done up until the present day. This secret document -- CIA Dispatch 1035-960 -- was a propaganda success for many decades, marginalizing those researchers and writers who were uncovering the truth about not just President Kennedy's murder by the national security state, but those of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. Today, the tide is turning on this score, as recently more and more Americans are fed up with the lies and are demanding that the truth be told. Even the Washington Post is noting this, and it is a wave of opposition that will only grow.

The CIA Exposed -- Partially

But back in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, some covert propaganda programs run by the CIA were "exposed." First, the Agency's sponsorship of the Congress of Cultural Freedom, through which it used magazines, prominent writers, academics, et al. to spread propaganda during the Cold War, was uncovered. This was an era when Americans read serious literary books, writers and intellectuals had a certain cachet, and popular culture had not yet stupefied Americans. The CIA therefore secretly worked to influence American and world opinion through the literary and intellectual elites. Frances Stonor Saunders comprehensively covers this in her 1999 book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters , and Joel Whitney followed this up in 2016 with Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers, with particular emphasis on the complicity of the CIA and the famous literary journal The Paris Review.

Then in 1975 the Church Committee hearings resulted in the exposure of abuses by the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. In 1977 Carl Bernstein wrote a long piece for Esquire -- "The CIA and the Media" -- naming names of journalists and publications ( The New York Times, CBS , etc.) that worked with and for the CIA in propagandizing the American people and the rest of the world. (Conveniently, this article can be read on the CIA's website since presumably the agency has come clean, or, if you are the suspicious type, or maybe a conspiracy theorist, it is covering its deeper tracks with a "limited hangout," defined by former CIA agent Victor Marchetti, who went rogue, as "spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting -- sometimes even volunteering -- some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.")

Confess and Move On

By the late 1970s, it seemed as if the CIA had been caught in flagrante delicto and disgraced, had confessed its sins, done penance, and resolved to go and sin no more. Seeming, however, is the nature of the CIA's game. Organized criminals learn to adapt to the changing times, and that is exactly what the intelligence operatives did. Since the major revelations of the late sixties and seventies -- MKUltra, engineered coups all around the world, assassinations of foreign leaders, spying on Americans, etc. -- no major program of propaganda has been exposed in the mainstream media. Revealing books about certain CIA programs have been written -- e.g. Douglas Valentine's important The Phoenix Program being one -- and dissenting writers, journalists, researchers, and whistleblowers (Robert Parry, Gary Webb, Julian Assange, James W. Douglass, David Ray Griffin, Edward Snowden, et al.) have connected the U.S. intelligence services to dirty deeds and specific actions, such as the American engineered coup d'état in Ukraine in 2013-14, electronic spying, and the attacks of September 11, 2001.

But the propaganda has for the most part continued unabated at a powerful and esoteric cultural level, while illegal and criminal actions are carried out throughout the world in the most blatant manner imaginable, as if to say fuck you openly while insidiously infecting the general population through the mass electronic screen culture that has relegated intellectual and literary culture to a tiny minority.

Planning Ahead

Let me explain what I think has been happening.

Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations. The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.

Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves. But they are pimps.

... ... ...

Methods of Propaganda

Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought.

The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. The gun goes off, and the entranced one can't remember why (see: Sirhan Sirhan). This is the goal of mass hypnotization through long-term propaganda: confusion, memory loss, and automatic reaction to suggestion.

Intelligence Pimps and Liquid Screen Culture

When the CIA's dirty tricks were made public in the 1970s, it is not hard to imagine that the intellectual pimps who do their long-range thinking were asked to go back to the drawing board and paint a picture of the coming decades and how business as usual could be conducted without further embarrassment. By that time it had become clear that intellectual or high culture was being swallowed by mass culture and the future belonged to electronic screen culture and images, not words. What has come to be called "postmodernity" ensued, or what the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls "liquid modernity" and Guy Debord "the society of the spectacle." Such developments, rooted in what Frederic Jameson has termed "the cultural logic of late capitalism," have resulted in the fragmentation of social and personal life into pointillistic moving pictures whose dots form incoherent images that sow mass confusion and do not cohere.

... ... ...

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/


renfro , says: February 8, 2019 at 6:53 am GMT

But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations. The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.

Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth?

... ... ...

Michael Kenny , says: February 8, 2019 at 10:36 am GMT
Is the author saying anything other than the CIA operates like all other intelligence agencies? Does he really think his readers don't know that?
Commentator Mike , says: February 8, 2019 at 11:32 am GMT
Under "The CIA Exposed" could have mentioned Philip Agee's "Inside the Company" as he was the Edward Snowden of his day.

Interestingly, CIA agent Miles Copeland, Jr., the father of the drummer of the British band "The Police", said the book was "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere" and that it is "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British 'case officer' operates

All of it is presented with deadly accuracy."

(ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Agee )

Jake , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:22 pm GMT

" Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d'etre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological warfare," a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now."

The Yank propaganda machine always was an alliance between WASP Elites and Jews. Always. The Yank WASPs knew that Brit and British Commonwealth WASPs had done the same thing: make alliance to rule the world, which featured – not a bug but a feature – new ways to use psy ops to pervert the vast majority of white Christians they ruled.

Until that is understood, which means accepting that WASP culture itself is a problem as big as Jews and Jewish culture, all that is done in opposition to all that is horrendously wrong today is wasted time and energy.

Jake , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:28 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX The CIA is a British creation, just like Israel's Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency.

The CIA is a pure WASP Elite creation. It always has served the interests of the WASP Elite, in the UK and the rest of the Anglosphere as well the US. And the CIA always has served the interests of Jews and Israel, because that makes perfect sense for WASP culture, which was formed fully, completed, by the Judaizing heresy Anglo-Saxon Puritanism.

Judaizing heresy guarantees pro-Jewish politics and culture.

AWM , says: February 8, 2019 at 2:48 pm GMT
James Jesus Angleton
This guy had it figured out.
Insert Fake Iriish Name here , says: February 8, 2019 at 3:38 pm GMT
Sean, Who else, is here first with the CIA line, "CIA works for the president!" CIA shoehorned that into the Pike Committee report right after Don Gregg visited the committees and gave them an ultimatum: back off or it's martial law.

Then Sean mouths a bit of bureaucratic bafflegab about feasibility.

The feasibility of CIA crime is a product of CIA impunity. So next Sean feeds you more CIA boilerplate by trying to pathologize anyone who's aware of CIA impunity through formal legal pretexts in municipal law. John Bolton, Trump's CIA ventriloquist, had one prime directive as unauthorized UN ambassador: remove any reference to impunity from the Summit Outcome Document. To that end he submitted 600+ NeoSoviet amendments to paralyze the drafting process.

That's how touchy CIA is about its impunity. CIA is the state, with illegal absolute sovereignty because they can kill you or torture you and get away with it.

If you're John Kennedy, if you're Robert Kennedy, if you're Dag Hammarskjöld, if you're Judge Robert Vance. No matter who you are.

[Feb 02, 2019] One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Secretly Sharing Data With The FBI

Feb 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Just one week ago, we warned that the government -- helped by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget) -- was embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

As it turns out we were right, but we forgot one key spoke of the government's campaign to collect genetic information from as many individuals as possible: "innocent", commercial companies, who not only collect DNA from willing clients, but are also paid for it.

FamilyTreeDNA, one of the pioneers of the growing market for "at home", consumer genetic testing, confirmed a report from BuzzFeed that it has quietly granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to its vast trove of nearly 2 million genetic profiles.

... ... ...

Worse, it did so secretly, without obtaining prior permission from its users.

The move is of significant concern to much more than just privacy-minded FamilyTreeDNA customers. As Bloomberg notes, one person sharing genetic information also exposes those to whom they are closely related. That's how police caught the alleged Golden State Killer. And here is a stunning statistics - according to a 2018 study, only 2% of the population needs to have done a DNA test for virtually everyone's genetic information to be represented in that data.

[Jan 29, 2019] US steps up offensive against China with more "hacking charges" by Mike Head

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Sections of the Chinese regime responded belligerently to the accusations. An editorial in the state-owned Global Times ..."
"... The editorial asked: "Assuming China is so powerful that it has stolen technological information for over a decade that is supposedly worth over a trillion in intellectual property, as the US has indicated, then how is it that China still lags behind the US in so many fields, from chips to electric vehicles, and even aviation engines?" ..."
Dec 21, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Further escalating its economic and strategic offensive to block China from ever challenging its post-World War II hegemony, the US government yesterday unveiled its fifth set of economic espionage charges against Chinese individuals since September.

As part of an internationally-coordinated operation, the US Justice Department on Thursday published indictments of two Chinese men who had allegedly accessed confidential commercial data from US government agencies and corporate computers in 12 countries for more than a decade.

The announcement represents a major intensification of the US ruling class's confrontation against China, amid a constant build-up of unsubstantiated allegations against Beijing by both the Republican and Democrat wings of Washington's political establishment.

Via salacious allegations of "hacking" on a "vast scale," every effort is being made by the ruling elite and its media mouthpieces to whip up anti-China hysteria.

The indictment's release was clearly politically timed. It was accompanied by a global campaign by the US and its allies, accusing the Chinese government of an illegal cyber theft operation to damage their economies and supplant the US as the world's "leading superpower."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen immediately issued a statement accusing China of directing "a very real threat to the economic competitiveness of companies in the United States and around the globe."

Within hours, US allies around the world put out matching statements, joined by declarations of confected alarm by their own cyber-warfare and hacking agencies.

The Washington Post called it "an unprecedented mass effort to call out China for its alleged malign acts." The coordination "represents a growing consensus that Beijing is flouting international norms in its bid to become the world's predominant economic and technological power."

The Australian government, the closest ally of the US in the Indo-Pacific region, was in the forefront. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton explicitly accused the Chinese government and its Ministry of State Security (MSS) of being responsible for "a global campaign of cyber-enabled commercial intellectual property theft."

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, called the Chinese cyber campaign "shocking and outrageous." Such pronouncements, quickly emblazoned in media headlines around the world, destroy any possibility of anything resembling a fair trial if the two men, named as Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, are ever detained by US agencies and brought before a court.

The charges themselves are vaguely defined. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused the men of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Zhu and Zhang acted "in association with" the MSS, as part of a hacking squad supposedly named "APT1o" or "Stone Panda," the indictment said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray called a news conference to issue another inflammatory statement against China. Pointing to the real motivations behind the indictments, he declared: "China's goal, simply put, is to replace the US as the world's leading superpower, and they're using illegal methods to get there."

Coming from the head of the US internal intelligence agency, this further indicates the kinds of discussions and planning underway within the highest echelons of the US political and military-intelligence apparatus to prepare the country, ideologically and militarily, for war against China.

Washington is determined to block President Xi Jinping's "Made in China 2025" program that aims to ensure China is globally competitive in hi-tech sectors such as robotics and chip manufacture, as well as Beijing's massive infrastructure plans, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, to link China with Europe across Eurasia.

The US ruling class regards these Chinese ambitions as existential threats because, if successful, they would undermine the strategic position of US imperialism globally, and the economic dominance of key American corporations.

Yesterday's announcement seemed timed to fuel tensions between Washington and Beijing, after the unprecedented December 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, in Canada at the request of the US.

Last weekend, US Vice President Mike Pence again accused China of "intellectual property theft." These provocations came just weeks after the US and Chinese administrations agreed to talks aimed at resolving the tariff and trade war launched by US President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration is demanding structural changes to China's state-led economic model, greater Chinese purchases of American farm and industrial products and a halt to "coercive" joint-venture licensing terms. These demands would severely undermine the "Made in China 2025" program.

Since September, US authorities have brought forward five sets of espionage allegations. In late October, the Justice Department unsealed charges against 10 alleged Chinese spies accused of conspiring to steal sensitive commercial secrets from US and European companies.

Earlier in October, the US government disclosed another unprecedented operation, designed to produce a show trial in America. It revealed that a Chinese citizen, accused of being an intelligence official, had been arrested in Belgium and extradited on charges of conspiring to commit "economic espionage" and steal trade secrets.

The extradition was announced days after the Pentagon released a 146-page document, titled "Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States," which made clear Washington is preparing for a total war effort against both China and Russia.

Trump, Pence and Wray then all declared China to be the greatest threat to America's economic and military security. Trump accused China of interfering in the US mid-term elections in a bid to remove him from office. In a speech, Pence said Beijing was directing "its bureaucrats and businesses to obtain American intellectual property -- the foundation of our economic leadership -- by any means necessary."

Whatever the truth of the spying allegations against Chinese citizens -- and that cannot be assumed -- any such operations would hardly compare with the massive global intrigue, hacking, regime-change and military operations directed by the US agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA) and its "Five Eyes" partners.

These have been exposed thoroughly by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Leaked documents published by WikiLeaks revealed that the CIA has developed "more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses and other 'weaponized' malware," allowing it to seize control of devices, including Apple iPhones, Google's Android operating system, devices running Microsoft Windows, smart TVs and possibly the control of cars and trucks.

In an attempt to broaden its offensive against China, the US government said that along with the US and its Five Eyes partners, such as Britain, Canada and Australia, the countries targeted by the alleged Chinese plot included France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland.

Chinese hackers allegedly penetrated managed services providers (MSPs) that provide cybersecurity and information technology services to government agencies and major firms. Finance, telecommunications, consumer electronics and medical companies were among those said to be targeted, along with military and US National Aeronautics and Space Administration laboratories.

Sections of the Chinese regime responded belligerently to the accusations. An editorial in the state-owned Global Times branded them "hysterical" and a warning sign of a "comprehensive" US attack on China.

The editorial asked: "Assuming China is so powerful that it has stolen technological information for over a decade that is supposedly worth over a trillion in intellectual property, as the US has indicated, then how is it that China still lags behind the US in so many fields, from chips to electric vehicles, and even aviation engines?"

The Global Times declared that "instead of adhering to a low-profile strategy, China must face these provocations and do more to safeguard national interests."

The promotion of Chinese economic and militarist nationalism by a mouthpiece of the Beijing regime is just as reactionary as the nationalist xenophobia being stoked by the ruling elite of American imperialism and its allies. The answer to the evermore open danger of war is a unified struggle by the international working class to end the outmoded capitalist profit system and nation-state divisions and establish a socialist society.

Ron Ruggieri13 hours ago

ANY rational person would think : a nation like USA TODAY which can name a different ENEMY every other week is clearly SICK, led by sociopaths. China ? Russia, Iran, North Korea ? Venezuela ? ( all fail to live up to the high moral standards of " OUR democracy " ?)
How are any of these countries a greater threat to YOU than the local Democratic or Republican party hacks ?
If YOU think that so many people hate you , would it not make sense to ask if there is perhaps something wrong with YOU ?
Lidiya17 hours ago
Imperialism means wars, as usual, Lenin was right in his polemics against Kautsky.

[Jan 25, 2019] Big Tech Merging With Big Brother Is A Big Problem

Jan 25, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Big Tech Merging With Big Brother Is A Big Problem

by Tyler Durden Thu, 01/24/2019 - 23:25 48 SHARES Authored by David Samuels, Excerpted from Wired.com,

A FRIEND OF mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People's Republic of China, was walking to work.

WHEN HE OFFERED to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she "needed the steps" on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating , which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China's social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party's plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one's social rating.

Personal "creditworthiness" or "trustworthiness" points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a "green channel," where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be "unable to move a step."

Big Brother is an emerging reality in China. Yet in the West, at least, the threat of government surveillance systems being integrated with the existing corporate surveillance capacities of big-data companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon into one gigantic all-seeing eye appears to trouble very few people -- even as countries like Venezuela have been quick to copy the Chinese model.

Still, it can't happen here, right? We are iPhone owners and Amazon Prime members, not vassals of a one-party state. We are canny consumers who know that Facebook is tracking our interactions and Google is selling us stuff.

Yet it seems to me there is little reason to imagine that the people who run large technology companies have any vested interest in allowing pre-digital folkways to interfere with their 21st-century engineering and business models , any more than 19th-century robber barons showed any particular regard for laws or people that got in the way of their railroads and steel trusts.

Nor is there much reason to imagine that the technologists who run our giant consumer-data monopolies have any better idea of the future they're building than the rest of us do.

Facebook, Google, and other big-data monopolists already hoover up behavioral markers and cues on a scale and with a frequency that few of us understand . They then analyze, package, and sell that data to their partners.

A glimpse into the inner workings of the global trade in personal data was provided in early December in a 250-page report released by a British parliamentary committee that included hundreds of emails between high-level Facebook executives. Among other things, it showed how the company engineered sneaky ways to obtain continually updated SMS and call data from Android phones . In response, Facebook claimed that users must "opt-in" for the company to gain access to their texts and calls.

The machines and systems that the techno-monopolists have built are changing us faster than they or we understand. The scale of this change is so vast and systemic that we simple humans can't do the math -- perhaps in part because of the way that incessant smartphone use has affected our ability to pay attention to anything longer than 140 or 280 characters.

As the idea of a "right to privacy," for example, starts to seem hopelessly old-fashioned and impractical in the face of ever-more-invasive data systems -- whose eyes and ears, i.e., our smartphones, follow us everywhere -- so has our belief that other individual rights, like freedom of speech , are somehow sacred.

Being wired together with billions of other humans in vast networks mediated by thinking machines is not an experience that humans have enjoyed before. The best guides we have to this emerging reality may be failed 20th-century totalitarian experiments and science fiction. More on that a little later.

The speed at which individual-rights-and-privacy-based social arrangements collapse is likely to depend on how fast Big Tech and the American national security apparatus consummate a relationship that has been growing ever closer for the past decade. While US surveillance agencies do not have regular real-time access to the gigantic amounts of data collected by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- as far as we know, anyway -- there is both anecdotal and hard evidence to suggest that the once-distant planets of consumer Big Tech and American surveillance agencies are fast merging into a single corporate-bureaucratic life-world, whose potential for tracking, sorting, gas-lighting, manipulating, and censoring citizens may result in a softer version of China's Big Brother.

These troubling trends are accelerating in part because Big Tech is increasingly beholden to Washington, which has little incentive to kill the golden goose that is filling its tax and political coffers. One of the leading corporate spenders on lobbying services in Washington, DC, in 2017 was Google's parent company, Alphabet, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, spent more than $18 million . Lobbying Congress and government helps tech companies like Google win large government contracts. Perhaps more importantly, it serves as a shield against attempts to regulate their wildly lucrative businesses.

If anything, measuring the flood of tech dollars pouring into Washington, DC, law firms, lobbying outfits, and think tanks radically understates Big Tech's influence inside the Beltway. By buying The Washington Post , Amazon's Jeff Bezos took direct control of Washington's hometown newspaper. In locating one of Amazon's two new headquarters in nearby Northern Virginia, Bezos made the company a major employer in the area -- with 25,000 jobs to offer.

Who will get those jobs? Last year, Amazon Web Services announced the opening of the new AWS Secret Region, the result of a 10-year, $600 million contract the company won from the CIA in 2014. This made Amazon the sole provider of cloud services across "the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret," according to an Amazon corporate press release.

Once the CIA's Amazon-administered self-contained servers were up and running, the NSA was quick to follow suit, announcing its own integrated big-data project. Last year the agency moved most of its data into a new classified computing environment known as the Intelligence Community GovCloud, an integrated "big data fusion environment," as the news site NextGov described it, that allows government analysts to "connect the dots" across all available data sources, whether classified or not.

The creation of IC GovCloud should send a chill up the spine of anyone who understands how powerful these systems can be and how inherently resistant they are to traditional forms of oversight, whose own track record can be charitably described as poor .

Amazon's IC GovCloud was quickly countered by Microsoft's secure version of its Azure Government cloud service, tailored for the use of 17 US intelligence agencies. Amazon and Microsoft are both expected to be major bidders for the Pentagon's secure cloud system, the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative -- JEDI -- a winner-take-all contract that will likely be worth at least $10 billion.

