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Internet privacy bulletin, 2013

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[Dec 19, 2013] Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Fading Public Trust

Dec 18, 2013 | NYT

For months, leading technology companies have been buffeted by revelations about government spying on their customers' data, which they believe are undermining confidence in their services.

"Both sides are saying, 'My biggest issue right now is trust,' " said Matthew Prince, co-founder and chief executive of CloudFlare, an Internet start-up. "If you're on the White House side, the issue is they're getting beaten up because they're seen as technically incompetent. On the other side, the tech industry needs the White House right now to give a stern rebuke to the N.S.A. and put in real procedures to rein in a program that feels like it's out of control."

The meeting of Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and 15 executives from the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo came a week after those companies and other giants, usually archrivals, united in a public campaign calling for reform in government surveillance practices.

On Monday, a federal district judge ruled that the N.S.A. sweep of data from all Americans' phone calls was unconstitutional, a ruling that added import to the discussions.

...Several executives, including Ms. Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, expressed concerned that foreign countries may now decide to prevent all the user data generated by users in a foreign country from flowing to the United States, the people said. One such law has been proposed in Brazil. The executives said these laws would significantly hurt their businesses and America's start-up economy.

...The meeting reflected a shift in the tech sector's once-close relationship with Mr. Obama, whose 2008 election many industry executives generously supported.

Chuck Woods, ID

I don't see how there can be any trust restored until the administration changes it's outlook on Edward Snowden. Without the revelations about wholesale spying and illegal data collection by Snowden we would not even be having this national discussion. President Obama will be on the wrong side of history if he doesn't recognize the value of this issue. It would be sad if he is remembered as the president of drones and spying on citizens. Perhaps healthcare will save him from that. But isn't about time he stood up to the spooks and hawks who pull many of the levers.

Deregulate_This, Oregon

President Obama meets with these particular tech CEOs? The same ones who claim there are no CS graduates in America? The same ones who abuse the H-1B visa program and undercut American wages? The same ones who happily signed on to sell information to the C.I.A. and N.S.A.? (Our tax dollars pay for access to their data - see previous NYT articles about payouts to tech companies)

I've worked in the tech industry for 15 years and have seen massive layoffs of Americans while they send jobs overseas. Now, they are being used as Obama's advisers? What could they possibly advise? "Lower Wages" "Allow us to outsource more" "Allow us to have permanent unpaid interns" "keep paying us for private user information"?

eric glen
Hopkinton, NH

"The Adminstration told executives that government action related to NSA surveillance would happen in the new year. . . "

Yeah, and if you like your plan you can keep your plan, period.

This article to some degree depicts our President as somehow an outsider to the NSA workings.

He's the commander in chief. He could have changed the system five years ago if he wanted to.

Our President has authorized the spying that has gone on and seeks to prosecute Snowden to the fulll extent of the law. Why, because President Obama believes the government should spy on us.

If only Snowden were an "undocumented worker", he would be safe from prosecution whatever his crimes.

AdamOnDemand, Bloomingdale, NJ

Unchecked power to spy is like any other unchecked power: it corrupts, and while it may be intended for only the best reasons, it won't be used only or even primarily for them for long...

new jersey

"The president made clear his belief in an open, free and innovative Internet ". Anyone who believes that is delusional! this president and his congressional co=conspirators are the worst thing that has ever happened to the US. the last thing they believe in is something that is open let alone free. we are no longer free because they take our freedom of choice away on virtually everything. The worst part is people on the government dole don't see it or don't care. if we have not lost what we fought for during several wars then this war is even more insidious because most people are not even aware that it's being waged against them.

Brooklyn Song, Brooklyn
NYT Pick

Facebook and Google are 1) speaking with Obama about how bad the NSA spying is for business, and b) buying fiber optic cables to evade government spying out their customers (us).

In other words, giant corporations are the good guys now. Brave new world.

rcrogers6, Durham, NC

It's a little late to install a competent IT professional to run the website development contract - or should I say contracts. The mismanagement began when President Obama eschewed competent advice and turned the ACA implementation over to the White House staffers who shepherded it through Congress. This concrete demonstration of the President's lack of any managerial background and unwillingness to accept expert advice has permeated his presidency and led to the disappointment of those of us who voted for him - twice.

I cannot imagine anything concerning either of the meeting's subjects that would warrant that grin or the reciprocating smiles of the apparent sycophants. We will soon see what impact this president's ignorance and arrogance has had on the fortunes of the Democratic Party in the 2014 elections. Next time, I will try not to be influenced by a charismatic candidate and look for one who brings some experience to the table. I honestly had looked forward to change and a new era in politics. Well, in regard to the Legislative Branch, that's what I got - in the form of a disaster. The Executive, in lieu of change, has just delivered more of the same with a soupcon of additional incompetence.

alan, United States

Since it is obvious to even a blind man that the government has no real desire to protect Americans from illegal spying< I hope Brazil and other nations will pass laws that forces tech companies to keep their citizens data in their respective countries.

This will costs the tech industries billions of dollars. That is the only way they will get out of bed with the government. They can cry foul all they want to but it sounds hollows. After all, AT&T and the other phone companies turned over call records to the government after 911 without a whimper.

Maybe when enough people stop using their services or go with a company that is serious about users' privacy, Microsoft and the rest will do the right thing.

Nathan an Expat, China

The Internet companies' real concern is loss of overseas markets due to revelations they were providing voluntary and/or unwitting back door access to their customer data to US intelligence services. If their overseas clientele and their governments wake up this might lead to a "balkanisation!" of the Internet -- that translates into loss of market share for the major players. Most amusing is that major telecommunication companies like CISCO, Juniper and Alcatel who by definition have to be major players in this activity have managed with the collusion of mainstream media to keep a low profile on this. No visits to the White House for them because they are fully in line with these programs and have been for decades. Meanwhile, the US senators advise/warn foreigners not to buy telecommunication systems from China's Huawei because you know . . .

Jerry, New York

It's nice when the families get together to decide how to divide control over citizens and their money. God bless them.

Trenton, Washington, D.C.

The tech moguls are creating the devices and application that track the 99 percent's every move, thought and action--technology they sell to the federal government. They lobby for privatizing of public services so they can exert even greater control.

And, yeah, if they're not Libertarians feeding at the public trough, they're Democrats.

All it will take is one well-coordinated nationwide terrorist attack and we'll all be in virtual lock-down via technology created and peddled by these children.

Watch for the false flag.

Jim Michie, Bethesda, Maryland

What amazes me is how and why Barack Obama keeps flashing those toothy smiles. Here is a man who "gave us hope" and "promised" us so much, but delivered so little, continuing many of the ugly, dark policies of the Bush regime and adding his own. Among so many betrayals, Obama has failed to close his gulag, Guantanamo, failed to bring all of our troops home, expanded his war capabilities, failed to prosecute his felon friends on Wall Street and in the too-big-to-jail banks, launched a war on both whistleblowers and journalists, worked closely with the for-profit "health insurance industry" to create a "Frankenstein health care plan" and I could go on and on and on and on. "Fading trust," you say, New York Times? Shouldn't your headline read, "Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Lost Public Trust"!

John, Hartford

Reflects a shift? It actually reflects the closeness and interdependence of the relationship between government the tech industry. At times I wonder who writes these articles, 28 year old techno whizzes who may know all about IT but very little about the realities of power?

66hawk, Gainesville, VA

This article feel like empty calories to me. The characterization of the meeting is mostly critical when it seems that the fact that the meeting was held and that an exchange of viewpoints was accomplished made the meeting a success. I have no doubt that Obama will address some of the concerns that the tech industry has while still maintaining the ability to protect our nation from terrorists. The problem of getting people to trust that social media and the internet are totally secure is probably unsolvable. If you don't want someone to have access to your information, you certainly don't want to use Facebook.

Pat Choate, Washington, Va.

The expose of the NSA excesses and that Agency's linkages with these corporations is taking a heavy tool on these companies' foreign-derived bottom line and global reputation. What citizen or company in any foreign country wants to do business with a corporation that is secretly funneling their clients' data to US spy agencies.

Big Tech's concern for their profits will result in more pressures for "reforms" at NSA than anything the Congress, Courts or Administration would ever do on their own.

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

The information Americans gladly give to private companies is more of a threat to individual well-being and collective democracy than the egregious data collecting of the government. The real danger is that Apple is much more popular than the government, because people understand what their iPod does for them but not what the government does for them.

The workings of the government are, compared to that of the big tech corporations, quite transparent. You may or may not like the influence of the Koch brothers money on politics, but at least it all plays out in a relatively public arena. Google not so much. And, while our electoral process is very far from perfect, you have more of an influence on that than you do on corporate policy. Have you tried voting Tim Cook or Mark Zuckerberg out of office?

What the government is doing now it has done for decades, spying with whatever tools were available. They may have new tools, but so do those they want to spy on. What is different now is that there are huge, wealthy corporations whose profit largely come from spying and espionage i.e. the collection of your info with or without your permission. And to the extent that you may have become dependent on the internet and these companies, they simply make you an offer you can't refuse.

Dean Charles Marshall, California

Steve your comment is "spot on". Our deification of technology is beyond absurd. At the end of the day the Internet has become a vast "sink hole" of distraction where tech companies rake in billions covertly pimping off our private information in exchange for bits and bits of superfluous and dubious information we crave, but for reasons we can't explain. Thanks to companies like Google, Apple and Facebook we've become a nation of techno zombies enamored with the trivial pursuit.

ronco, San Francisco

Those private companies don't intentionally weaken security and encryption standards in order to make breaking into encrypted data streams easier. Those companies make a living by ensuring the integrity of the data that you host with them. One has choices whether to give data to those companies in order to get services from them or to pay in a more traditional model. When a company is found to play loosely with data they are sussed out very quickly and very publicly. We don't have a recourse against the NSA - voting is a very slow process.

While researchers have known about the weaknesses introduced into data encryption standard algorithms by the NSA, none of them spoke up about it because of the chilling effect it would have on getting grants for their research.

It is a vicious circle that is not only strengthened by criminal prosecution but also character assassination and black listing at government levels. There's nothing inherently good or evil about corporations or their motives but I usually have a choice about where I purchase goods and services or even build my own company to compete. The fact that we can't trust our government to do the right thing and haven't been able to have that trust since 9/11 is a problem because one either has to wait for the voting process to eventually work (a generation?) or just vote with their feet.

Scientella, palo alto

Spying by the NSA is unconstitutional.
Silicon Valley has changed from a benevolent geek town to run by ruthless, parasitic, dishonest, money crazed functionaries of the policed state.

Jack O'Hanlon
San Juan Islands

Where was Cisco? If you want to ask some deep questions about a technology company that has sold billions of dollars worth of IP routing and switching equipment worldwide that now seems to have engineered back door access for the NSA, Cisco would be the banner carrier.

No subsea system, no terrestrial network can function without Cisco equipment in line somewhere. When Cisco claims it drives the Internet, it is not kidding.

Ironic in this is the fact that Cisco has lobbied to keep Huawei out of U.S. carrier networks based on "security issues" that have been discussed in general terms, ie, backdoors that would allow the Chinese to compromise U.S. communications.

It now seems that Cisco had some direct experience in understanding this sort of activity.

You can't pick off photonic transmissions (the fiber optic cable hacks revealed in the Snowden documents) unless you can hack the IP routers that send the traffic across the cables. A pure photonic hack is a futuristic endeavour, one that can be conducted so long as the producer of all optic routing has built in back door access at the laser level. Not so easy. All optic routing is called O-O-O, for optical-optical-optical transmission and destination routing of Internet Protocol traffic.

Bill Appledorf, British Columbia

Give me a break.

Corporate America spies on everyone to personalize the limits of the cognitive sandbox each consumer wanders in.

The NSA's job is to make sure no one extricates themselves from virtual reality, discovers the planet Earth, and finds out what global capitalism has been doing to it and the people who live here.

Information technology and covert intelligence are the public and secret sides of one and the same coin.

Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel, Huawei and a scant few others build what are called - O-E-O routers, for optical-electrical-optical transmission. The NSA is hacking the E part of this, with the vendors' potential help, obviously.

Bruce, San Diego, CA

I believe I have a way to regain the public trust: Give Mr. Snowden permission to re-enter the US, give him a Presidential pardon and award him the Congressional Gold Metal. Mr. Snowden maybe labeled a traitor by some in government; if so he is in fine company: Mr. King, Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Mandela, Mr. Patrick Henry. All of whom have been called "Traitor" and all of whom like Mr. Snowden shook up the established order for the betterment of society. Some like Mr. King, Gandhi & Henry paid the ultimate price for their beliefs.

Mr. Snowden has done more to advance the cause of freedom in the US and around the world than anyone for a long, long time. In the process he has made the "Powers That Be" very uncomfortable. Well done Sir!

borntorun45, NY

Do you feel that Snowden should be granted a Presidential pardon for cheating on the exam to obtain employment as a contractor for the NSA in Hawaii with the specific intent of mining data that he should not have had access to in the first place? Maybe you feel that Snowden should be pardoned for absconding to Hong Kong with his stolen files - do you find his fleeing the country of his own accord particularly heroic, proper, or necessary? Or, should he receive a pardon for then making that intelligence available to people who have profited by the purloined intelligence by publishing it for all the world to see, jeopardizing America's security and causing a strain on foreign relations?

Snowden carefully planned his mission, he didn't simply come upon the "leaked files" through his work in Hawaii - he has admitted to taking the job with Booz Allen specifically to obtain the files he stole. He was so much more than a whistleblower - he broke into and entered areas of the NSA he had no legal access to, and he download millions of files. Imagine anyone working in private business doing such a thing, let alone someone who took an oath of secrecy.

How exactly has "Mr. Snowden... done more to advance the cause of freedom in the US and around the world"? We are all being watched whenever we use our computers, cell phones, debit cards - it's the digital age, my friend, and the US government's surveillance of you should be the least of your worries.

Che Beauchard, Manhattan

Can't the photo shown with this article be used as evidence in a trial for a RICO violation? Surely the government has become a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization in collusion with these corporations.

infinityON, NJ

Sorry, I am having a hard time believing that Google and Facebook are concerned about their users privacy. They are more worried about their bottom lines due to the Snowden revelations. And we can add in the Obama Administration not being concerned about Americans privacy.

Patrick Dugan, Berkeley, CA

Google's entire business is built on respecting the privacy of their users. Sure they've misstepped in the past, usually not on purpose, but the presumption that they blatantly disrespect users and their privacy is uninformed.

Colenso, Cairns

'Try working part time at WalMart for awhile and then tell me that the NSA is your biggest problem.' ~ paul, CA

I sympathise. Nevertheless, if you are a resident of a US town where there's a Walmart or some such, you can choose whether or not to work for Wal-Mart Stores Inc or for some other exploitative US employer. If you don't like it, then you can improve your qualifications or skills, move to another town or even another country. That's always been the American way.

No one, however, US citizen or non-citizen, resident or non-resident in the USA, has any direct say whatsoever in what the US National Security Agency decides to do to you. Even the so-called 'courts' that oversee the NSA admit no litigant to the proceedings.

To take up your challenge, therefore, with the exception of those who live in North Korea and similar jurisdictions, I say yes - the NSA *is* everyone's biggest problem.

[Dec 14, 2013] Show us a better way than collecting metadata, NSA director says to critics


.... .... ....

After eight Internet companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, called for surveillance reforms in a letter this week, Alexander challenged tech companies to offer suggestions for new ways to conduct surveillance.

U.S. tech companies have been "unfairly hurt" by revelations of NSA surveillance this year, he said. "Industry has some technical capabilities that may be better than what we have," he said. "If they have ideas of what we could do better to protect this nation and our civil liberties and privacy, we should put it on the table."

Alexander defended the phone records program, saying that while the NSA collects huge numbers of records, it only queries a few hundred each year, based on a reasonable suspicion that the callers are connected to a terrorist organization. Proposals to end the phone records program would lead to a more unsafe country, he said.

