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Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs

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

The slide above is courtesy of The Guardian

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

Introduction

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

This NSA document

J. Edgar Hoover - Wikipedia

Americans live in Russia, but think they live in Sweden

Chrystia Freeland

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

--Joseph Goebbels

I was always suspicious about the success of "cloud" Web mail services starting with Hotmail. There was something fishy here including the purchase of Hotmail by Microsoft. The problem is that if your emails are being stored "in the cloud" each single email is exposed as if it permanently "in transit". Moreover the collection of email in your Inbox and your email address book are a more valuable set of information than any single email and tells much more about you that any intercepted email can.

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

While Amazon connection to intelligence agencies are well known Facebook connections became known only after Snowden revelations.

Just the set of headers of your email messages (along wih  the content of your address book) constitute something much tremendously more reveling (and from the point of view of your privacy dangerous) then a single email.  Rephrasing well know quote we can say: "Give me access to your email headers,  I will say who you are" ;-). Or putting it into action plan: if you can anything without sending email do not send email.

All this talk about NSA or CIA ability to listen to your smartphone microphone or via microphones in your laptop, TV or other  devices looks like grossly exaggerated threat. Those are intrusive and expensive options and those agencies actually they do not need them.  Other then pursuing real suspects this is an overkill. Passive surveillance via data provided by big four (Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo) are enough so that you have no secrets from the government ;-). At any day of the  year government can tell what are you interests, political views and the cicle of firnds. STASI operatives would die to have this capability.  In other words justoe to technology process we are all now living in the "national security state", which as you can guess  is governed by intelligence agencies brass, which represent  what Orwell called "inner party". Some prominent politicians have their career interlinked or even managed by intelligence agencies (George H. W. Bush,  Vladimir Putin, Theresa MayBarak Obama, Mike Pompeo, Hillary Clinton). There is even term "CIA democrats" which have double meaning. Politicians who fight and win or lose election  are just figureheads or puppets of the  Deep State because since the time of J. Edgar Hoover there is enough dirt of each of them to keep them in check.  In other words emergence of powerful political aginces after WWII aas well as techonological protess (especaiily in the areas of computer and  communications) make transition tot he national security state the "natural" path of the Western societies  evolution. Whether we can talk about democracy in such a state is an interesting question, but it is clearly beyond the scope of this  page.

Collection of just headers which can be done automatically and "for the duration of your life"  provides much more revealing information. And set of emails voluntarily stored by you on "cloud" provider (is not this stupid ?) is the place over which you've absolutely no control (and as such you should have no expectation of privacy) . 

The same is true about your phone calls. The ability to listen to your phone calls in most cases is immaterial. The list of your connections is enough to tell everything about you, may be even better then the content of your conversations via phone.  And I doubt that they are doing it without serious reasons and transcribing and analyzing your calls cost serious money.

Typically those guys who suspect that their phones are listened behave more carefully. Putting a cell  phone into a metal and metal mesh box completely disables the communication with the tower.  Ii such a box has a foam lining it pretty much disables sound too. Both those materials are cheap and widely available. 

The same is true about your usage of internet, but here situation is a little bit more complex because there is no guarantee that after Snowden revelation people do not try to distort their browsing provide, It is pretty easy to do using any programmable keyboard, or a scripting language and Expect-like module. 

I can see why Brazil and Germany are now concerned about NSA activities. I can't understand why they are not concerned about stupidity of their citizens opening accounts and putting confidential information on the Webmail systems such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail and Gmail (all three are mentioned in Prism slide above ;-). Is not this a new mass form of masochism?  Accounts in Hotmail or Gmail has their value, but they are primary useful as spam folders. You can direct all emails from you subscriptions on newspapers, sites and magazines to it.  Your real account should always be the account on one of small ISP on your own domain, and possibly using special DNS server.  Or, at least, POP3 account on your laptop, which does not store any emails on the server.

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

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

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

In a way after Snowden revelations we all now need to learn Aesop language (slang is actually almost in-penetratable to computer analysis, unless they are specifically programmed for the particular one) and be more careful.  Many people now understand why Facebook users should be very concerned. Facebook is nothing but an intelligence database about their users. That's their primary business model. So it is users data is what Facebook actually sells.  But we now need to understand that Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are no different. But after Snowden revelations the usage of Facebook/Yahoo/Gmail accounts was not affected. Several high profile email leaks happened after Snowden revelations. So it looks like in cyberspace a large number of people is more reckless then they behave in a "normal" environment.  In one  such profile case -- Podesta emails leak John Podesta even failed to purchase $15 key for two factor authentication for Gmail.  Podesta also made a very common and stupid mistake -- clicking on the links in email, especially emails with security alerts is really reckless.  It is undesirable even if you can verify that the URL used is not spoofed. And this was the person who was Bill Clinton Chief of Staff (1998-2001) -- so the person as close to trained in computer security professional as one can get. Who at one time has access to highest level of US security clearness and all respective briefing and DNS signing that it entails.  As a result of this  blunder on October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks started to publish thousands of emails reportedly retrieved from Podesta's private Gmail account, some of which contained controversial material regarding Clinton's positions or campaign strategy.

Social site promote "exhibitionism orgy"

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

In a current NSA-inspired debate about the moral consequences of digital technologies, it is important to realize the danger of  seamless integration of services under Google (especially within Android) as well as other Internet Oligopolies (I doubt that Microsoft with its Windows 10 is much better).  When everyone using an Android smartphone is forced to wear Google's digital straitjacket. This  can be a very bad thing, and it make combination of a "regular phone" and a 7 inch tablet much more attractive then smartphone (and available a fraction of the cost).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet started as a network of decentralized servers, able to withstand a nuclear attack. Now it probably will eventually return to a similar model on a new level as the danger of cloud providers exceed their usefulness. In any case now it looks like anybody who is greedy enough to use "free" (as in "The only free cheese is in the mouse trap") Gmail instead of getting webmail account via ISP with your own (let it call vanity, but it's your own :-) website is playing with fire. Even if they are nothing to hide, if they use Hotmail of Gmail for anything but spam (aka registrations, newsletters, etc) they are entering a dangerous virtual room with multiple hidden camera that record and store information including all their emails and address book forever. Important email should probably now be limited to regular SMTP accounts with client like Thunderbird (which actually is tremendously better then Gmail Web mail client with its Google+ perversions).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Maybe Dante had some serious vision.