With so many pots of gold waiting at the end of the Washington, DC, rainbow, it seems like a small matter for tech companies to turn over our personal data -- which legally speaking, is actually their data -- to the spy agencies that guarantee their profits. This is the threat that is now emerging in plain sight. It is something we should reckon with now, before it's too late.

IN FACT, BIG tech and the surveillance agencies are already partners...

...

THE FLIP SIDE of that paranoid vision of an evolving American surveillance state is the dream that the new systems of analyzing and distributing information may be forces for good, not evil. What if Google helped the CIA develop a system that helped filter out fake news, say, or a new Facebook algorithm helped the FBI identify potential school shooters before they massacred their classmates? If human beings are rational calculating engines, won't filtering the information we receive lead to better decisions and make us better people?

Such fond hopes have a long history. Progressive techno-optimism goes back to the origins of the computer itself, in the correspondence between Charles Babbage, the 19th-century English inventor who imagined the "difference engine" -- the first theoretical model for modern computers -- and Ada Lovelace, the brilliant futurist and daughter of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron.

"The Analytical Engine," Lovelace wrote, in one of her notes on Babbage's work, "might act upon other things besides number, where objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine. Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent."

This is a pretty good description of the principles of digitizing sound; it also eerily prefigures and predicts the extent to which so much of our personal information, even stuff we perceive of as having distinct natural properties, could be converted to zeros and ones.

The Victorian techno-optimists who first envisioned the digital landscape we now inhabit imagined that thinking machines would be a force for harmony, rather than evil, capable of creating beautiful music and finding expressions for "fundamental relations" of any kind according to a strictly mathematical calculus.

The idea that social engineering could help produce a more efficient and equitable society was echoed by early 20th-century American progressives. Unlike 19th- and early 20th-century European socialists, who championed the organic strength of local communities, early 20th-century American progressives like Herbert Croly and John Dewey put their faith in the rise of a new class of educated scientist-priests who would re-engineer society from the top down according to a strict utilitarian calculus.

The lineage of these progressives -- who are not identical with the "progressive" faction of today's Democratic Party -- runs from Woodrow Wilson to champions of New Deal bureaucracy like Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes. The 2008 election of Barack Obama, a well-credentialed technocrat who identified very strongly with the character of Spock from Star Trek , gave the old-time scientistic-progressive religion new currency on the left and ushered in a cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and billionaire techno-monopolists who had formerly fashioned themselves as government-skeptical libertarians.

"Amazon does great things for huge amounts of people," Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told Kara Swisher of Recode in a recent interview , in which he also made approving pronouncements about Facebook and Google. "I go to my small tech companies and say, 'How does Google treat you in New York?' A lot of them say, 'Much more fairly than we would have thought.'"

Big Tech companies and executives are happy to return the favor by donating to their progressive friends, including Schumer .

But the cozy relationship between mainstream Democrats and Silicon Valley hit a large-sized bump in November 2016, when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton -- in part through his mastery of social media platforms like Twitter. Blaming the election result on Russian bots or secret deals with Putin betrayed a shock that what the left had regarded as their cultural property had been turned against them by a right-wing populist whose authoritarian leanings inspired fear and loathing among both the technocratic elite and the Democratic party base.

Yet in the right hands, progressives continued to muse, information monopolies might be powerful tools for re-wiring societies malformed by racism, sexism, and transphobia. Thinking machines can be taught to filter out bad information and socially negative thoughts. Good algorithms, as opposed to whatever Google and Facebook are currently using, could censor neo-Nazis, purveyors of hate speech, Russian bots, and transphobes while discouraging voters from electing more Trumps .

The crowdsourced wisdom of platforms like Twitter, powered by circles of mutually credentialing blue-checked "experts," might mobilize a collective will to justice, which could then be enforced on retrograde institutions and individuals . The result might be a better social order, or as data scientist Emily Gorcenski put it , "revolution."

The dream of centralized control over monopolistic information providers can be put to more prosaic political uses, too -- or so politicians confronted by a fractured and tumultuous digital media landscape must hope. In advance of next year's elections for the European Parliament, which will take place in May, French President Emmanuel Macron signed a deal with Facebook in which officials of his government will meet regularly with Facebook executives to police "hate speech."

The program, which will continue through the May elections, apparently did little to discourage fuel riots by the " gilets jaunes ," which have set Paris and other French cities ablaze, even as a claim that a change in Facebook's local news algorithm was responsible for the rioting was quickly picked up by French media figures close to Macron.

At root, the utopian vision of AI-powered information monopolies programmed to advance the cause of social justice makes sense only when you imagine that humans and machines "think" in similar ways. Whether machines can "think," or -- to put it another way, whether people think like machines -- is a question that has been hotly debated for the past five centuries. Those debates gave birth to modern liberal societies, whose foundational assumptions and guarantees are now being challenged by the rise of digital culture.

...

THE ORIGIN OF the utilitarian social calculus and its foundational account of thinking as a form of computation is social contract theory. Not coincidentally, these accounts evolved during the last time western societies were massively impacted by a revolution in communications technology, namely the introduction of the printing press , which brought both the text of the Bible and the writings of small circles of Italian and German humanists to all of Europe. The spread of printing technologies was accompanied by the proliferation of the simple hand mirror , which allowed even ordinary individuals to gaze at a "true reflection" of their own faces, in much the same way that we use iPhones to take selfies.

Nearly every area of human imagination and endeavor -- from science to literature to painting and sculpture to architecture -- was radically transformed by the double-meteor-like impact of the printing press and the hand mirror , which together helped give rise to scientific discoveries, great works of art, and new political ideas that continue to shape the way we think, live, and work.

The printing press fractured the monopoly on worldly and spiritual knowledge long held by the Roman Catholic Church, bringing the discoveries of Erasmus and the polemics of Martin Luther to a broad audience and fueling the Protestant Reformation, which held that ordinary believers -- individuals, who could read their own Bibles and see their own faces in their own mirrors -- might have unmediated contact with God. What was once the province of the few became available to the many, and the old social order that had governed the lives of Europe for the better part of a millennium was largely demolished.

In England, the broad diffusion of printing presses and mirrors led to the bloody and ultimately failed anti-monarchical revolution led by Oliver Cromwell. The Thirty Years' War, fought between Catholic and Protestant believers and hired armies in Central and Eastern Europe, remains the single most destructive conflict, on a per capita basis, in European history, including the First and Second World Wars.

The information revolution spurred by the advent of digital technologies may turn out to be even more powerful than the Gutenberg revolution; it is also likely to be bloody. Our inability to wrap our minds around a sweeping revolution in the way that information is gathered, analyzed, used, and controlled should scare us. It is in this context that both right- and left-leaning factions of the American elite appear to accept the merger of the US military and intelligence complex with Big Tech as a good thing, even as centralized control over information creates new vulnerabilities for rivals to exploit .

The attempt to subject the American information space to some form of top-down, public-private control was in turn made possible -- and perhaps, in the minds of many on both the right and the left, necessary -- by the collapse of the 20th-century American institutional press. Only two decades ago, the social and political power of the institutional press was still so great that it was often called "the Fourth Estate" -- a meaningful check on the power of government. The term is rarely used anymore, because the monopoly over the printed and spoken word that gave the press its power is now gone.

Why? Because in an age in which every smartphone user has a printing press in their pocket, there is little premium in owning an actual, physical printing press . As a result, the value of "legacy" print brands has plummeted. Where the printed word was once a rare commodity, relative to the sum total of all the words that were written in manuscript form by someone, today nearly all the words that are being written anywhere are available somewhere online. What's rare, and therefore worth money, are not printed words but fractions of our attention .

The American media market today is dominated by Google and Facebook, large platforms that together control the attention of readers and therefore the lion's share of online advertising. That's why Facebook, probably the world's premier publisher of fake news, was recently worth $426 billion, and Newsweek changed hands in 2010 for $1, and why many once-familiar magazine titles no longer exist in print at all .

The operative, functional difference between today's media and the American media of two decades ago is not the difference between old-school New York Times reporters and new-media bloggers who churn out opinionated "takes" from their desks. It is the difference between all of those media people, old and new, and programmers and executives at companies like Google and Facebook. A set of key social functions -- communicating ideas and information -- has been transferred from one set of companies, operating under one set of laws and values, to another, much more powerful set of companies, which operate under different laws and understand themselves in a different way .

According to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, information service providers are protected from expensive libel lawsuits and other forms of risk that publishers face. Those protections allowed Google and Facebook to build their businesses at the expense of "old media" publishers, which in turn now find it increasingly difficult to pay for original reporting and writing.

The media once actively promoted and amplified stories that a plurality or majority of Americans could regard as "true." That has now been replaced by the creation and amplification of extremes . The overwhelming ugliness of our public discourse is not accidental; it is a feature of the game, which is structured and run for the profit of billionaire monopolists, and which encourages addictive use .

The result has been the creation of a socially toxic vacuum at the heart of American democracy, from which information monopolists like Google and Facebook have sucked out all the profit, leaving their users ripe for top-down surveillance, manipulation, and control.

TODAY, THE PRINTING press and the mirror have combined in the iPhone and other personal devices, which are networked together. Ten years from now, thanks to AI, those networks, and the entities that control them -- government agencies, private corporations, or a union of both -- may take on a life of their own.

Perhaps the best way to foresee how this future may play out is to look back at how some of our most far-sighted science fiction writers have wrestled with the future that is now in front of us.

...

Yet even classic 20th-century dystopias like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or George Orwell's 1984 tell us little about the dangers posed to free societies by the fusion of big data, social networks, consumer surveillance, and AI.

Perhaps we are reading the wrong books.

Instead of going back to Orwell for a sense of what a coming dystopia might look like, we might be better off reading We , which was written nearly a century ago by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. We is the diary of state mathematician D-503, whose experience of the highly disruptive emotion of love for I-330, a woman whose combination of black eyes, white skin, and black hair strike him as beautiful. This perception, which is also a feeling, draws him into a conspiracy against the centralized surveillance state.

The Only State, where We takes places, is ruled by a highly advanced mathematics of happiness, administered by a combination of programmers and machines. While love has been eliminated from the Only State as inherently discriminatory and unjust, sex has not. According to the Lex Sexualis, the government sex code, "Each number has a right towards every other number as a sex object." Citizens, or numbers, are issued ration books of pink sex tickets. Once both numbers sign the ticket, they are permitted to spend a "sex hour" together and lower the shades in their glass apartments.

Zamyatin was prescient in imagining the operation and also the underlying moral and intellectual foundations of an advanced modern surveillance state run by engineers. And if 1984 explored the opposition between happiness and freedom, Zamyatin introduced a third term into the equation, which he believed to be more revolutionary and also more inherently human: beauty. The subjective human perception of beauty, Zamyatin argued, along lines that Liebniz and Searle might approve of, is innately human, and therefore not ultimately reconcilable with the logic of machines or with any utilitarian calculus of justice.

...

Against a centralized surveillance state that imposes a motionless and false order and an illusory happiness in the name of a utilitarian calculus of "justice," Basile concludes, Zamyatin envisages a different utopia: "In fact, only within the 'here and now' of beauty may the equation of happiness be considered fully verified." Human beings will never stop seeking beauty, Zamyatin insists, because they are human. They will reject and destroy any attempt to reorder their desires according to the logic of machines.

A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It's the road to a prison camp. The question now -- as in previous such moments -- is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. It is something that we must each make for ourselves, continually, out of our own materials, in moments whose permanence is only a dream.

Read the full, ominous report here...

[Jan 24, 2019] Looks like some users left Facebook, or never existed

People do not understand that Facebook is actually a surveillance company. Everything else is a side business. From comments: "Facebook basically steals ad revenue from idiot companies who think the clicks are real. THEYRE NOT. Bots clicking on your ad does nothing for your business!!
Jan 24, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The team detailed their findings in a 70-page report published on their website.

Facebook has been lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50% of its network. Its official metrics -- many of which it has stopped reporting quarterly -- are self-contradictory and even farcical. The company has lost control of its own product.

Ultimately, this is just the latest sign that Facebook - formerly one of the world's most successful companies - is doomed to go the way of CompuServe and AOL.

PlainSite is a project launched by the Think Computer Corporation and Think Computer Foundation which aims to make "data accessible to the public free of charge" and "lets ordinary citizens impact the law- making process," according to Bloomberg. Aaron Greenspan recently told his story about how he fit into the history of Facebook's founding at Harvard on a podcast .

Facebook's fraudulent numbers hurt its customers (advertisers) by overstating the effectiveness of Facebook's product, the company said.

DeathMerchant , 13 minutes ago link

" Zuckerberg's creation is a reflection of his own flaws. It is a mirror of his own personality and the insecurity and endless need of approval he has sought his whole life leading to its creation. It is Zuckerberg made virtually. It is not a success nor is it a triumph, it is a window into a flawed psyche. It spreads as an infection because it is."

[Jan 22, 2019] Banned by Facebook for Telling the Truth by Israel Shamir

Jan 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

Pinche Perro , says: January 19, 2019 at 6:06 am GMT

Mr. Shamir, Facebook is a complete and total cesspool. You are too good for it! Why bother with it? I deleted my account and I haven't looked back.
israel shamir , says: January 20, 2019 at 8:01 am GMT
@Dacian Julien Soros Facebook has no (or little) original content. It does not compete with Unz.com or with CNN. It leads users to the sites where original content is published. It is meta-site.
So much is being published on so many sites that we need a community to cross-post. This is done by Facebook.
I hope now you understand that you do not waste your time here instead of Facebook. Facebook can lead you here, that's all. Or to Moon of Alabama, or to LRB or to wherever something interesting had been published. Facebook is like a map of Treasure Island, not the treasure itself.
Che Guava , says: January 20, 2019 at 12:33 pm GMT
You have a good point, but why not always avoid Facebook? I have read about it since it was Harvard-only, then student-only.

That it had so much press coverage at those times, while it never had the accounts, clearly a conspiracy.

I have somewhat friends, they say 'You must go on Facebook', I say 'No, you have my telephone number and e-mail address, why are you trying to force me onto Facebook?' They are generally stupid, but then, one must tolerate the stupid to have any social life.

Back to the progation of FB. Google was quite similar, there were many search engines that were as good or better at the time, the NYT ran many articles to promote them, I was working at a U.S.-owned company at the time, it was neo-religious, 'oh, you have to use Google', it was the same kind of propaganda, earlier of course, as compulsory FB.

I never used google (the mis-spelling of googol shows what morons they are), OK, I don't want to lie, did a little early last decade (very few), other search engines are usually better.

onebornfree , says: Website January 20, 2019 at 12:47 pm GMT
This "just" in:

Facebook = CIA/NSA etc.

Alphabet/Google/YouTube = CIA/NSA etc.

Wikipedia= CIA/NSA etc.

Always were, always will be. And thats just "the tip of the iceberg".

Regards, onebornfree

jacques sheete , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm GMT

The mainstream media from Tokyo to Paris [yap, yap, yap ]

Stopped reading right there.

Look, the word is mass media because that's what it's for, i.e., the unthinking masses. Even an ignorant moron such as myself can understand that the media use the term to help make mindless, mass-produced, garbage appear acceptable. It's obvious that the term is supposed to suggest that "everyone" goes along with the message when it's their own compostable ideas that they're trying to introduce and promote. The interests of the "mainstream" or majority are in no way promoted, nor are they intended to be.

Anyone who's so mentally lazy as to use mass media's own legitimizing term for themselves in the way they intend has nothing to say to me. Furthermore, I don't come to UR to be exposed to the usual drivel mouthed incessantly by narcissistic, sociopathic, simple-minded, goons.

Other acceptable terms are corporate media, propaganda media, or sewage media. No one with a lick of sense views it as "mainstream" in any way. Get a clue already!

Anonymous [367] Disclaimer , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:32 pm GMT
@gmachine1729 ... ... ...

WeChat? Bad advice. End-to-server encryption means the Chinese government inspects all messages. Right now, they're crouching tiger but who knows when they're going to go all hidden dragon on us?

Use WhatsApp. It's got full end to end encryption and built in ways to verify no MITM attacks. Safe choice.

For search engines, use startpage or duckduckgo.com. If you're performing really sensitive searches, use tor browser. Only need to use yandex or baidu if the search terms themselves are sensitive (very rare).

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: January 20, 2019 at 1:48 pm GMT
I do not use Facebook . It is evident that they spy everything , you just look for a hotel in your computer and they send you hotel propaganda for weeks or months .

But , commercial purposes apart , don`t you think that a system that spies so much ends up losing the sense of reality and thus dementing itself ?

wayfarer , says: January 20, 2019 at 2:50 pm GMT

There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontent. And there is no greater disaster than greed.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi

Manufactured Consent and the Homogeneity of Public Discourse

AnonFromTN , says: January 20, 2019 at 4:33 pm GMT
@jacques sheete

Other acceptable terms are corporate media, propaganda media, or sewage media

Germans have a more descriptive term: Lugenpresse (lying press).

AnonFromTN , says: January 20, 2019 at 5:03 pm GMT
@gmachine1729 Yes, as a stopgap measure one can boycott FB, Twitter, Google, and other services that practice disgusting PC. I don't use FB or Twitter, use Google only occasionally. Need to stop using it altogether and switch to Yandex and/or Baidu.

However, in the long run what needs to be built is a PC-free Internet. This would require huge investment that only governments of serious countries (like China or Russia) that are not subservient to the Empire can afford. These governments do have their own axes to grind, but at the moment they are not as disgusting as the Empire and its vassals, or Israel, for that matter.

[Jan 22, 2019] The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization by Paul Craig Roberts

Notable quotes:
"... As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a "traitor" and not on NSA for its violations. ..."
"... Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him. ..."
"... Binney blames the NSA's law-breaking on Dick "Darth" Cheney. He says NSA's violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government. ..."
Jan 17, 2019 | www.unz.com
Paul Craig Roberts

Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying.

Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was

"Congress would never hear me because then they'd lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world.

Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That's why they're so afraid. Everybody's afraid because all this data that's about them, the central agencies  --  the intelligence agencies  --  they have it. And that's why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn't attack the intelligence community because they've got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That's because it's like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it's leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world."

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has "a program now called 'see something, say something' about your fellow workers. That's what the Stasi did. That's why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They're picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren't getting violent yet that we know of  --  internally in the US, outside is another story."

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a "traitor" and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA's law-breaking on Dick "Darth" Cheney. He says NSA's violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

[Jan 21, 2019] France hits Google with record €50mn fine over 'forced consent' data collection

Jan 21, 2019 | www.rt.com

France's data protection watchdog is slapping Google with an unprecedented fine citing the company's failure to meet privacy and transparency standards with user information. The French Data protection agency CNIL released a statement Monday stating that the staggering €50 million ($56.8mn) fine was motivated by complaints about the company's illegal practices in the collection and use of personal data. At present, there is no reliable information available on how long the company saves user data, nor if they allow it to be used by other sites.

Around 10,000 people signed the initial petition to initiate an investigation, which was filed by France's Quadrature du Net group and None Of Your Business, an NGO which advocates for consumer privacy.

Read more Facebook may face a record fine over privacy lapses – reports Facebook may face a record fine over privacy lapses – reports

The investigation turned up two infractions to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was approved in 2016. They found that the company doesn't provide easy access to information it collects from users and that the information they do provide is often incomprehensible. This creates a situation where people are not able to manage how their information is being used, especially in relation to targeted ads.

Users' " consent " is currently set as the global default setting, which fails to meet the regulator's requirement that companies obtain " specific " consent. They also say that the pop-ups currently used by the company to ask for consent on Android software seem to threaten that services will not be available if the users don't accept the terms.