"Given that the threat is growing, I believe that is an unacceptable risk to our country," he said. "Taking these programs off the table, from my perspective, is absolutely not the thing to do."

Alexander, along with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, faced some skepticism about surveillance programs from senators.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and committee chairman, said he was concerned after recent news reports that the NSA is collecting mobile phone location records worldwide and is monitoring online games such as World of Warcraft.

The news reports lead to concerns about the "scope and wisdom" of the NSA's surveillance programs, said Leahy, sponsor of the USA Freedom Act, a bill intended to end the agency's bulk collection of phone records in the U.S.

The reports "raise the question, because we can do something, does it really make sense that we do it?" Leahy said.

But it doesn't make sense for the NSA to back away from mass data collection, countered Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat. With many other countries' surveillance agencies conducting mass surveillance, critics of the NSA are asking the agency to "unilaterally disarm," he said.

"We've entered a new technological era, the era of big data," Whitehouse said. "Our intelligence establishment is not the only group that's playing in this big data area."

Others at the hearing called for more transparency and oversight of NSA surveillance. Surveillance reforms are needed because the rest of the world is losing trust in U.S. technology companies, said Edward Black, president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Continued surveillance of U.S. services will drive Internet users to foreign alternatives, Black said. "We should not take for granted decades of progress in creating security and fostering user trust," he said. "And we should not discount how easily that foundation can be damaged."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is [email protected].


So what you're saying is that you don't know how to do your job, and thus it is acceptable to violate the entire nation's rights… Why are we still giving this guy a paycheck??

Søren Rønsberg

"But it doesn't make sense for the NSA to back away from mass data collection, countered Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat. With many other countries' surveillance agencies conducting mass surveillance, critics of the NSA are asking the agency to "unilaterally disarm," he said."

But most of the other countries only do it to collaborate with NSA, so if NSA stops then the rest will stop too.
Anyway it can't be a problem for USA if China is spying on their own people.

NSA Able To Crack A5/1 Cellphone Crypto 115

Posted by timothy December 14, 2013 @08:31AM

jones_supa writes "The most widely used cellphone encryption cipher A5/1 can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows. This gives the agency the means to intercept most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over radiowaves every day, even when the agency would not have the encryption key. Encryption experts have long known the cipher to be weak and have urged providers to upgrade to newer systems. Consequently it is also suggested that other nations likely have the same cracking capability through their own intelligence services.

The vulnerability outlined in the NSA document concerns encryption developed in the 1980s but still used widely by cellphones that rely on 2G GSM. It is unclear if the agency may also be able to decode newer forms of encryption, such as those covered under CDMA."

[Dec 06, 2013] NSA Tracking Cellphone Locations Worldwide

December 05, 2013 | Slashdot

tramp writes "The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals - and map their relationships - in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. Of course it is 'only metadata' and absolutely not invading privacy if you ask our 'beloved' NSA." Pretty soon, the argument about whether you have in any given facet of your life a "reasonable expectation of privacy" may take on a whole new meaning. Also at Slash BI.

SecurityGuy (217807)

[Nov 16, 2013] The Internet Ideology Why We Are Allowed to Hate Silicon Valley by Evgeny Morozov

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"?

...Silicon Valley has destroyed our ability to imagine other models for running and organizing our communication infrastructure. Forget about models that aren't based on advertising and that do not contribute to the centralization of data on private servers located in America. To suggest that we need to look into other – perhaps, even publicly-provided alternatives –is to risk being accused of wanting to "break the Internet." We have succumbed to what the Brazilian social theorist Roberto Unger calls "the dictatorship of no alternatives": we are asked to accept that Gmail is the best and only possible way to do email, and that Facebook is the best and only possible way to do social networking.

... ... ...

Now that our communication networks are in the hands of the private sector, we should avoid making the same mistake with privacy. We shouldn't reduce this complex problem to market-based solutions. Alas, thanks to Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial zeal, privatization is already creeping in. Privacy is becoming a commodity. How does one get privacy these days? Just ask any hacker: only by studying how the right tools work. Privacy is no longer something to be taken for granted or enjoyed for free: you have to expend some resources to master the tools. Those resources could be money, patience, attention – you might even hire a consultant to do all this for you – but the point is that privacy is becoming expensive.

... ... ...

The trouble with Silicon Valley is not just that it enables the NSA –it also encourages, even emboldens them. It inspires the NSA to keep searching for connections in a world of meaningless links, to record every click, to ensure that no interaction goes unnoticed, undocumented and unanalyzed. Like Silicon Valley, NSA assumes that everything is interconnected: if we can't yet link two pieces of data, it's because we haven't looked deep enough – or we need a third piece of data, to be collected in the future, to make sense of it all.

There's something delusional about this practice – and I don't use "delusional" metaphorically. For the Italian philosopher Remo Bodei, delusion does not stem from too little psychic activity, as some psychoanalytic theories would have it, but, rather, from too much of it. Delirium, he notes, is "the incapacity to filter an enormous quantity of data." While a sane, rational person "has learned that ignorance is vaster than knowledge and that one must resist the temptation to find more coherence than can currently be achieved," the man suffering from delusion cannot stop finding coherence among inherently incoherent phenomena. He generalizes too much, which results in what Bodei calls "hyper-inclusion."

"Hyper-inclusion" is exactly what plagues America's military-industrial complex today. And they don't even hide this: thus, Gus Hunt, the chief technology officer of the CIA, confesses that "since you can't connect dots you don't have …we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever." Such hyper-inclusion, according to Bodei, is the prerogative of the deluded. For them, he writes, "the accidental, which most certainly exists in the external world, has no right of citizenship in the psychic one, where it is 'curved' to a certain explanation." For example, "a madman might find it significant that three people in a larger group are wearing a red tie, and might believe that this implies some form of persecution." Likewise, the delirious person believes that "the concept of St. Joseph includes not only the individual person but also a wooden table since St. Joseph was a carpenter." Well, it might be "delusion' for Bodei but as far as Silicon Valley and Washington are concerned, we are talking bout "the semantic Web" and "Big Data"!

Silicon Valley doesn't care that some of these connections are spurious. When Google or Facebook mess up and show us an irrelevant ad based on their misconceived view of who we are, it results in minor discomfort– and little else. When NSA or CIA mess up, it results in a loud drone strike (if you are lucky, you might qualify for an all-expenses-paid, one-way trip to Guantanamo).

The other problem with Silicon Valley's epistemology is that its view of the world is heavily distorted by its business model. Silicon Valley has two responses to any problem: it can produce more "computation" (or code) or it can process more "information" (or data). Most likely, it will be a combination of the two, giving us yet another app to track calories, weather and traffic. Such small successes allow Silicon Valley to redefine "progress" as something that naturally follows from their business plans. But while "more computation" or "more information" could be lucrative private responses to some problems, it doesn't follow that they are also most effective responses to the unwieldy, messy public problems have deep institutional and structural causes.

... ... ...

Sociologists have coined a term for this phenomenon: "problem closure." To use one recent definition, it refers to "the situation when a specific definition of a problem is used to frame subsequent study of the problem's causes and consequences in ways that preclude alternative conceptualizations of the problem." Once the causes and consequences have been narrowly defined, it's no wonder that particular solutions get most attention. This is where we are today: inspired by Silicon Valley, policy-makers are beginning to redefine problems as essentially stemming from incomplete information while envisioning solutions that only do one thing: deliver more information through apps. But where are the apps to fight poverty or racial discrimination? We are building apps to fix the problems that our apps can fix – instead of tackling problems that actually need fixing.

[Nov 12, 2013] Netflix, Youtube Surpass 50% Mark of Internet Traffic

Looks like interception of traffic is now more complex then it ever was. Multimedia and bittorrent traffic dominates and it is difficult to analyze it automatically.

First time accepted submitter sqorbit writes

"Netflix and Youtube are gaining ground not only on the competition, such as Amazon, but also over peer-to-peer file sharing. Netflix claims more than 30 million customers and believes it could double that number in the future. Traffic from Netflix and Youtube amounted to over 50% of Internet traffic in September. Meanwhile Bittorrent traffic is down slightly (7.4% from 10%) in Internet traffic compared to last year. Could more people be satisfied with current video offerings or are less people finding useful things to download via file sharing?"

Anonymous Coward

Could more people be satisfied with current video offerings or are less people finding useful things to download via file sharing?

Or is it something that's not a false dichotomy? An increase in Netflix, YouTube traffic will result in a decrease in the amount of bittorrent traffic in terms of percent, even if absolute usage remains the same. Likewise, a decrease in bittorrent traffic will lead to higher percentages for Netflix and YouTube. That doesn't indicate (or rule out) a relationship between the two (i.e. leaving bittorrent behind for Netflix) except in that it is a relative measure.

Anonymous Coward

Hoarders (Score:5, Insightful)

Could more people be satisfied with current video offerings or are less people finding useful things to download via file sharing?

Could be that most download hoarders are finally coming to their senses that out of the 250gigs of MP3s they've downloaded they're really only listening to about 2gigs worth? That's my guess... that and the fact that you can only beat off so many times a year so having 65 days of pr0n doesn't make much sense either.

Or maybe it's people who've gotten sick of downloading 5 gigs worth of an e-book collection for a single book that's about 6 dollars on Amazon.

I know tons of people who've done the bit torrent stockpiling and I've never seen any of them come close to using a double digit percentage of what they've ripped off. It's like the people who get the high end NetFlix package and rip the discs and return them the next day. How many of those discs never get watched? My guess is a ton of them never see the tray of a DVD player.


Thanks Google (Score:4, Interesting)

I was indifferent about YouTube until it inexplicably linked itself to my Gmail account and now wants me to create a Google+ page in order to comment on videos. Now, I'd like nothing more to see it go up in flames, like a Tesla that hit some road debris.

Forever Wondering

Re:Thanks Google

Logout [of gmail] first [possibly clearing some cookies] and you'll have no problem. I have a gmail account [but I only access it through POP3/IMAP from thunderbird--thus, it's never logged in] and I don't have the same problem. I did have the same problem one time when I was logged into gmail.

If you'd rather not logout/login on gmail repeatedly, you can create a separate browser profile [Firefox, at least] for youtube, etc.


Re:Thanks Google

If you'd rather not logout/login on gmail repeatedly, you can create a separate browser profile [Firefox, at least] for youtube, etc.

Or easier yet, use one browser just for logging into gmail, another browser for other stuff.


Re:Thanks Google (Score:2)

Or easier yet, cut the cord to the gmail mothership! There are other webmail products (I'm in the midst of switching to Yahoo and MS may have serve ads, but it's vastly less intrusive than googles omni-present tracking...


I would like more information, please (Score:5, Informative)

If you click a few levels through the story, you'll find that the data comes from Sandvine, whose customers are the big telecoms. Considering the battle over net neutrality, I'd say that Sandvine is not a neutral source in this discussion.

I'd like to see data from some other sources on "Netflix and Youtube are half of all Internet traffic".

Anubis IV

Re:I would like more information, please (Score:5, Interesting)

Not everyone who gets paid by an industry is automatically in its pocket. In this case, they gain nothing by doctoring the report.

Sandvine's numbers are taken as fact by pretty much everyone in the know. When I was in grad school, they were the ones posting the numbers saying that torrents accounted for whatever insane percentage of Internet traffic that they once accounted for (30%+, as I recall), and practically every research paper I read quoted something Sandvine had published at some point. As I recall, the reason they're able to get such accurate numbers is because their customers are the big telecoms, which gives them the sort of access they need to make these assessments. Without that sort of access, the best you could do is get some numbers from large universities, local ISPs, and CDNs. Of those, the first two wouldn't be useful in the least for extrapolating traffic patterns to the population at large, and good luck getting these sorts of numbers from the CDNs.

Look back on Sandvine's historical data and you'll see that they haven't exactly done the entrenched telecoms any favors, since they seem to just tell it like it is, time and again, regardless of what the implications may be.

[Nov 11, 2013] GCHQ spoofed LinkedIn site to target global mobile traffic exchange and OPEC

November 11, 2013 | RT
The UK's electronic spying agency has been using spoof version of LinkedIn professional social network's website to target global roaming data exchange companies as well as top management employees in the OPEC oil cartel, according to Der Spiegel report.

The Government Communications Headquarters has implemented a technique known as Quantum Insert, placing its servers in strategic spots where they could intercept and redirect target traffic to a fake website faster than the legitimate service could respond.

A similar technique was used earlier this year to inject malware into the systems of BICS, a subsidiary of Belgian state-owned telecommunications company Belgacom, which is another major GRX provider.

In the Belgacom scandal first it was unclear where the attacks were coming from. Then documents from Snowden's collection revealed that the surveillance attack probably emanated from the British GCHQ – and that British intelligence had palmed off spyware on several Belgacom employees.

The Global Roaming Exchange (GRX) is a service which allows mobile data providers to exchange roaming traffic of their user with other providers. There are only a few dozen companies providing such services globally.

Now it turns out the GCHQ was also targeting networking, maintenance and security personnel of another two companies, Comfone and Mach, according to new leaks published in the German magazine by Laura Poitras, one of few journalists believed to have access to all documents stolen by Snowden from the NSA.

Through Quantum Insert method, GCHQ has managed to infiltrate the systems of targeted Mach employees and successfully procured detailed knowledge of the company's communications infrastructure, business, and personal information of several important figures.

A spokesman for 'Starhome Mach', a Mach-successor company, said it would launch "a comprehensive safety inspection with immediate effect."

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was yet another target of the Quantum Insert attack, according to the report. According to a leaked document, it was in 2010 that GCHQ managed to infiltrate the computers of nine OPEC employees. The spying agency reportedly succeeded in penetrating the operating space of the OPEC Secretary-General and also managed to spy the on Saudi Arabian OPEC governor, the report suggests.

LinkedIn is currently the largest network for creating and maintaining business contacts. According to its own data the company has nearly 260 million registered users in more than 200 countries. When contacted by The Independent, a LinkedIn spokesman said that the company was "never told about this alleged activity" and it would "never approve of it, irrespective of what purpose it was used for."

According to a cryptographer and security expert Bruce Schneier, Quantum Insert attacks are hard for anyone except the NSA to execute, because for that one would need to "to have a privileged position on the Internet backbone."

The latest details of GCHQ's partnership with the NSA were revealed just last week, after the reports emerged that GCHQ was feeding the NSA with the internal information intercepted from Google and Yahoo's private networks.

The UK intelligence leaders have recently been questioned by British lawmakers about their agencies' close ties and cooperation with the NSA.

The head of GCHQ, Sir Ian Lobban, lashed out at the global media for the coverage of Edward Snowden's leaks, claiming it has made it "far harder" for years to come to search for "needles and fragments of needles" in "an enormous hay field" of the Internet.

However, the intelligence chiefs failed to address public fears that Britain's intelligence agencies are unaccountable and are operating outside the law.

[Nov 09, 2013] The Unintended 'Economic' Consequences Of The NSA's 'Bulk' Spying Zero Hedge


I agree with this will, on the margin (which is all that matters), cause a receding in business at the Googles, Microsofts, Yahoo!s, etc.

I think it's already beginning:

Google's Schmidt's recent article in the WSJ slamming the NSA was a blatant and faux 'we're not fascists' plea to the people who are quietly adopting Linux O/S, Firefox, Duck Duck Go, Ghostery, and other techniques to opt out of Google's information gathering abilities and thus bring a hammer down on their ability to print money.

While earnings are likely not an issue at this point, is this starting to hit on the margin?
Time will tell.

[Oct 31, 2013] Who's more evil – Facebook or Google? by Holly Baxter

October 25, 2013 | The Guardian

Who is most evil on the internet? If we're to believe the latest coverage surrounding Facebook, then we'd probably have to say Mark Zuckerberg and associates, who have decided that graphic video footage of beheadings on the social network are AOK with them, so long as they come with content warnings. Bet you're missing that wanton youthful abandon of Myspace now.