The Guardian

Technology development create new types of communications as well as new types of government surveillance mechanisms (you can call them "externalities" of new methods of communication). Those externalities, especially low cost of mass surveillance (Wikipedia), unfortunately, bring us closer to the Electronic police state (Wikipedia) or National Security State whether we want it or not. A crucial element of such a state is that its data gathering, sorting and correlation are continuous, cover a large number of citizens and all foreigners and those activities are seldom exposed.

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

It means two things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adding insult to injury: Self-profiling

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

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

Scientella, palo alto

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jrs says on June 8, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most constructive approach to NSA is to view it as a large government bureaucracy that expanded to the extent that "quantity turned into quality."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many of us are not so surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

Questions that arise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Infoglut and the limits to spying via data collected about you

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

-Helen Corey WSJ.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Washington Post noted:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Here is one relevant comment from The Guardian

carlitoontour

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

SNOWDEN SUSPECTED OF BYPASSING ELECTRONIC LOGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That means two things:

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

There is also a question of complexity of analysis:

Possibility of abuses of collected data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Email privacy

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

Famous Russian bard Vladimir Vissotsky,
Also on YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inability to voluntarily terminate accounts

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

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

... ... ...

Quit Facebook Day

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

... ... ...

Tracking cookies

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

Read more at Facebook as Giant Database about Users

Google search monopoly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Usage of home Web Proxy is a must

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Limiting your activity on social sites

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

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

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

Conclusions: Death of Privacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

[Dec 12, 2018] Freedom and privacy have been eroded by the malicious actions of psychopaths. The tech itself is like a fence. The destruction of liberty is like English kleptocrats forcing peasants off the commons and fencing the land into sheep pens. Don't blame fence technology; don't blame the sheep; blame the kleptocrats.

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

[Dec 12, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net
  1. Mary Margaret Flynn permalink April 24, 2016

    I am remembering the movie "Other Peoples' Lives", about the Stasi in East Germany before 1989; a terrific and even more terrifying today (than when I first saw it) about surveillance of every one by corporations and governments. the wall has come down, we've had the Middle East "Spring" but nothing is changed.

[Dec 10, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 10, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

What the Infotech/Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done 2016 April 23 tags: Infotech revolution , Telecom Revolution by Ian Welsh Globe on Fire There's a great deal of talk about how wonderful modern technology is. The internet, cell phones, and computers are the stars of this firmament. I believe such talk is somewhat overblown; the latest tech revolution is not as significant as many that have come before .

At least not in terms of doing good.

Let us examine what all this infotech really has changed.

Control. Massive control. Surveillance.

Just in time inventory. Not possible 50 years ago.

Second to second tracking of workers without having to have a supervisor physically watching them. Amazon warehouse workers carry devices which allow their workflow to be tracked to the second. And if they aren't making their seconds, the supervisor is right on them. This wasn't possible 30 years ago. If you wanted to have that sort of control, you had to have a supervisor physically watching them, and the cost was prohibitive.

This sort of tracking is used for clerical workers as well.

Outsourcing work that had to be kept domestic before. The massive call centers in Delhi and Ireland were not possible even 30 years ago. The cost was simply prohibitive.

Offshoring work, like manufacturing, was difficult to offshore before. Without real-time, high-density communications, cutting edge manufacturing overseas was very difficult in the past. You could offshore some things, certainly, but those industries tended to be mature industries: shipbuilding, textiles, and so on. Cutting edge industries, no, they had to be located close to the boffins or they were offshored to another, essentially First World country–as when Britain offshored much of their production to the United States in the late 19th century.

Commercial surveillance. Everything you buy is cross referenced. When you buy something at a major retailers, the store takes a picture of you and matches it with your information. All online purchase information is stored and centralized in databases. This information is shared. This includes, but goes far beyond, internet surveillance; witness Google or Facebook serving you ads based on what you've read or searched. Add this data to credit reports, bank accounts, and so on, and it provides a remarkably complete picture of your life, because everything you buy with anything but cash (and even some of that) is tracked. Where you are when you buy it is also tracked.

Government surveillance. Millions of cameras in London and most other First World cities. Millions of cameras in Chinese cities. Some transit systems now have audio surveillance. Because the government can seize any private surveillance as well, you can assume you're being tracked all day in most First World cities. Add this to the commercial surveillance system described above and the picture of your life is startlingly accurate.

As biometric recognition system comes online (face, gait, infrared, and more) this work will be done automatically.

What the telecom and infotech revolution has done is enable wide scale CONTROL and SURVEILLANCE.

These are two sides of the same coin, you can't control people if you don't what they're doing.

This control is most dictatorial, amusingly, in the private sector. The worse a job is, the more this sort of control has been used for super-Taylorization, making humans into little more than remotely controlled flesh robots.

It has made control of international conglomerates far easier; control from the top to the periphery far easier. This is true in the government and the military as well, where central commanders often control details like when bombs drop, rather than leaving it to a plane's crew.

This is a world where only a few people have practical power. It is a world, not of radical decentralization, but of radical centralization.

This is a vast experiment. In the past, there have been surveillance and control societies. But the math on them has always been suspect. Sometimes they work, and work brilliantly–like in Tokugawa Japan, certain periods of Confucian Chinese bureaucratic control, or ancient Egypt.

But often they have been defeated, and fairly easily, by societies which allowed more freedom; less control, less spying, and supervision. Societies which assumed people knew what to do on their own; or just societies that understood that the cost of close supervision and surveillance was too high to support.

The old East German Stasi model, with one-third of the population spying on the other two-thirds was the ludicrous extension of this.

What the telecom and infotech revolutions have actually enabled is a vast experiment in de-skilling, surveillance, and control–beyond the dreams even of the late 19th century Taylorist movement, with their stopwatches and assembly lines. Nothing people do, from what they eat, to what entertainment they consume, to when and how well they sleep; let alone everything they do during their working day, is beyond reach.

This is not to say there are no good results from infotech and computers -- there are plenty. But contrary to the idea that these technologies would increase freedom, they appear, on a daily basis, to have decreased freedom and privacy and promise to radically reduce them even more.

The second set of questions about any technology are how it can be used for violence, how it can be used for control, and how it can be used for ideological production.

(The first question, of course, is what is required to use it. More on that another time.)