While the number looks over-the-top, CNIL says that the fine was decided " by the severity of the infringements observed, " as well as Google's position in the French market.

Although Google responded to the decision by saying that they committed to meeting the " high standards of transparency and control " expected of them by users – as well as by the strict new EU data law – they are nonetheless challenging the decision. While no official decision has been made as of yet, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg

[Jan 20, 2019] Frederick Felman

Mar 03, 2004 | esj.com
Malware is on its way toward "zero-day" threats -- the time between the announcement of a vulnerability and the implementation of its exploit is shrinking to mere days, even hours. For example, in the case of SQL Slammer, the time from published vulnerability to exploit was half a year; but for MS-Blast, that period was a single month. With dwindling timeframes, there's less chance of a patch being released or deployed before the exploit appears.

As if that weren't alarming enough, recent threats have shown an unprecedented compression of transmission time. Recently, MyDoom became the fastest-spreading malware threat ever -- possibly accounting for as much as 30 percent of all e-mail traffic at its peak. Couple the shrinking vulnerability-to-exploit period with lightning-fast transmission, and you have the greatest worry for many of us in IT: an immensely destructive threat that spreads unchecked, and for which there are no fixes -- until it's too late.

Against these zero-day threats, reactive security is helpless. Reactive security solutions such as anti-virus patterns and patches can be created only after a threat strikes. This vulnerability gap is unavoidable with reactive security solutions. Unfortunately, it means that there are always victims to every threat. You could say that the very model of reactive security allows a certain amount of "acceptable losses." If it's your network that's lost, that's hardly acceptable.

But there is a solution: a proactive approach to security.

The Proactive Approach

Unlike anti-virus, IDS, and after-the-fact patches, a proactive approach to security protects your assets against even unknown threats. Case in point: the Sobig.F worm caused the greatest damage at the start of its outbreak, before corporate IT departments could test and deploy the patches and AV patterns that were issued in response. In contrast, companies that had the foresight to employ proactive solutions like endpoint firewalls and well-planned network architecture were much less vulnerable to Sobig.F, even during the height of the epidemic.

Let's examine Sobig.F's propagation vectors. It traveled via infected e-mail and proliferated within networks by copying itself to open network shares. From there, the threat often spread unchecked across the entire network. Infection via shares is rapidly becoming the most predictable feature in worms and viruses, and obviously, enterprises are particularly vulnerable to it. It strikes right at the heart of the difficult balance we attempt to strike between keeping our users protected and productive. No one actually assumes their internal network is 100 percent trustworthy any more, but many of us still don't take the steps we should to protect the network -- from itself.

In addition to the standard layers of protection against malware attacks -- for example, firewalls and anti-virus software -- you should also reduce your vulnerability by compartmentalizing your network. In essence, segregate your higher-risk network endpoints -- put all your similar shares onto the same subnet, and set appropriate access rules. For example, put all PCs with shared drives on a separate subnet (or subnets), and set that subnet as "untrusted" for all users. Depending on your security tools, you can do this either by restricting outbound access from the high-risk subnet or by restricting other subnets in the connections they can accept from the high-risk subnet. Another example: because very few worms target shared printers, you should be able to safely place all printers on one subnet and make that subnet "trusted" to all users.

If you happen to be planning your network now, it will be easy for you to implement these suggestions. If you've already built your network, the last thing you want to hear is the dreaded "R" word: rearchitect. But not to worry -- even at this stage, segregating your shares is not a huge amount of work. If it's not feasible to engage in actually changing your subnets, you can still get some protection by compartmentalizing your network with VLANs. Placing all your high-risk endpoints onto a VLAN is a relatively quick process, and applying the access rules described above to a VLAN should also be fairly painless. Plus, you can use VLANs to compartmentalize your network along other useful lines, such as keeping valuable servers separate from often-infected PCs.

Segregating network shares is certainly not your first line of defense. The idea of using VLANs for security is controversial; after all, it's not too difficult to make them fail open. But security is, after all, about layers. No single solution stops all threats. Considering the minimal investment required to move your shares onto a different subnet or VLAN, it's a good investment if it turns out to be the tactic that prevents the next MS-Blast, Sobig, or MyDoom from rampaging through your network. To that end, don't forget these additional sometimes-overlooked proactive layers of protection:

Reactive security solutions are essential in preventing "flare-ups" of viruses and worms, so you should certainly deploy them. Just don't let them lull you into a false sense of security. Invest in proactive defenses now, before you have to spend ten times the money and time cleaning up after a security incident.

Frederick Felman is Vice President of Marketing at Zone Labs and has more than 18 years experience in marketing software and services. During his time with Zone Labs, Mr. Felman launched several key products, helping to define Zone Labs' enterprise product, Zone Labs Integrity.

[Jan 12, 2019] CLASSIFIED The most powerful investor you never heard of by globalintelhub

Jan 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Pre IPO Swap New York, NY 1/12/2019

Did you know that the CIA has its own Venture Fund? And did you know that Venture fund was key in starting Facebook and Google? As explained in the book Splitting Pennies – the world is not as it seems.

For many readers especially on this comes as no surprise, as you are well aware of the octopus that wraps its tentacles around the globe. But it may surprise you how active In-Q-Tel is and how chummy they are with the rest of the VC community. It's as if they are just another VC, but with another purpose. Let's look at some of the stats, from Crunchbase:

Here's a list of recent investments

If you dig back you won't see Google or Facebook on there – which is company policy for retail consumer investments that can impact the public (it's kept secret behind an NDA). Here's how it works – In-Q-Tel may invest in your startup but there's a big catch. First, you have to sign an NDA which is enforced strongly – that you are not to disclose your partner. Second, you must agree to 'cooperation' when it comes to information sharing now or down the road, such as location data on people using Facebook, Google, or other systems – perhaps only to feed it into a big data brain at Palantir. Or perhaps for more street level surveillance. The surveillance is known by fact, not conspiracy theory – but by fact – due to the disclosure of classified documents by Edward Snowden. If it were not for Snowden, we could only guess about this. The name of the main program is PRISM but there are many others.

For those in the VC community that are deep in the know- the "Deep VCs" like Peter Thiel for example, the Snowden revelations would come as no surprise. MUST READ – No Place To Hide – the story of the NSA, PRISM, and Snowden (written by Greenwald).

But for others, it may come as a surprise that not only the CIA has its own VC fund, but that it sits on many corporate boards alongside many Wall St. firms and other VCs.

And of course, they always do well.

Let's consider the doors they opened for Google, or in the case of Google it was more like the doors that were closed. Google was not the best search engine, it was not superior technology – it wasn't even really very good. It just became a monopoly and crushed the competition. Many wonder how they were able to do it, and that this is part of the Entrepreneur "Magic" that few have. Well we can say in the case of Google there was no Magic they had a helping hand from a friend in the deep shadows. Google wanted to become huge – the CIA wants information (they always do, so we don't use the past tense 'wanted'). So it was a cozy and rational partnership – in exchange for making the right handshakes at the right time, allowing Google to become a global behemoth, all they needed to do was share a little information about users. Actually, a lot of information. No harm in that, right?

But in doing so Google violated itself as well as prostituted its model and its users. Google still does this and is not nearly as flagrant as its brother Facebook, however Google shares more detailed 'meta data' which is actually more useful to Echelon systems like Palantir that rely on big data, not necessarily photos of what you ate for breakfast (but that can be helpful too, they say).

The metaphor is making a deal with the devil; you get what you want but it comes at a price. And that's the price users pay to Google – they get service 'free' but at a huge cost, their privacy. Of course – this is all based on the concept of Freedom which really does exist in USA. You don't have to use Google – there are many alternatives like the rising star Duck Duck Go :

But who cares about privacy; only criminals, hackers, programmers, super wealthy (UHNWI) and a few philosophers.

Google remains the dominant search platform and much more. Google exploits niche by niche even competing with Amazon's Alexa service.

The argument here is that Google wouldn't be Google without the help of the CIA. This isn't our idea it's a fact, you can read about it here on qz.com:

Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google's ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online. The intelligence community hoped that the nation's leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

There you have it – Google is the child of the digital revolution of the surveillance state. Why spy, when you can collect data electronically and analyze with machine learning?

The new spy is the web bot.

And the investors in Google did well – so that's the investing story that matters here. It pays well to have friends in high places, and in dark places. Of all the investments In-Q-Tel made, almost all of them have done very well. That doesn't mean that Palantir is going to grow to the size of Google, but it does provide natural support should a company backed by In-Q-Tel run into problems.

By the time Facebook came out, digital surveillance was already in the n-th generation of evolution, and they really stepped up their game. In the creepiest examples, Facebook doesn't necessarily (and primarily) collect data on Facebook users – it does this too. But that's just a given – you don't need to perform surveillance on someone who gives all their data to the system willingly – you always know where they are and what they are doing at any given moment. The trick is to get information about those who may try to hide their activities, whether they are real terrorists or just paranoid geniuses.

How does Facebook do this? There are literally hundreds of programs running – but in one creepy example, Facebook collects photos that users take to analyze the environment surrounding. Incidentally, the location data is MUCH MORE accurate than you see on the retail front end. So you get the newspaper and see a gift in your mailbox for your birthday – you take a photo because the ribbons are hanging out. What shows up in the background? All kinds of information. What the neighbor is doing. License plate of the car driving by. Trash waiting to be picked up by the street. A child's toy left by the sidewalk. You get the picture. Facebook users have been turned into sneaky little digital spies! While they are walking around with their 'smartphones' (should be called 'dumbphones') scrolling their walls and snapping photos away – they are taking photos of you too. That means, Facebook collects data for the CIA about users who don't have Facebook accounts. This is the huge secret that the mainstream media doesn't want to tell you. Deleting your Facebook account will do nothing – every time you go out in public you are being photographed, video recorded, and more – all going into big data artificial intelligence for analysis.

But here's the best part. You own it! The CIA may have a bad reputation but it is part of the US Government, and thus – profits go back to the Treasury (those which are declared) or at least they are supposed to. Considering this, why is there a stigma about even talking about In-Q-Tel when in fact we should be more involved in any US Government operation when it is technically owned by the people and funded by taxpayers? Meaning, do taxpayers have rights to know what goes in in taxpayer funded entities, like In-Q-Tel? The big difference between In-Q-Tel and the CIA is that In-Q-Tel functions just like any other VC – they disclose most of their investments, they attend conferences, they accept business plans. You can literally submit your idea to In-Q-Tel and get funding. Of course, like any VC there's a very small chance of being funded.

So what's an investor's take on this story? In-Q-Tel is not Freddie Mac there is nor a quasi-government entity; it's not an NGO and there is no implicit guarantee that In-Q-Tel's deals will do any better than Andreessen Horowitz .

However, their deals do very well. Companies they fund not only have the backing of the CIA explicitly, it's not only about business – it's about national security! Under that guise, it's no wonder that companies like Google and Facebook rocket to the top.

We are not suggesting that investors double down on In-Q-Tel bets. We are only suggesting that at a minimum, we follow what they do. It's a data point – a good source of information. And the best part is that it's public.

Their most recent investment is in a virtual reality company in Boca Raton, FL called Immersive Wisdom:

Immersive Wisdom® is an enterprise software platform that allows users to collaborate in real-time upon diverse data sets and applications within a temporal and geospatially-aware Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality space. Immersive Wisdom is hardware-agnostic and runs on VR, AR, as well as 2D displays. Regardless of geographic location , multiple users can be together in a shared virtual workspace, standing on maps, with instant access to relevant information from any available source. Users can simultaneously, and in real time, visualize, fuse, and act upon sensor inputs, cyber/network data, IoT feeds, enterprise applications, telemetry, tagged assets, 3D Models, LiDAR, imagery and UAV footage/streaming video, providing an omniscient, collaborative view of complex environments. Immersive Wisdom also acts as a natural human interface to multi-dimensional data sets generated by AI and machine learning systems. The platform includes a powerful SDK (Software Developer Kit) that enables the creation of customer-specific workflows as well as rapid integration with existing data sources/applications.

Cool stuff for sure – but it's in early stages. Pre IPO Swap suggests real Pre IPO 'unicorns' not because of size, but because of the right mix of risk and reward. https://preiposwap.com/pitch " style="color:#0d2e46; text-decoration:underline">See why we think so in our pitch.

In any analysis, it's worth watching In-Q-Tel, which is a top source of funding and investment data we watch on www.preiposwap.com/ ">https:// www.preiposwap.com/ " style="color:#0d2e46; text-decoration:underline">Pre IPO Swap.

To get real-time updates on companies like this, companies that In-Q-Tel invests in - www.preiposwap.com/follow ">http:// www.preiposwap.com/follow ">follow our blog free.

[Jan 08, 2019] No, wealth isn t created at the top. It is merely devoured there by Rutger Bregman

Highly recommended!
Financialization is a new type of racket...
Notable quotes:
"... Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they're sucking the rest of us dry @rcbregman ..."
"... 'A big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body' ..."
"... This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state. These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have "made it". By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world. ..."
"... To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our "human capital" in economic terms) to create something new, whether that's a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth. ..."
"... But there is also a second way to make money. That's the rentier way : by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others' expense, using his power to claim economic benefit. ..."
"... For those who know their history, the term "rentier" conjures associations with heirs to estates, such as the 19th century's large class of useless rentiers, well-described by the French economist Thomas Piketty . These days, that class is making a comeback. (Ironically, however, conservative politicians adamantly defend the rentier's right to lounge around, deeming inheritance tax to be the height of unfairness.) But there are also other ways of rent-seeking. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley , from big pharma to the lobby machines in Washington and Westminster, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere. ..."
"... It may take quite a mental leap to see our economy as a system that shows solidarity with the rich rather than the poor. So I'll start with the clearest illustration of modern freeloaders at the top: bankers. Studies conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements – not exactly leftist thinktanks – have revealed that much of the financial sector has become downright parasitic. How instead of creating wealth, they gobble it up whole. ..."
"... In other words, a big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body. It's not creating anything new, merely sucking others dry. Bankers have found a hundred and one ways to accomplish this. The basic mechanism, however, is always the same: offer loans like it's going out of style, which in turn inflates the price of things like houses and shares, then earn a tidy percentage off those overblown prices (in the form of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, or what have you), and if the shit hits the fan, let Uncle Sam mop it up. ..."
"... Bankers are the most obvious class of closet freeloaders, but they are certainly not alone. Many a lawyer and an accountant wields a similar revenue model. Take tax evasion . Untold hardworking, academically degreed professionals make a good living at the expense of the populations of other countries. Or take the tide of privatisations over the past three decades, which have been all but a carte blanche for rentiers. One of the richest people in the world, Carlos Slim , earned his millions by obtaining a monopoly of the Mexican telecom market and then hiking prices sky high. The same goes for the Russian oligarchs who rose after the Berlin Wall fell , who bought up valuable state-owned assets for song to live off the rent. ..."
"... Even paragons of modern progress like Apple, Amazon, Google , Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are woven from the fabric of rentierism. Firstly, because they owe their existence to government discoveries and inventions (every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll). And second, because they tie themselves into knots to avoid paying taxes, retaining countless bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists for this very purpose. ..."
"... Even more important, many of these companies function as "natural monopolies", operating in a positive feedback loop of increasing growth and value as more and more people contribute free content to their platforms. Companies like this are incredibly difficult to compete with, because as they grow bigger, they only get stronger. ..."
"... Most of Mark Zuckerberg's income is just rent collected off the millions of picture and video posts that we give away daily for free. And sure, we have fun doing it. But we also have no alternative – after all, everybody is on Facebook these days. Zuckerberg has a website that advertisers are clamouring to get onto, and that doesn't come cheap. Don't be fooled by endearing pilots with free internet in Zambia. Stripped down to essentials, it's an ordinary ad agency. In fact, in 2015 Google and Facebook pocketed an astounding 64% of all online ad revenue in the US. ..."
"... Rentierism is, in essence, a question of power. That the Sun King Louis XIV was able to exploit millions was purely because he had the biggest army in Europe. It's no different for the modern rentier. He's got the law, politicians and journalists squarely in his court. That's why bankers get fined peanuts for preposterous fraud, while a mother on government assistance gets penalised within an inch of her life if she checks the wrong box. ..."
"... The biggest tragedy of all, however, is that the rentier economy is gobbling up society's best and brightest. Where once upon a time Ivy League graduates chose careers in science, public service or education, these days they are more likely to opt for banks, law firms, or trumped up ad agencies like Google and Facebook. When you think about it, it's insane. We are forking over billions in taxes to help our brightest minds on and up the corporate ladder so they can learn how to score ever more outrageous handouts. ..."
"... One thing is certain: countries where rentiers gain the upper hand gradually fall into decline. Just look at the Roman Empire. Or Venice in the 15th century. Look at the Dutch Republic in the 18th century. Like a parasite stunts a child's growth, so the rentier drains a country of its vitality. ..."
Mar 30, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Rutger Bregman

Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook ... a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they're sucking the rest of us dry @rcbregman

Comments 890

'A big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body'.

This piece is about one of the biggest taboos of our times. About a truth that is seldom acknowledged, and yet – on reflection – cannot be denied. The truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state. These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have "made it". By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world.

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, while the right fears high taxes will blunt enterprise – but across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top.

So entrenched is this assumption that it's even embedded in our language. When economists talk about "productivity", what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like " welfare state ", "redistribution" and "solidarity", we're implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.

In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as "successful" and "innovative" are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it's a non-issue.

To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our "human capital" in economic terms) to create something new, whether that's a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.

But there is also a second way to make money. That's the rentier way : by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others' expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.

'From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere.'

For those who know their history, the term "rentier" conjures associations with heirs to estates, such as the 19th century's large class of useless rentiers, well-described by the French economist Thomas Piketty . These days, that class is making a comeback. (Ironically, however, conservative politicians adamantly defend the rentier's right to lounge around, deeming inheritance tax to be the height of unfairness.) But there are also other ways of rent-seeking. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley , from big pharma to the lobby machines in Washington and Westminster, zoom in and you'll see rentiers everywhere.

There is no longer a sharp dividing line between working and rentiering. In fact, the modern-day rentier often works damn hard. Countless people in the financial sector, for example, apply great ingenuity and effort to amass "rent" on their wealth. Even the big innovations of our age – businesses like Facebook and Uber – are interested mainly in expanding the rentier economy. The problem with most rich people therefore is not that they are coach potatoes. Many a CEO toils 80 hours a week to multiply his allowance. It's hardly surprising, then, that they feel wholly entitled to their wealth.

It may take quite a mental leap to see our economy as a system that shows solidarity with the rich rather than the poor. So I'll start with the clearest illustration of modern freeloaders at the top: bankers. Studies conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements – not exactly leftist thinktanks – have revealed that much of the financial sector has become downright parasitic. How instead of creating wealth, they gobble it up whole.

Don't get me wrong. Banks can help to gauge risks and get money where it is needed, both of which are vital to a well-functioning economy. But consider this: economists tell us that the optimum level of total private-sector debt is 100% of GDP. Based on this equation, if the financial sector only grows, it won't equal more wealth, but less. So here's the bad news. In the United Kingdom, private-sector debt is now at 157.5% . In the United States, the figure is 188.8% .

In other words, a big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body. It's not creating anything new, merely sucking others dry. Bankers have found a hundred and one ways to accomplish this. The basic mechanism, however, is always the same: offer loans like it's going out of style, which in turn inflates the price of things like houses and shares, then earn a tidy percentage off those overblown prices (in the form of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, or what have you), and if the shit hits the fan, let Uncle Sam mop it up.

The financial innovation concocted by all the math whizzes working in modern banking (instead of at universities or companies that contribute to real prosperity) basically boils down to maximizing the total amount of debt. And debt, of course, is a means of earning rent. So for those who believe that pay ought to be proportionate to the value of work, the conclusion we have to draw is that many bankers should be earning a negative salary; a fine, if you will, for destroying more wealth than they create.