Facebook's explanation for allowing executions galore on your timeline seems to be that the site has morphed over the years from mere social network into noble protector of freedom of information, no matter how disturbing the content. That's right: it's basically WikiLeaks, but with a constant stream of updates about what your old school frenemies' babies weigh. Get rid of all those boundary-pushing, controversial beheadings, and it's a slippery slope to an endlessly banal stream of boring people who spend hours carefully constructing online facades in order to convince "friends" they don't even know in real life that they go to better parties than them. Oh wait.

If you think that it's only Facebook fiddling with the parameters of morality in today's cyberworld, then you might be interested to know that Google is evil too. For those who know Google's motto, "Don't be evil", and have taken it at face value, this could come as something of a surprise. But for those of you who, like me, have a Gmail account and feel ethically torn about it but way too lazy to delete, it might not be such a shocker.

Gmail has been accused of "automatically scanning" the private contents of emails to and from your e-buddies for a while now, and using the information to tailor the advertisements it places in the corners of your screen. From 11 November, it will be widening its remit and taking "names, photos and reviews" from connected sites like YouTube to use in marketing. In other words, don't be surprised if your face and words start appearing in the online adverts that presently irritate you on a daily basis.

What all of this essentially means is that by signing up to a service run by Google, you are no longer just part of the system: you are the system. You are the advertised-to and the advertisement, the customer and the marketer, the instrument of your own drowning in commercial fodder.

But is that evil? In a recent Atlantic article titled What is "evil" to Google?, Ian Bogost argued that Google's wrongs were "evil insofar as they prevent a program from being effectively created and maintained, not because they make that program run wickedly". The company's position on not being evil essentially means a commitment to technological progression, not a commitment to morality (Bogost also points out that Wiktionary has already redefined evil in the case of computing/programming as something that is "undesirable; harmful; bad practice", far removed from what most of us might understand "evil" to mean.) Perhaps, then, not evil at all.

But if turning a blind eye is more your kind of evil, then we shouldn't let accusations levied against this year pass us by. The site, whose audience is mainly teenagers, was linked with the suicides of a number of users last year after they apparently suffered a campaign of vicious cyberbullying facilitated by its anonymous questioning set-up.'s failure to monitor and protect its young users was seen at the time as the ultimate online evil: developers had built a platform that could be easily used for harassment, and then failed to take responsibility for creating such a platform seriously. It eventually changed its safety policy, but anonymous questions remain, with a company disclaimer that it "strongly encourages" users to turn the option off.

We saw the same problem with Twitter, where a particular fever pitch of vilification directed at Caroline Criado-Perez drew attention to a situation that had been going on for a long time. Twitter eventually bowed to public pressure and introduced a report abuse button for individual tweets in August, but not before arguing long and hard for its right not to do so based upon the practicalities of sifting through so much material. It wasn't the most sympathetic argument in the world: our lucrative website makes it so easy for people to abuse each other that the volume of reported material after the introduction of a "report abuse" button would make its creation horrendously inconvenient. So why not keep things the way they are?

Unsurprisingly, it didn't fly. It suffered the consequences of its own tweetstorm.

With friends like these in the cybersphere, it's hard to believe that any of us need enemies. And with your data now standing as the most valuable asset you have, there is cause to worry about exactly how evil your email account is versus your networking outlet. You might not see a beheading on Google+, but your music taste may well be gathered, analysed and sold as you type. You might applaud Twitter's new position on abuse, but be less enamoured with the idea of someone policing what you write.

Ultimately, the worldwide web is a scary playground populated with a lot of powerful bullies. The only way to navigate it safely is to scrutinise terms and conditions, monitor your privacy policies and, if in any doubt, opt out. It's a time-consuming inconvenience they're hoping you won't undergo, but it's worth it. In other words, it's a necessary evil.


October 25, 2013

It's a funny old thing. Up until very recently I had been the archetypal "I've got nothing to hide, so I don't care if the government reads my emails" kind of guy, but it is really starting to piss me off now. As a result, over the past couple of weeks I've written three letters to friends - real letters, fountain pen and paper letters - and I hadn't written a letter for about a decade. From now on I'm only going to use IM and email for business. Personal stuff is going to go in a letter.

MattVauxhall -> Dunnyboy

Its not that these brands are "Evil" but more that we seem to be in the middle of a giant experiment where all previous norms of privacy have been thrown away in a rush to a brave new world

We need to put the onus of any damage from this back on the would fix things up quite quickly

LesterJones -> Dunnyboy

...and yet if you sent 30 a day and stuffed them full of photos of yourself and your lunch with accompanying short messages about your success and general happiness people would think your absolutely insane...

...which is strange considering that is all Facebook does...


Gmail has been accused of "automatically scanning" the private contents of emails to and from your e-buddies for a while now, and using the information to tailor the advertisements it places in the corners of your screen

I don't get adverts on my gmail. Am I doing something wrong, or does it just take installing adblock to cut them out?

TheTrueGeek permafail

I agree. I don't see any adverts when browsing the web. AdBlock is excellent. It tidies up the Guardian site nicely too!

I wont stop the content of emails etc. being trawled to generate ads that might appear elsewhere, and seen by others though.

NB. Ghostery is another plug-in I recommend people use! (to stop/limit your internet movements being tracked)


I recently closed my facebook account and feel great about it. I do have a gmail account, but I only use it for instances where I might get spam and would rather not use my personal email address. So far I'm happy about it but in the long run I'd rather not use any of their products, including youtube (which is owned by Google) which makes things a bit more difficult.

peopleisstupid Zakelius

I don't have any social media accounts. I use Goggles and Tubes because it's helpful, but haven't signed up.

Occasionally you'll find yourself the odd one out in a conversation down the pub, or not quite getting the point of a particular article/story/news item, but it really doesn't make a blind bit of difference.

This isn't a 'look-how-retro-cool' I am comment, it's just a confirmation that you really don't need these things to live a normal, happy, engaged life


If people have to make a conscious choice to use Facebook or Google is it right to define the services we subscribe to as evil? Do we not have any role in the decisions we make?

If these businesses offered a life giving or compulsory commodity like water then yes, but they don't. They offer efficient access to on-line information and social networks. Yes their long term ambitions are ethically dubious but to call these networks "a necessary evil" is a stretch, they are more a morally compromised convenience.

James Hudson -> Toyin

Excellent remark, It seems that more and more in our society people are looking to shirk their personal responsibilities and seek someone else to make the moral decisions for them. If Google or Facebook make you uncomfortable, don't use them. They'll soon change when the traffic drops.

Toyin -> James Hudson

They'll soon change when the traffic drops.

Exactly. It's important that users remember that the traffic they generate for these companies through donating their IP for free is utilised to generate advertising revenue. If you can get something useful out of the deal then great, if not then log off.


Social media moguls are wankers, the spooks are bastards. It's an important distinction.

JohnBroggio dogfondler

Absolutely. And as both FB & G hand over our data to the NSA, GCHQ et al, they both fall a long way short of "don't be evil" (I can't speak for their other "talents").


It's like hating petrol or fast food.

We use them all the time. Petrol is destroying the climate. Fast food is causing obesity. But we still drive cars and still eat fast food.

I think what we should be doing is looking at battlegrounds. In Facebook and Google the US empire has already one. They keep tabs on everyone.

But Wikipedia is a battle.



Sorry to ruin the fun here of "who can we call evil today?".

Reasonable and informed Guardian readers realise that the world is not as simplistic and black-and-white (or black-and-blacker) as portrayed here.

EllisWyatt NeverMindTheBollocks

Oh come on, where's the fun in that. If we believed that actually the world was a complex place of people bumping into each other, acting in a haphazard way and generally being fallible then 90% of CiF contributions would die up overnight!

Where we be without politicians, tories, immigrants, greens, Osborne, bankers, oil companies, lefties, labour, tony blair etc for all the troubles in our lives?


[Google/Facebook] Pick your playmates carefully in the internet playground

They're the big kids on the block, controlled by the grand-daddy bully of them all. Choice is: there is no choice.


Now that Google has decided that I need to 'add an account' to an inescapable front page to be remembered every time I just want to check my fucking e-mail, I'm going with Google. They've also linked (my previously deleted Google Plus) account to Youtube and every time I click to disconnect the two so I can delete Google Plus, it takes me to a page where the disconnect link simply doesn't exist -- and yes, I've taken it to the Google forums, where people were as baffled as I was.

They've made some awful, intrusive changes lately and as soon as I find a good alternative to Gmail, I'm jumping ship. (Any recommendations welcome, by the way.)


Who's more evil – Facebook or Google?

There are lots of different search engines that can be used. Google is simply the most well-known.

Facebook exploits people's own sense of vanity and desire to invade other people's privacy. There is no requirement to plaster your life all over the internet.

Internet Privacy Computer Privacy Microsoft Privacy

Think before you share personal information

First, read the website's privacy policy

Privacy policies should clearly explain what data the website gathers about you, how it is used, shared, and secured, and how you can edit or delete it. (For example, look at the bottom of this and every page on No privacy statement? Take your business elsewhere.

Do not share more than you need to

Choose how private you want your profile or blog to be

Modify Internet Explorer or website settings or options to manage who can see your online profile or photos, how people can search for you, who can make comments on what you post, and how to block unwanted access by others. Get more information about privacy settings in other Microsoft products.

Monitor what others post

For more information, see Your information on the Internet: What you need to know.

Guard your information

Protect your computer

You can greatly reduce your risk of online identity theft by taking these three steps to protect your computer:

  1. Use an Internet firewall.
    Note Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and Service Pack 3 have a firewall already built in and automatically turned on.
  2. Visit Microsoft Update to verify your settings and check for security updates.
    Note Microsoft Update will also update your Microsoft Office programs.
  3. Subscribe to antivirus software and keep it current. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. If you run Windows 8 or Windows RT, you don't need Microsoft Security Essentials. For more information, see Help protect your PC with Microsoft Security Essentials. For more information, see How to boost your malware defense and protect your PC.

Create strong passwords

Strong passwords are at least 14 characters long and include a combination of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols. They are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess.

  1. Don't share your passwords with friends.
  2. Avoid using the same password everywhere. If someone steals it, all the information that password protects is at risk.

TipTip Learn how to create strong passwords.

Save sensitive business for your home computer

Avoid paying bills, banking, and shopping on a public computer, or on any device (such as a laptop or mobile phone) over a public wireless network.

TipTip Internet Explorer can help erase your tracks on a public computer, leaving no trace of specific activity. For more information, see InPrivate browsing.

Protect yourself from fraud

Spot the signs of a scam

Watch for deals that sound too good to be true, phony job ads, notices that you have won a lottery, or requests to help a distant stranger transfer funds. Other clues include urgent messages ("Your account will be closed!"), misspellings, and grammatical errors.

  1. Think before you click to visit a website or call a number in a suspicious email or phone message-both could be phony.
  2. Be cautious with links to video clips and games, or open photos, songs, or other files-even if you know the sender. Check with the sender first.

Look for signs that a web page is safe

Before you enter sensitive data, check for evidence that:

  1. The site uses encryption, a security measure that scrambles data as it crosses the Internet. Good indicators that a site is encrypted include a web address with https ("s" stands for secure) and a closed padlock beside it. (The lock might also be in the lower-right corner of the window.)


  2. You are at the correct site-for example, at your bank's website, not a phony website. If you are using Internet Explorer, one sign of trustworthiness is a green address bar like the one above.

Use a phishing filter

Find a filter that warns you of suspicious websites and blocks visits to reported phishing sites. For example, try the SmartScreen Filter included in Internet Explorer.

Help detect potential fraud

In the United States, you are entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three major U.S. credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Get them by visiting

Tip If you have been a victim of identity theft, find out what you can do about it.

[Oct 30, 2013] Tools to protect your web search privacy

Duck Duck Go

Built majorly on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), Duck Duck Go does not store IP addresses, cookies, doesn't use cloud services, and Google APIs. It uses crowdsourced information to enhance search results, instead of tracking users. Search results are compiled from the DuckDuckBot, Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, and the Yahoo! Search BOSS (Build Your Own Search Engine) API. It has additional plug-ins such as those for arithmetical calculations or cryptographic tools. Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of the search engine sums up its privacy policy, "By default, DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell". Searching a URL on DDG shows links from Google cache and the Wayback Machine.


AskEraser is a privacy feature of the search engine When this feature is enabled, a user's search history is deleted from servers within a few hours (Search engines are known to retain users' data for as long as a few months.) The deleted content includes session cookies, IP addresses, search strings themselves, and the associated user ID, which is typically a serial number assigned to the user. However, AskEraser does not delete PII.


Ixquick is another search engine dedicated to search privacy. According to its privacy policy, it does not collect or share personal information such as the IP addresses, browser and platform information, and the text of the search query.

Google Encrypted Search

Google Encrypted Search enables searching over SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). Navigate to or to to use this feature.

If you have a Google account, logging out of it before performing a search, or using different browsers for searching and using the account makes it slightly harder to log and track your activity.


GoogleMonkeyR is a userscript that enhances Google Search. Using the "trackless" option displayed adjacent to every search result, prevents the visit from being recorded and logged into your Google search history.

Web Privacy - Ten Ways to Protect Yourself Online

7. Use Caution When Using Social Media

Social networking sites such as Facebook are extremely popular, and for good reason: they make it possible for people to connect with each other all over the world. It's important to make sure that your privacy settings are set appropriately and that what you share on social networking sites would not reveal anything of a personal or financial nature. For more on how to keep yourself safe on Facebook, try reading How to Block Searches of Your Facebook Profile, and Protect your Facebook privacy with

8. Watch Out For Scams

If it seems too good to be true, than it probably is - and this especially applies on the Web. Emails promising free computers, links from friends that seem legit but lead to virus-laden websites, and all sorts of other Web scams can make your online life quite unpleasant, not to mention add all sorts of nasty viruses to your computer system.
Think carefully before following links, opening files, or watching videos sent to you by friends or organizations. Watch for signs that these might not be for real: these include misspellings, lack of secure encryption (no HTTPS in the URL), and improper grammar. For more information on how to avoid common scams on the Web, read Five Ways You Can Check Out A Hoax on the Web, and What Is Phishing?.

9. Protect Your System

Keeping your computer safe from harmful content on the Web is simple with a few precautions, such as a firewall, appropriate updates to your existing software programs (this ensures that all security protocols are kept up to date), and antivirus programs (see 101 Free Online Alternatives to Popular Desktop Software for a few free antivirus programs).

[Oct 30, 2013] Ixquick Protects Your Privacy!

The only search engine that does not record your IP address.

Your privacy is under attack!

Every time you use a regular search engine, your search data is recorded. Major search engines capture your IP address and use tracking cookies to make a record of your search terms, the time of your visit, and the links you choose - then they store that information in a giant database.

Those searches reveal a shocking amount of personal information about you, such as your interests, family circumstances, political leanings, medical conditions, and more. This information is modern-day gold for marketers, government officials, black-hat hackers and criminals - all of whom would love to get their hands on your private search data.

[Oct 30, 2013] How to protect your privacy on Google

Adding "spam searches" to you mix is probably the best way to deal with Google and "dilute" you serach profile ;-)

Do you know every Google search you've ever performed is stored on the search giant's servers? And that data is cross-linked to your search data from YouTube, Google Maps and any other Google services you use.

With that mountain of information, Google can tell a lot about you: where you live, your hobbies, age, health problems, religion and more.

Of course, Google uses that data mostly to target you with ads. If you spend 20 minutes doing research on a gadget, for the next few weeks you'll probably be hounded by ads for that gadget wherever you go online.

Because search sites and other Web services have become so ingrained in our daily digital lives, it isn't really an option to stop using them.

However, you can keep a lower profile and put a little more distance between your personal data and Google. To start, you can clear out your Google search history.

To see what forgotten secrets lurk in your Google history, go to and sign in with your Google account information. You'll see a list of everything you've ever searched for on Google.

You can browse through your searches and find them by day or Google service. Additionally, Google shows you personalized search trends, which can be interesting to look at.

To remove an unwanted search term, simply select click the checkbox next to it and then click the Remove Items button. You can select as many entries as you want at a time.