Infotech may enable totalitarian societies which make those of the past look like kindergarten. We are already far past the technology used in the novel 1984 (Big Brother could not record, for example). That much of this surveillance is done by private actors as opposed to the government, does not reduce the loss of freedom, autonomy, and privacy.

Combined with making humans obsolete, infotech and the telecom revolution are as vastly important as their boosters say.

But, so far, not in a beneficial way. Yes, they could be used to make human lives better, it seems the real traction of the telecom and infotech revolutions remarkably began/coincided with neo-liberal policies which have hurt vast numbers of people in both the First and Third Worlds–precisely because they helped make those neo-liberal policies work.

Technologies are never neutral and there is no guarantee that "progress" will actually improve people's lives. Even if a technology has the potential to improve people's lives, potential is theoretical; i.e., not the same as practice.

Infotech and telecom tech are primarily control technologies, the same as writing was. They vastly increase the ability to centralize and to control a population's behaviour.

(Read also: The Late Internet Revolution is Not So Big A Deal )

[Dec 10, 2018] Facebook, Whatsup and Brazilian elections

Dec 10, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Over the last few years, the potentially damaging impact of the internet, and particularly social media, on democracy has increasingly come to dominate the news. The recently disclosed internal Facebook emails, which revealed that employees discussed allowing developers to harvest user data for a fee, are but the latest in a long line of scandals surrounding social media platforms. Facebook has also been accused, alongside Twitter, of fuelling the spread of false information. In October, the Brazilian newspaper Folha exposed how Jair Bolsonaro's candidacy benefited from a coordinated disinformation campaign conducted via Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook. And there are growing concerns that this tactic could be used to skew the Indian general elections in April.

[Dec 09, 2018] Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Notable quotes:
"... Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military Reuters. EM: "Wow, this guy is clueless even by top-brass standards. For example: Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones." Moi: I assume this is intended for the great unwashed masses, to give them the impression that Google and the surveillance state are not joined at the hip.

Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

Re: Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military

I will be more interested when the employees of a tech company revolt over the development of technology used to monitor workers or put them out of work. It is easier to oppose military projects because they smack of something out of The Terminator films while developments like Neo-Taylorism are not as obviously evil but are perhaps just as inhuman and socially destructive.

Molly , December 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm

I'm involved with the Tech Workers Coalition, although I only speak for myself as a member. Some of my fellow members were involved in the Google organizing against project Maven, and also Dragonfly. In the last few months there have also been organized actions at Amazon and Salesforce in opposition to working with ICE. Various TWC members are also involved in partnering with food service and janitorial staff around worker organizing and improving working conditions. One of the efforts I'm starting to get involved with is a more organized network for mutual aid and disaster relief in the Bay Area, in the wake of this year's fire season.

Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people.

Tech culture, especially in Silicon Valley, teaches workers to identify with the company completely. At Google you are a Googler. At Pivotal you are a Pivot. We refer to each other this way, inside and outside of work. We are working against that conditioning when we organize, so starting with "Let's not build things that blow humans into burning bits" is helpful.

[Dec 09, 2018] Large corporation like Facebooka and Google are profoundly undemocratic and have ties with intelligence agencies on multiple level including the level of founders

Notable quotes:
"... A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House . ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

... ... ...

Yet, reality could be bleeker. A handful of private companies control the information that is needed to understand how the online ecosystem works. They manage the key infrastructure, and most experts in the field are running this infrastructure after having signed non-disclosure agreements. Thus, Plato's Allegory of the Cave might be a more fitting metaphor. Control over key data allows these companies to play the role of shadow-masters. They get the chance to reveal only the portions of reality they find convenient, defining how the general public perceives the online space. Information scarcity is therefore not just the natural consequence of the internet's novelty; it is created artificially and for strategic purposes: To shape public opinion.

Should we break up these big companies? Should we allow them to continue growing, but under strict, utility-type rules? Should we do nothing? Whatever we do should be the result of a robust public debate. One that is based on the best available evidence regarding the effects the internet is having on power relations, and is therefore capable of defining the set of actions that would best serve the public interest. In short, at this point, we need key information to be disclosed and available for public scrutiny. But information is power – and it is unlikely to be disclosed voluntarily. It might require regulation.

When food production became industrialized, the US Government created the Food and Drug Administration, which was tasked with monitoring and disclosing information regarding compliance with quality standards. When government became too complex for the average citizen to navigate, ombuds offices sprouted across the globe. As an independent institution of government, ombuds were given the duty and power to investigate how government units work, and report on matters concerning people's rights. The current situation requires exploring a similarly bold institutional reform. One focused on ensuring the data needed to inform public debate is made available by the tech industry.

Most people scoffed at the limited understanding of our digital world members of the US Congress revealed when they grilled Mark Zuckerberg . And yet its likely Facebook is not the only company behaving recklessly, nor the US Senators the only public representatives that are "ignorant".

What we have is a growing gap between where power lies and where the institutions that seek to hold it accountable to the people operate. Such institutions are incapable of allowing democratically elected leaders to deliver their campaign promises. This is what is ultimately triggering social tensions and undermining trust in our democracies. We need our institutions to interpret these tensions as red flags and a call for a new social contract. And we need institutions to react now. This situation goes far beyond the debate around digitalization. Yet the online space is our future, and is therefore where this gap is most visible and urgent.

If our current institutions of government fail to ensure the ongoing technological revolution puts people first, these institutions will sooner or later be rendered irrelevant.

A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House .


James McRitchie , December 8, 2018 at 10:16 am

Facebook is a dictatorship of one. Alphabet is a dictatorship of two. As long as corporate governance is anti-democratic that will have an unfortunately negative impact on civil society. I hope shareholders in these and other companies will vote in favor of proposals by NorthStar and others to phase out multi-class share structures, require that directors get at least a majority vote to take office, do away with supermajority voting requirements, etc.

Michael Fiorillo , December 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

The Internet was "born in sin," developed as it was to maintain communications during a nuclear holocaust against a fundamentally fake threat.

Let's remember that the Soviet Union, however repressive it may have been toward its own people and those in satellite countries, never posed the existential threat to the US that was claimed. Rather, as Senator Arthur Brandenburg of Michigan infamously told Harry Truman at the dawn of the Cold War, it would be necessary "to scare the hell out of the American people" to get them to turn against their former Soviet allies, which the State and compliant media spent the next forty years doing, often/largely producing weapons that don't work against enemies that don't exist.