Bankers are the most obvious class of closet freeloaders, but they are certainly not alone. Many a lawyer and an accountant wields a similar revenue model. Take tax evasion . Untold hardworking, academically degreed professionals make a good living at the expense of the populations of other countries. Or take the tide of privatisations over the past three decades, which have been all but a carte blanche for rentiers. One of the richest people in the world, Carlos Slim , earned his millions by obtaining a monopoly of the Mexican telecom market and then hiking prices sky high. The same goes for the Russian oligarchs who rose after the Berlin Wall fell , who bought up valuable state-owned assets for song to live off the rent.

But here comes the rub. Most rentiers are not as easily identified as the greedy banker or manager. Many are disguised. On the face of it, they look like industrious folks, because for part of the time they really are doing something worthwhile. Precisely that makes us overlook their massive rent-seeking.

Take the pharmaceutical industry. Companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer regularly unveil new drugs, yet most real medical breakthroughs are made quietly at government-subsidised labs. Private companies mostly manufacture medications that resemble what we've already got. They get it patented and, with a hefty dose of marketing, a legion of lawyers, and a strong lobby, can live off the profits for years. In other words, the vast revenues of the pharmaceutical industry are the result of a tiny pinch of innovation and fistfuls of rent.

Even paragons of modern progress like Apple, Amazon, Google , Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are woven from the fabric of rentierism. Firstly, because they owe their existence to government discoveries and inventions (every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll). And second, because they tie themselves into knots to avoid paying taxes, retaining countless bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists for this very purpose.

Even more important, many of these companies function as "natural monopolies", operating in a positive feedback loop of increasing growth and value as more and more people contribute free content to their platforms. Companies like this are incredibly difficult to compete with, because as they grow bigger, they only get stronger.

Aptly characterising this "platform capitalism" in an article, Tom Goodwin writes : "Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate."

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Every sliver of fundamental technology in the iPhone, from the internet to batteries and from touchscreens to voice recognition, was invented by researchers on the government payroll.' Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

So what do these companies own? A platform. A platform that lots and lots of people want to use. Why? First and foremost, because they're cool and they're fun – and in that respect, they do offer something of value. However, the main reason why we're all happy to hand over free content to Facebook is because all of our friends are on Facebook too, because their friends are on Facebook because their friends are on Facebook.

Most of Mark Zuckerberg's income is just rent collected off the millions of picture and video posts that we give away daily for free. And sure, we have fun doing it. But we also have no alternative – after all, everybody is on Facebook these days. Zuckerberg has a website that advertisers are clamouring to get onto, and that doesn't come cheap. Don't be fooled by endearing pilots with free internet in Zambia. Stripped down to essentials, it's an ordinary ad agency. In fact, in 2015 Google and Facebook pocketed an astounding 64% of all online ad revenue in the US.

But don't Google and Facebook make anything useful at all? Sure they do. The irony, however, is that their best innovations only make the rentier economy even bigger. They employ scores of programmers to create new algorithms so that we'll all click on more and more ads. Uber has usurped the whole taxi sector just as Airbnb has upended the hotel industry and Amazon has overrun the book trade. The bigger such platforms grow the more powerful they become, enabling the lords of these digital feudalities to demand more and more rent.

Think back a minute to the definition of a rentier: someone who uses their control over something that already exists in order to increase their own wealth. The feudal lord of medieval times did that by building a tollgate along a road and making everybody who passed by pay. Today's tech giants are doing basically the same thing, but transposed to the digital highway. Using technology funded by taxpayers, they build tollgates between you and other people's free content and all the while pay almost no tax on their earnings.

This is the so-called innovation that has Silicon Valley gurus in raptures: ever bigger platforms that claim ever bigger handouts. So why do we accept this? Why does most of the population work itself to the bone to support these rentiers?

I think there are two answers. Firstly, the modern rentier knows to keep a low profile. There was a time when everybody knew who was freeloading. The king, the church, and the aristocrats controlled almost all the land and made peasants pay dearly to farm it. But in the modern economy, making rentierism work is a great deal more complicated. How many people can explain a credit default swap , or a collateralised debt obligation ? Or the revenue model behind those cute Google Doodles? And don't the folks on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley work themselves to the bone, too? Well then, they must be doing something useful, right?

Maybe not. The typical workday of Goldman Sachs' CEO may be worlds away from that of King Louis XIV, but their revenue models both essentially revolve around obtaining the biggest possible handouts. "The world's most powerful investment bank," wrote the journalist Matt Taibbi about Goldman Sachs , "is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

But far from squids and vampires, the average rich freeloader manages to masquerade quite successfully as a decent hard worker. He goes to great lengths to present himself as a "job creator" and an "investor" who "earns" his income by virtue of his high "productivity". Most economists, journalists, and politicians from left to right are quite happy to swallow this story. Time and again language is twisted around to cloak funneling and exploitation as creation and generation.

However, it would be wrong to think that all this is part of some ingenious conspiracy. Many modern rentiers have convinced even themselves that they are bona fide value creators. When current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was asked about the purpose of his job, his straight-faced answer was that he is " doing God's work ". The Sun King would have approved.

The second thing that keeps rentiers safe is even more insidious. We're all wannabe rentiers. They have made millions of people complicit in their revenue model. Consider this: What are our financial sector's two biggest cash cows? Answer: the housing market and pensions. Both are markets in which many of us are deeply invested.

Recent decades have seen more and more people contract debts to buy a home, and naturally it's in their interest if house prices continue to scale new heights (read: burst bubble upon bubble). The same goes for pensions. Over the past few decades we've all scrimped and saved up a mountainous pension piggy bank. Now pension funds are under immense pressure to ally with the biggest exploiters in order to ensure they pay out enough to please their investors.

The fact of the matter is that feudalism has been democratised. To a lesser or greater extent, we are all depending on handouts. En masse, we have been made complicit in this exploitation by the rentier elite, resulting in a political covenant between the rich rent-seekers and the homeowners and retirees.

Don't get me wrong, most homeowners and retirees are not benefiting from this situation. On the contrary, the banks are bleeding them far beyond the extent to which they themselves profit from their houses and pensions. Still, it's hard to point fingers at a kleptomaniac when you have sticky fingers too.

So why is this happening? The answer can be summed up in three little words: Because it can.

Rentierism is, in essence, a question of power. That the Sun King Louis XIV was able to exploit millions was purely because he had the biggest army in Europe. It's no different for the modern rentier. He's got the law, politicians and journalists squarely in his court. That's why bankers get fined peanuts for preposterous fraud, while a mother on government assistance gets penalised within an inch of her life if she checks the wrong box.

The biggest tragedy of all, however, is that the rentier economy is gobbling up society's best and brightest. Where once upon a time Ivy League graduates chose careers in science, public service or education, these days they are more likely to opt for banks, law firms, or trumped up ad agencies like Google and Facebook. When you think about it, it's insane. We are forking over billions in taxes to help our brightest minds on and up the corporate ladder so they can learn how to score ever more outrageous handouts.

One thing is certain: countries where rentiers gain the upper hand gradually fall into decline. Just look at the Roman Empire. Or Venice in the 15th century. Look at the Dutch Republic in the 18th century. Like a parasite stunts a child's growth, so the rentier drains a country of its vitality.

What innovation remains in a rentier economy is mostly just concerned with further bolstering that very same economy. This may explain why the big dreams of the 1970s, like flying cars, curing cancer, and colonising Mars, have yet to be realised, while bankers and ad-makers have at their fingertips technologies a thousand times more powerful.

Yet it doesn't have to be this way. Tollgates can be torn down, financial products can be banned, tax havens dismantled, lobbies tamed, and patents rejected. Higher taxes on the ultra-rich can make rentierism less attractive, precisely because society's biggest freeloaders are at the very top of the pyramid. And we can more fairly distribute our earnings on land, oil, and innovation through a system of, say, employee shares, or a universal basic income .

But such a revolution will require a wholly different narrative about the origins of our wealth. It will require ditching the old-fashioned faith in "solidarity" with a miserable underclass that deserves to be borne aloft on the market-level salaried shoulders of society's strongest. All we need to do is to give real hard-working people what they deserve.

And, yes, by that I mean the waste collectors, the nurses, the cleaners – theirs are the shoulders that carry us all.

• Pre-order Utopia for Realists and How Can We Get There by Rutger Bregman

• Translated from the original Dutch by Elizabeth Manton

See also:

[Jan 04, 2019] Anonymous Data Collection Is More Risky Than Users Think

Jan 04, 2019 | www.itprotoday.com

Without much thought, users frequently sign away rights to supposedly anonymous data collected by businesses and other organizations , with the idea that the information will ultimately improve their services and online experience. But a new study from MIT suggests that "anonymous" data can be woven together using multiple sources and is far more identifiable than most people realize.

The researchers used logs from a mobile network operator and timestamps from a public transportation system in Singapore to match individuals. With a week's worth of anonymous data collection, the researchers could match the cell phone logs and trip timestamps to a unique user about 17 percent of the time. With a month's data, a person could be identified about 55 percent of the time. In 11 weeks, users could be identified 95 percent of the time.

The researchers also said they could easily speed up identification of users by adding another stream of data. With less than a week's data, the researchers estimated they could identify 95 percent of people by using the sort of GPS location data that's regularly collected by smartphone apps.

[Jan 02, 2019] American People Admit Having Facebook Data Stolen Kind Of Worth It To Watch That Little Fucker Squirm

Jan 02, 2019 | www.theonion.com

CHICAGO -- Saying it was ultimately a small price to pay in exchange for the splendid spectacle that has followed, millions of Americans admitted Thursday that they didn't really mind having their Facebook data stolen if it meant getting to watch that little fucker squirm.

[Dec 22, 2018] US Embassy Shopping List

Dec 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

An anticapitalist voice , Dec 22, 2018 11:57:21 AM | link

"US Embassy Shopping List" - New dump from WikiLeaks on US embassies being used for international spying - procurement forms of equipment. There is total mainstream media silence in English-speaking countries on WikiLeaks releases following the original Vault 7 documents, I would not be surprised if this was intentional and based on wrongly guilty feelings among liberals at those outlets that they lost Hillary the election. We'll see what excitement 2019 brings but hopefully it will see a retreat of the neoliberals as well as the far-right in favor of left-wing politics #socialism #communism #anarchism

https://www.rt.com/news/447193-wikileaks-spying-us-embassies/

[Dec 21, 2018] China national charged with stealing trade secrets by David Shepardson and Makini Brice

Dec 21, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday a Chinese national had been arrested for stealing trade secrets from a U.S.-based petroleum company, his employer, related to a product worth more than $1 billion.

The department alleged Hongjin Tan downloaded hundreds of files related to the manufacture of a "research and development downstream energy market product," which he planned to use to benefit a company in China that had offered him a job. He was arrested on Thursday in Oklahoma and will next appear in court on Wednesday, the department said.

Tan's LinkedIn page said he has worked as a staff scientist for Phillips 66 (PSX.N) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, since May 2017.

Phillips 66 said in a statement it was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a probe involving a "former employee at our Bartlesville location," but declined to comment further.

An FBI affidavit said Phillips 66 called the agency last week to report the theft of trade secrets and Tan told a former co-worker he was leaving to return to China.

The FBI found on Tan's laptop an employment agreement from a Chinese company that has developed production lines for lithium ion battery materials.

Tan accessed files for marketing the trade secret "in cell phone and lithium-based battery systems," the FBI said. Phillips 66 said it has one of two refineries in the world that manufacture the unspecified product.

Tan was responsible for research and development of the U.S. company's battery programme and developing battery technologies using its proprietary processes. Phillips 66 told the FBI it had earned an estimated $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion from the unspecified technology.

[Dec 16, 2018] Writers Silenced by Surveillance Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data by Nik Williams

Notable quotes:
"... Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. ..."
"... As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. ..."
"... In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". ..."
"... At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support. ..."
"... Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" ..."
"... we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye. ..."
"... And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? ..."
"... Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications. ..."
"... Weekly Standard ..."
"... The Great Gatsby ..."
Dec 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Writers Silenced by Surveillance: Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data Posted on December 15, 2018 by Yves Smith Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy

We know what censorship looks like: writers being murdered, attacked or imprisoned; TV and radio stations being shut down; the only newspapers parrot the state; journalists lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth to secure a license or permit; government agencies approving which novels, plays and poetry collections can be published; books being banned or burned or the extreme regulation of access to printing materials or presses. All of these damage free expression, but they leave a fingerprint, something visible that can be measured, but what about self-censorship? This leaves no such mark.

When writers self-censor, there is no record, they just stop writing or avoid certain topics and these decisions are lost to time. Without being able to record and document isolated cases the way we can with explicit government censorship, the only thing we can do is identify potential drivers to self-censorship.

In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. Following these revelations, the UK government pushed through the Investigatory Powers Act , an audacious act that modernised, consolidated and expanded digital surveillance powers. This expansion was opposed by civil rights organisations, (including Scottish PEN where I work), technologists, a number of media bodies and major tech companies, but on 29th November 2016, it received royal assent.

But what did this expansion do to our right to free expression?

As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. Following the Snowden revelations, John Penny at the Oxford Internet Institute analysed traffic to Wikipedia pages on topics designated by the Department of Homeland Security as sensitive and identified "a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned 'al Qaeda,' 'car bomb' or 'Taliban.'" This report was in line with a study by Alex Marthews and Catherine Tucker who found a similar trend in the avoidance of sensitive topics in Google search behaviour in 41 countries. This has significant impact on both free expression and democracy, as outlined by Penney: "If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate."

But it doesn't end with sourcing information. In a study of Facebook, Elizabeth Stoycheff discovered that when faced with holders of majority opinions and the knowledge of government surveillance, holders of minority viewpoints are more likely to "self-censor their dissenting opinions online". If holders of minority opinions step away from online platforms like Facebook, these platforms will only reflect the majority opinion, homogenising discourse and giving a false idea of consensus. Read together, these studies document a slow erosion of the eco-system within which free expression flourishes.

In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". But is this bigger than the US? Scottish PEN, alongside researchers at the University of Strathclyde authored the report, Scottish Chilling: Impact of Government and Corporate Surveillance on Writers to explore the impact of surveillance on Scotland-based writers, asking the question: Is the perception of surveillance a driver to self-censorship? After surveying 118 writers, including novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, translators, editors and publishers, and interviewing a number of participants we uncovered a disturbing trend of writers avoiding certain topics in their work or research, modifying their work or refusing to use certain online tools. 22% of responders have avoided writing or speaking on a particular topic due to the perception of surveillance and 28% have curtailed or avoided activities on social media. Further to this, 82% said that if they knew that the UK government had collected data about their Internet activity they would feel as though their personal privacy had been violated, something made more likely by the passage of the investigatory Powers Act.

At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support.

Literacy concerning the use of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (oftentimes called PETs) is a vital part of how we protect free expression in the digital age, but as outlined by the concerns of a number of the participants, it is largely under-explored outside of the tech community: "I think probably I need to get educated a wee bit more by someone because I think we probably are a bit exposed and a wee bit vulnerable, more than we realize." Another was even more stark about their worries about the available alternatives: "I have no idea about how to use the Internet 'differently'".

When interviewed, a number of writers expressed concerns about how their writing process has changed or is in danger of changing as a result of their awareness of surveillance. One participant who had covered the conflict in Northern Ireland in 70s and 80s stated that they would not cover the conflict in the same manner if it took place now; another stopped writing about child abuse when they thought about what their search history may look to someone else; when they heard of a conviction based on the ownership of the Anarchist Cookbook, a participant who bought a copy for research shredded it. Further to this a participant stated: "I think I would avoid direct research on issues to do with Islamic fundamentalism. I might work on aspects of the theory, but not on interviewing people in the past, I have interviewed people who would be called 'subversives'."

These modifications or avoidance strategies raise a stark and important question: What are we as readers being denied if writers are avoiding sensitive topics? Put another way, what connects the abuse of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, the treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian government on Manus and Nauru, the hiding of billions of pounds by wealthy individuals as revealed in the Panama and Paradise Papers, the deportation of members of the 'Windrush Generation' and the Watergate scandal? In each case, writers revealed to the world what others wanted hidden. Shadows appear less dense if writers are able to explore challenging issues and expose wrongdoing free from the coercive weight of pervasive surveillance. When writers are silenced, even by their own hand, we all suffer.

Surveillance is going nowhere – it is embedded into the fabric of the internet. If we ignore the impact it has on writers, we threaten the very foundations of democracy; a vibrant and cacophonous exchange of ideas and beliefs, alongside what it means to be a writer. In the words of one participant: "You can't exist as a writer if you're self-censoring."

Thuto , December 15, 2018 at 4:18 am

Thanks Yves, this is an important topic. Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" (after all the state wants unfettered access to our digital lives and any attempt by individuals to curtail such access is viewed with suspicion, and maybe even a little contempt).

I trust the takeaway message from this post will resonate with any person who holds what might be considered "heretical" or dissenting views. I'd also argue that it's not just writers who are willingly submitting themselves to this self-censorship straitjacket, ordinary people are themselves sanitizing their views to avoid veering too far off the official line/established consensus on issues, lest they fall foul of the machinery of the security state.

norm de plume , December 15, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Yes – not just 'writers' as in 'those who write for a living or at least partly define themselves as writers in either a creative or an activist sense, or both' – but all of us who do not perceive ourselves as 'writers', only as people who in the course of their lives write a bit here and there, some of it on public platforms such as this, but much of it in emails and texts to friends and family. It wouldn't be quite so bad if the surveillance was only of the public stuff, but we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye.

Staying with the 'not just' for a moment – the threat is not just government security agencies and law enforcement, or indeed Surveillance Valley. It is clear that if egghead techs in those employments are able to crack our lives open then egghead techs in their parent's basement around the corner may be capable of the same intrusions, their actions not subject to any of the official box-ticking govt actors with which govt actors must (or at least should) comply.

And it is not just the danger of govt/sinister 3rd parties identifying potential security (or indeed political or economic) threats out of big data analysis, but the danger of govt and especially interested third parties targeting particular known individuals – political enemies to be sure, but also love rivals, toxic bosses, hated alpha males or queen bitches, supporters of other football clubs, members of other races not deemed fully human,.. the list is as long as that of human hatreds and jealousies. The danger lies not just in the use of the tech to ID threats (real or imagined) but in its application to traduce threats already perceived.

And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? Apparently no fire behind that smoke, but what if there was? The mass US surveillance of other parties prior to UN Iraq deliberations (from the Merkels down to their state-level support bureaucrats) was a fleeting and hastily forgotten glimpse of the reach of TIA, its 'full spectrum dominance', from the heights of top level US-free strategy meetings down to the level of the thoughts and hopes of valets and ostlers to the leaders, who may be useful in turning up references to the peccadilloes of the higher-ups 'go massive – sweep it all up, things related and not'

And it's not just the fear of some sort of official retribution for dissenting political activism that guides our hands away from typing that deeply held but possibly inflammatory and potentially dangerous opinion. Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications.

This is done without human intervention at the individual level but the whole process is set up in such a way that the algorithms are able to neatly, bloodlessly, move applicants for whom certain keywords turned up matches (union or party membership, letters to the editor or blog posts on financial fraud, climate change vanguardism, etc) to the back of the queue, in time producing a grey army of yes people in our bureaucracies.

The normal person's ability to keep pace with (let alone ahead of) the tech disappeared long ago. So when a possible anonymising solution – Tor – crops up but is soon exposed as yet another MI/SV bastard love child, the sense of disappointment is profound. Shocked but not surprised.