Once your information is removed, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the page and choose Settings. Here you have the option to turn off your Web history. This will stop Google from recording anything else.

There is a catch to all this, of course - your information isn't really gone. Google will still keep your "deleted" information for audits and other internal uses. However, it won't use it for targeted ads or to customize your search results.

After your Web history has been disabled for 18 months, the company will partially anonymize the data so you won't be associated with it.

If you don't have a Google account, or don't usually sign in to it, Google still tracks your history. To accomplish this, it uses a cookie stored in your browser.

You can wipe out the information by deleting the cookie, but Google will just start recording new information. Instead, you can opt out of interest-based ads altogether by going to

If you're still concerned about stored information, your best bet might be to avoid using Google Search as much as possible. Alternative search sites DuckDuckGo and IxQuick parallel Google Search in features and performance, but don't collect any private information about you.

Microsoft's Bing Maps is a good replacement for Google Maps. Try using the venerable Firefox Web browser instead of Google's Chrome.

The more you mix and match Web services, the less any one company is able to form a complete picture of you.

Don't forget that while you're busy surfing the Internet, your browser is also busy making a list of the sites you visit. Anyone who gets access to your computer can see it.

You can delete some or all of the websites you've visited by going to your browser's options menu. Or you can use a free third-party cleaner program like CCleaner.

If you want to surf the Web without leaving a trace, all modern browsers have private, or incognito, browsing. While in this mode, your browser will ignore cookies and won't record visited sites to your browser's history.

Just don't confuse private browsing with anonymity. Your Internet service provider (and your employer if you're on a work computer) can still track the sites you're visiting. Avoiding that tracking requires an entirely different set of steps.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, watch the show or find the station nearest you, visit: Email her at [email protected].

[Oct 30, 2013] Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy By Peter Eckersley, Seth Schoen, Kevin Bankston, and Derek Slater.

September 14, 2006 | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Google, MSN Search, Yahoo!, AOL, and most other search engines collect and store records of your search queries. If these records are revealed to others, they can be embarrassing or even cause great harm. Would you want strangers to see searches that reference your online reading habits, medical history, finances, sexual orientation, or political affiliation?

Recent events highlight the danger that search logs pose. In August 2006, AOL published 650,000 users' search histories on its website.1 Though each user's logs were only associated with a random ID number, several users' identities were readily discovered based on their search queries. For instance, the New York Times connected the logs of user No. 4417749 with 62 year-old Thelma Arnold. These records exposed, as she put it, her "whole personal life."2

Disclosures like AOL's are not the only threats to your privacy. Unfortunately, it may be all too easy for the government or individual litigants to subpoena your search provider and get access to your search history. For example, in January 2006, Yahoo!, AOL, and Microsoft reportedly cooperated with a broad Justice Department request for millions of search records. Although Google successfully challenged this request,3 the lack of clarity in current law leaves your online privacy at risk.

Search companies should limit data retention and make their logging practices more transparent to the public,4 while Congress ought to clarify and strengthen privacy protections for search data. But you should also take matters into your own hands and adopt habits that will help protect your privacy.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed the following search privacy tips. They range from straightforward steps that offer a little protection to more complicated measures that offer near-complete safety. While we strongly urge users to follow all six tips, a lesser level of protection might be sufficient depending on your particular situation and willingness to accept risks to your privacy.

1. Don't put personally identifying information in your search terms (easy)

Don't search for your name, address, credit card number, social security number, or other personal information. These kinds of searches can create a roadmap that leads right to your doorstep. They could also expose you to identity theft and other privacy invasions.

If you want to do a "vanity search" for your own name5 (and who isn't a little vain these days?), be sure to follow the rest of our tips or do your search on a different computer than the one you usually use for searching.

2. Don't use your ISP's search engine (easy)

Because your ISP knows who you are, it will be able to link your identity to your searches. It will also be able to link all your individual search queries into a single search history. So, if you are a Comcast broadband subscriber, for instance, you should avoid using Similarly, if you're an AOL member, do not use or the search box in AOL's client software.

3. Don't login to your search engine or related tools (intermediate)

Search engines sometimes give you the opportunity to create a personal account and login. In addition, many engines are affiliated with other services -- Google with Gmail and Google Chat; MSN with Hotmail and MSN Messenger; A9 with Amazon, and so on. When you log into the search engine or one of those other services, your searches can be linked to each other and to your personal account.

So, if you have accounts with services like Google GMail or Hotmail, do not search through the corresponding search engine (Google or MSN Search, respectively), especially not while logged in.

If you must use the same company's search engine and webmail (or other service), it will be significantly harder to protect your search privacy. You will need to do one of the following:

  1. Install two different web browsers to separate your search activities from your other accounts with the search provider. For example, use Mozilla Firefox for searching through Yahoo!, and Internet Explorer for Yahoo! Mail and other Yahoo! service accounts.6 You must also follow Tip 6 for at least one of the two browsers.7
  2. For Google and its services, you can use the Mozilla Firefox web browser and the CustomizeGoogle plugin software. Go to and click "Install." Restart Firefox and then select "CustomizeGoogle Options" from the "Tools" menu. Click on the "Privacy" tab and turn on "Anonymize the Google cookie UID." You must remember to quit your browser after using GMail and before using the Google search engine.8 In addition, be sure not to select the "remember me on this computer" option when you log into a Google service.

If you are using a browser other than Firefox, you can use the GoogleAnon bookmarklet, which you can obtain at You will need to quit your browser every time you finish with a Google service. Unfortunately, we currently do not know of similar plugins for other search providers.9

4. Block "cookies" from your search engine (intermediate)

If you've gone through the steps above, your search history should no longer have personally identifying information all over it. However, your search engine can still link your searches together using cookies and IP addresses.10 Tip 4 will prevent tracking through cookies, while Tips 5-6 will prevent IP-based tracking. It's best to follow Tips 3-6 together -- there is less benefit in preventing your searches from being linked together in one way if they can be linked in another.

Cookies are small chunks of information that websites can put on your computer when you visit them. Among other things, cookies enable websites to link all of your visits and activities at the site. Since cookies are stored on your computer, they can let sites track you even when you are using different Internet connections in different locations. But when you use a different computer, your cookies don't come with you.11

From a privacy-protection perspective, it would be best to block all cookies. However, because cookies are necessary for accessing many websites, it may be more convenient (though less privacy-protective) to allow short-lived "session" cookies. These cookies last only as long as your browser is open; therefore, if you quit your browser, re-open it, and then go back to your search engine, your search provider will not be able to connect your current searches with previous ones via your cookies.

Use the following steps to allow only "session cookies," and remember to quit your browser at least once a day but ideally after each visit to your search provider's site.

We recommend that you use Mozilla Firefox and apply these settings:

  1. From the "Edit" menu, select "Preferences"
  2. Click on "Privacy"
  3. Select the "Cookies" tab
  4. Set "Keep Cookies" to "until I close Firefox" 12
  5. Click on "Exceptions," type in the domains of all of your search sites, and choose "Block" for all of them

[Oct 30, 2013] Protecting Your Search Privacy and Your Web Browsing Activity EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Project

The search history you generate when using search engines like Google or Yahoo! reveals incredibly sensitive data about what you look at - or even think of looking at - on the web. These logs may be tied to your identity based on your IP address, the cookie files that the search engine places on your computer, or your account information if you've registered to use the search engine or other services offered by the provider. And as discussed earlier in the "What Can the Government Do?" section, these logs are subject to uncertain legal protections.

Considering the sensitivity of search logs and the questions surrounding their legal status, we highly recommend that you exercise great care to ensure that your identity cannot be linked to your search queries. For an in-depth discussion of how to do that, read EFF's "Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy". You should also take a look at our article on browsers to learn more about cookie management and on the anonymizing software Tor to learn more about how to mask your IP address. These same techniques can be used to protect you against logging by any web site you visit, not just search engines, and we recommend that you do use them whenever you visit a web site and don't want that site to log personally-identifying information about you and the pages that you read.

Finally, we recommend avoiding using one online portal for multiple services - e.g., try to avoid using Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! Mail, or Google Search and Google Reader. Not only are you making it easier for the search provider to identify you by virtue of linking all of your activity to your personalized account, but you are also offering the government a convenient "one-stop shop" opportunity to access a wide range of your personal information at once. Using these "mega-portals" to manage all aspects of your online life might be convenient, but it also creates a single point of failure that raises a serious security risk.

FreeBSD 9.2, FreeBSD 10.0 Alpha 4 Released

Free and, especially, OpenBSD is more out of mainstream and as such are more secure options for personal computing.
Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.

An anonymous reader writes "The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team has announced the release of FreeBSD 9.2. FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE has ZFS TRIM SSD support, ZFS LZ4 compression support, DTrace hooks and VirtIO drivers as part of the default kernel configuration, unmapped I/O support, and numerous other minor features. FreeBSD also announced FreeBSD 10.0 Alpha 4 on the same day, which is the next major feature release of the open-source BSD operating system."

Mozilla Launches Persona Identity Bridge For Gmail

Posted by samzenpus
from the being-yourself dept.

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today announced the Persona Identity Bridge for Gmail users. If you have a Google account, this means you can now sign into Persona-powered websites with your existing credentials. The best part is of course Mozilla's pledge to its users.

'Persona remains committed to privacy: Gmail users can sign into sites with Persona, but Google can't track which sites they sign into,' Mozilla Pesrona engineer Dan Callahan promises."

[Aug 08, 2013] Do we have an instinct for privacy by Ian Leslie

"...many Facebook users are standing in their bedroom naked without realising there's a crowd outside the window."

August 7, 2013 | Aeon

Too much information. Our instincts for privacy evolved in tribal societies where walls didn't exist. No wonder we are hopeless oversharers

... ... ...

More recently, Edward Snowden's revelations about the panoptic scope of government surveillance have raised the hoary spectre of 'Big Brother'. But what Prism's fancy PowerPoint decks and self-aggrandising logo suggest to me is not so much an implacable, omniscient overseer as a bunch of suits in shabby cubicles trying to persuade each other they're still relevant. After all, there's little need for state surveillance when we're doing such a good job of spying on ourselves. Big Brother isn't watching us; he's taking selfies and posting them on Instagram like everyone else. And he probably hasn't given a second thought to what might happen to that picture of him posing with a joint.

Walls are a relatively recent innovation. Members of pre-modern societies happily coexisted while carrying out almost all of their lives in public view

Stone's story is hardly unique. Earlier this year, an Aeroflot air hostess was fired from her job after a picture she had taken of herself giving the finger to a cabin full of passengers circulated on Twitter. She had originally posted it to her profile on a Russian social networking site without, presumably, envisaging it becoming a global news story. Every day, embarrassments are endured, jobs lost and individuals endangered because of unforeseen consequences triggered by a tweet or a status update. Despite the many anxious articles about the latest change to Facebook's privacy settings, we just don't seem to be able to get our heads around the idea that when we post our private life, we publish it.

At the beginning of this year, Facebook launched the drably named 'Graph Search', a search engine that allows you to crawl through the data in everyone else's profiles. Days after it went live, a tech-savvy Londoner called Tom Scott started a blog in which he posted details of searches that he had performed using the new service. By putting together imaginative combinations of 'likes' and profile settings he managed to turn up 'Married people who like prostitutes', 'Single women nearby who like to get drunk', and 'Islamic men who are interested in other men and live in Tehran' (where homosexuality is illegal).

Scott was careful to erase names from the screenshots he posted online: he didn't want to land anyone in trouble with employers, or predatory sociopaths, or agents of repressive regimes, or all three at once. But his findings served as a reminder that many Facebook users are standing in their bedroom naked without realising there's a crowd outside the window. Facebook says that as long as users are given the full range of privacy options, they can be relied on to figure them out. Privacy campaigners want Facebook and others to be clearer and more upfront with users about who can view their personal data. Both agree that users deserve to be given control over their choices.

... ... ...

We might be particularly prone to disclosing private information to a well-designed digital interface, making an unconscious and often unwise association between ease-of-use and safety. For example, a now-defunct website called solicited anonymous confessions. The original format of the site was a masterpiece of bad font design: it used light grey text on a dark grey background, making it very hard to read. Then, in 2008, the site had a revamp, and a new, easier-to-read black font against a white background was adopted. The cognitive scientists Adam Alter and Danny Oppenheimer gathered a random sample of 500 confessions from either side of the change. They found that the confessions submitted after the redesign were generally far more revealing than those submitted before: instead of minor peccadilloes, people admitted to major crimes. (Facebook employs some of the best web designers in the world.)

This is not the only way our deeply embedded real-world instincts can backfire online. Take our rather noble instinct for reciprocity: returning a favour. If I reveal personal information to you, you're more likely to reveal something to me. This works reasonably well when you can see my face and make a judgment about how likely I am to betray your confidence, but on Facebook it's harder to tell if I'm trustworthy. Loewenstein found that people were much readier to answer probing questions if they were told that others had already answered them. This kind of rule-of-thumb - when in doubt, do what everyone else is doing - works pretty well when it comes to things such as what foods to avoid, but it's not so reliable on the internet. As James Grimmelmann, director of the intellectual property programme at the University of Maryland, puts it in his article 'Facebook and the Social Dynamics of Privacy' (2008):

'When our friends all jump off the Facebook privacy bridge, we do too.'

Giving people more control over their privacy choices won't solve these deeper problems. Indeed, Loewenstein found evidence for a 'control paradox'. Just as many people mistakenly think that driving is safer than flying because they feel they have more control over it, so giving people more privacy settings to fiddle with makes them worry less about what they actually divulge.

Then again, perhaps none of this matters. Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg is not the only tech person to suggest that privacy is an anachronistic social convention about which younger generations care little. And it's certainly true that for most of human existence, most people have got by with very little private space, as I found when I spoke to John L Locke, professor of linguistics at Ohio University and the author of Eavesdropping: An Intimate History (2010). Locke told me that internal walls are a relatively recent innovation. There are many anthropological reports of pre-modern societies whose members happily coexisted while carrying out almost all of their lives in public view.

You might argue, then, that the internet is simply taking us back to something like a state of nature. However, hunter-gatherer societies never had to worry about invisible strangers; not to mention nosy governments, rapacious corporations or HR bosses. And even in the most open cultures, there are usually rituals of withdrawal from the arena. 'People have always sought refuge from the public gaze,' Locke said, citing the work of Paul Fejos, a Hungarian-born anthropologist who, in the 1940s, studied the Yagua people of Northern Peru, who lived in houses of up to 50 people. There were no partitions, but inhabitants could achieve privacy any time they wanted by simply turning away. 'No one in the house,' wrote Fejos, 'will look upon, or observe, one who is in private facing the wall, no matter how urgently he may wish to talk to him.'

The need for privacy remains, but the means to meet it - our privacy instincts - are no longer fit for purpose

... ... ...

Over time, we will probably get smarter about online sharing. But right now, we're pretty stupid about it. Perhaps this is because, at some primal level, we don't really believe in the internet. Humans evolved their instinct for privacy in a world where words and acts disappeared the moment they were spoken or made. Our brains are barely getting used to the idea that our thoughts or actions can be written down or photographed, let alone take on a free-floating, indestructible life of their own. Until we catch up, we'll continue to overshare.

A long-serving New York Times journalist who recently left his post was clearing his desk when he came across an internal memo from 1983 on computer policy. It said that while computers could be used to communicate, they should never be used for indiscreet or potentially embarrassing messages: 'We have typewriters for that.' Thirty years later, and the Kremlin's security agency has concluded that The New York Times IT department was on to something: it recently put in an order for electric typewriters. An agency source told Russia's Izvestiya newspaper that, following the WikiLeaks and Snowden scandals, and the bugging of the Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London, 'it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents'.

Its invention enabled us to capture and store our thoughts and memories but, today, the best thing about paper is that it can be shredded.

Slashdot News for nerds, stuff that matters

DNI Office Asks Why People Trust Facebook More Than the Government
Daniel_Stuckey writes

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.