How has the Internet ever not been a tool of the national security state, and why should we have ever expected otherwise?

Nick Stokes , December 8, 2018 at 3:31 pm

The internet is "mind control" for the elite. By making basic bias of the individual easy to qualify and nuture

...

precariat , December 8, 2018 at 5:45 pm

While the discussion of of the need for new paradigms for regulation and accountability -- lest democratic or civil institutions become irrelevant -- is very much needed, I am bewildered by the framing of the discussion to only the internet. The internet is just one, interactive and immediately visible use of technology that has the potential to undermine a fair society.

Some of the most insidious and destructive uses of data technology is not on the internet; it's tools and processes used by previously trusted corporations, governments, and institutions that is not regulated, not transparent and not accountable. So framing the discussion with the 'internet' seems disengenuous.

[Dec 05, 2018] Facebook Struck Secret Deals To Sell Preferential User Data; Used VPN App To Spy On Competitors

Notable quotes:
"... They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless. ..."
"... Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them). ..."
"... Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall. ..."
"... Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that. ..."
Dec 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Update: As the giant cache of newly released internal emails has also revealed, Karissa Bell of Mashable notes that Facebook used a VPN app to spy on its competitors .

The internal documents , made public as part of a cache of documents released by UK lawmakers, show just how close an eye the social network was keeping on competitors like WhatsApp and Snapchat , both of which became acquisition targets.

Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat that year for $3 billion -- an offer Snap CEO Evan Spiegel rejected . (Facebook then spent years attempting, unsuccessfully, to copy Snapchat before finally kneecapping the app by cloning Stories.)

...

Facebook's presentation relied on data from Onavo, the virtual private network (VPN) service which Facebook also acquired several months later . Facebook's use of Onavo, which has been likened to "corporate spyware," has itself been controversial.

The company was forced to remove Onavo from Apple's App Store earlier this year after Apple changed its developer guidelines to prohibit apps from collecting data about which other services are installed on its users' phones. Though Apple never said the new rules were aimed at Facebook, the policy change came after repeated criticism of the social network by Apple CEO Tim Cook. - Mashable

A top UK lawmaker said on Wednesday that Facebook maintained secretive "whitelisting agreements" with select companies that would give them preferential access to vast amounts of user data, after the parliamentary committee released documents which had been sealed by a California court, reports Bloomberg .

The documents - obtained in a sealed California lawsuit and leaked to the UK lawmaker during a London business trip, include internal emails involving CEO Mark Zuckerberg - and led committee chair Damian Collins to conclude that Facebook gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data for their apps, while shutting off access to data used by competing apps. Facebook also allegedly conducted global surveys of mobile app usage by customers - likely without their knowledge , and that "a change to Facebook's Android app policy resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made difficult for users to know about," according to Bloomberg.

In one email, dated Feb. 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would "continually upload" a user's call and SMS history would be a "high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective." A subsequent email suggests users wouldn't need to be prompted to give permission for this feature to be activated. - Bloomberg

The emails also reveal that Zuckerberg personally approved limiting hobbling Twitter's Vine video-sharing tool by preventing users from finding their friends on Facebook.

In one email, dated Jan. 23 2013, a Facebook engineer contacted Zuckerberg to say that rival Twitter Inc. had launched its Vine video-sharing tool, which users could connect to Facebook to find their friends there. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, " Yup, go for it ."

"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents," said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails. - Bloomberg

We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.

-- Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) December 5, 2018

Thousands of digital documents were passed to Collins on a London business trip by Ted Kramer, founder of app developer Six4Three, who obtained them during legal discovery in a lawsuit against Facebook. Kramer developed Pikinis, an app which allowed people to find photos of Facebook users wearing Bikinis. The app used Facebook's data which was accessed through a feed known as an application programming interface (API) - allowing Six4Three to freely search for bikini photos of Facebook friends of Pikini's users.

Facebook denied the charges, telling Bloomberg in an emailed statement: "Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform," adding "We've never sold people's data."

A small number of documents already became public last week, including descriptions of emails suggesting that Facebook executives had discussed giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch its mobile-ad business. The alleged practice started around seven years ago but has become more relevant this year because the practices in question -- allowing outside developers to gather data on not only app users but their friends -- are at the heart of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook said last week that the picture offered by those documents was misleadingly crafted by Six4Three's attorneys. - WaPo

"The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context," said Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, who added: "We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience."

Kramer was ordered by a California state court judge on Friday to surrender his laptop to a forensic expert after he admitted giving the UK committee the documents. The order stopped just short of holding the company in contempt as Facebook had requested, however after a hearing, California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope told Kramer that he may issue sanctions and a contempt order at a later date.

"What has happened here is unconscionable," said Swope. "Your conduct is not well-taken by this court. It's one thing to serve other needs that are outside the scope of this lawsuit. But you don't serve those needs, or satisfy those curiosities, when there's a court order preventing you to do so ."

Trouble in paradise?

As Facebook is now faced with yet another data harvesting related scandal, Buzzfeed reports that internal tensions within the company are boiling over - claiming that "after more than a year of bad press, internal tensions are reaching a boiling point and are now spilling out into public view."

Throughout the crises, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who maintains majority shareholder control, has proven remarkably immune to outside pressure and criticism -- from politicians, investors, and the press -- leaving his employees as perhaps his most important stakeholders. Now, as its stock price declines and the company's mission of connecting the world is challenged, the voices inside are growing louder and public comments, as well as private conversations shared with BuzzFeed News, suggest newfound uncertainty about Facebook's future direction.

Internally, the conflict seems to have divided Facebook into three camps: those loyal to Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; those who see the current scandals as proof of a larger corporate meltdown ; and a group who see the entire narrative -- including the portrayal of the company's hiring of communications consulting firm Definers Public Affairs -- as examples of biased media attacks. - Buzzfeed

"It's otherwise rational, sane people who're in Mark's orbit spouting full-blown anti-media rhetoric, saying that the press is ganging up on Facebook," said a former senior employee. "It's the bunker mentality. These people have been under siege for 600 days now. They're getting tired, getting cranky -- the only survival strategy is to quit or fully buy in."

A Facebook spokesperson admitted to BuzzFeed that this is "a challenging time."