Truly, we are surrounded.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 5:57 am

"Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn't it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? "

We already know insurers have been using online searches to discriminate amongst the victimae. The married/unmarried differences in cancer treatments are a confirmation. Self-censorship is a rational decision in seeking information in a linked world. (I gave up on affording insurance, and I do searches for friends; the ads I get are amusing.)

It could be said that journalists have a professional duty, but as the man said, "If you believed something different, you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting."

As the woman said, "If your business depends on a platform, your business is already dead."

(As for the above quote, check the provenance for the relevance.)

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 6:07 am

The quote is, "If your business depends on a platform, you don't have a business."

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 7:08 am

Thank you very much, I had searched and found the variant.

Seriously, do you have a link to the original (post? comment?) I quote you often on this. Or try to.

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 10:46 am

Aaaw ..Lambert may have quoted it in Water Cooler. We've both said it but mainly in comments.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 11:10 am

That's exactly what happened.

I confess I do concatenate your quotes on occasion: "For a currency to function as a reserve currency is tantamount to exporting jobs." Some of your most illuminating statements are in side comments to linked articles.

Means I spend a lot of time reading the site. But then I get to recategorize most other current events sites as 'Entertainment.' And since they're not very, they've been downregulated.

Arizona Slim , December 15, 2018 at 10:11 am

Giving up on affording insurance. That should never happen.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 10:55 am

My choice being shackled e'n more to chains of FIRE, or living a healthy happy life, rather than increasing my stress by fighting institutions, we're investing in ourselves. Good sleep, good food, good exercise.

The basis of our diet is coffee, with cocoa (7% daily fiber with each tablespoon) and organic heavy whipping cream (your fats should be organic (;)). That cream's not cheap; well, actually it is amazingly cheap considering the energy inputs. I'll be fasting soon to murder cancer cells, and fasting also costs, lets see, nothing.

That the best thing you can do is nothing, occasionally, is a strong offset to the institutional framework. Janet's been a nurse 40 years, and every day (truth) we get another instance of not wanting the probisci inserted. Even when we get M4A, we'll be cautious in our approach.

KPC , December 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Pure air, pure water, pure food leads to pura vida or the good life. Paraphrasing the Karma Sutra.

The Rev Kev , December 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

I suppose that here we are looking at the dogs that did not bark for evidence of self-censorship. Certainly my plans to take over the world I do not keep on my computer. I had not considered the matter but I think that a case could be made that this may extend further than just writers. The number of writers that cannot publish in the US but must publish their work in obscure overseas publications is what happens to those who do not seek to self censor. There are other forms of censorship to be true. I read once where there was an editorial meeting for either the Washington Post or New York Times when a story came up that would make Israel look bad. The people at the table looked around and without so much as a nod that story was dropped from publication. Now that is self-censorship.
But I can see this self censorship at work elsewhere. To let my flight take fancy, who will paint the modern "Guernica" in this age? Would there be any chance that a modern studio would ever film something like "The Day After" mentioned in comments yesterday again? With so many great stories to be told, why has Hollywood run itself into a creative ditch and is content to film 1960s TV shows as a movie or a version of Transformers number 32? Where are the novels being written that will come to represent this era in the way that "The Great Gatsby" came to represent the 1920s? My point is that with a total surveillance culture, I have the feeling that this is permeating the culture and creating a chilling effect right across the board and just not in writing.

Tomonthebeach , December 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm

What we are experiencing censorship-wise is nothing new, just more insidious. It is not even a Left/Right politics issue. We just saw Trumpist fascist conservatives KILL the Weekly Standard (an action praised by Trump) for advocating the wrong conservativism. The shift in the televised/streamed media from news to infotainment has enabled neoliberal capitalism to censor any news that might alienate viewers/subscribers to justify obscene charges for advertising. Hilariously, even fascist Laura Ingram got gored by her own neolib ox.

Of course, a certain amount of self-censorship is prudent. Insulting, inflammatory, inciteful, hateful speech seldom animates beneficial change – just pointless violence (an sometimes law suits). Americans especially are so hung up on "free speech" rights that they too often fail to realize that no speech is truly free . There are always consequences for the purveyor, good and bad. Ask any kid on the playground with a bloody nose.

I would like to see some Google traitor write an article on the latest semantic analysis algorithms and tools. Thanks to the government, nobody but the FEDs and Google have access to these new tools that can mine terabytes of speech in seconds to highlight global patterns which might indicate plotting or organizing that might be entirely legal. I have been trying for years to get access to the newer unobtainable tools to help improve the development of diagnostic and monitoring self-report health measures. Such tools can also quickly scan journals to highlight and coordinate findings to accelerate new discoveries. For now, they are used to determine if your emails indicate you are a jihadist terrorist or dope peddler, or want to buy a Toyota or a Ford.

lyman alpha blob , December 15, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Where are the novels ?

Rhetorical I know, but Don DeLillo is quite good. It was in his novel Libra , although arguably from/about a different era at this point, where it first hit home to me that the Blob really does manipulate the media to its own ends all the time. And you can't swing a cat without hitting a terrorist in his books.

But to your point, DeLillo is pretty old at this point and I'm hard pressed to think of anyone picking up his mantle. And none of his novels, as brilliant as some of them might be, rise to the level of The Great Gatsby in the popular imagination to begin with.

cnchal , December 15, 2018 at 8:06 am

The surveillance people are the nicest, kindest human beings that have only your best interest at heart.

They would never break down your door and terrorize you for searching online for a pressure cooker and if you heard stories that they did that, the surveillancers have an answer for you, it's fake news, and if you persisted in not believing them, there are other methods of persuasion to get you to change your mind or at least shut up about it.

Carolinian , December 15, 2018 at 9:50 am

That pressure cooker story gets a lot of mileage. While there is undoubtedly a lot of surveillance it might be interesting to see a story on just how much of it leads to actual arrests on real or trumped up charges. Here's suggesting that the paranoia induced by books like Surveillance Valley is over the top in the same way that TV news' focus on crime stories causes the public to think that crime is rampant when it may actually be declining.

That said, journalists who indulge their vanity with Facebook or Twitter accounts are obviously asking for it. And the journalistic world in general needs to become a lot more technologically "literate" and realize that Youtube videos can be faked as well as how to separate the internet wheat from the chaff. Plus there's that old fashioned way of learning a story that is probably the way most stories are still reported: talking to people–hopefully in a room that hasn't been bugged.

Just to add that while the above may apply to America that doesn't mean the web isn't a much more sinister phenomenon in countries like China with its new social trust score. We must make sure the US never goes there.

Jeremy Grimm , December 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm

For your first sentence I think you are referencing:
The surveillance people are "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being[s] I've ever known in my life." (ref. Statement by Major Marco about Raymond Shaw from 1962 and 2004 movies "The Manchurian Candidate"). ?
Maybe you need some refresher re-education.

thoughtful person , December 15, 2018 at 8:25 am

Expression of minority opinions and surpressed information is not a safe activity, thus we self censor. However reality asserts itself and perhaps in those moments one can more safely express alternate points of view. As far as writing online i worry about the future – with everything recorded and searchable, will we at some point be facing round ups of dissidents? What kind of supression will stressed governments and corporate hierarchies do in the future?

juliania , December 15, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" is a case in point, and not about the future either.

William Hunter Duncan , December 15, 2018 at 10:43 am

I think the last blog post I wrote that was linked here at NC was called "TPP is Treason."

I was writing and was published on the Internet from 2011-2016. I continue to write, but I no longer publish anything online, I closed my Facebook account, and I rarely comment on articles outside of NC, especially anywhere I have to give up a digital-ton of personal info and contacts just to say a few words one time.

Goodness knows I do not worry a bit about fundamentalist Islamic militancy. Do I have any anxiety about jackbooted "law enforcement" mercenaries in riot gear and automatic rifles breaking down my door at the behest, basically, of the corporate/banking/billionaire, neoliberal/neoconservative status quo, my big mouth excoriating these elite imperialists, at the same time asset forfeiture laws are on the books and I can have EVERYTHING taken from me for growing a single plant of cannabis, or even having any cannabis in my house, or not, all they have to report to a complicit media and prosecutorial State is that I was growing cannabis when there was none.

Of course there is little danger of that if I am not publishing, and hardly anyone knows I ever have, and no one currently is paying any attention.

The fact in America at least is, as long as the status quo is secure, TPTB don't really care what I write, as long as they do not perceive it as a threat, and the only way they would is if a LOT of people are listening But still, there is nothing more terrifying on earth than America's Law/Corporate/Bank/Privatized Military/Media imperialist State, chilling to say the least, evidenced in the extreme by a distracted, highly manipulated and neutered citizenry.

Wukchumni , December 15, 2018 at 10:52 am

"My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."

"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai Stevenson

rjs , December 15, 2018 at 11:32 am

Caitlin Johnstone has written about her own self-censorship a few times; her's one:

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/10/16/self-censorship-where-the-real-damage-is-being-done/

shinola , December 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Siri? Alexa? Just volunteer.

Orwell was prescient. It just took a bit longer & is more commercialized than he anticipated.

Stratos , December 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm

So true. Surveillance sold as convenience -- -or "connection" (facebook and twitter, et. al.)

[Dec 15, 2018] Pwnie Awards

Dec 15, 2018 | pwnies.com

Lifetime Achievement Award

Most hackers have the personality of a supermodel who does discrete mathematics for fun. Like mathematicians, hackers get off on solving very obscure and difficult to even explain problems. Like models, hackers wear a lot of black, think they are more famous than they are, and their career effectively ends at age 30. Either way, upon entering one's third decade, it is time to put down the disassembler and consider a relaxing job in management.

[Dec 12, 2018] Freedom and privacy have been eroded by the malicious actions of psychopaths. The tech itself is like a fence. The destruction of liberty is like English kleptocrats forcing peasants off the commons and fencing the land into sheep pens. Don't blame fence technology; don't blame the sheep; blame the kleptocrats.

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

[Dec 12, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net
  1. Mary Margaret Flynn permalink April 24, 2016

    I am remembering the movie "Other Peoples' Lives", about the Stasi in East Germany before 1989; a terrific and even more terrifying today (than when I first saw it) about surveillance of every one by corporations and governments. the wall has come down, we've had the Middle East "Spring" but nothing is changed.

[Dec 10, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 10, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

What the Infotech/Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done 2016 April 23 tags: Infotech revolution , Telecom Revolution by Ian Welsh Globe on Fire There's a great deal of talk about how wonderful modern technology is. The internet, cell phones, and computers are the stars of this firmament. I believe such talk is somewhat overblown; the latest tech revolution is not as significant as many that have come before .

At least not in terms of doing good.

Let us examine what all this infotech really has changed.

Control. Massive control. Surveillance.

Just in time inventory. Not possible 50 years ago.

Second to second tracking of workers without having to have a supervisor physically watching them. Amazon warehouse workers carry devices which allow their workflow to be tracked to the second. And if they aren't making their seconds, the supervisor is right on them. This wasn't possible 30 years ago. If you wanted to have that sort of control, you had to have a supervisor physically watching them, and the cost was prohibitive.

This sort of tracking is used for clerical workers as well.

Outsourcing work that had to be kept domestic before. The massive call centers in Delhi and Ireland were not possible even 30 years ago. The cost was simply prohibitive.

Offshoring work, like manufacturing, was difficult to offshore before. Without real-time, high-density communications, cutting edge manufacturing overseas was very difficult in the past. You could offshore some things, certainly, but those industries tended to be mature industries: shipbuilding, textiles, and so on. Cutting edge industries, no, they had to be located close to the boffins or they were offshored to another, essentially First World country–as when Britain offshored much of their production to the United States in the late 19th century.

Commercial surveillance. Everything you buy is cross referenced. When you buy something at a major retailers, the store takes a picture of you and matches it with your information. All online purchase information is stored and centralized in databases. This information is shared. This includes, but goes far beyond, internet surveillance; witness Google or Facebook serving you ads based on what you've read or searched. Add this data to credit reports, bank accounts, and so on, and it provides a remarkably complete picture of your life, because everything you buy with anything but cash (and even some of that) is tracked. Where you are when you buy it is also tracked.

Government surveillance. Millions of cameras in London and most other First World cities. Millions of cameras in Chinese cities. Some transit systems now have audio surveillance. Because the government can seize any private surveillance as well, you can assume you're being tracked all day in most First World cities. Add this to the commercial surveillance system described above and the picture of your life is startlingly accurate.

As biometric recognition system comes online (face, gait, infrared, and more) this work will be done automatically.

What the telecom and infotech revolution has done is enable wide scale CONTROL and SURVEILLANCE.

These are two sides of the same coin, you can't control people if you don't what they're doing.

This control is most dictatorial, amusingly, in the private sector. The worse a job is, the more this sort of control has been used for super-Taylorization, making humans into little more than remotely controlled flesh robots.

It has made control of international conglomerates far easier; control from the top to the periphery far easier. This is true in the government and the military as well, where central commanders often control details like when bombs drop, rather than leaving it to a plane's crew.

This is a world where only a few people have practical power. It is a world, not of radical decentralization, but of radical centralization.

This is a vast experiment. In the past, there have been surveillance and control societies. But the math on them has always been suspect. Sometimes they work, and work brilliantly–like in Tokugawa Japan, certain periods of Confucian Chinese bureaucratic control, or ancient Egypt.

But often they have been defeated, and fairly easily, by societies which allowed more freedom; less control, less spying, and supervision. Societies which assumed people knew what to do on their own; or just societies that understood that the cost of close supervision and surveillance was too high to support.

The old East German Stasi model, with one-third of the population spying on the other two-thirds was the ludicrous extension of this.

What the telecom and infotech revolutions have actually enabled is a vast experiment in de-skilling, surveillance, and control–beyond the dreams even of the late 19th century Taylorist movement, with their stopwatches and assembly lines. Nothing people do, from what they eat, to what entertainment they consume, to when and how well they sleep; let alone everything they do during their working day, is beyond reach.

This is not to say there are no good results from infotech and computers -- there are plenty. But contrary to the idea that these technologies would increase freedom, they appear, on a daily basis, to have decreased freedom and privacy and promise to radically reduce them even more.

The second set of questions about any technology are how it can be used for violence, how it can be used for control, and how it can be used for ideological production.

(The first question, of course, is what is required to use it. More on that another time.)

Infotech may enable totalitarian societies which make those of the past look like kindergarten. We are already far past the technology used in the novel 1984 (Big Brother could not record, for example). That much of this surveillance is done by private actors as opposed to the government, does not reduce the loss of freedom, autonomy, and privacy.

Combined with making humans obsolete, infotech and the telecom revolution are as vastly important as their boosters say.

But, so far, not in a beneficial way. Yes, they could be used to make human lives better, it seems the real traction of the telecom and infotech revolutions remarkably began/coincided with neo-liberal policies which have hurt vast numbers of people in both the First and Third Worlds–precisely because they helped make those neo-liberal policies work.

Technologies are never neutral and there is no guarantee that "progress" will actually improve people's lives. Even if a technology has the potential to improve people's lives, potential is theoretical; i.e., not the same as practice.

Infotech and telecom tech are primarily control technologies, the same as writing was. They vastly increase the ability to centralize and to control a population's behaviour.

(Read also: The Late Internet Revolution is Not So Big A Deal )

[Dec 10, 2018] Facebook, Whatsup and Brazilian elections

Dec 10, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Over the last few years, the potentially damaging impact of the internet, and particularly social media, on democracy has increasingly come to dominate the news. The recently disclosed internal Facebook emails, which revealed that employees discussed allowing developers to harvest user data for a fee, are but the latest in a long line of scandals surrounding social media platforms. Facebook has also been accused, alongside Twitter, of fuelling the spread of false information. In October, the Brazilian newspaper Folha exposed how Jair Bolsonaro's candidacy benefited from a coordinated disinformation campaign conducted via Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook. And there are growing concerns that this tactic could be used to skew the Indian general elections in April.

[Dec 09, 2018] Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Notable quotes:
"... Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military Reuters. EM: "Wow, this guy is clueless even by top-brass standards. For example: Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones." Moi: I assume this is intended for the great unwashed masses, to give them the impression that Google and the surveillance state are not joined at the hip.

Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

Re: Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military

I will be more interested when the employees of a tech company revolt over the development of technology used to monitor workers or put them out of work. It is easier to oppose military projects because they smack of something out of The Terminator films while developments like Neo-Taylorism are not as obviously evil but are perhaps just as inhuman and socially destructive.

Molly , December 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm

I'm involved with the Tech Workers Coalition, although I only speak for myself as a member. Some of my fellow members were involved in the Google organizing against project Maven, and also Dragonfly. In the last few months there have also been organized actions at Amazon and Salesforce in opposition to working with ICE. Various TWC members are also involved in partnering with food service and janitorial staff around worker organizing and improving working conditions. One of the efforts I'm starting to get involved with is a more organized network for mutual aid and disaster relief in the Bay Area, in the wake of this year's fire season.

Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people.

Tech culture, especially in Silicon Valley, teaches workers to identify with the company completely. At Google you are a Googler. At Pivotal you are a Pivot. We refer to each other this way, inside and outside of work. We are working against that conditioning when we organize, so starting with "Let's not build things that blow humans into burning bits" is helpful.

[Dec 09, 2018] Large corporation like Facebooka and Google are profoundly undemocratic and have ties with intelligence agencies on multiple level including the level of founders

Notable quotes:
"... A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House . ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

... ... ...

Yet, reality could be bleeker. A handful of private companies control the information that is needed to understand how the online ecosystem works. They manage the key infrastructure, and most experts in the field are running this infrastructure after having signed non-disclosure agreements. Thus, Plato's Allegory of the Cave might be a more fitting metaphor. Control over key data allows these companies to play the role of shadow-masters. They get the chance to reveal only the portions of reality they find convenient, defining how the general public perceives the online space. Information scarcity is therefore not just the natural consequence of the internet's novelty; it is created artificially and for strategic purposes: To shape public opinion.

Should we break up these big companies? Should we allow them to continue growing, but under strict, utility-type rules? Should we do nothing? Whatever we do should be the result of a robust public debate. One that is based on the best available evidence regarding the effects the internet is having on power relations, and is therefore capable of defining the set of actions that would best serve the public interest. In short, at this point, we need key information to be disclosed and available for public scrutiny. But information is power – and it is unlikely to be disclosed voluntarily. It might require regulation.

When food production became industrialized, the US Government created the Food and Drug Administration, which was tasked with monitoring and disclosing information regarding compliance with quality standards. When government became too complex for the average citizen to navigate, ombuds offices sprouted across the globe. As an independent institution of government, ombuds were given the duty and power to investigate how government units work, and report on matters concerning people's rights. The current situation requires exploring a similarly bold institutional reform. One focused on ensuring the data needed to inform public debate is made available by the tech industry.

Most people scoffed at the limited understanding of our digital world members of the US Congress revealed when they grilled Mark Zuckerberg . And yet its likely Facebook is not the only company behaving recklessly, nor the US Senators the only public representatives that are "ignorant".

What we have is a growing gap between where power lies and where the institutions that seek to hold it accountable to the people operate. Such institutions are incapable of allowing democratically elected leaders to deliver their campaign promises. This is what is ultimately triggering social tensions and undermining trust in our democracies. We need our institutions to interpret these tensions as red flags and a call for a new social contract. And we need institutions to react now. This situation goes far beyond the debate around digitalization. Yet the online space is our future, and is therefore where this gap is most visible and urgent.

If our current institutions of government fail to ensure the ongoing technological revolution puts people first, these institutions will sooner or later be rendered irrelevant.

A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House .


James McRitchie , December 8, 2018 at 10:16 am

Facebook is a dictatorship of one. Alphabet is a dictatorship of two. As long as corporate governance is anti-democratic that will have an unfortunately negative impact on civil society. I hope shareholders in these and other companies will vote in favor of proposals by NorthStar and others to phase out multi-class share structures, require that directors get at least a majority vote to take office, do away with supermajority voting requirements, etc.