[Jul 19, 2013] Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg secretly filmed for 'horror film'


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg secretly filmed for 'horror film' Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was secretly filmed with spy glasses for Terms and Conditions May Apply, a documentary that investigates internet privacy. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg poses at his office in Palo Alto, Calif Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been caught on camera by a pair of spy glasses Photo: AP By Alice Vincent, Entertainment writer, online 10:39AM BST 19 Jul 2013 Comments4 Comments The director secretly filmed Mark Zuckerberg for his forthcoming film about internet security and privacy. Filmmaker Cullen Hoback approached the Facebook founder for his documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply.

Hoback told AFP that he questioned Zuckerberg with a video camera outside the entrepreneur's Califonian home. He asked Zuckerberg: "Do you still think privacy is dead? What are your real thoughts on privacy?" Zuckerberg asked Hoback to stop filming, and he promptly switched off his video camera, causing Zuckerberg to relax and invite the filmmaker to contact Facebook's PR team. However, Hoback was wearing spy glasses which continued to film the exchange.

Hoback said his main motivation was to turn the experience on to Zuckerberg: "I just wanted him to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record me,' and I wanted to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record us'".

The scene is part of Terms and Conditions, which refers to the agreements online users accept when using services and apps like Facebook. Hoback questions the amount of data requested and stored by online giants and who is sharing and collecting this information.

He said: "I think the craziest thing about this whole experience is that I didn't realise I was making a horror film". The statistics Hoback has found are worrying: it would take the typical internet user 180 hours to read all the terms and conditions attached to their favourite websites.

[Jul 19, 2013] The Rules of In-Store Surveillance

You can tell when a powerful new technology, like tracking people as they shop, is coming of age. It starts trying to persuade people it is a force for good, and it broadens its reach and capabilities. Take the the observation and data collection techniques used by online retailers that are now moving into the physical world.

Cellphone signals, special apps and our movements tracked by software-enhanced cameras in stores are the equivalent of the tracking cookies in Internet browsers. Most people don't seem to mind being tracked online, if the low percentage of people who disable cookies is any indication. (Studies suggest the number is below 10 percent.) Offline tracking, though, still seems to be a concern. Nordstrom discontinued using one mobile phone tracking system, produced by Euclid Analytics, after shoppers complained. That may be because the systems are new, and some people see more harm than benefit from the surveillance.

Euclid Analytics' tools show how rich the data from tracking people's behaviors can be.Euclid Analytics' tools show how rich the data from tracking people's behaviors can be.

On Tuesday, several companies involved in offline tracking announced that they would be working with a Washington-based research group, the Future of Privacy Forum, to develop a series of "best practices" for privacy controls for what it called "retail location analytics," or tracking.

Euclid was among the sponsors, along with WirelessWerx, Mexia Interactive and ShopperTrak.

The Future of Privacy Forum is primarily supported by corporations, with extensive financing from the technology sector. According to Jules Polonetsky, its director and co-chairman, the organization also has an advisory board that includes "chief privacy officers, privacy academics and privacy advocates."

On Thursday, Euclid also announced it was producing a series of analytics tools for specialty retailers, which it said would help stores make better decisions about things like operating hours and inventory. The product, which is primarily a comparison tool, also shows how rich the data from tracking people online can be.

"We're offering benchmarking, so we can say 'Your customer capture rate is 8 percent, and this week the average for your sector is 10 percent,'" said Will Smith, the chief executive of Euclid. "The question is not whether something is good or bad, but what something means."

Mr. Smith would not provide specifics, but said his company's product was now in hundreds of malls across the United States, and had captured information on thousands of shoppers at dozens of retailers. "We can tell if someone has visited multiple outlets of a store on the same day, which indicates they couldn't find the product they wanted at the first one," he said. "You can assume a lot of others went to a competitor."

Mr. Smith emphasized that the data Euclid supplied to retailers was made anonymous and delivered in aggregated forms, which he said made it unsuited to personally identifying customers. But the data gathered by the company, which Mr. Smith founded with the former head of Google Analytics, can be used to determine things like whether a Starbucks' customer with a loyalty card stays longer at the coffee shop, or how often a store is acquiring repeat shoppers.

Over time, it is likely that at least some customers will accept tracking, particularly if offered incentives like free mall parking in exchange for visiting a specific store. "People became used to Web analytics," Mr. Smith said, "Amazon's customer experience is 10 times better because of the data it gathers on people. Shorter lines and good in-store service can also come from data."

[Jul 05, 2013] Fahrenheit 451 Reached No, 8 in Bestseller List on Amazon

Richard L. Casper

A shockingly on-target forecast of where we're going/crashing with our dependence on telecommunication, June 26, 2013

I was 11 yrs old when Ray Bradbury's now famous science fiction novel was published in 1953. I could have read it years ago but didn't because it was "science fiction." I'm reading it now because it's suddenly being talked about as an astonishingly prescient description of a world we seem to be actually entering ever more deeply every day. Bradbury's "world" doesn't allow books and people fear face-to-face interaction or any form of true intimacy.

They settle for infotainment provided by the "government" and utterly superficial interaction with the few people who are actually part of their "lives."

In short Bradbury's science fiction is becoming our reality. We text, email, facebook, skype, and "connect" by mobile phone as we rush through life unable or unwilling to devote the time to really focus on anyone or anything.

Mr. Bradbury deserves your immediate attention.

Ammy L. Hill (San Jose, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Metaphor and Reality collide, January 17, 2000

When I began teaching three years ago, I was required to teach this book. Having never read it before, I began reading it just before our winter break. As I soaked up the story of the book, I realized my students were already living it. They begged me daily, "Ms. Hill, why do we have to read this stupid book? Can't we just watch the movie?" As I got deeper and deeper into the book, I grew increasingly depressed about the future of the world.

Then I realized: Bradbury has given me a picture of what might be, if we are not careful. His book written nearly fifty years ago peers just twenty minutes into the future now. Technological developments he had no name for then are very real today. For example, his seashell radio is clearly the walkman many of us see pressed in the ears of teenagers daily. TV screens are growing larger and larger and flat screens with HDTV are on the market now. The next step is clearly the full wall television of Mildred's parlor. Robot dogs like Aibo are just a hop skip and a jump away from the dreaded hound.

But this is a future preventable. Maybe. But if popular culture is constantly valued above thoughtful consideration and education, we'll march right into a land of burning books and intellectualism on the run.

Bradbury's book made me feel defiant. They could never take my books from me. They could burn me with them if they want, but that's what it'll take before I give up my freedom to think for myself.

And as for my students, they remind me every day what an uphill battle I have been sent to fight.

[Jul 04, 2013] Google eats the world By Rebecca Solnit

Asia Times

Finally, journalists have started criticizing in earnest the leviathans of Silicon Valley, notably Google, now the world's third-largest company in market value. The new round of discussion began even before the revelations that the tech giants were routinely sharing our data with the National Security Agency, or maybe merging with it. Simultaneously another set of journalists, apparently unaware that the weather has changed, is still sneering at San Francisco, my hometown, for not lying down and loving Silicon Valley's looming presence.

The criticism of Silicon Valley is long overdue and some of the critiques are both thoughtful and scathing. The New Yorker, for example, has explored how start-ups are undermining the purpose of education at Stanford University, addressed the Valley's messianic delusions and political meddling, and considered Apple's massive tax avoidance.

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece that startled me, especially when I checked the byline. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the fugitive in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, focused on The New Digital Age, a book by top Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen that to him exemplifies the melding of the technology corporation and the state.

It is, he claimed, a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of our leading "witch doctors who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the twenty-first century." He added, "This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley."

What do the US government and Silicon Valley already have in common? Above all, they want to remain opaque while making the rest of us entirely transparent through the capture of our data. What is arising is simply a new form of government, involving vast entities with the reach and power of government and little accountability to anyone.

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,

"We 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). Google tried and failed to claim proprietary control of digital versions of every book ever published; librarians and publishers fought back on that one. As the New York Times reported last fall, Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, summed the situation up this way: "Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors' rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of US authors continues."

The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog wrote to the attorney general on June 12th urging him "to block Google's just announced $1 billion acquisition of Waze, developers of a mobile mapping application, on antitrust grounds... Google already dominates the online mapping business with Google Maps. The Internet giant was able to muscle its way to dominance by unfairly favoring its own service ahead of such competitors as Mapquest in its online search results. Now with the proposed Waze acquisition, the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space. Moreover it will allow Google access to even more data about online activity in a way that will increase its dominant position on the Internet."

The company seems to be cornering the online mapping business, seems in fact to be cornering so many things that eventually they may have us cornered.

In Europe, there's an antitrust lawsuit over Google's Android phone apps. In many ways, you can map Google's rise by the litter of antitrust lawsuits it crushed en route. By the way, Google bought Motorola. You know it owns YouTube, right? That makes Google possessor of the second and third most visited Websites on earth. (Facebook is first, and two more of the top six are also in Silicon Valley.)

Imagine that it's 1913 and the post office, the phone company, the public library, printing houses, the US Geological Survey mapping operations, movie houses, and all atlases are largely controlled by a secretive corporation unaccountable to the public. Jump a century and see that in the online world that's more or less where we are. A New York venture capitalist wrote that Google is trying to take over "the entire fucking Internet" and asked the question of the day: "Who will stop Google?"

[Jul 04, 2013] Did Obama Just Destroy the U.S. Internet Industry? By David Kirkpatrick

June 11, 2013 |

The Internet is intrinsically a global business and social landscape. Yet up until now American companies have overwhelmingly dominated it. They have done so with astonishing innovation and technical achievement. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype, Yahoo, and YouTube-all companies said to be participating in PRISM-are the world's most important digital platforms for communications and information. The economic and political benefits both to the U.S. and to the world of this domination are obvious. Not only are they by far the world's most valuable set of businesses for investors; they have created extraordinary value for their users by fostering an openness and landscape for free expression and dialogue that is unprecedented.

... ... ...

The largest group of people likely to care about the NSA's intrusions are non-American customers of U.S. Internet companies. Facebook alone has more than one billion of them. Google completely dominates search in most of the world, with its market share across Europe significantly exceeding 90%. And its YouTube distributes citizen videos worldwide. It will be hard now to ever again assure users of these services that their behavior or opinions can be protected from the U.S. government. Some reports on the NSA surveillance suggest that the court orders given these companies can be as broad as forcing them to turn over all traffic to and from a specific country.

... ... ...

While these services have not seemed very American, of course they are. In many countries Facebook is not perceived to be an American service at all, since it operates completely in the local language. Now being American becomes potentially a concrete commercial and political disadvantage. To be an American service is now to be a tool for U.S. surveillance.

... ... ...

Does Obama want Facebook et al. just to be seen as tools of American power? That is certainly not the way the average user in Bolivia sees it. They see it as a tool of their own personal power, and they don't want governments interfering with that.

The global influence and long-term commercial success of U.S. Internet companies may depend on how Obama handles this from now on. Unfortunately, to undo the damage he has caused he may have to completely disavow the program, which seems highly unlikely.

Don't believe there are not alternatives to the U.S. Net collossi. Companies worldwide are already relentlessly working on them. The second largest search service worldwide is China's Baidu, with more than 8% of searches globally at the end of last year, according to ComScore. Russia's Yandex is at close to 3%, more than Microsoft's own search product. In social networking, China's Tencent has had a stunning recent success with its WeChat product, which by some counts has over 450 million users worldwide, including many tens of millions outside China. Most major Chinese Internet companies have global ambitions.

... ... ...

It's easy to see why leaders in Washington presume Chinese networking equipment company Huawei must be spying on us through its products. Apparently in their eyes it makes perfect sense to take advantage of any domestic asset to achieve geopolitical aims. Of course, they think, Huawei and the Chinese government would be doing that. We do. Obama and the NSA now seem determined to give Facebook, Google, and the other American Internet companies the same reputation internationally that Huawei has here. Huawei, incidentally, recently decided to forsake the giant U.S. market because of the condemnations of politicians, despite little evidence of actual espionage. This may foreshadow the experience of American companies elsewhere.

[Jul 04, 2013] Did Obama Just Destroy the Internet?

"The reality is all these great American [Internet] companies are global companies," says Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect" and founder and CEO of Techonomy. "They have to be extremely conscious of the way they are perceived globally. They will be perceived more now than before as instruments of U.S. policy and the U.S. government. That is potentially very problematic."

Related: NSA Head Says Spy Programs Thwarted Terror Attacks

More specifically, companies like Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG) could face "dramatically slower global growth" as a result of their cooperation with the NSA program, Kirkpatrick writes in a recent LinkedIn (LNKD) column.

That may explain why Google, as well as Facebook and Microsoft (MSFT) according to The New York Times, are asking the US. government for permission to disclose information about the size and scope of the national security requests they received from the NSA. Google even made public a letter by its chief legal officer to NSA officials.

Kirkpatrick says he's already hearing about some backlash against U.S.-based cloud computing.

"There's a business concern," says Kirkpatrick. "If businesses are all moving to the cloud, which we would generally argue is the case, then many foreign customers who already are having a lot of reservations about U.S.-based cloud computing will have more reservations."

Related: Is NSA Leaker Edward Snowden a Hero or a Traitor?

NSA Director Army General Keith Alexander defended the agency before a Senate committee on Wednesday, saying the agency's surveillance programs have prevented dozens of terrorist attacks (he did not provide specific examples). Watch the video above to see the debate that erupts between Kirkpatrick and The Daily Ticker's Lauren Lyster and Henry Blodget.


Only an idiot would put anything on the cloud. I have never used the cloud for just this very reason. Assume any thing transmitted electronicly is seen by someone else.


I'm about two clicks from kissing facebook GOODBYE !!~~

[Jun 30, 2013] Blackberry isn't as secure as we once believed

CajunTechie's Mindstream

While it's widely believed that Blackberry is the 'most secure mobile platform on earth', it seems that by Research In Motion's own statements, that isn't true.

The relevant portion of this document is:

"The PIN encryption key is a Triple DES 168-bit key that a BlackBerry® device uses to encrypt BlackBerry® Messenger messages that it sends to other devices and to authenticate and decrypt BlackBerry Messenger messages that it receives from other devices. If a BlackBerry device user knows the PIN of another device, the user can send a BlackBerry Messenger message to the device. Before a user can send a BlackBerry Messenger message, the user must invite the recipient to add the user to the recipient's contact list.

"By default, each device uses the same global PIN encryption key, which Research In Motion adds to the device during the manufacturing process. The global PIN encryption key permits every device to authenticate and decrypt every BlackBerry Messenger message that the device receives. Because all devices share the same global PIN encryption key, there is a limit to how effectively BlackBerry Messenger messages are encrypted. BlackBerry Messenger messages are not considered as confidential as email messages that are sent from the BlackBerry® Enterprise Server, which use BlackBerry transport layer encryption. Encryption using the global PIN encryption key is sometimes referred to as "scrambling".

In other words, every single Blackberry device uses the exact same 'secret' PIN to encrypt Blackberry Messenger messages. Whoever has that PIN can easily decrypt anyone's BBM messages. While RIM says that they only provide that PIN when required by law enforcement (like the fiasco in India a few years ago) the fact of the matter is that there is a backdoor in the BBM system and, if there's a backdoor, it can be exploited by anyone who knows how.

Remember when President Obama wanted to keep his Blackberry and RIM said they would have to 'harden' it to make it more secure? One of the things they likely did was change this global PIN to be unique to only his device.

Lastly, it seems email sent over the Blackberry Enterprise Server is much more secure as it is more heavily encrypted. But, as is usually the case, if you didn't encrypt it yourself and you don't control the keys, you can't guarantee anything.

Posted by Anthony Papillion at 1:38 PM

Thomas Roberts Is the genie out of the bottle on Internet privacy

>> one interesting thing to keep track of is how the public feels about all of this. you have folks pointing to fairly recent polls from not that long ago showing that not only do they support what president obama has done in terms of national security , overall that they prefer a tradeoff they feel more secure and they trust the government knows what it is doing in terms of counterterrorism stuff and willing to give up some of their own privacy and civil liberties as a tradeoff. the question is you are hearing outrage from rand paul and some of his counterparts on the level asking similar questions. the question he is whether that is going to is a conversation that will trickle down answer a sense of outrage and the public feels the same way. we are are in a sort now folks raved some questions or essentially accustomed to giving private companies information about where we are every time of the day. i think certainly something to watch in the week ahead.