Madcow , 7 minutes ago link

When exactly did [neo]Liberal Dems become enthusiastic cheerleaders for rapacious profit-maximizing corporations acting illegally against the public interest?

Why would "progressives" want to shield Facebook from anti-trust legislation? Compared to the 1950s / 60s / 70s ... it seems like "liberals" and "conservatives" have switched roles.

smacker , 2 hours ago link

Why is it that Zucker.slime.berg and so many other people of his ilk are basically crooks. They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless.

The world would be better off without them. Who would miss Phacephuq?

pedoland , 2 hours ago link

Dumb **** gets caught saying dumb ****.

Stop using the dumb ****'s website.

Tirion , 2 hours ago link

Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them).

Get your faces out of your phones and look around you and see what's happening. Humanity is becoming digital. This is a control mechanism. To regain its sovereignty, humanity needs to unite spiritually and head in a new direction. Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall.

Fluff The Cat , 2 hours ago link

Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that.

DEDA CVETKO , 2 hours ago link

Secrecy? In American elitist establishment, the most transparent Skull-and-Boner tomb in history? NOOOOOOOOooooooo....!!!!

Idiocracy's Not Sure , 3 hours ago link

In the USA we have always had will always have corruption to the fullest extent possible. I know rich and powerful people who are very well connected and if the average person knew what they truly think they would be freakin pissed!!

[Dec 01, 2018] Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

Dec 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon [190] Disclaimer , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:41 am GMT

I'm familiar with information retrieval tech and worked for a small non-U.S. search engine that was acquired by a major American search engine (not Google) in the late 20th century. I've kept up with things as much as one can do from the outside since then.

I do not buy the conspiracy angle here. I believe Google when they say that they are relying on automated algorithms.

You cannot really compare Google with any other search engine. DDG is a guy in his pajamas coding it all by himself (and I respect that). Bing on the other hand has a good team of talented information retrieval engineers, but they are nowhere near as well staffed as Google

In addition, a lot of Google's quirks derive from the fact that they are the big guys. Hackers and spammers and black hat SEOs target Google, looking for exploitable patterns. Nobody cares how they rank in Bing and DDG, so nobody targets them. Google thus has to plug the dike in all kinds of ways that the other search engines don't have to worry about.

Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some higher level component in their search software that is intended to combat black hat SEO is inadvertently skewing results in a way that seems to favor the left, in the same way that AI software tends to come to the conclusion that blacks commit a lot of crime and are not the best employees, although nobody programmed it to do that. And it is possible that when the skew is anti

Google Suggest was throwing out "Islamists are terrorists," "blacks are not oppressed," "hitler is my hero," "white supremacy is good," and so on.

Google is micro-gaslighting again, by Steve Sailer - The Unz Review

Tyrion 2 , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:49 am GMT

@anonymous It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/11/29/18117906/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-2017-life-expectancy

meh , says: November 30, 2018 at 10:22 am GMT
@Tyrion 2

It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

You are being remarkably obtuse.

Google is for the masses; what they do or don't do actually matters in terms of public perception.

Vox is for the policy elite and will make no impact on the public consciousness; it isn't meant for the masses.

Note that elite or specialist media have been talking about the opioid crisis for years, and yet the topic has never made it out to the public consciousness or public discourse at large, nor has it had any reception in the political sphere beyond mere platitudes, which anyone who was not been paying attention to the topic would even understand.

Amusingly, though, if you do a Ctrl F on article you link to, the name "Sackler" nowhere appears.

The point is how the elites control the public discourse, by keeping certain topics obscure to the public at large, while the elites and their hired professionals and Mandarins talk amongst themselves; a discourse not meant for the larger public.

But anyway, no one ever said that no one at all in the mass media was talking about the opioid crisis; this is just your implied strawman.

The topic was Google; you are simply using a diversion, i.e., moving the goalposts to the media at large.

[Nov 26, 2018] For those who have doubts that Facebook is controlled by intelligence agencies

Notable quotes:
"... yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0. ..."
Nov 26, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk

Isa , October 23, 2018 at 18:05

Off topic but it's an excellent article .

https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/10/23/facebook-censorship-of-alternative-media-just-the-beginning-says-top-neocon-insider/

SA , October 23, 2018 at 18:35

Note the role of the Atlantic council in this censorship. It is also subsiding the misinformation website called Bellingcat.

pretzelattack , October 23, 2018 at 19:35

yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0.

[Nov 25, 2018] UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting -- RT UK News

Notable quotes:
"... "malicious and fraudulent scheme" ..."
"... "We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," ..."
"... "to refrain from reviewing them" ..."
"... "return them to counsel or to Facebook." ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | www.rt.com

Published time: 25 Nov, 2018 04:39 Get short URL UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting © Global Look Press / ZUMAPRESS.com / Panoramic The UK Parliament has taken hold of documents from Facebook that may shed light on the online giant's carefree approach to user privacy amid claims that it was fully aware of user data loopholes exploited by Cambridge Analytica. The documents were seized from the founder of US tech startup Six4Three, who was on a business trip to the UK, the Guardian reported , citing MP Damian Collins, chair of the Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The DCMS is in charge of investigating a siphoning of Facebook user data by UK consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The news on the massive data breach broke in March with Facebook later admitting the data of up to 87 million people might have been shared with Cambridge Analytica without their explicit consent. Read more Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington 'In-house fake news shop' – Facebook facing new scandal and losing friends

It is alleged that the data was harvested to target the users in political campaigns, including in former UKIP leader Nigel Farage's Leave.EU campaign.

The UK parliamentary investigators used the former Six4Three top executive's brief stay in London to force him to hand over documents his firm had obtained from a US court in Six4Three's own lawsuit against Facebook.

The Guardian reported that the tech entrepreneur was warned he might go to jail or face a hefty fine if he refuses to comply with the British authorities' request.

The documents, which are now to be reviewed by the British MPs, are said to include a confidential correspondence between Facebook's senior officials, including Mark Zuckerberg, who has so far snubbed requests to testify before parliament.

The lawsuit Six4Three, an app-developing startup, brought against Facebook back in 2015, alleges that Zuckerberg was personally involved in a "malicious and fraudulent scheme" and deliberately left loopholes for data-harvesting companies to fend off competition.

The documents are expected to reveal the scope of the Facebook CEO's involvement in the alleged scheme.

"We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," Collins said.