Michael Fiorillo , December 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

The Internet was "born in sin," developed as it was to maintain communications during a nuclear holocaust against a fundamentally fake threat.

Let's remember that the Soviet Union, however repressive it may have been toward its own people and those in satellite countries, never posed the existential threat to the US that was claimed. Rather, as Senator Arthur Brandenburg of Michigan infamously told Harry Truman at the dawn of the Cold War, it would be necessary "to scare the hell out of the American people" to get them to turn against their former Soviet allies, which the State and compliant media spent the next forty years doing, often/largely producing weapons that don't work against enemies that don't exist.

How has the Internet ever not been a tool of the national security state, and why should we have ever expected otherwise?

Nick Stokes , December 8, 2018 at 3:31 pm

The internet is "mind control" for the elite. By making basic bias of the individual easy to qualify and nuture

...

precariat , December 8, 2018 at 5:45 pm

While the discussion of of the need for new paradigms for regulation and accountability -- lest democratic or civil institutions become irrelevant -- is very much needed, I am bewildered by the framing of the discussion to only the internet. The internet is just one, interactive and immediately visible use of technology that has the potential to undermine a fair society.

Some of the most insidious and destructive uses of data technology is not on the internet; it's tools and processes used by previously trusted corporations, governments, and institutions that is not regulated, not transparent and not accountable. So framing the discussion with the 'internet' seems disengenuous.

[Dec 05, 2018] Facebook Struck Secret Deals To Sell Preferential User Data; Used VPN App To Spy On Competitors

Notable quotes:
"... They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless. ..."
"... Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them). ..."
"... Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall. ..."
"... Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that. ..."
Dec 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Update: As the giant cache of newly released internal emails has also revealed, Karissa Bell of Mashable notes that Facebook used a VPN app to spy on its competitors .

The internal documents , made public as part of a cache of documents released by UK lawmakers, show just how close an eye the social network was keeping on competitors like WhatsApp and Snapchat , both of which became acquisition targets.

Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat that year for $3 billion -- an offer Snap CEO Evan Spiegel rejected . (Facebook then spent years attempting, unsuccessfully, to copy Snapchat before finally kneecapping the app by cloning Stories.)

...

Facebook's presentation relied on data from Onavo, the virtual private network (VPN) service which Facebook also acquired several months later . Facebook's use of Onavo, which has been likened to "corporate spyware," has itself been controversial.

The company was forced to remove Onavo from Apple's App Store earlier this year after Apple changed its developer guidelines to prohibit apps from collecting data about which other services are installed on its users' phones. Though Apple never said the new rules were aimed at Facebook, the policy change came after repeated criticism of the social network by Apple CEO Tim Cook. - Mashable

A top UK lawmaker said on Wednesday that Facebook maintained secretive "whitelisting agreements" with select companies that would give them preferential access to vast amounts of user data, after the parliamentary committee released documents which had been sealed by a California court, reports Bloomberg .

The documents - obtained in a sealed California lawsuit and leaked to the UK lawmaker during a London business trip, include internal emails involving CEO Mark Zuckerberg - and led committee chair Damian Collins to conclude that Facebook gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data for their apps, while shutting off access to data used by competing apps. Facebook also allegedly conducted global surveys of mobile app usage by customers - likely without their knowledge , and that "a change to Facebook's Android app policy resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made difficult for users to know about," according to Bloomberg.

In one email, dated Feb. 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would "continually upload" a user's call and SMS history would be a "high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective." A subsequent email suggests users wouldn't need to be prompted to give permission for this feature to be activated. - Bloomberg

The emails also reveal that Zuckerberg personally approved limiting hobbling Twitter's Vine video-sharing tool by preventing users from finding their friends on Facebook.

In one email, dated Jan. 23 2013, a Facebook engineer contacted Zuckerberg to say that rival Twitter Inc. had launched its Vine video-sharing tool, which users could connect to Facebook to find their friends there. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, " Yup, go for it ."

"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents," said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails. - Bloomberg

We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.

-- Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) December 5, 2018

Thousands of digital documents were passed to Collins on a London business trip by Ted Kramer, founder of app developer Six4Three, who obtained them during legal discovery in a lawsuit against Facebook. Kramer developed Pikinis, an app which allowed people to find photos of Facebook users wearing Bikinis. The app used Facebook's data which was accessed through a feed known as an application programming interface (API) - allowing Six4Three to freely search for bikini photos of Facebook friends of Pikini's users.

Facebook denied the charges, telling Bloomberg in an emailed statement: "Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform," adding "We've never sold people's data."

A small number of documents already became public last week, including descriptions of emails suggesting that Facebook executives had discussed giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch its mobile-ad business. The alleged practice started around seven years ago but has become more relevant this year because the practices in question -- allowing outside developers to gather data on not only app users but their friends -- are at the heart of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook said last week that the picture offered by those documents was misleadingly crafted by Six4Three's attorneys. - WaPo

"The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context," said Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, who added: "We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience."

Kramer was ordered by a California state court judge on Friday to surrender his laptop to a forensic expert after he admitted giving the UK committee the documents. The order stopped just short of holding the company in contempt as Facebook had requested, however after a hearing, California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope told Kramer that he may issue sanctions and a contempt order at a later date.

"What has happened here is unconscionable," said Swope. "Your conduct is not well-taken by this court. It's one thing to serve other needs that are outside the scope of this lawsuit. But you don't serve those needs, or satisfy those curiosities, when there's a court order preventing you to do so ."

Trouble in paradise?

As Facebook is now faced with yet another data harvesting related scandal, Buzzfeed reports that internal tensions within the company are boiling over - claiming that "after more than a year of bad press, internal tensions are reaching a boiling point and are now spilling out into public view."

Throughout the crises, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who maintains majority shareholder control, has proven remarkably immune to outside pressure and criticism -- from politicians, investors, and the press -- leaving his employees as perhaps his most important stakeholders. Now, as its stock price declines and the company's mission of connecting the world is challenged, the voices inside are growing louder and public comments, as well as private conversations shared with BuzzFeed News, suggest newfound uncertainty about Facebook's future direction.

Internally, the conflict seems to have divided Facebook into three camps: those loyal to Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; those who see the current scandals as proof of a larger corporate meltdown ; and a group who see the entire narrative -- including the portrayal of the company's hiring of communications consulting firm Definers Public Affairs -- as examples of biased media attacks. - Buzzfeed

"It's otherwise rational, sane people who're in Mark's orbit spouting full-blown anti-media rhetoric, saying that the press is ganging up on Facebook," said a former senior employee. "It's the bunker mentality. These people have been under siege for 600 days now. They're getting tired, getting cranky -- the only survival strategy is to quit or fully buy in."

A Facebook spokesperson admitted to BuzzFeed that this is "a challenging time."


Madcow , 7 minutes ago link

When exactly did [neo]Liberal Dems become enthusiastic cheerleaders for rapacious profit-maximizing corporations acting illegally against the public interest?

Why would "progressives" want to shield Facebook from anti-trust legislation? Compared to the 1950s / 60s / 70s ... it seems like "liberals" and "conservatives" have switched roles.

smacker , 2 hours ago link

Why is it that Zucker.slime.berg and so many other people of his ilk are basically crooks. They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless.

The world would be better off without them. Who would miss Phacephuq?

pedoland , 2 hours ago link

Dumb **** gets caught saying dumb ****.

Stop using the dumb ****'s website.

Tirion , 2 hours ago link

Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them).

Get your faces out of your phones and look around you and see what's happening. Humanity is becoming digital. This is a control mechanism. To regain its sovereignty, humanity needs to unite spiritually and head in a new direction. Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall.

Fluff The Cat , 2 hours ago link

Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that.

DEDA CVETKO , 2 hours ago link

Secrecy? In American elitist establishment, the most transparent Skull-and-Boner tomb in history? NOOOOOOOOooooooo....!!!!

Idiocracy's Not Sure , 3 hours ago link

In the USA we have always had will always have corruption to the fullest extent possible. I know rich and powerful people who are very well connected and if the average person knew what they truly think they would be freakin pissed!!

[Dec 01, 2018] Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

Dec 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon [190] Disclaimer , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:41 am GMT

I'm familiar with information retrieval tech and worked for a small non-U.S. search engine that was acquired by a major American search engine (not Google) in the late 20th century. I've kept up with things as much as one can do from the outside since then.

I do not buy the conspiracy angle here. I believe Google when they say that they are relying on automated algorithms.

You cannot really compare Google with any other search engine. DDG is a guy in his pajamas coding it all by himself (and I respect that). Bing on the other hand has a good team of talented information retrieval engineers, but they are nowhere near as well staffed as Google

In addition, a lot of Google's quirks derive from the fact that they are the big guys. Hackers and spammers and black hat SEOs target Google, looking for exploitable patterns. Nobody cares how they rank in Bing and DDG, so nobody targets them. Google thus has to plug the dike in all kinds of ways that the other search engines don't have to worry about.

Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some higher level component in their search software that is intended to combat black hat SEO is inadvertently skewing results in a way that seems to favor the left, in the same way that AI software tends to come to the conclusion that blacks commit a lot of crime and are not the best employees, although nobody programmed it to do that. And it is possible that when the skew is anti

Google Suggest was throwing out "Islamists are terrorists," "blacks are not oppressed," "hitler is my hero," "white supremacy is good," and so on.

Google is micro-gaslighting again, by Steve Sailer - The Unz Review

Tyrion 2 , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:49 am GMT

@anonymous It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/11/29/18117906/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-2017-life-expectancy

meh , says: November 30, 2018 at 10:22 am GMT
@Tyrion 2

It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

You are being remarkably obtuse.

Google is for the masses; what they do or don't do actually matters in terms of public perception.

Vox is for the policy elite and will make no impact on the public consciousness; it isn't meant for the masses.

Note that elite or specialist media have been talking about the opioid crisis for years, and yet the topic has never made it out to the public consciousness or public discourse at large, nor has it had any reception in the political sphere beyond mere platitudes, which anyone who was not been paying attention to the topic would even understand.

Amusingly, though, if you do a Ctrl F on article you link to, the name "Sackler" nowhere appears.

The point is how the elites control the public discourse, by keeping certain topics obscure to the public at large, while the elites and their hired professionals and Mandarins talk amongst themselves; a discourse not meant for the larger public.

But anyway, no one ever said that no one at all in the mass media was talking about the opioid crisis; this is just your implied strawman.

The topic was Google; you are simply using a diversion, i.e., moving the goalposts to the media at large.

[Nov 26, 2018] For those who have doubts that Facebook is controlled by intelligence agencies

Notable quotes:
"... yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0. ..."
Nov 26, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk

Isa , October 23, 2018 at 18:05

Off topic but it's an excellent article .

https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/10/23/facebook-censorship-of-alternative-media-just-the-beginning-says-top-neocon-insider/

SA , October 23, 2018 at 18:35

Note the role of the Atlantic council in this censorship. It is also subsiding the misinformation website called Bellingcat.

pretzelattack , October 23, 2018 at 19:35

yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0.

[Nov 25, 2018] UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting -- RT UK News

Notable quotes:
"... "malicious and fraudulent scheme" ..."
"... "We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," ..."
"... "to refrain from reviewing them" ..."
"... "return them to counsel or to Facebook." ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | www.rt.com

Published time: 25 Nov, 2018 04:39 Get short URL UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting © Global Look Press / ZUMAPRESS.com / Panoramic The UK Parliament has taken hold of documents from Facebook that may shed light on the online giant's carefree approach to user privacy amid claims that it was fully aware of user data loopholes exploited by Cambridge Analytica. The documents were seized from the founder of US tech startup Six4Three, who was on a business trip to the UK, the Guardian reported , citing MP Damian Collins, chair of the Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The DCMS is in charge of investigating a siphoning of Facebook user data by UK consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The news on the massive data breach broke in March with Facebook later admitting the data of up to 87 million people might have been shared with Cambridge Analytica without their explicit consent. Read more Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington 'In-house fake news shop' – Facebook facing new scandal and losing friends

It is alleged that the data was harvested to target the users in political campaigns, including in former UKIP leader Nigel Farage's Leave.EU campaign.

The UK parliamentary investigators used the former Six4Three top executive's brief stay in London to force him to hand over documents his firm had obtained from a US court in Six4Three's own lawsuit against Facebook.

The Guardian reported that the tech entrepreneur was warned he might go to jail or face a hefty fine if he refuses to comply with the British authorities' request.

The documents, which are now to be reviewed by the British MPs, are said to include a confidential correspondence between Facebook's senior officials, including Mark Zuckerberg, who has so far snubbed requests to testify before parliament.

The lawsuit Six4Three, an app-developing startup, brought against Facebook back in 2015, alleges that Zuckerberg was personally involved in a "malicious and fraudulent scheme" and deliberately left loopholes for data-harvesting companies to fend off competition.

The documents are expected to reveal the scope of the Facebook CEO's involvement in the alleged scheme.

"We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," Collins said.

Six4Three is in a long-running litigation with Facebook over the demise of its app Pikinis, that allowed users to scan through friends' photos in an automatic search for bikini pics. After Facebook disabled the function that allowed apps to access users' friend lists, Six4Three filed a complaint against Facebook, arguing that it hurt its business model by no longer permitting customers to share the data. Facebook argues that the allegations of its improper handling of personal data have nothing to do with the lawsuit and had unsuccessfully fought the release of its internal documents to Six4Three. The documents were provided to the startup by the San Mateo Superior Court in California and are subject to a non-disclosure order, meaning that are unlikely to be revealed to the public.

In response to the seizure of the documents by British MPs, Facebook has urged lawmakers "to refrain from reviewing them" while calling to "return them to counsel or to Facebook."

Zuckerberg has previously denied that he knew of illegal harvesting of user data by Cambridge Analytica before the breach was reported in the media.

It is alleged that Facebook's off-hand approach to personal data might have helped to alter the outcome of the Brexit vote. In March, former director of research at Cambridge Analytica, Chris Wylie, testified before MPs that the research carried out by a Canadian company with ties to Cambridge Analytica before 2016 Brexit referendum might have swayed the vote.

[Nov 16, 2018] US Is Optimistic It Will Prosecute Assange

Nov 15, 2018 | www.wsj.com

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against the WikiLeaks founder

The Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, according to people in Washington familiar with the matter. Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012...

The exact charges Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.

[Nov 15, 2018] Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself.

Nov 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Retail: "This time, Amazon has gone too far: Jeff Bezos's company is profiting and taxpayers are paying the price" [Matt Stoller, New York Daily News ]. The conclusion: "Fundamentally, Amazon is simply too powerful. It isn't just about subsidies. It isn't that merchants, or local businesses, or warehouse workers, or communities are being mistreated or misled. It's that Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself. It controls elected officials, acquired the power to tax, and works with government to avoid sunshine laws. It's time to recognize the truth about this company. Two-day shipping might be really convenient, but at least in its current form, Amazon and democracy are incompatible." • Very good to see Stoller in the New York Daily News!

Retail: "Amazon's Last Mile" [ Gizmodo ]. "Near the very bottom of Amazon's complicated machinery is a nearly invisible workforce over two years in the making tasked with getting those orders to your doorstep. It's a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws. That program is called Amazon Flex, and it accomplishes Amazon's "last-mile" deliveries -- the final journey from a local facility to the customer . Flex is indicative of two alarming trends: the unwillingness of legislators to curb harmful practices of tech behemoths run amok, and a shift towards less protected, more precarious opportunities in a stagnant job market.' • Read for the detail. It sounds as hellish as Amazon's warehouses.

Retail: "Desperately Seeking Cities" [ n+1 ]. "It is beyond question that, in whatever city it chose to grace, Amazon would bring neither the jobs that that city needed, nor the public works that it needed. In his latest variation on the urbanist delusion, written for the Financial Times, the much-pilloried Richard Florida plaintively appealed to Amazon not to "accept any tax or financial incentives," but rather to pledge to "invest alongside cities to create better jobs, build more affordable housing, and develop better schools, transit, and other badly needed public goods, along with paying its fair share of taxes." The depths of Florida's naiveté cannot be overstated. Not only is Amazon categorically unlikely to pledge what he wants (or, even if it did, make even the slightest effort to deliver on such a pledge), but Florida openly expresses his desire to cede all urban political power and every human demand to the whims of the company. In this respect, too, the Amazon HQ2 contest has been clarifying."

[Nov 12, 2018] Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Use Design To Trick You Into Handing Over Your Data, Report Warns

Notable quotes:
"... There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath. ..."
Nov 12, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A study from the Norwegian Consumer Council dug into the underhanded tactics used by Microsoft, Facebook, and Google to collect user data . "The findings include privacy intrusive default settings, misleading wording, giving users an illusion of control, hiding away privacy-friendly choices, take-it-or-leave-it choices, and choice architectures where choosing the privacy friendly option requires more effort for the users," states the report , which includes images and examples of confusing design choices and strangely worded statements involving the collection and use of personal data.

Google makes opting out of personalized ads more of a chore than it needs to be and uses multiple pages of text, unclear design language, and, as described by the report, "hidden defaults" to push users toward the company's desired action. "If the user tried to turn the setting off, a popup window appeared explaining what happens if Ads Personalization is turned off, and asked users to reaffirm their choice," the report explained. "There was no explanation about the possible benefits of turning off Ads Personalization, or negative sides of leaving it turned on." Those who wish to completely avoid personalized ads must traverse multiple menus, making that "I agree" option seem like the lesser of two evils. In Windows 10, if a user wants to opt out of "tailored experiences with diagnostic data," they have to click a dimmed lightbulb, while the symbol for opting in is a brightly shining bulb, says the report.

Another example has to do with Facebook. The social media site makes the "Agree and continue" option much more appealing and less intimidating than the grey "Manage Data Settings" option. The report says the company-suggested option is the easiest to use. "This 'easy road' consisted of four clicks to get through the process, which entailed accepting personalized ads from third parties and the use of face recognition. In contrast, users who wanted to limit data collection and use had to go through 13 clicks."

dromgodis ( 4533247 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:50AM ( #56858014 )

Re:And if you optout it just makes you even more o ( Score: 5 , Informative)

You seem to be keeping your gaze too low. You are not just a target for buying stuff; you are also a target for modifying your opinion and behaviour in politics and other questions.

You can be targeted through other vectors than traditional ads, e.g. notification flows, news flows, ads-or-propaganda-disguised-as-news, product placement, insurance company policies, employability, police knocking on your door, ...

As an extreme, think China. The view we outsiders get is that if they collect the wrong data about you, they will *target* you in a way that no ad-blocker will stop.

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

Never attribute to malice ( Score: 3 ) by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @03:40AM ( #56858106 )

what can be attributed to three companies who are some of the worst offenders of screwing up general UI design.

Who the hell cares about my privacy settings when I can no longer safely use maps for navigation due to its shitty settings of minimising into a useless picture in picture everytime there's a hiccup on my phone and has removed the option to force audio output throught the speaker meaning I can't hear it with bluetooth on either.

Who the hell cares about privacy settings on a website that makes it borderline impossible to easily scroll through past messages, or whose mobile app doesn't let you post pictures because it ends up in a select picture loop.

And as for Microsoft, one word... err two words: Start Menu *raises middle finger*

triffid_98 ( 899609 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:29AM ( #56857984 )
Re: Gee, what a surprise ... ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

While Facebook is avoidable good luck avoiding Microsoft and Google if you're not a member of the zombie Steve Jobs fan club...that said, whatever they extract is far less damaging than the Equifax breach, after that I'd say cell phone carriers and all of the historical gps data they share with third parties without your consent. Just like the instigators of the 2008 global financial meltdown the penalties = zero dollars.

Raenex ( 947668 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @06:28AM ( #56858434 )
Re: Alternatives ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

You sound like a Google employee. There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath.