[Jun 11, 2013] Spying Update

Zero Hedge

Moreover, as the ACLU notes, "Fusion Centers" – a hybrid of military, intelligence agency, police and private corporations set up in centers throughout the country, and run by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security – allow big businesses like Boeing to get access to classified information which gives them an unfair advantage over smaller competitors:

Participation in fusion centers might give Boeing access to the trade secrets or security vulnerabilities of competing companies, or might give it an advantage in competing for government contracts. Expecting a Boeing analyst to distinguish between information that represents a security risk to Boeing and information that represents a business risk may be too much to ask.

A 2008 Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office review of fusion centers concluded that they presented risks to privacy because of ambiguous lines of authority, rules and oversight, the participation of the military and private sector, data mining, excessive secrecy, inaccurate or incomplete information and the dangers of mission creep.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found in 2012 that fusion centers spy on citizens, produce 'shoddy' work unrelated to terrorism or real threats:

"The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded 'intelligence' of uneven quality – oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism."

Under the FBI's Infraguard program, businesses sometimes receive intel even before elected officials.

Law enforcement agencies spy on protesters and then share the info – at taxpayer expense – with the giant Wall Street banks

And a security expert says that all Occupy Wall Street protesters had their cellphone information logged by the government.

In essence, big banks and giant corporations are seen as being part of "critical infrastructure" and "key resources" … so the government protects them. That creates a dynamic where the government will do quite a bit to protect the big boys against any real or imagined threats … whether from activists or even smaller competitors. (Remember that the government has completely propped up the big banks, even though they went bankrupt due to stupid gambles.)

And given that some 70% of the national intelligence budget is spent on private sector contractors. that millions of private contractors have clearance to view information gathered by spy agencies – including kids like 29 year old spying whistleblower Edward Snowden, who explained that he had the power to spy on anyone in the country – and that information gained by the NSA by spying on Americans is being shared with agencies in other countries, at least some of the confidential information is undoubtedly leaking into private hands for profit, without the government's knowledge or consent.

[Jun 09, 2013] Could the Verizon-NSA Metadata Collection Be a Stealth Political Kickback

June 8, 2013 | naked capitalism

Joe :

June 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

Searching via Google v.s. the database and methods the government has is completely different. Unless proven otherwise, at this point I assume the government has vast records of all of our data; every bit of it. Besides your calling records they more than likely have all our financial records, driver's license, social security, tax records, travel records and any data we have been foolish enough to share with any internet company. I would assume they have every bit of information that ever touches a computer somewhere.

Why does Google endlessly insist I give them my phone number to tie to my Gmail account (which I have always refused by the way)?

The NSA is collecting data at the source. If I was the NSA, I would be identifying the data as it is created and sorting it in real time rather than later.

The NSA has tools you do not have, i.e. face recognition software.

It appears that all the internet companies, telcos, banks, etc… are cooperating 100% with the government and have surrendered all customer data or have willingly looked the other way so that they have a plausible case of deniability.

... ... ...

diane :

Searching via Google v.s. the database and methods the government has is completely different.

Exactly, the point of connection for computers inside of one's residence is predominantly a phone line, and the point of connection while outside the home is predominantly a mobile phone, one's workplace, or a library (many of which now assign permanent computer use 'pin' numbers to the person's library card.

And then there is the facial, voice, and print recognition, which was, as usual, introduced via the publically traded corporations and larger, family owned, non-traded corporations.

And that's not even to mention the social security numbers attached to what's being swept up.

diane :

Lastly, I believe it is highly inappropriate to post a picture of someone who does not at all expect to have such an intimate (shared among presumed friends) picture of themselves highlighted (the photo of Kathryn, above), regarding an international issue about someone else with her name, especially without the one who posted it providing a close up photo of themselves, if they actually believe that is okay.

As bad as Newspapers are, they used to have to ask permission to put someone in such a spotlight, without their knowledge.

reslez :

You seem to be under the misimpression that anyone who matters cares about individual privacy. Peons have no privacy (and should get used to it). As for we peons, yes it is very bad and wrong of us to dare turn the spotlight on anyone else. We might invade the privacy of someone who matters!

borkman :


I've worked with companies seeking funding for state of the art face recognition techoloogy. Its false positive and negative rate is high with oridinary pictures.

You need dead on (face straight at the camera) images to do well with nothing interfering with the capture of the key measurement points.

reslez :

Yes, since commercial-grade algorithms are currently somewhat bad at facial recognition, we should stop worrying about this topic completely. Set aside the fact that, at first, algorithms were also somewhat bad at text recognition until CAPTCHA came along and gave them a financial incentive to get really good at it. So good that many humans now have trouble passing CAPTCHA challenges. So good that police cruisers are now routinely equipped with devices that record all license plates in their vicinity.

Since we know that technology never improves and there is no financial incentive from the government to improve these facial recognition algorithms, we should run along and not worry our pretty little heads about them. Our overlords have only the best intentions (to profit from and control us).

sgt_doom :

Excellent points, Joe, most excellent and cogent points.

The American gov't, along with China, Iran and many others (officially at least 160 gov'ts) purchased the state of the art automated intelligence platform, the Trovicor Monitoring Center, which is able to access healthcare databases, DNA databases, intercept telephoney, email on the fly and allow editing and continued transmission, deep packet inspection and a host of other intrusion software, while automatically dispatching the appropriate teams (kidnap, wiretapping or kill) upon receipt of specific information.

I suspect we're not even seeing the highest smallest tip of that submerged iceberg of penetration.

pdlane :

The author either has a short memory or purposely ignores facts: But,, it is nothing new and has been going on in one form or another since the NSA was created back in 1949.

In October 2003 AT&T technician Mark Klein discovered newly installed NSA data-mining equipment in a "secret room" at a company facility in San Francisco. No one knows how far back in time this sweeping has been going on, but we do know that it expanded under Bush/Cheney with the Patriot Act.

carol :

"Why doesn't any corporate tool ever go to jail?"

Well, apart from the CEO of a company that refused to spy for the NSA post 'patriot' act, as I read in the comment section here yesterday.

see e.g.

In the current Prism situation, the only one going to jail will be the whistleblower

Mark P. :

June 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm

[1] It is happening at all the other carriers.

Overall, sixty-seventy percent of the world's electronic communications go through Anglo-American routing stations and is scooped up by the intelligence services of those countries.

[2] You should also pay closer attention to the role of Amdocs, the largest phone-billing services company in the world and ultimately based in Israel, although they've covered their tracks on that since 2006, which was the last time media and sheeple got excited about communication surveillance –

"Amdocs Limited is a provider of software and services for communications, media and entertainment industry service providers. The company develops, implements and manages software and services for business support systems (BSS), including billing, customer relationship management (CRM), and for operations support systems (OSS). Amdocs is the market leader in Telecommunication Billing Services which forms the major strength of the company. Its products consist of software developed to provide customer experience systems functionality for service providers. The software systems support the customer lifecycle: revenue management, customer management, service and resource management and service delivery.

"Its traditional clients are telecommunications "Tier-1″ and "Tier-2″ providers such as AT&T, BT Group, Sprint, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Bell Canada, Telus, Rogers Communications, Telekom Austria, Cellcom, Comcast, DirecTV, Elisa Oyj, TeliaSonera and O2-Ireland.

The company also offers outsourced customer service and data center operations. Headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, Amdocs has more than 20,000 employees and serves customers in more than fifty countries (the Registered office of the company is in the Island of Guernsey). "

Lambert Strether :

June 8, 2013 at 8:43 pm

@Mark P. We "don't know it" in the sense that this is the only court [sic!!!] order we have and it applies to Verizon only. Personally, I think it's extremely likely they're all doing it, but I wouldn't claim to know that. (Remember, we have a secret [quasi-]legal regimen; even if we do know they were doing it in 2006, we don't know they're doing it now.)

I'd also argue that one reason to be precise in our claims is to encourage further whistleblowers to come forward, and more leaking to be done.

washunate :

More than suspect. The Guardian author, who bizarrely doesn't seem to be named in this post, is Glenn Greenwald, one of the foremost critics of the Bush/Obama spying regime. Back in 2008 he was all over the first go round of FISA amendments and Obama's support of spying and telecom immunity. The Obots have been attacking Greenwald for years for speaking out about this.

handgrip :

RT interviews William Binney NSA "stellar wind" whisleblower.

Jessica :

What this seems to boil down to is that they can't put you on their radar using massive amounts of dirty data. But if for any reason, you get on their radar, they can focus in on what they need and violate your privacy pretty thoroughly. Although not necessarily much more effectively or efficiently than traditional police Red Squads. Also, their incompetence can cut both ways. I see no guarantee that the day won't come when they decide to harass, for example, everyone they have cell phone records of you calling frequently. So your poor mechanic gets dragged in too. These are after all the folks who have drones shooting at first responders and then at the funerals that result.

diptherio :

Interesting article. The scenario presented is plausible, but the issue for me is still, now that NSA has all this data on all of us, it can be used in a "sanely-scoped" way for whatever the PTB decide. This is a rather disturbing thought for activists, who have already been targeted and infiltrated by the gov't. I imagine there is no warrant required to sift through data that your agency has already collected, is there? And isn't that a convenient way to get around those pesky 4th amendment protections…

I read with interest the information regarding semantic impedance. It lends support to my practice of using pseudonyms on-line whenever possible and fudging on demographic questions (Hulu and facebook both think I'm Latino, which makes for a more amusing ad experience).

But I have to say, this endnote is total BS:

NOTE: American voters bear responsibility for the loss of civil liberties by not voting leadership into office that would repeal the Patriot Act.

Well, here in MT we elected Jon Tester, largely on the basis of his firm opposition to the PATRIOT Act and his promises to "work hard to restore our Constitutional liberties." Of course, once elected he shut the hell up about the PATRIOT Act and then went and voted for the NDAA with it's expansion of Presidential fiat to the whole world and everyone on it. Blaming the "American voters" for a rigged political system is some pretty low, and downright ignorant, bullshit, imnsho. If voting could change anything (fundamental), it would be illegal…didn't this dude get the memo?

[Jun 08, 2013] Total Information Awareness

June 07, 2013

Dan Little:

Total information awareness?, Understanding Society: I'm finding myself increasingly distressed at this week's revelations about government surveillance of citizens' communications and Internet activity. First was the revelation in the Guardian of a wholesale FISA court order to Verizon to provide all customer "meta-data" for a three-month period -- and the clarification that this order is simply a renewal of orders that have been in place since 2007. (One would certainly assume that there are similar orders for other communications providers.) And commentators are now spelling out how comprehensive this data is about each of us -- who we call, who those people call, when, where, … This comprehensive data collection permits the mother of all social network analysis projects -- to reconstruct the widening circles of persons with whom person X is associated. This is its value from an intelligence point of view; but it is also a dark, brooding risk to the constitutional rights and liberties of all of us.

Second is the even more shocking disclosure -- also in the Guardian -- of an NSA program called PRISM that claims (based on the secret powerpoint training document published by the Guardian) to have reached agreements with the major Internet companies to permit direct government access to their servers, without the intermediary of warrants and requests for specific information. (The companies have denied knowledge of such a program; but it's hard to see how the Guardian document could be a simple fake.) And the document claims that the program gives the intelligence agencies direct access to users' emails, videos, chats, search histories, and other forms of Internet activity.

Among the political rights that we hold most basic are the rights of political expression and association. It doesn't matter much if a government agency is able to work out the network graph of people with whom I am associated around the project of youth soccer in my neighborhood. But if I were an Occupy Wall Street organizer, I would be VERY concerned about the fact that government is able to work out the full graph of my associates, their associates, and times and place of communication. At the least this fact has a chilling effect on political organization and protest -- both of which are constitutionally protected rights of US citizens. At the worst it makes possible police intervention and suppression based on the "intelligence" that is gathered. And the activities of the FBI in the 1960s against legal Civil Rights organizations make it clear that agencies are fully capable of undertaking actions in excess of their legal mandate. For that matter, the rogue activities of an IRS office with respect to the tax-exempt status of conservative political organizations illustrates the same point in the same news cycle!

The whole point of a constitution is to express clearly and publicly what rights citizens have, and to place bright-line limits on the scope of government action. But the revelations of this week make one doubt whether a constitutional limitation has any meaning anymore. These data collection and surveillance programs are wrapped in tight secrecy -- providers are not permitted to make public the requests that have been presented to them. So the public has no legitimate way of knowing what kind of information collection, surveillance, and intelligence activity is being undertaken with respect to their activities. In the name of homeland security, the evidence says that government is prepared to transgress what we thought of as "rights" with abandon, and with massive force. (The NSA data center under construction in Utah gives some sense of the massiveness of these data collection efforts.)

We are assured by government spokespersons that appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure and preserve the constitutional rights of all of us. But there are two problems with those assurances, both having to do with secrecy. Citizens are not provided with any account by government about how these programs are designed to work, and what safeguards are incorporated. And citizens are prevented from knowing what the exercise and effects of these programs are -- by the prohibition against telecom providers of giving any public information about the nature of requests that are being made under these programs. So secrecy prevents the very possibility of citizen knowledge and believable judicial oversight. By design there is no transparency about these crucial new tools and data collection methods.

All of this makes one think that the science and technology of encryption is politically crucial in the Internet age, for preserving some of our most basic rights of legal political activity. Being able to securely encrypt one's communications so only the intended recipients can gain access to them sounds like a crucial right of self-protection against the surveillance state. And being able to anonymize one's location and IP address -- through services like TOR router systems -- also seems like an important ability that everyone ought to consider making use of. Voice services like Skype seem to be fully compromised -- Microsoft, the owner of Skype, was the first company to accept the PRISM program, according to the secret powerpoint. But perhaps new Internet-based voice technologies using "trust no one" encryption and TOR routers will return the balance to the user. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies sometimes suggest that only people with something to hide would use an anonymizer in their interactions on the Web. But given the MASSIVE personalized data collection that government is engaged in, it would seem that every citizen has an interest in preserving his or her privacy to whatever extent possible. Privacy is an important human value in general; and it is a crucial value when it comes to the exercise of our constitutional rights of expression and association.

Government has surely overstepped through creation of these programs of data collection and surveillance; and it is hard to see how to put the genie back in the bottle. One step would be the creation of much more stringent legal limits on the data collection capacity of agencies like NSA (and commercial agencies, for that matter). But how can we trust that those limits will be respected by agencies that are accustomed to working in the dark?

anne said...

I'm finding myself increasingly distressed at this week's revelations about government surveillance of citizens' communications and Internet activity....

-- Dan Little

[ Truly distressing. ]

GeorgeK said...

I'm shocked that your shocked; everyone I know has always assumed that this level of intrusion was SOP.

Sandwichman said in reply to GeorgeK...

It's that process of osmosis Mailer warned us about back in '48.

anne said in reply to Sandwichman...


"With all its contradictions, I suppose there's an objective right on our side. That is, in Europe. Over here as far as I am concerned, it's the imperialism tossup. Either we louse up Asia or Japan does."

"There's an osmosis in war, call it what you will, but the victors always tend to assume the trappings of the lower. We might easily go fascist after we win."

The Naked and the Dead
By Norman Mailer

anne said in reply to anne...


"There's an osmosis in war, call it what you will, but the victors always tend to assume the trappings of the loser. We might easily go fascist after we win."