Six4Three is in a long-running litigation with Facebook over the demise of its app Pikinis, that allowed users to scan through friends' photos in an automatic search for bikini pics. After Facebook disabled the function that allowed apps to access users' friend lists, Six4Three filed a complaint against Facebook, arguing that it hurt its business model by no longer permitting customers to share the data. Facebook argues that the allegations of its improper handling of personal data have nothing to do with the lawsuit and had unsuccessfully fought the release of its internal documents to Six4Three. The documents were provided to the startup by the San Mateo Superior Court in California and are subject to a non-disclosure order, meaning that are unlikely to be revealed to the public.

In response to the seizure of the documents by British MPs, Facebook has urged lawmakers "to refrain from reviewing them" while calling to "return them to counsel or to Facebook."

Zuckerberg has previously denied that he knew of illegal harvesting of user data by Cambridge Analytica before the breach was reported in the media.

It is alleged that Facebook's off-hand approach to personal data might have helped to alter the outcome of the Brexit vote. In March, former director of research at Cambridge Analytica, Chris Wylie, testified before MPs that the research carried out by a Canadian company with ties to Cambridge Analytica before 2016 Brexit referendum might have swayed the vote.

[Nov 23, 2018] Anti Tulsi Gabbards lies are being aggressively promoted by neocons in both parties

Nov 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

JCS , Nov 22, 2018 7:39:50 PM | link

After Tulsi Gabbards tweet yesterday there has been a ton of old anti-Tulsi propaganda that was originally created to discredit her support of Bernie being promoted all over the place. Those lies are being aggressively promoted by neocons in both parties and helped along by supposed progressives and patriots who either ignorantly or maliciously spread the same lies and sophistry. Can you help fight against that? Here is what she is up against, these two articles detail all the lies (compared to the facts) that the neocons and the dumb progressives who don't bother to check facts are spreading around  --  it would be great if you can help get the word out about this organized slander campaign due to fear of Tulsi gaining higher office and ending wars:

https://medium.com/@na_rup/exposing-lies-in-zaid-jilanis-article-on-tulsi-gabbard-cdb0e1589e6c


https://medium.com/@na_rup/tulsi-gabbard-is-our-friend-2c46617c6ba3


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cze5A4iyQGk


mauisurfer , Nov 22, 2018 11:03:20 PM | link

Debsi
You don't know anything about Tulsi Gabbard.
She has been the most active anti war member of congress.
She even visited Syria and talked with Assad.
She has been tutored by Kucinich, and Kucinich's adviser on foreign affairs has been William R Polk.
I suggest you do some homework, read some selections on Polk's home page, also review Kucinich's long term positions on war and peace.
Russ , Nov 23, 2018 3:04:41 AM | link
Re Gabbard

It's clear that we'll never be free of Dembot relapsing. That's how terminal addicts are. At any given time the great majority of the fake "radicals" who go around claiming to despise the Democrat Party are really just secretly yearning for the next fraudulent "progressive" Democrat hero to come along and sweep them off their feet and back into the Dembot fold.

Kucinich, Obama, Warren, Hillary sheepdog extraordinaire Sanders, "AOC" (who just got done telling the Dembot version of climate activists, "Let's get behind Pelosi!"), Gabbard, many more whose names I've forgotten.

I've never understood the unbreakable infatuation with the Democrats, other than the clear fact that support for them isn't political at all, but a type of celebrity fandom.

Any actual sentient political person knows that the historical record of the Democrats is one long unbroken scam, that the "celebrity progressive hero" meme is invariably a fraud, and that this will never change for as long as the Democrat Party and its partisans exist.

Of course we already see Dembots everywhere crowing that the House majority is going to do "real things", and without missing a beat their showcase promise is: "We're going to make Trump release his tax forms!" I.e. the exact kind of worthless theater which does nothing to help anyone real, the exact kind of misdirection scam in which the Democrats specialize.

The same goes for worthless tweets. BTW did Gabbard also give tweets condemning the Zionist state? I'm betting no. Just like "AOC" backpedalled as fast as she could from her pro-Palestinian comments. She even told an interviewer "I really don't know what I'm talking about there." (Not an exact quote, but the gist.)

Circe , Nov 23, 2018 9:51:57 AM | link
@58

There is no peace with Israel! The fallacy of that statement on Israel dismantles your argument. Just state that there is self-interest or self-preservation involved if Putin sells out Iran to that stinking shithole Zionist entity. Iran fought side by side with Russia and is an invited presence in Syria and a counter-weight to Zionist U.S. presence in Syria and surrounding Zionist U.S. bases.

With all the Zionist Russian oligarchs breathing down Putin's neck in Russia, and the demented Zionist state having a large percentage of Russian immigrants, Putin kowtows to Zionism like everyone else. Yes, Putin is using Syria to get leverage over the U.S./Nato axis, but Israel is tied to his self-preservation, so he'll drop Iran in a minute for that reason, but don't say it's for the sake of peace when Israel has its sights on Iran as the next target of the Empire. It's totally disingenuous to use peace and Israel in the same sentence.

Next, @57 regarding the Gabbard tussle debs and others are having here: it's all moot since she offended compassionate Democrat sensibilities by meeting with Assad. Don't mention her name on Democratic sites; they can't stand her and you'll be excoriated for bringing her up. So she'll never be the nominee anyway. Now, I don't think either that it's necessary to even bring up the indigenous in Hawaii considering what was also done to native Americans on the mainland.

There's something else that disqualifies her. I used to trust and be gung-ho on Tulsi because of her association with Kucinich, but she lost my respect entirely after she started rubbing shoulders with this Zionist slime:

Gabbard's Zionist Friends

I couldn't be bothered getting the picture on it's own so don't blame me for the comments that surround it. Regardless, I no longer trust Gabbard because of her toxic Zionist associates.

donkeytale , Nov 23, 2018 10:00:04 AM | link
Sadly (or laughably, if you are in a jolly mood), Russ and Debisdead, and their handful of likeminded others who daily gather about the ultraleft internet world (such as it is) will never change their tune in the face of all evidence pointing to their invective (they term this "critical education") adding up to nothing except furtherance of rightwing oppression currently sweeping the world.

They offer nothing to motivate people other than the rejection of mainstream political movements of the center-left which are already organised, in reactionary political parties to be sure, into the tens of millions in the US.