[Nov 12, 2018] DEA And ICE Hiding Secret Cameras In Streetlights

Modern technology makes many things possible, but it does not make them cheap... The camera needs to work in pretty adverse conditions (think about the temperature inside the light on a hot summer day, and temperature at winter) and transmit signal somewhere via WiFi (which has range less then 100m) , or special cable that needs to be installed for this particular pole. With wifi there should be many collection units which also cost money. So it make sense only for streetlights adjacent to building with Internet networking. And there are already cameras of the highway, so highways are basically covered. Which basically limits this technology to cities. Just recoding without transmission would be much cheaper (transmission on demand). Excessive paranoia here is not warranted.
Nov 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

According to new government procurement data, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have purchased an undisclosed number of secret surveillance cameras that are being hidden in streetlights across the country.

Quartz first reported this dystopian development of federal authorities stocking up on "covert systems" last week. The report showed how the DEA paid a Houston, Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. approximately $22,000 since June for "video recording and reproducing equipment." ICE paid out about $28,000 to Cowboy Streetlight Concealments during the same period.

"It's unclear where the DEA and ICE streetlight cameras have been installed, or where the next deployments will take place. ICE offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio have provided funding for recent acquisitions from Cowboy Streetlight Concealments; the DEA's most recent purchases were funded by the agency's Office of Investigative Technology, which is located in Lorton, Virginia," said Quartz.

Below is the list Of contract actions for Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. Vendor_Duns_Number: "085189089" on the Federal Procurement Database:

Christie Crawford, who co-owns Cowboy Streetlight Concealments with her husband, said she was not allowed to talk about the government contracts in detail.

"We do streetlight concealments and camera enclosures," Crawford told Quartz. "Basically, there's businesses out there that will build concealments for the government and that's what we do. They specify what's best for them, and we make it. And that's about all I can probably say."

However, she added: "I can tell you this -- things are always being watched. It doesn't matter if you're driving down the street or visiting a friend, if government or law enforcement has a reason to set up surveillance, there's great technology out there to do it."

Quartz notes that the DEA issued a solicitation for "concealments made to house network PTZ [Pan-Tilt-Zoom] camera, cellular modem, cellular compression device," last Monday. According to solicitation number D-19-ST-0037, the sole source award will go to Obsidian Integration LLC.

On November 07, the Jersey City Police Department awarded Obsidian Integration with "the purchase and delivery of a covert pole camera." Quartz said the filing did not provide much detail about the design.

It is not just streetlights the federal government wants to mount covert surveillance cameras on, it seems cameras inside traffic barrels could be heading onto America's highways in the not too distant future.

And as Quartz reported in October, the DEA operates a complex network of digital speed-display road signs that covertly scan license plates. On top of all this, Amazon has been aggressively rolling out its Rekognition facial-recognition software to law enforcement agencies and ICE, according to emails uncovered by the Project for Government Oversight.

Chad Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told Quartz that cameras in street lights have been proposed before by local governments, typically under a program called "smart" LED street light system.

"It basically has the ability to turn every streetlight into a surveillance device, which is very Orwellian to say the least," Marlow told Quartz. "In most jurisdictions, the local police or department of public works are authorized to make these decisions unilaterally and in secret. There's no public debate or oversight."

And so, as the US continues to be distracted, torn amid record political, social and economic polarization, big brother has no intention of letting the current crisis go to waste, and quietly continues on its path of transforming the US into a full-blown police and surveillance state.


wuffie , 9 minutes ago link

I previously worked for one of these types of federal agencies and to be fair, $50,000 doesn't buy a lot of video surveillance equipment at government procurement costs. The contractor doesn't just drill a hole and install a camera, they provide an entirely new streetlight head with the camera installed.

SantaClaws , 36 minutes ago link

It would be nice if they put some of this technology to work for a good cause. Maybe warning you of traffic congestion ahead. Or advising you that one of your tires will soon go flat.

Obviously that won't happen, so in the meantime, I can't wait to read next how the hackers will find a way to make this government effort go completely haywire. As if the government can't do it without any help. At least when the hackers do it, it will be funny and thorough.

21st.century , 56 minutes ago link

Besides the creepy surveillance part, some of the street light tech is interesting . lights that dim like the frozen food section - when no one is in front of the case --- RGB lighting that shows the approximate location for EMS to a 911 call ( lights that EMS can follow by color)

basic neighborhood street lights are being replaced by LED -- lights in this article.

Hey, I have street lights AND cameras on the same poles at the shop/mad scientist lab/ play house.

but- surveillance -- the wall better have these lights -- light up the border !

Oldguy05 , 1 hour ago link

This is yesteryears news. Shot Spotter has microphones that can pick up whispered conversations for 300 feet for a long time now, while triangulating any gunshot in a city...

[Nov 12, 2018] Obama s CIA Secretly Intercepted Congressional Communications About Whistleblowers

Highly recommended!
So the USA Congress operates under CIA surveillance... Due to CIA access to Saudi money the situation is probably much worse then described as CIA tried to protect both its level of influence and shadow revenue streams.
Notable quotes:
"... The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing. ..."
"... I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014 ..."
"... The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement. ..."
"... According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper." ..."
"... Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications ..."
"... CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director ..."
"... During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016. ..."
Nov 02, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson,

Newly-declassified documents show the CIA intercepted sensitive Congressional communications about intelligence community whistleblowers.

The intercepts occurred under CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The new disclosures are contained in two letters of "Congressional notification" originally written to key members of Congress in March 2014, but kept secret until now.

In the letters, then-Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough tells four key members of Congress that during "routing counterintelligence monitoring of Government computer systems," the CIA collected emails between Congressional staff and the CIA's head of whistleblowing and source protection. McCullough states that he's concerned "about the potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent 'chilling effect' that the present [counterintelligence] monitoring system might have on Intelligence Community whistleblowing."

The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing.

"Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints," McCullough states in his letters to lead Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees at the time: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia); and Representatives Michael Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland). McCullough adds that the type of monitoring that occurred was "lawful and justified for [counterintelligence] purposes" but

"I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014

The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement.

According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper."

Grassley adds that he repeated his request to declassify the letters under the Trump administration, but that Trump intelligence officials failed to respond. The documents were finally declassified this week after Grassley appealed to the new Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

History of alleged surveillance abuses

Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications. A Congressional staffer involved at the time says Clapper's response seemed to imply that if Congressional communications were "incidentally" collected by the CIA, the material would not be saved or reported up to CIA management.

"In the event of a protected disclosure by a whistleblower somehow comes to the attention of personnel responsible for monitoring user activity," Clapper wrote to Grassley and Wyden on July 25, 2014, "there is no intention for such disclosure to be reported to agency leadership under an insider threat program."

However, the newly-declassified letters indicate the opposite happened in reality with the whistleblower-related emails:

"CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director."

Clapper has previously come under fire for his 2013 testimony to Congress in which he denied that the national Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Weeks later, Clapper's statement was proven false by material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016.

"Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them."

Clapper has repeatedly denied lying, and said that any incorrect information he provided was due to misunderstandings or mistakes.

Clapper and Brennan have also acknowledged taking part in the controversial practice of "unmasking" the protected names of U.S. citizens - including people connected to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump - whose communications were "incidentally" captured in US counterintelligence operations. Unmaskings within the US intelligence community are supposed to be extremely rare and only allowed under carefully justified circumstances. This is to protect the privacy rights of American citizens. But it's been revealed that Obama officials requested unmaskings on a near daily basis during the election year of 2016.

Clapper and Brennan have said their activities were lawful and not politically motivated. Both men have become vocal critics of President Trump.

* * *

Order the New York Times bestseller "The Smear" today online or borrow from your library


Keter , 5 hours ago link

"ah, ah, ah, em, not intentionally." Clapper - ROFL

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Can you imagine what kind of place the US would have been under Clinton?!!!!!!

All the illegality, spying, conniving, dirty tricks, arcancides, selling us out to the highest bidder and full on attack against our Constitution would be in full swing!

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

When intel entities can operate unimpeded and un-monitored, it spells disaster for everyone and everything outside that parameter. Their operations go unnoticed until some stray piece of information exposes them. There are many facilities that need to be purged and audited, but since this activity goes on all over the world, there is little to stop it. Even countries that pledge allegiance and cooperation are blindsiding their allies with bugs, taps, blackmails, and other crimes. Nobody trusts nobody, and that's a horrid fact to contend with in an 'advanced' civilization.

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Almost sounds like the Praetorian guard?

The real power behind the throne.

Rhys12 , 10 hours ago link

Forget the political parties. When the intelligence agencies spy on everyone, they know all about politicians of both parties before they ever win office, and make sure they have enough over them to control them. They were asleep at the switch when Trump won, because no one, including them, believed he would ever win. Hillary was their candidate, the State Department is known overseas as "the political arm of the CIA". They were furious when she lost, hence the circus ever since.

iAmerican10 , 11 hours ago link

From its founding by the Knights of Malta the JFK&MLK-assassinating, with Mossad 9/11-committing CIA has been the Vatican's US Fifth Column action branch, as are the FBI and NSA: with an institutional hiring preference for Roman Catholic "altared boy" closet-queen psychopaths "because they're practiced at keeping secrets."

Think perverts Strzok, Brennan, and McCabe "licked it off the wall?"

Smi1ey , 11 hours ago link

We need to bring back FOIA.

Too much secrecy.

And how is that Pentagon audit doing, btw?

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

I agree with you 100%. Problem is, tons of secret technology and information have been passed out to the private sector. And the private sector is not bound to the FOIA requests, therefore neutralizing the obligation for government to disclose classified material. They sidestepped their own policies to cooperate with corrupt MIC contractors, and recuse themselves from disclosing incriminating evidence.

archie bird , 12 hours ago link

Everyone knows that spying runs in the fam. 44th potus Mom and Gma BOTH. An apple doesn't fall from the tree. If ppl only knew the true depth of the evil and corruption we would be in the hospital with a heart attack. Gilded age is here and has been, since our democracy was hijacked (McCain called it an intervention) back in 1963. Unfortunately it started WAY back before then when (((they))) stole everything with the installation of the Fed.

Dornier27 , 15 hours ago link

The FBI and CIA have long since slipped the controls of Congress and the Constitution. President Trump should sign an executive order after the mid terms and stand down at least the FBI and subject the CIA to a senate investigation.

America needs new agencies that are accountable to the peoples elected representatives.

greasyknees , 16 hours ago link

Not news. The CIA likely has had access to any and all electronic communication for at least a decade.

Lord JT , 19 hours ago link

what? clapper and brennan being dirty hacks behind the scenes while parading around as patriots? say it aint so!

Racin Rabitt , 20 hours ago link

A determined care has been used to cultivate in D.C., a system that swiftly decapitates the whistleblowers. Resulting in an increasingly subservient cadre of civil servants who STHU and play ostrich, or drool at what scraps are about to roll off the master's table as the slide themselves into a better position, taking advantage to sell vice, weapons, and slaves.

Westcoastliberal , 21 hours ago link

What the hell does the CIA have to do with ANYTHING in the United States? Aren't they limited to OUTSIDE the U.S.? So why would they be involved in domestic communications for anything? These clowns need to be indicted for TREASON!

5onIt , 22 hours ago link

Clapper and Brennan, Brennan and Clapper. These two guys are the damn devil.

It makes me ill.

MuffDiver69 , 22 hours ago link

I'll take " Police State" for five hundred Alex

[Nov 10, 2018] CIA's 'Surveillance State' is Operating Against US

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

BM , Nov 10, 2018 5:56:10 AM | link

Whilst on the topic of ISIS, here is an article about its mother-concern, CIA:

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/11/09/cia-surveillance-state-operating-against-us-all.html
CIA's 'Surveillance State' is Operating Against US All

On two declassified letters from 2014 from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (didn't know there was one, but doesn't do much good anyway, it seems, read further) to the chairpersons of the House and Senate intelligence committees notifying them that the CIA has been monitoring emails between the CIA's head of the whistleblowing and source protection and Congressional. "Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints". Shows why Edward Snowdon didn't consider it appropriate to rely on internal complaints proceedures. This while under the leadership of seasoned liars and criminals Brennan and Clapper, of course.

It clearly shows a taste of what these buggers have to hide, and why they went to such extraordinary lengths as Russiagate to cover it all up and save their skins - that of course being the real reason behind Russiagate as I have said several times, nothing to do with either Trump or Russia.

guidoamm , Nov 10, 2018 1:32:52 AM | link

And there is this too of course:

Pentagon Fake Al Qaeda Propaganda

Anton Worter , Nov 10, 2018 12:39:39 AM | link
@4

OWS was a Controlled-Dissent operation, sending poor students north to fecklessly march on Wall Street when they could have shut down WADC, and sending wealthy seniors south to fecklessly line Pennsylvania Avenue, when they could have shut down Wall Street.

Both I$I$, and Hamas, and Antifa et al are all Controlled Dissent operations. The followers are duped, are used, abused and then abandoned by honey-pots put there by Central Intelligence, at least since the Spanish Civil War.

That's why MoA articles like this one make you wonder, just who is conning whom, at a time when the Internet is weaponized, when Google Assistant achieved AI awareness indistinguishable from anyone on the phone, China TV has launched a virtual AI news reporter indistinguishable from reality, and Stanford can audio-video a captured image of anyone as well as their voice intonation, then 3D model them, in real time, reading and emoting from a script, indistinguishable from reality, ...and then this.

Another Gift of Trust😂 brought to you by Scientocracy. Be sure to tithe your AI bot, or word will get back to Chairman Albertus, then you'll be called in to confess your thought crimes to the Green Cadre, itself another Controlled Dissent honeypot, in a Tithe-for-Credits Swindle.

I tell my kids, just enjoy life, live it large, and get ready for hell. It's coming for breakfast.

[Nov 10, 2018] Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Harry Law , Nov 10, 2018 9:11:40 AM | link

Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine, take this Pompeo rant against Iran and the Iranian response......

Asking of Pompeo "have you no shame?", Zarif mocked Pompeo's praise for the Saudis for "providing millions and millions of dollars of humanitarian relief" to Yemen, saying America's "butcher clients" were spending billions of dollars bombing school buses. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a statement lashing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his recent comments on the Yemen War. Discussing the US-backed Saudi invasion of Yemen, Pompeo declared Iran to be to blame for the death and destruction in the country. https://news.antiwar.com/2018/11/09/iran-fm-slams-pompeo-for-blaming-yemen-war-on-iran/

The US way of looking at things supposes that up is down, and white is black, it makes no sense, unless the US hopes these provocations will lead to a war or at the very least Russia or Iran capitulating to US aggression, which will not happen. Sanctions by the US on all and sundry must be opposed, if not the US will claim justifiably to be the worlds policeman and the arbiter of who will trade with who, a ludicrous proposition but one that most governments are afraid is now taking place, witness the new US ambassador to Germany in his first tweet telling the Germans to cease all trade with Iran immediately.

https://www.thelocal.de/20180509/us-tells-german-businesses-to-stop-trade-in-iran-immediately

[Nov 10, 2018] A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the "fingerprints" of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices

Notable quotes:
"... The "leaving of fake fingerprints" (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Arabic) is done by Marble Framework software, details of which was leaked by CIA programmer, Joshua Adam Schulte to Wikileaks and formed part of the "Vault 7" series. It means that no fingerprint evidence can ever be relied on ever again. ..."
Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
the pair , Nov 9, 2018 5:38:46 PM | link

Jackrabbit , Nov 9, 2018 4:15:30 PM | link

WikiLeaks: CIA hacking group 'UMBRAGE' stockpiled techniques from other hackers

A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the "fingerprints" of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices ...

"With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types, but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the 'fingerprints' of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from," Wikileaks said in a statement.

https://github.com/ElevenPaths/Eternalblue-Doublepulsar-Metasploit

https://www.cybrary.it/0p3n/hack-windows-eternalblue-exploit-metasploit/

use these and you're automagically in the NSA. download the stuxnet binary and you're an instant israeli.

https://thehiddenbay.com/torrent/6169094/stuxnet_binaries

that anonymous NSA guy is either lying or too stupid to do his job. " it's that simple ".

fireeye are scam artists just like crowdstrike. it's not that they don't know tactics and methods; i'm sure they know their way around a payload. that doesn't make them some tabula rasa blank slate without an agenda. just because they use computers doesn't mean they're robots.

as anyone who works in a business run by technologically "challenged" bosses knows, for every fast talker throwing around techy terms and sounding like a mr. robot script there are 20 idiot CEOs willing to throw money at imaginary problems. ditto the government. meanwhile shysters like stratfor and hbgary get reamed by high school graduates running linux on a netbook from 2003.

as for the attributions, they fail a basic "cui bono" test. i guess the russians wanted to make rapist beheaders look bad by DDoSing some servers? they wanted to give cred to the apes who shoot at their advisors in syria? okay. sure.


Peter AU 1 , Nov 9, 2018 5:41:51 PM | link

Red Ryder 5

Back around 2014 15 Charles Lister listed himself as a consultant to the Shaikh Group.
Shaik Group have a media marketing section in Dubai. http://theshaikhgroup.ae

https://foreignpolicy.com/author/charles-lister/
Charles Lister is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and a senior consultant to The Shaikh Group's Track II Syria Dialogue Initiative. Follow him on Twitter at: @Charles_Lister.

http://www.mei.edu/experts/charles-lister
Charles Lister is a senior fellow and Director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program at the Middle East Institute. His work focuses primarily on the conflict in Syria, including as a member of the MEI-convened Syria Study Group; and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Prior to this, Lister was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a Senior Consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, where he managed nearly three years of intensive face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups.

I have thought that ISIS studios were based in Dubai or Doha.

Palloy , Nov 9, 2018 5:48:39 PM | link
IP addresses can only be attributed to individuals/offices/locations with the assistance of the owner of the IP block of addresses, typically an ISP. The GRU's ISP would NOT help identify the GRU, obviously, so all such attributions are fake and those who claim to know are liars.

The "leaving of fake fingerprints" (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Arabic) is done by Marble Framework software, details of which was leaked by CIA programmer, Joshua Adam Schulte to Wikileaks and formed part of the "Vault 7" series. It means that no fingerprint evidence can ever be relied on ever again.

karlof1 , Nov 9, 2018 5:50:25 PM | link

DPRK needs to be included by b along with Russia for many of the same reasons as this example attests . And while we're at it, China should join the group too. Indeed, the CIA/NSA is likely responsible for most hacking, particularly when monies are stolen as the linked article reports. As the Outlaw US Empire slowly dissolves into a pool of its own exceptional ugliness, it will blame everyone and anyone to cover its crimes. Then there's the small battalion of slimy zombie trolls CIA/NSA employs that infest this site. They promote one of the Outlaw US Empire's most important values--lying about everything under the sun for a Few Dollars More while throwing the citizenry that makes their living possible under the bus.

V , Nov 9, 2018 10:00:08 PM | link
Now, more than ever; the US needs a very capable adversary and where none exists, the US will create one, as history has shown. Russia has historical presidence, making it convenient.
However, as events are unfolding, China will come to the fore; Russia will move to second place.
But, two adversaries are far better than one, for getting the flow of cash to support the Potemkin moment...
Cyberundertakers , Nov 9, 2018 10:19:09 PM | link
I would wager that such hacking points towards Israel rather than a group of paid-for head choppers hailing from the medieval Saudi.
Anton Worter , Nov 10, 2018 12:39:39 AM | link
4

OWS was a Controlled-Dissent operation, sending poor students north to fecklessly march on Wall Street when they could have shut down WADC, and sending wealthy seniors south to fecklessly line Pennsylvania Avenue, when they could have shut down Wall Street.

Both I$I$, and Hamas, and Antifa et al are all Controlled Dissent operations. The followers are duped, are used, abused and then abandoned by honey-pots put there by Central Intelligence, at least since the Spanish Civil War.