Sandwichman said in reply to anne...


hapa said...

russ feingold was the only senator to oppose USA PATRIOT act.

per senate record,

"I am also very troubled by the broad expansion of Government power under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. When Congress passed FISA in 1978, it granted to the executive branch the power to conduct surveillance in foreign intelligence investigations without having to meet the rigorous probable cause standard under the fourth amendment that is required for criminal investigations. There is a lower threshold for obtaining a wiretap order from the FISA court because the FBI is not investigating a crime, it is investigating foreign intelligence activities. But the law currently requires that intelligence gathering be the primary purpose of the investigation in order for this much lower standard to apply.

"The bill changes that requirement. The Government now will only have to show that intelligence is a ''significant purpose'' of the investigation. So even if the primary purpose is a criminal investigation, the heightened protections of the fourth amendment will not apply.

"It seems obvious that with this lower standard, the FBI will be able to try to use FISA as much as it can. And, of course, with terrorism investigations, that won't be difficult because the terrorists are apparently sponsored or at least supported by foreign governments. So this means the fourth amendment rights will be significantly curtailed in many investigations of terrorist acts.

"The significance of the breakdown of the distinction between intelligence and criminal investigations becomes apparent when you see other expansions of Government power under FISA in this bill."

GeorgeK said...

During his first Senate run in 08 Jon Tester's Republican opponent accused Jon of wanting to amend the Patriot Act, Tester replied he didn't want to amend it he wanted to repeal the Patriot Act. A hour later he received a call from DC telling him not to mention the Patriot Act again.

Both sides of the aisle.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(On 'Total Information Awareness', which is all about
knowing what you know & knowing what you don't know.)

Too Much Information - Hendrik Hertzberg - Dec 9, 2002 - The NYer

The Information Awareness Office plays it so weird that one can't help suspecting that somebody on its staff might be putting us on. The Information Awareness Office's official seal features an occult pyramid topped with mystic all-seeing eye, like the one on the dollar bill. Its official motto is "Scientia Est Potentia," which doesn't mean "science has a lot of potential." It means "knowledge is power." And its official mission is to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness."

The phrase "total information awareness" is creepy enough to merit a place alongside "USA Patriot Act" and "Department of Homeland Security," but it is not the Information Awareness Office's only gift to the language. The "example technologies" which the Office intends to develop include "entity extraction from natural language text," "biologically inspired algorithms for agent control," and "truth maintenance." One of the Office's thirteen subdivisions, the Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) program, is letting contracts not only for "Face Recognition" and "Iris Recognition" but also for "Gait Recognition." ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance and information technology to track and monitor terrorists and other asymmetric threats to U.S. national security, by achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA).

Following public criticism that the development and deployment of this technology could potentially lead to a mass surveillance system, the IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003. However, several IAO projects continued to be funded, and merely run under different names. ... (Wikipedia)

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Total Information Awareness: The Sequel - May 17, 2013
Hendrik Hertzberg - The NYer

(Too be fair, the goals of Prism are no doubt
far less ambitious than 'Total Information
Awareness', at least for starters.
More like 'Minority Report'.)

Eric Blair said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

"One of the Office's thirteen subdivisions, the Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) program, is letting contracts not only for "Face Recognition" and "Iris Recognition" but also for "Gait Recognition."

If they haven't already developed gait recognition, it's probably not worth bothering with. They can just wait another few years and buy the technology from the private sector, just as they are no doubt already doing with face and iris.

hix said...

Its not just scary, its plain dumb, even seen detached from broader societal norm and stability questions.
We foreigners, are surveiled since decades anyway and our stupid governments, in their irrational obedience to the social constructed hegemon, have never challenge the US. When a new MP by accident speaks up, the old guards soon reign him in and socialice him into obedience. Must be over a million people now that are occupied collecting and "analysing" that data, with nothing positive to show for it. Those military analysts are about as usefull as stock market analysts, just that they are much more, paid less in exhange for their soul and steal peoples life as opposed to their money.

"This comprehensive data collection permits the mother of all social network analysis projects -- to reconstruct the widening circles of persons with whom person X is associated. This is its value from an intelligence point of view"

Nope, no value, just noise, "analysed" by people who cant even speak Arabic, boom drone dead, more often than not the wrong guy, plus a couple of hundred cultateral damaged death. Surprise, more people hate Americans for good reaon. Much value in that.

hix said in reply to hix...

On an additional note, when you overhear people working hand in hand with such analysts who appear to be outsourced to some private subcontractor debate their credit card debt, that is really scary...

Xylix said...

This has been going on for some time. This has been public for some time. Anyone who has been caught by surprise by this has had their eyes closed, their fingers in their ears.

What I find disturbing is Dan Little's shock. And, perhaps due to well over a dozen falsified Republican 'scandals' -- in series no less -- my knee jerk reaction is to suspect that this shock is feigned.


The problem here is being misunderstood. The issue is not NSA spying. The issue is corporate spying. The problem is that we have given corporations the right to gather information on us in ways that clearly violate the constitution. This is justified under the generic principle "The constitution only applies to the government." Never mind that corporations, especially large ones, are effectively micro-governments.

This rampant corporate spying has created a giant loophole for the government to exploit. But the governments exploitation of that loophole is only a fragment of the potential abuse. Because it is not just governments that can abuse people.

jurisdebtor said in reply to Xylix...

"This has been going on for some time. This has been public for some time. Anyone who has been caught by surprise by this has had their eyes closed, their fingers in their ears.

What I find disturbing is Dan Little's shock. And, perhaps due to well over a dozen falsified Republican 'scandals' -- in series no less -- my knee jerk reaction is to suspect that this shock is feigned."

[Correction. We knew the overarch of the programs going on, but not the nuances. Those programs you link to vary from those made public this week; which is part of the problem, no one really knows with any level precision what the government is doing. The problem is not the programs per se, it's that they operate in the shadows, and, more importantly, since 9/11 we have seen major increases in government surveillance programs in the name of national security, coupled with the explosion of technology. These twin phenomena have left the law in the dust, and we have not been able to have a coherent conversation about whether such programs are necessary, lawful, and so forth, as well as the overall direction of our foreign policy and the like. For one reason or another, those attempting to raise these issues have been shouted down as being unpatriotic, endangering national security, or some other jingoistic garbage.]

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Obama (as Senator) sponsored a bill that would have made the Verizon order illegal -

President Obama co-sponsored legislation when he was a member of the Senate that would have banned the mass collection of phone records that his administration is now engaged in.

The SAFE Act, introduced by former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would have amended the Patriot Act to require that the government have "specific and articulable facts" to show that a person is an "agent of a foreign power" before seizing their phone records.

The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee in 2005, but never received a vote. It had 15 co-sponsors in all, including then-Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who are now members of Obama's Cabinet. ...

(You may remember Larry Craig, whose Senate career was ended by snooping. I guess the problem here is that Nobody Likes Snooping, it just isn't illegal.)

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Xylix said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Yes, and Obama once threatened to filibuster the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Then, later, he changed his mind.

That was, for me, a rather memorable point of contention during the 2008 election.

-- The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, amongst other things, granted retroactive immunity to the corporations that had assisted the government's warrantless spying program. --

B said...

I think this whole bluster over it is ridiculous. What they are getting access to is just connections - who is talking to whom. And it's filtered by warrants. Even if it's not, who could possibly care?

Does anyone wonder if the phone companies used to keep records of who called whom? Uh, yeah. They did. For one thing, that is how they billed you. So of course. And law enforcement, etc. had access to that.

This is exactly the same thing - just pulled off and centralized, because it's not reasonable to expect companies to keep all that for the internet, and cell providers aren't keeping that info either.

Anyone who thinks what the do on the internet is secret is an idiot. And skype? You've got to be kidding.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Your financial and credit information is already being captured by commercial interests, and is accessible to many other commercial and governmental interests, including employers and potential employers.

Your medical information is quickly becoming fair game for the government and for insurance interests. States are selling "de-identified" information already.

Welcome to THE MATRIX.

EC said...

"how can we trust that those limits will be respected by agencies that are accustomed to working in the dark?"

Let's change the laws and then not fund these agencies. Things DID get better in the seventies and eighties and nineties.

bakho said...

Everyone gets up in arms about the BigBad Government doing exactly what Big Business does day in and day out with more harm to the average person. STR is correct. Anyone who thinks electron communication is private is delusional. The worst privacy offenders are Business including the press (although only Rupert seems to have been caught).

It matters what is done with the data. In the past, police and other agencies have collected flawed data and passed it on to potential employers in ways that blackballed people from being hired. There was a huge lawsuit about this involving the auto companies in the 60s and 70s. Now companies want you to "Friend" them on Facebook before they will hire. This behavior is far more intrusive than whatever it is that NSA is doing. But NSA gets all the outrage and BigBusiness abuses are met with silence.

Second Best said...

Osama bin Laden prevailed through Dubya, the perfect dimwit braggert of a cowboy to bait into two failed wars with 9-11, after which everyone became a suspect, used by Dubya to suppress his own people with a police state on grounds they had nothing to hide.

Much of it succeeded through private sector components of homeland security specifically designed to use powers of investigation not legal for use by government.

There will be no pullback of the complete matrix mapping of personal communications in the US at all levels whether public or private. It was the plan all along in plain view. The boiled frogs were served and eaten long ago.

Eric Blair said...

I am puzzled that anybody as smart and knowledgeable as Mark is surprised by any of this. I don't know the details of the Patriot Act, but from everything I know, this is all well within the parameters of that law. Furthermore, it is of course illegal for telecom providers to disclose the contents or even the existence of government subpoenas of this kind of information. Given that, the only rational course is to assume that all your electronic communications are subject to monitoring to some extent. I believe that Obama is less likely to abuse this authority than was Bush, but there aren't any legal constraints so far as I can tell.

Leading Edge Boomer said...

We've only had dull news (tornados, wildfires, buildings falling down, mass shootings, etc.), so this "scandal" will have to suffice to energize the talking heads. There are a few things to note:
---This began in 2005 in Iraq, where analyzing who called whom, etc., was stunningly successful at identifying groups of bad guys there (US ran the phone system).
---It was expanded into calls involving US citizens and international calls starting in 2006.
---The big breaking "news" is yet another (illegal) leak, this time of a classified FISA court document that extends the order to Verizon for another three months.
---You can be sure that all telecoms have been subject to the same requirements for some years.
---I learned of this in the mainstream press in 2006, and I have no access to classified information. Why didn't everyone already know?

BBC's article explains why scooping up all the metadata matters:

This article tries to review history and to educate people who are shouting now:

Eric Blair said...

"But if I were an Occupy Wall Street organizer, I would be VERY concerned about the fact that government is able to work out the full graph of my associates, their associates, and times and place of communication."

My assumption is that not only can the government do this, but that Google could too, if they really wanted to. Again, I think that Google is less likely to abuse this capability than most other companies would, but sooner or later this information will become available to entities who wish to use it against you, whether it be governments, private companies or individuals.

[Jun 08, 2013] Factbox History of mass surveillance in the United States


President Barack Obama defended his administration's security policies on Friday after reports revealing the sweeping nature of surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet activity.

Government surveillance and secret warrants are not new in the United States, particularly in the years since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Following are some key milestones in the history of surveillance in the country:

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by Karey Van Hall and David Brunnstrom)

[Jun 05, 2013] The Banality of 'Don't Be Evil' by Julian Assange

Internet makes totalitarian methods seductive and courts are very weak deterrent. So the balance is a death of privacy. In a way Internet is KGB dream which materialized. For example, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo all try to position themselves (and by extension the US government) as intermediaries for your communications. Its not inconceivable that any post you made for the last ten years is still stored somewhere and in necessary all your posts can be data mined. The same in probably true for any email that crossed the border. Remember the fight about PGP usage.

"THE New Digital Age" is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.

The authors met in occupied Baghdad in 2009, when the book was conceived. Strolling among the ruins, the two became excited that consumer technology was transforming a society flattened by United States military occupation. They decided the tech industry could be a powerful agent of American foreign policy.

The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world's people and nations into likenesses of the world's dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not. The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom - banal. But this isn't a book designed to be read. It is a major declaration designed to foster alliances.

"The New Digital Age" is, beyond anything else, an attempt by Google to position itself as America's geopolitical visionary - the one company that can answer the question "Where should America go?" It is not surprising that a respectable cast of the world's most famous warmongers has been trotted out to give its stamp of approval to this enticement to Western soft power. The acknowledgments give pride of place to Henry Kissinger, who along with Tony Blair and the former C.I.A. director Michael Hayden provided advance praise for the book.

In the book the authors happily take up the white geek's burden. A liberal sprinkling of convenient, hypothetical dark-skinned worthies appear: Congolese fisherwomen, graphic designers in Botswana, anticorruption activists in San Salvador and illiterate Masai cattle herders in the Serengeti are all obediently summoned to demonstrate the progressive properties of Google phones jacked into the informational supply chain of the Western empire.

The authors offer an expertly banalized version of tomorrow's world: the gadgetry of decades hence is predicted to be much like what we have right now - only cooler. "Progress" is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth. Already, every day, another million or so Google-run mobile devices are activated. Google will interpose itself, and hence the United States government, between the communications of every human being not in China (naughty China). Commodities just become more marvelous; young, urban professionals sleep, work and shop with greater ease and comfort; democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as "participation"; and our present world order of systematized domination, intimidation and oppression continues, unmentioned, unafflicted or only faintly perturbed.

The authors are sour about the Egyptian triumph of 2011. They dismiss the Egyptian youth witheringly, claiming that "the mix of activism and arrogance in young people is universal." Digitally inspired mobs mean revolutions will be "easier to start" but "harder to finish." Because of the absence of strong leaders, the result, or so Mr. Kissinger tells the authors, will be coalition governments that descend into autocracies. They say there will be "no more springs" (but China is on the ropes).

The authors fantasize about the future of "well resourced" revolutionary groups. A new "crop of consultants" will "use data to build and fine-tune a political figure."

"His" speeches (the future isn't all that different) and writing will be fed "through complex feature-extraction and trend-analysis software suites" while "mapping his brain function," and other "sophisticated diagnostics" will be used to "assess the weak parts of his political repertoire."

The book mirrors State Department institutional taboos and obsessions. It avoids meaningful criticism of Israel and Saudi Arabia. It pretends, quite extraordinarily, that the Latin American sovereignty movement, which has liberated so many from United States-backed plutocracies and dictatorships over the last 30 years, never happened. Referring instead to the region's "aging leaders," the book can't see Latin America for Cuba. And, of course, the book frets theatrically over Washington's favorite bogeymen: North Korea and Iran.

Google, which started out as an expression of independent Californian graduate student culture - a decent, humane and playful culture - has, as it encountered the big, bad world, thrown its lot in with traditional Washington power elements, from the State Department to the National Security Agency.

Despite accounting for an infinitesimal fraction of violent deaths globally, terrorism is a favorite brand in United States policy circles. This is a fetish that must also be catered to, and so "The Future of Terrorism" gets a whole chapter. The future of terrorism, we learn, is cyberterrorism. A session of indulgent scaremongering follows, including a breathless disaster-movie scenario, wherein cyberterrorists take control of American air-traffic control systems and send planes crashing into buildings, shutting down power grids and launching nuclear weapons. The authors then tar activists who engage in digital sit-ins with the same brush.

I have a very different perspective. The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism. This is the principal thesis in my book, "Cypherpunks." But while Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen tell us that the death of privacy will aid governments in "repressive autocracies" in "targeting their citizens," they also say governments in "open" democracies will see it as "a gift" enabling them to "better respond to citizen and customer concerns." In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the "good" societies closer to the "bad" ones.

The section on "repressive autocracies" describes, disapprovingly, various repressive surveillance measures: legislation to insert back doors into software to enable spying on citizens, monitoring of social networks and the collection of intelligence on entire populations. All of these are already in widespread use in the United States. In fact, some of those measures - like the push to require every social-network profile to be linked to a real name - were spearheaded by Google itself.

THE writing is on the wall, but the authors cannot see it. They borrow from William Dobson the idea that the media, in an autocracy, "allows for an opposition press as long as regime opponents understand where the unspoken limits are." But these trends are beginning to emerge in the United States. No one doubts the chilling effects of the investigations into The Associated Press and Fox's James Rosen. But there has been little analysis of Google's role in complying with the Rosen subpoena. I have personal experience of these trends.