Large numbers will be required if Russ, debs and their relatively few peers ever in fact wake up from their blogging stupors (extremely doubtful, imho, based on evidence of the prior 10-15 years) and become a vanguard of the movement to topple and replace the liberal democratic system with a fair system for all the people.

Lenin already nailed Russ, debs (and their few peers) to the wall way back in 1920:

Is parliamentarianism "politically obsolete"? That is quite a different matter. If that were true, the position of the "Lefts" would be a strong one. But it has to be proved by a most searching analysis, and the "Lefts" do not even know how to approach the matter.
Grieved , Nov 23, 2018 10:25:55 AM | link
Regarding Tulsi Gabbard.

In the last open thread I advanced the notion that humans are much more changeable than we tend to assume, or that our institutions plan on. I could back this claim with substantial collateral but I'll skip that here.

In my view, when we group Gabbard in with corrupt politicians, we do the greatest disservice to our own understanding of how corruption works. We also give in and surrender to evil, sooner than we should. So we should beware of this kind of thinking, both from an honorable place of not maligning a person who may not yet have earned it, and also from a strategic view of not giving into defeatism.

What really matters about the Gabbard situation is the history of other people and institutions that once were on our side and stood as our heroes, and who now seem compromised, corrupted, silenced or destroyed. There are powerful forces at play that can turn the good to the bad. These are the forces that we should be intent on identifying, in my opinion.

An overarching cynicism will only weary us, and the struggle is still alive. Cynicism is the cousin of defeatism and premature surrender. It's a position encouraged by the enemy, because it appears strong while it is actually weak. It's one of the tools that tame - the greatest of course being the one that divides us against each other, while the enemy rules.

What will be useful to watch with Gabbard will be what forces come to work on her, and how long she can remain true to her indigenous spiritual strength, if indeed she has not already caved in (I haven't studied the situation).

Sooner or later someone or some ones must appear who can remain true to the welfare of the people, and survive all the forces that work to subvert that. Our sitting around hoping for real change, however, is not going to get it done. Nor is falsely identifying as true those who are already corrupted, or conversely, labeling as lost those who might still have some truth in them. Understanding in precise detail and calling out and shedding light on these forces of subversion, might just help, however.

Russ , Nov 23, 2018 10:31:18 AM | link
Grieved 71,

Fact is, if we took your comment and replaced "Gabbard" with "Obama", we could pretty much transpose it verbatim to 2008-09 and it would fit right in with what the Obamabots were saying.

I agree, cynicism is pernicious, and I can't imagine anything more cynical than continued special pleading on behalf of the Democrats, after all they've proven throughout their perfidious history.

Grieved , Nov 23, 2018 10:40:11 AM | link
@72 Russ

Maybe. But I think for Obama this would fall under "falsely identifying as true someone who was already corrupted". What I get from people who have studied Gabbard is that she hasn't yet fallen, and - conceivably - may not fall.

Circe , Nov 23, 2018 11:09:16 AM | link
If Tulsi Gabbard weren't corrupted, she would stay away from the Adelsons no matter what cause they're peddling that she might share. The Adelsons are kryptonite for trust! She should know that! She should know better! Find some other financier for your cause, lady!

Now, to russ's point. Yes, it's good to get people to focus on another option besides the Dems (hopefully you don't mean the Republicans who are part of the same duopoly syndicate). However, the problem is that in a non-democracy with two Zionist-owned parties monopolizing the mass demographic, just how do you intend that third option to win?

[Nov 16, 2018] US Is Optimistic It Will Prosecute Assange

Nov 15, 2018 | www.wsj.com

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against the WikiLeaks founder

The Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, according to people in Washington familiar with the matter. Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012...

The exact charges Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.

[Nov 15, 2018] Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself.

Nov 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Retail: "This time, Amazon has gone too far: Jeff Bezos's company is profiting and taxpayers are paying the price" [Matt Stoller, New York Daily News ]. The conclusion: "Fundamentally, Amazon is simply too powerful. It isn't just about subsidies. It isn't that merchants, or local businesses, or warehouse workers, or communities are being mistreated or misled. It's that Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself. It controls elected officials, acquired the power to tax, and works with government to avoid sunshine laws. It's time to recognize the truth about this company. Two-day shipping might be really convenient, but at least in its current form, Amazon and democracy are incompatible." • Very good to see Stoller in the New York Daily News!

Retail: "Amazon's Last Mile" [ Gizmodo ]. "Near the very bottom of Amazon's complicated machinery is a nearly invisible workforce over two years in the making tasked with getting those orders to your doorstep. It's a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws. That program is called Amazon Flex, and it accomplishes Amazon's "last-mile" deliveries -- the final journey from a local facility to the customer . Flex is indicative of two alarming trends: the unwillingness of legislators to curb harmful practices of tech behemoths run amok, and a shift towards less protected, more precarious opportunities in a stagnant job market.' • Read for the detail. It sounds as hellish as Amazon's warehouses.

Retail: "Desperately Seeking Cities" [ n+1 ]. "It is beyond question that, in whatever city it chose to grace, Amazon would bring neither the jobs that that city needed, nor the public works that it needed. In his latest variation on the urbanist delusion, written for the Financial Times, the much-pilloried Richard Florida plaintively appealed to Amazon not to "accept any tax or financial incentives," but rather to pledge to "invest alongside cities to create better jobs, build more affordable housing, and develop better schools, transit, and other badly needed public goods, along with paying its fair share of taxes." The depths of Florida's naiveté cannot be overstated. Not only is Amazon categorically unlikely to pledge what he wants (or, even if it did, make even the slightest effort to deliver on such a pledge), but Florida openly expresses his desire to cede all urban political power and every human demand to the whims of the company. In this respect, too, the Amazon HQ2 contest has been clarifying."

[Nov 12, 2018] Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Use Design To Trick You Into Handing Over Your Data, Report Warns

Notable quotes:
"... There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath. ..."
Nov 12, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A study from the Norwegian Consumer Council dug into the underhanded tactics used by Microsoft, Facebook, and Google to collect user data . "The findings include privacy intrusive default settings, misleading wording, giving users an illusion of control, hiding away privacy-friendly choices, take-it-or-leave-it choices, and choice architectures where choosing the privacy friendly option requires more effort for the users," states the report , which includes images and examples of confusing design choices and strangely worded statements involving the collection and use of personal data.