That's why MoA articles like this one make you wonder, just who is conning whom, at a time when the Internet is weaponized, when Google Assistant achieved AI awareness indistinguishable from anyone on the phone, China TV has launched a virtual AI news reporter indistinguishable from reality, and Stanford can audio-video a captured image of anyone as well as their voice intonation, then 3D model them, in real time, reading and emoting from a script, indistinguishable from reality, ...and then this.

Another Gift of Trust brought to you by Scientocracy. Be sure to tithe your AI bot, or word will get back to Chairman Albertus, then you'll be called in to confess your thought crimes to the Green Cadre, itself another Controlled Dissent honeypot, in a Tithe-for-Credits Swindle.

I tell my kids, just enjoy life, live it large, and get ready for hell. It's coming for breakfast.

guidoamm , Nov 10, 2018 1:32:52 AM | link
And there is this too of course:

Pentagon Fake Al Qaeda Propaganda

Peter AU 1 , Nov 10, 2018 1:33:45 AM | link
There is big money in prostitution. None of the robot dolls I have seen in the various media reports on robot brothels look lifelike, whereas the Chinese anchor looks very much like a human with a voice-over. Will see how this develops, but at the moment it looks very much like Lavrov style satire.

[Nov 08, 2018] Ed Snowden Infamous Israeli Spyware 'Pegasus' Helped Kill Khashoggi

Nov 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Via MiddleEastMonitor.com,

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden yesterday claimed that Saudi Arabia used Israeli spyware to target murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi .

Addressing a conference in Tel Aviv via a video link, Snowden claimed that software made by an Israeli cyber intelligence firm was used by Saudi Arabia to track and target Khashoggi in the lead up to his murder on 2 October inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Snowden told his audience:

"How do they [Saudi Arabia] know what his [Khashoggi's] plans were and that they needed to act against him? That knowledge came from the technology developed by NSO," Israeli business daily Globes reported.

Snowden accused NSO of "selling a digital burglary tool," adding it "is not just being used for catching criminals and stopping terrorist attacks, not just for saving lives, but for making money [ ] such a level of recklessness [ ] actually starts costing lives," according to the Jerusalem Post .

Snowden – made famous in 2013 for leaking classified National Security Agency (NSA) files and exposing the extent of US surveillance – added that "Israel is routinely at the top of the US' classified threat list of hackers along with Russia and China [ ] even though it is an ally".

Snowden is wanted in the US for espionage, so could not travel to Tel Aviv to address the conference in person for fear of being handed over to the authorities.

The Israeli firm to which Snowden referred – NSO Group Technologies – is known for developing the "Pegasus" software which can be used to remotely infect a target's mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device. Although NSO claims that its products "are licensed only to legitimate government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terror," this is not the first time its Pegasus software has been used by Saudi Arabia to track critics.

In October it was revealed that Saudi Arabia used Pegasus software to eavesdrop on 27-year-old Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent critic of the Saudi government on social media.

The revelation was made by Canadian research group Citizen Lab , which found that the software had been used to hack Abdulaziz' iPhone between June and August of this year. Citizen Lab's Director Ron Deibert explained that such actions by Saudi Arabia "would constitute illegal wiretapping".

A separate report by Citizen Lab in September found a "significant expansion of Pegasus usage in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Middle East," in particular the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Citizen Lab added that in August 2016, Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor was targeted with the Pegasus spyware.

Snowden's comments come less than a week after it emerged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the United States to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) in the wake of the Khashoggi case. The revelation was made by the Washington Post , which cited information from US officials familiar with a series of telephone conversations made to Jared Kushner – senior advisor to President Donald Trump and Trump's son-in-law – and National Security Adviser John Bolton regarding the Khashoggi case. The officials told the Post that:

In recent days, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reached out to the Trump administration to express support for the crown prince, arguing that he is an important strategic partner in the region, said people familiar with the calls.

Bin Salman has come under intense scrutiny in the month since Khashoggi first disappeared , with many suspecting his involvement in ordering the brutal murder. Yet while several world leaders have shunned the crown prince, it is thought that Israel would suffer from any decline in Saudi influence in the region in light of its purportedly central role in the upcoming " Deal of the Century ".

[Nov 06, 2018] Edward Snowden Says a Report Critical To an NSA Lawsuit Is Authentic

Nov 06, 2018 | yro.slashdot.org

(techcrunch.com) 36 BeauHD on Monday November 05, 2018 @07:30PM from the he-said-she-said dept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: An unexpected declaration by whistleblower Edward Snowden filed in court [last] week adds a new twist in a long-running lawsuit against the NSA's surveillance programs. The case, filed by the EFF a decade ago , seeks to challenge the government's alleged illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of Americans, who are largely covered under the Fourth Amendment's protections against warrantless searches and seizures. It's a big step forward for the case, which had stalled largely because the government refused to confirm that a leaked document was authentic or accurate. News of the surveillance broke in 2006 when an AT&T technician Mark Klein revealed that the NSA was tapping into AT&T's network backbone. He alleged that a secret, locked room -- dubbed Room 641A -- in an AT&T facility in San Francisco where he worked was one of many around the U.S. used by the government to monitor communications -- domestic and overseas. President George W. Bush authorized the NSA to secretly wiretap Americans' communications shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Much of the EFF's complaint relied on Klein's testimony until 2013, when Snowden, a former NSA contractor, came forward with new revelations that described and detailed the vast scope of the U.S. government's surveillance capabilities, which included participation from other phone giants -- including Verizon (TechCrunch's parent company). Snowden's signed declaration, filed on October 31 , confirms that one of the documents he leaked , which the EFF relied heavily on for its case, is an authentic draft document written by the then-NSA inspector general in 2009 , which exposed concerns about the legality of the Bush's warrantless surveillance program -- Stellar Wind -- particularly the collection of bulk email records on Americans. "I read its contents carefully during my employment," he said in his declaration. "I have a specific and strong recollection of this document because it indicated to me that the government had been conducting illegal surveillance."

[Nov 05, 2018] Stay In That Good Fight Retired Green Beret Urges Americans To Stand Up To The Globalists

Nov 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

The actions that are taken are a three-pronged attack in order to foster in global governance, and they are as such:

  1. Create ubiquitous electronic surveillance with unlimited police power
  2. Throw the entire earth into an economic tailspin
  3. Destroy all nationalism, national borders, and create chaos among all nations prior to an "incendiary event" or series of actions that leads to a world war.

The world war is the most important part of it all, in the eyes of the globalists. The Great Depression culminated in a world war, and periods of economic upheaval are always followed by wars.

... ... ...

Every word here is recorded by XKeyscore mine and yours and stored in the NSA database in Utah, under a file for "dissenters," "agitators," and every other descriptive label that can be thought of for those who champion critical thought and independent thinking. Every conservative-minded journalist or writer who dares to espouse these views and theories is being recorded and kept under some kind of watch. You can be certain of it . Many are either shutting down or "knuckling under" and complying.

The globalists are getting what they wish: consolidating the resources while they "tank" the fiat economies and currencies of the nations. They are destroying cultures who just a mere two centuries ago would have armed their entire male populaces with swords and sent invaders either packing or in pieces.

They are destroying cultures by making them question themselves ! The greatest tactic imaginable!

I submit this last for your perusal. Do you know who you are? The question is not just as simple as it seems. Let's delve deeply. Do you really know who you are, where your family originates? Your heritage, and its strengths and weaknesses? Is that heritage yours, along with your heritage as an American citizen? It is not important that I, or others should know of these strengths not at this moment in time. The world war is yet to come. As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true." This is important for you to know it and hold fast to it. We are in the decline of the American nation-now-empire.

When the dust settles, you'll know who will run with the ball even with three blockers against them and will manage to slip the tackles or forearm shiver them in the face, outside of the ref's eye, to run that ball in. The Marquis of Queensbury is dead, and those rules will go out the window. When the dust settles, those who had the foresight and acted on it will be the ones who will be given a gift: a chance to participate in what is to come. Stay in that good fight, and fight it to win each day.

[Nov 02, 2018] CIA Vault7 Leaker To Be Charged For Leaking More Classified Data While in Prison

Nov 02, 2018 | yro.slashdot.org

CIA material to WikiLeaks , in what later become known as the Vault7 leaks. From a report: According to new court documents filed late Wednesday, October 31, US prosecutors plan to file three new charges against Joshua Schulte for allegedly leaking more classified data while in detention at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) . Prosecutors say they first learned of Schulte's behavior back in May, when they found out that "Schulte had distributed the Protected Search Warrant Materials to his family members for purposes of dissemination to other third parties, including members of the media." The prosecution held a court hearing in May and initially warned the suspect about his actions, a warning they found Schulte ignored. The US government says that "in or about early October 2018, the Government learned that Schulte was using one or more smuggled contraband cellphones to communicate clandestinely with third parties outside of the MCC." A search of his housing unit performed by FBI agents revealed "multiple contraband cellphones (including at least one cellphone used by Schulte that is protected with significant encryption); approximately 13 email and social media accounts (including encrypted email accounts); and other electronic devices."

[Oct 28, 2018] A low-altitude persistent-loitering traffic-monitoring drone.

Oct 28, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Anton Worter , Oct 27, 2018 3:32:36 PM | link

If memory serves, there is a no-schrapnel waxed-cardboard version of an RPG available for non-armored targets. When I saw the Hastings crime scene, I saw the rear of the burning car blown out by that RPG, and *then* Hastings crashed into the tree at an impossible angle, instinctively power-sliding from what he must have assumed was a truck had just slammed into his right rear quarter-panel. Don't be Michael Hastings. Don't be Robert Bowers, for that matter, lol. The US-UK-IL-KSA mugwumps!

And that's why we will never have autonomous private vehicles. They are just using taxpaying citizens as beta-testers for an autonomous Deep-Purple Mil.Gov UniParty global police state.

By pure coincidence at a business-club dinner last night, I sat next to a military subcontractor with Chinese connectiins, an import license and a Made-in-USA final assembly warehouse. He is developing a low-altitude persistent-loitering traffic-monitoring drone. He was in Bellevue to meet with the coders. It would be used with the HOV lane high resolution cameras and real-time facial-recognition software, to identify speeders' names, vehicles and addresses for first-deployment ... but can just as easily operate in reverse to find a target and confirm-identify the front-seat passengers, then paint a laser target on the vehicle as it wings down the freeway, waiting for an open area Hastings-esque hellfire denouement.

Prolly for MENA. Prolly A-OK, Joe. Nothing to see here, citizen. E pluribus now get back to work. Pence's latest $1/4-TRILLION nuclear ICBM upgrade program awards soon, and we're gonna need those tithe-tributes!

[Oct 28, 2018] WikiLeaks' Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity by Mark Curtis

Notable quotes:
"... Save WikiLeaks is vilified by governments (and increasingly by journalists) for its exposures, including of the U.S.-UK "special relationship" in running a joint foreign policy of deception and violence that serves London and Washington's elite interests, says Mark Curtis. ..."
"... Middle East Eye ..."
"... A cable the following year shows the lengths to which Whitehall goes to defend the special relationship from public scrutiny. Just as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War was beginning in 2009, Whitehall promised Washington that it had "put measures in place to protect your interests". ..."
"... The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British government duplicity of the kind I've extensively come across in my own research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him. ..."
"... However, Wikileaks files released in 2016 as part of its Hillary Clinton archive show William Burns, then the U.S. deputy secretary of state, having talked with now Foreign Secretary Hague about a "post-Qaddafi" Libya . This was more than three weeks before military operations began. The intention was clearly to overthrow Gaddafi, and the UN resolution about protecting civilians was simply window dressing. ..."
"... (U.S. Air Force photo) ..."
"... Cables show the US spying on the Foreign Office and collecting information on British ministers. Soon after the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, U.S. officials were briefing the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about rumors that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully, and on " the state of his marriage. " ..."
"... In addition, Wikileaks cables reveal that journalists and the public are considered legitimate targets of UK intelligence operations. In October 2009, Joint Services Publication 440 , a 2,400-page restricted document written in 2001 by the Ministry of Defence, was leaked. Somewhat ironically, it contained instructions for the security services on to avid leaks of information by hackers , journalists and foreign spies. ..."
"... (New Media Days / Peter Erichsen) ..."
Oct 28, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

WikiLeaks' Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity October 27, 2018 • 7 Comments

Save WikiLeaks is vilified by governments (and increasingly by journalists) for its exposures, including of the U.S.-UK "special relationship" in running a joint foreign policy of deception and violence that serves London and Washington's elite interests, says Mark Curtis.

By Mark Curtis
Middle East Eye

Twelve years ago this month, WikiLeaks began publishing government secrets that the world public might otherwise never have known. What it has revealed about state duplicity, human rights abuses and corruption goes beyond anything published in the world's "mainstream" media.

After over six months of being cut off from outside world, on 14 October 14 Ecuador has partly restored Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's communications with the outside world from its London embassy where the founder has been living for over six years. (Assange, however, later rejected Ecuador's restrictions imposed on him.)

The treatment – real and threatened – meted out to Assange by the U.S. and UK governments contrasts sharply with the service Wikileaks has done their publics in revealing the nature of elite power, as shown in the following snapshot of Wikileaks' revelations about British foreign policy in the Middle East.

Conniving with the Saudis

Whitehall's special relationship with Riyadh is exposed in an extraordinary cable from 2013 highlighting how Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure both states were elected to the UN human rights council. Britain initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support.

Hague: 'World needs pro-American regime' in Britain. (Chatham House)

The Wikileaks releases also shed details on Whitehall's fawning relationship with Washington. A 2008 cable , for example, shows then shadow foreign secretary William Hague telling the U.S. embassy that the British "want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it."

A cable the following year shows the lengths to which Whitehall goes to defend the special relationship from public scrutiny. Just as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War was beginning in 2009, Whitehall promised Washington that it had "put measures in place to protect your interests".

American Influence

It is not known what this protection amounted to, but no U.S. officials were called to give evidence to Chilcot in public. The inquiry was also refused permission to publish letters between former U.S. President George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair written in the run-up to the war.

Also in 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown raised the prospect of reducing the number of British nuclear-armed Trident submarines from four to three, a policy opposed in Washington. However, Julian Miller, an official in the UK's Cabinet Office, privately assured U.S. officials that his government "would consult with the U.S. regarding future developments concerning the Trident deterrent to assure there would be 'no daylight' between the U.S. and UK." The idea that British decision-making on Trident is truly independent of the U.S. is undermined by this cable.

The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British government duplicity of the kind I've extensively come across in my own research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him.

However, Wikileaks files released in 2016 as part of its Hillary Clinton archive show William Burns, then the U.S. deputy secretary of state, having talked with now Foreign Secretary Hague about a "post-Qaddafi" Libya . This was more than three weeks before military operations began. The intention was clearly to overthrow Gaddafi, and the UN resolution about protecting civilians was simply window dressing.

Another case of British duplicity concerns Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which is now a major U.S. base for intervention in the Middle East. The UK has long fought to prevent Chagos islanders from returning to their homeland after forcibly removing them in the 1960s.

A secret 2009 cable shows that a particular ruse concocted by Whitehall to promote this was the establishment of a " marine reserve " around the islands. A senior Foreign Office official told the US that the "former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve."

A B-1B Lancer unleashes cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to operate without the need for ground-based navigation aids. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A week before the "marine reserve" proposal was made to the U.S. in May 2009, then UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband was also conniving with the U.S., apparently to deceive the public. A cable reveals Miliband helping the U.S. to sidestep a ban on cluster bombs and keep the weapons at U.S. bases on UK soil, despite Britain signing the international treaty banning the weapons the previous year.

Miliband approved a loophole created by diplomats to allow U.S. cluster bombs to remain on UK soil and was part of discussions on how the loophole would help avert a debate in Parliament that could have "complicated or muddied" the issue. Critically, the same cable also revealed that the U.S. was storing cluster munitions on ships based at Diego Garcia.

Spying on the UK

Cables show the US spying on the Foreign Office and collecting information on British ministers. Soon after the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, U.S. officials were briefing the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about rumors that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully, and on " the state of his marriage. "

Washington was also shown to have been spying on the UK mission to the UN, along with other members of the Security Council and the UN Secretary General.

In addition, Wikileaks cables reveal that journalists and the public are considered legitimate targets of UK intelligence operations. In October 2009, Joint Services Publication 440 , a 2,400-page restricted document written in 2001 by the Ministry of Defence, was leaked. Somewhat ironically, it contained instructions for the security services on to avid leaks of information by hackers , journalists and foreign spies.

Millions worldwide are demanding the release of Wikileaks founder Assange after six years of what the UN calls "arbitrary detention." (New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

The document refers to investigative journalists as "threats" alongside subversive and terrorist organizations, noting that "the 'enemy' is unwelcome publicity of any kind, and through any medium."

Britain's GCHQ is also revealed to have spied on Wikileaks itself – and its readers. One classified GCHQ document from 2012 shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly collect the IP addresses of visitors to the Wikileaks site in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines such as Google.

Championing Free Nedua

The British government is punishing Assange for the service that Wikileaks has performed. It is ignoring a UN ruling that he is being held in " arbitrary detention " at the Ecuadorian embassy, while failing, illegally, to ensure his health needs are met. Whitehall is also refusing to offer diplomatic assurances that Assange will not be extradited to the US – the only reason he remains in the embassy.

Smear campaigns have portrayed Assange as a sexual predator or a Russian agent, often in the same media that have benefitted from covering Wikileaks' releases.

Many journalists and activists who are perfectly aware of the fake news in some Western media outlets, and of the smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn , are ignoring or even colluding in the more vicious smearing of Assange.

More journalists need to champion the service Wikileaks performs and argue for what is at stake for a free media in the right to expose state secrets.

This article originally appeared on Middle East Eye.

Mark Curtis is an historian and analyst of UK foreign policy and international development and the author of six books, the latest being an updated edition of Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam.

[Oct 27, 2018] I very much want to stop using Amazon, but where's the alternative?

Notable quotes:
"... I buy less, and I buy better ..."
Oct 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Are Wal-mart or ebay any better? Do they provide less information to the national security establishment? .

Seamus Padraig , October 27, 2018 at 7:45 am

I very much want to stop using Amazon, but where's the alternative? Does anybody here know of a good work-around? I already avoid Google by using DuckDuckGo, and I am in the process of shifting my Fakebook stuff to VK. But what alternative to Amazon exists?

Louis Fyne , October 27, 2018 at 9:14 am

there are alternatives, brick/mortars, ebay, jet.com, a brand's own website, etc. you could even go to alibaba and import all the stuff you need by the pallet.

The issue is alternatives that don't cost more. Acting on one's principles has a price.

Amazon's $25 free shipping (for non-Prime customers, free 2-day for Prime) on everything it sells/fulfills is really tough to be beat. Impossible on heavy and/or bulky items.

That's Amazon's secret weapon (anti-competitive monopolistic behavior).

Using its profits from its AWS cloud services arm to subsidize its retail arm.

Who would've predicted in 1999 that a bookseller would be one of the biggest players in internet infrastructure?

cnchal , October 27, 2018 at 9:40 am

> I very much want to stop using Amazon, . . . But what alternative to Amazon exists?

So helpless in the face of a totalitarian nightmare? Go to a store and use cash that you have never used a credit card at.

I see a facial recognition arms race in the making, where it starts off with the peasants wearing funny hats with dangly frills hanging down from the brim, with the end point being total face masks with sun glasses and putting a pebble into alternate shoes when in public.

Unless Bezos and the police decide doing that is illegal.

danpaco , October 27, 2018 at 11:49 am

The banning of the niqab/burka is the first step to making it illegal.

ChiGal in Carolina , October 27, 2018 at 3:01 pm

What's the pebble for?

lambert strether , October 27, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Gait can be used to identify you

Quanka ,