The Department of Justice admitted in March that it was in its third year of a continuing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks. Court testimony states that its targets include "the founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks." One alleged source, Bradley Manning, faces a 12-week trial beginning tomorrow, with 24 prosecution witnesses expected to testify in secret.

This book is a balefully seminal work in which neither author has the language to see, much less to express, the titanic centralizing evil they are constructing. "What Lockheed Martin was to the 20th century," they tell us, "technology and cybersecurity companies will be to the 21st." Without even understanding how, they have updated and seamlessly implemented George Orwell's prophecy. If you want a vision of the future, imagine Washington-backed Google Glasses strapped onto vacant human faces - forever. Zealots of the cult of consumer technology will find little to inspire them here, not that they ever seem to need it. But this is essential reading for anyone caught up in the struggle for the future, in view of one simple imperative: Know your enemy.

Julian Assange is the editor in chief of WikiLeaks and author of "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet."

[Jun 04, 2013] Julian Assange Says Google's Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen Are Witch Doctors


Anonymous Coward:

Google = NSA (Score:4, Insightful)

Those that study history have no doubt how the ruling elite operate, or the methods they use to control the populace. It is today no different from how it was three thousand years ago. The psychology of those that find themselves 'in charge' is an assumption that they are "god's chosen". Even today, in the USA, more than 50% of senior US politicians state that 'god' has given them their power to rule over others.

Of course, the reality of the so-called ruling elites is one of being prepared to do whatever it takes to keep power, and wherever possible, to grow that power and pass it on to later generations of their same family/group. America, for instance, is on the verge of getting a second Clinton or a third Bush as supreme ruler.

How do you control the masses? How do you keep the mob on a leash? How do you persuade the populace, year after year, to dedicate their lives to enriching and empowering the same tiny minority?

  • learn what the mob is thinking, in as close to real-time as possible
  • find the best ways to manipulate the opinions of the mob, especially their long term beliefs and aspirations
  • ensure the mob only ever hears control messages from the elites that rule them. Ensure the mob is trained to disregard messages from other sources
  • give the mob 'bread and circuses'. Let the mob feel self-empowered by participation in useless trivial events like organized religion, organized team sports, and harmless forms of self expression
  • exterminate or co-opt any emerging grass roots movements that could grown and threaten the power bases of the elites.

Only a complete fool would fail to understand where Google fits with the above goals. The dream of computerized intelligence gathering on the general population began before the age of the electronic computer. When 'electronic brains' first appeared, the elites were massively disappointed with the end results of unthinkably expensive attempts to use computers to spy on the populace. Perversely, the fiction of powerful computers doing incredible things spread like wild-fire through the consciousness of ordinary people in the 50s and 60s, but as we know the reality was far different.

The original Google project was predicated on the availability of vast amounts of cheap commodity hard-drive storage and processing power. It looked at the NSA desire to spy on the entire Human population from a very different POV. It also took account of the fact that official government IT projects (even when secret) would always fall prey to mega-corruption and complete-incompetence as a consequence. The psychology of successful IT ambitions was being made apparent by the incredible growth of the Internet.

Google gives people useful/entertaining/addicting toys like search, Youtube, Gmail and Android. Each of these toys monitors, and encourages users to provide ever greater amounts of information about themselves to monitor.

Google also provides the infrastructure (hardware and software models) that are used by the intelligence agencies of the 'West' to store and mine the information they gather. These are shadow-Google installations, built and run by people directly employed by intelligence agencies like the NSA, but based on current designs used by Google itself.

Google, as you should know, makes a lot of money from mining its data and using the results for advertising. What few of you realize is that this business is a deliberate side-effect of Google researching and developing mining algorithms for the NSA.

Today, when you vote Republican or Democrat in the USA, you get exactly the same mid/long term policies, and exactly the same program of rolling wars. In the UK, you can vote Labour, Liberal or Conservative, but still experience the exact agenda Tony Blair laid down for the UK when that monster first rose to visible power. The elites don't even have to bother maintaining even the illusion of a choice, largely thanks to Google.

The people that run Google think that they are superior to you, and therefore their will matters, and you will does not. I hate to tell you this, but the crud that desires to rule over others always has this attitude. And when you do nothing but lay down and accept the abuse, this abusive attitude grows exponentially.


He's wrong. The technocratic imperialism part is accurate, in a sense.

Nope, wrong. (Score:3)

The notion that it is centered around a specific culture confined to a specific nation-state is not. He seems to be blinded by his disdain for America, when in fact his alleged adversaries are politically ambivalent outside of their concern for policy that impacts their own state-independent agenda.


Re: who cares

He is clearly more than that or the media would not feel the need to smear him like this.

The "witch doctors" quote is taken completely out of context. All he is saying is that some companies are rushing ahead with new tech like Google Glass and Streetview and telling us everything is fine and its good for us.

plopez (54068) writes: on Monday June 03, 2013 @10:15AM (#43895765)

Re: who cares

he fact the book was endorsed by Kissenger is enough for me. The man is an authoritarian nightmare; he helped craft the concept of the unitary executive, bombed neutral nations into the dirt, and overthrew legally elected governments to name just a few things. If Kissenger likes it it smells like imperialism to me.

Anonymous Coward

Re:who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

> Assange's knee-jerk reaction is to presume the worst, and hidden, motives for anything related to American interests and motives.

Why the fuck are you Americans so paranoid? You have all the guns you want, a massive military yet you're still so utterly shit scared that everyone's out to get you. For all the talk of "If I someone tried to attack me, I'd shoot them because I'm a hard scary person" in your country you don't have cry like a bunch of pussies each time someone talks bad of you and you don't half seem unable to consider how you might use your own physical form to defend yourselves if your guns were taken away as if the idea of punching someone attempting to attack you is too much for your feeble existences.

There's no doubt his organisation's biggest leak was embarrassing to the US but he leaked things about plenty of other countries prior to that. The only way he's started to focus on the US is in the way that it's been turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy where paranoid Americans like yourself and your government have cried "He's out to get us!" and attacked him in the media and so forth, to which he responds and points out the hypocrisy of your country and your countrymen which you then cry "He's out to get us!" again and so the cycle repeats.

He's not out to get you beyond the fact that your country and it's people have made it an us vs. him thing such that the media always asks about that US complaining against him such that another feedback loop commences about "how he's always on about the US because he just mentioned us! (even though he was asked about us and was just answering the question)" type scenario.

If he has started to pursue the US specifically then that's entirely you're nation's own doing. He only gives a toss about transparency and corruption and if you want him to focus on exposing that in other countries then you know what? Just shut up, and give it up with your attempt at extraordinary rendition via Sweden on trumped up rape charges against him so he can get on with exactly that.


Re:who cares

Please, don't forget that Julian became something of a minor hero, when his leaks concerned mostly Arab nations that we disapproved of, or approved of very little. It wasn't until Manning's stuff was published that Julian became "Public Enemy #xx". Congress critters and the White House gave him praise, even if it was faint, as long as he seemed to be focusing on Arab nations. How quickly the tables turned when we became the focus of attention!


Re:who cares (Score:5, Funny)

Why the fuck are you Americans so paranoid? You have all the guns you want, a massive military yet you're still so utterly shit scared that everyone's out to get you. For all the talk of "If someone tried to attack me, I'd shoot them because I'm a hard scary person" in your country

I am a hard scary person, but it looks like someone needs a hug.

Anonymous Coward

Re:who cares

... to presume the worst, and hidden, motives for anything related to American interests and motives. In this way he's like Chomsky...

Have you read any Chomsky? Chomsky explictly refrains from discussing the motives of American foreign policy. This is because, he says, it is impossible to determine what the actual motives behind any particular decision are, to try and do so would just be speculation. Instead, he confines himself to pointing discrepancies between what the govt. and the media say US foreign policy is doing, or trying to do, and what they are actually doing, or trying to do.

He makes this disclaimer prominently in many, if not all of his books (on foreign policy and media hegemony).

Anonymous Coward

For what it's worth, Schmidt has virtually disappeared inside Google (I work there). Once Larry took over Eric's influence - never actually high at the best of times - appears to have dropped to somewhere near absolute zero. He rarely appears in internal events anymore and doesn't seem to have any impact on priorities or staffing decisions. He was always something of a caretaker leader even in the years he was CEO ... the real drive and product direction was always coming from back seat driving by L&S.

Assange's article makes him sound like he's been locked up in that embassy for too long, to be honest. Schmidt and Cohen may well have an unhealthily close relationship with the US Government, but as neither of them are in charge any more it makes little difference. The idea that "Google is trying to position itself as America's geopolitical visionary" is silly. I can't imagine anything that must interest Page less than geopolitics.

[Apr 18, 2013] LinkedIn Invites Gone Wild How To Keep Close With Exes and Strangers


sholto writes "An aggressive expansion strategy by LinkedIn has backfired spectacularly amid accusations of identity fraud. Users complained the social network sent unrequested invites from their accounts to contacts and complete strangers, often with embarrassing results. One man claimed LinkedIn sent an invite from his account to an ex-girlfriend he broke up with 12 years ago who had moved state, changed her surname and her email address. ... 'This ex-girlfriend's Linked in profile has exactly ONE contact, ME. My wife keeps getting messages asking 'would you like to link to (her)? You have 1 contact in common!,' wrote Michael Caputo, a literary agent from Massachussetts."


How is this not considered criminal activity? Could LinkedIn just be the target of a spoofing campaign? I have a hard time believing they could be so stupid.

i kan reed

My previous employer made me get a linkedin account. It is the single most spammy thing I've ever signed up for. "Do you know former employee of customer of previous previous employer?" Fuck. Off.


maybe you could try turning off email notification

Second hit for "linkedin email preferences." You're on Slashdot, and you don't know how to do this?

Email notifications can be added, changed, or stopped in the Email Preferences section of the Settings page [...] The following options are available:

Individual Email Daily Digest Email Weekly Digest Email No Email


I have no trouble believing this

LinkedIn has always seemed shady to me. I joined a few years ago, and got inundated with requests from people who seemed to do nothing with their time but offer to show me how to accumulate linked-in followers. My ex and I were simultaneously suggested to each other as contacts, probably because we still share some friends in common. Neither of us requested anything. I think the whole thing is just another social-media wank-fest, like twitter or google+.



Linkedin is exactly like the business culture it was meant to serve.

Sleazy, smarmy, greedy, dishonest, sycophantic, treacherous, fraudulent. Simply the core values of global business.


Re:People are using the address book feature (Score:4, Insightful)

I'm pretty sure you're right.

I hardly pay attention to most of what I read online, especially when I'm on LinkedIn (I'm trying not to look at adverts, so I miss the content as well).

I found myself once entering my LinkedIn password into some "password" input box, which, as I wasn't paying much attention, I thought was LinkedIn's "your session has expired". However, it rejected the password, which made me look again. I was entering my password into the "we've got your email address, now just give us the password" box. As I have different passwords for different things, no problem. But I'm sure that some people use the same password for everything, and suddenly LinkedIn sends an email to every contact on their gmail account.


Re:Been wondering myself.

Those are probably not from Linkedin. Spammers are sending mail that looks linkedin in now as well. Gmail seems very good in separating real Linkedin and spam looking like Linkedin.

My issue with Linkedin is that I keep on getting spam from them with an offer for a free month of premium access. Note to Linkedin: if I have to supply credit card details: IT AIN'T FREE!!


Always been aggravating

They've always been aggressive and aggravating, as far as I'm concerned. When a family member signed up with them I got a request. And another. And another. And they kept coming. I finally followed a link and told them to shut up and stop bothering me, but then another associate signed up and it started all over again. I can understand one invite, but they sent far more than was warranted, or could be considered reasonable or polite. I refuse to use them, not just because of the grudge, but also because I don't want them spamming friends or family based on my registration.


The usual sloppy reporting

While I find the constant barrage of "do you know" messages annoying, it's pretty clear to me what they are: a message from LinkedIn (NOT the person you might or might not know) asking if you might know this person, and sugesting that you invite THEM.

Once you click through on one of these, you get the standard LinkedIn invitation request. You are asked to make a selection as to how you know this person. If you check "I don't know this person", then you need to know their email address in order to complete the invitation. AS WITH ANY Linked-In invitation.

The annoying messages are NOT invitations, though, you AREN'T automatically connected by responding to them (the other person would have to approve) and they AREN'T sent from the other person's account. It's pretty clear they are sent by LinkedIn, trying to drum-up more connections.


Linkedin is no better than Facebook

Both of them are hungry for all the personal data they can get their hands on, so that they can turn around and sell anything to you, and sell you to anything. The problem is that while I'm completely in control of my choice to have a Facebook account (read: I don't have a facebook account), my most recent employer requires me to have a LinkedIn profile. Moreover, a lot of tech firms won't even consider you if they can't find you on LinkedIn. It's a horrible site, but unfortunately everybody expects you to play the game.


My question is how necessary is LI these days?

I still don't have a LI account (nor facebook nor twitter, nor g+)... I'm being told that being on LinkedIn is more or less obligatory if I want to have a reasonable chance of not being ignored by a hiring manager or HR drone. I'm being told this by colleagues and friends, a few of whom are hiring managers. I've been operating under the assumption that my reputation is enough to get me hired (as has been the case for at least 25 years) but what I'm hearing now is that if I don't show up on LinkedIn, my resume gets tossed.. I'm offended by the very idea and like to console myself that I probably don't want to work for anyone who filters resumes this way...

Unfortunately, I'm approaching my sunset years and may not be able to afford to restrict my employment opportunities should I suddenly find myself unemployed.

Sir Holo

LinkedIn is Creepier than Facebook (Score:4, Interesting)

I've had a LinkedIn account for a decade or so. During most of that time, it was just a place to post my CV details, and to "link" to other professionals that I know. No longer.

Now, when I go to LinkedIn, they suggest numerous people as "People You May Know." Fine, let's take a look:

* my psychiatrist (who even knows that I have one!?!) * the guy who painted my condo five years ago * an ex-roommate from 11 years ago * an acupuncturist who I used three times, in another city, eight years ago * a casual acquaintance from 10 years ago (who may have sent me an invite) * someone whose only connection to me is a one-time dance, and is a "FB friend." No emails between us * a guy I shared an office with, but who was a jerk, so we never exchanged emails * a guy who formerly lived in my condo complex * a guy who was the grad-school advisor of a former workplace colleague, but whom I never socialized with * a researcher at another lab, who I have only ever talked to once, and have never emailed * a years-ago dance instructor whom I only ever contacted twice, via phone * a guy whom I co-authored a single scientific paper with years ago, and emailed only once * various students who have taken my courses * a woman who worked at the same company I worked at, but whom I never had an email contact with (outside of the company's proprietary and encrypted Lotus Notes system) * a former program manager at a lab I formerly worked at, 10 years ago, whom I only interacted with in person (no email) * another guy I co-authored a journal article with, but never contacted by email outside my former employer's encrypted LotusNotes email system * my former accountant * a former frat brother, from 15 years ago, whom I have never emailed * various program managers at national funding agencies whom I have contacted in the past via phone/email * several former colleagues that I never emailed, but had only verbal contact with, from a lab 12 years ago * a professor whom I emailed only once, 12 years ago regarding a postdoc position, but never met * the son of a former colleague, who I ever only heard about in lunch conversation, and never interacted with * a roommate from 10 years ago * a prof I took an undergrad course from 19 years ago * lots of profs and researchers whom I know professionally and personally, but whom I have never emailed * plus lots of false hits...

Very creepy, and really, in a couple of cases violating HIPPA regulations through their disclosure of who-knows-whom.

Where are they mining? People's email address books, certainly. But probably also my bank, author lists on publications, speaker lists at conferences, and perhaps people who simply look up my profile.

Too creepy. I will soon cancel my LinkedIn account, and just make a website bearing my name (I already own the domain), so that people can find me without all of this creepy gray-zone crap.

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Last modified: March, 29, 2020