Google makes opting out of personalized ads more of a chore than it needs to be and uses multiple pages of text, unclear design language, and, as described by the report, "hidden defaults" to push users toward the company's desired action. "If the user tried to turn the setting off, a popup window appeared explaining what happens if Ads Personalization is turned off, and asked users to reaffirm their choice," the report explained. "There was no explanation about the possible benefits of turning off Ads Personalization, or negative sides of leaving it turned on." Those who wish to completely avoid personalized ads must traverse multiple menus, making that "I agree" option seem like the lesser of two evils. In Windows 10, if a user wants to opt out of "tailored experiences with diagnostic data," they have to click a dimmed lightbulb, while the symbol for opting in is a brightly shining bulb, says the report.

Another example has to do with Facebook. The social media site makes the "Agree and continue" option much more appealing and less intimidating than the grey "Manage Data Settings" option. The report says the company-suggested option is the easiest to use. "This 'easy road' consisted of four clicks to get through the process, which entailed accepting personalized ads from third parties and the use of face recognition. In contrast, users who wanted to limit data collection and use had to go through 13 clicks."

dromgodis ( 4533247 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:50AM ( #56858014 )

Re:And if you optout it just makes you even more o ( Score: 5 , Informative)

You seem to be keeping your gaze too low. You are not just a target for buying stuff; you are also a target for modifying your opinion and behaviour in politics and other questions.

You can be targeted through other vectors than traditional ads, e.g. notification flows, news flows, ads-or-propaganda-disguised-as-news, product placement, insurance company policies, employability, police knocking on your door, ...

As an extreme, think China. The view we outsiders get is that if they collect the wrong data about you, they will *target* you in a way that no ad-blocker will stop.

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

Never attribute to malice ( Score: 3 ) by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @03:40AM ( #56858106 )

what can be attributed to three companies who are some of the worst offenders of screwing up general UI design.

Who the hell cares about my privacy settings when I can no longer safely use maps for navigation due to its shitty settings of minimising into a useless picture in picture everytime there's a hiccup on my phone and has removed the option to force audio output throught the speaker meaning I can't hear it with bluetooth on either.

Who the hell cares about privacy settings on a website that makes it borderline impossible to easily scroll through past messages, or whose mobile app doesn't let you post pictures because it ends up in a select picture loop.

And as for Microsoft, one word... err two words: Start Menu *raises middle finger*

triffid_98 ( 899609 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:29AM ( #56857984 )
Re: Gee, what a surprise ... ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

While Facebook is avoidable good luck avoiding Microsoft and Google if you're not a member of the zombie Steve Jobs fan club...that said, whatever they extract is far less damaging than the Equifax breach, after that I'd say cell phone carriers and all of the historical gps data they share with third parties without your consent. Just like the instigators of the 2008 global financial meltdown the penalties = zero dollars.

Raenex ( 947668 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @06:28AM ( #56858434 )
Re: Alternatives ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

You sound like a Google employee. There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath.

[Nov 12, 2018] DEA And ICE Hiding Secret Cameras In Streetlights

Modern technology makes many things possible, but it does not make them cheap... The camera needs to work in pretty adverse conditions (think about the temperature inside the light on a hot summer day, and temperature at winter) and transmit signal somewhere via WiFi (which has range less then 100m) , or special cable that needs to be installed for this particular pole. With wifi there should be many collection units which also cost money. So it make sense only for streetlights adjacent to building with Internet networking. And there are already cameras of the highway, so highways are basically covered. Which basically limits this technology to cities. Just recoding without transmission would be much cheaper (transmission on demand). Excessive paranoia here is not warranted.
Nov 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

According to new government procurement data, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have purchased an undisclosed number of secret surveillance cameras that are being hidden in streetlights across the country.

Quartz first reported this dystopian development of federal authorities stocking up on "covert systems" last week. The report showed how the DEA paid a Houston, Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. approximately $22,000 since June for "video recording and reproducing equipment." ICE paid out about $28,000 to Cowboy Streetlight Concealments during the same period.

"It's unclear where the DEA and ICE streetlight cameras have been installed, or where the next deployments will take place. ICE offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio have provided funding for recent acquisitions from Cowboy Streetlight Concealments; the DEA's most recent purchases were funded by the agency's Office of Investigative Technology, which is located in Lorton, Virginia," said Quartz.

Below is the list Of contract actions for Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. Vendor_Duns_Number: "085189089" on the Federal Procurement Database:

Christie Crawford, who co-owns Cowboy Streetlight Concealments with her husband, said she was not allowed to talk about the government contracts in detail.

"We do streetlight concealments and camera enclosures," Crawford told Quartz. "Basically, there's businesses out there that will build concealments for the government and that's what we do. They specify what's best for them, and we make it. And that's about all I can probably say."

However, she added: "I can tell you this -- things are always being watched. It doesn't matter if you're driving down the street or visiting a friend, if government or law enforcement has a reason to set up surveillance, there's great technology out there to do it."

Quartz notes that the DEA issued a solicitation for "concealments made to house network PTZ [Pan-Tilt-Zoom] camera, cellular modem, cellular compression device," last Monday. According to solicitation number D-19-ST-0037, the sole source award will go to Obsidian Integration LLC.

On November 07, the Jersey City Police Department awarded Obsidian Integration with "the purchase and delivery of a covert pole camera." Quartz said the filing did not provide much detail about the design.

It is not just streetlights the federal government wants to mount covert surveillance cameras on, it seems cameras inside traffic barrels could be heading onto America's highways in the not too distant future.

And as Quartz reported in October, the DEA operates a complex network of digital speed-display road signs that covertly scan license plates. On top of all this, Amazon has been aggressively rolling out its Rekognition facial-recognition software to law enforcement agencies and ICE, according to emails uncovered by the Project for Government Oversight.

Chad Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told Quartz that cameras in street lights have been proposed before by local governments, typically under a program called "smart" LED street light system.

"It basically has the ability to turn every streetlight into a surveillance device, which is very Orwellian to say the least," Marlow told Quartz. "In most jurisdictions, the local police or department of public works are authorized to make these decisions unilaterally and in secret. There's no public debate or oversight."

And so, as the US continues to be distracted, torn amid record political, social and economic polarization, big brother has no intention of letting the current crisis go to waste, and quietly continues on its path of transforming the US into a full-blown police and surveillance state.


wuffie , 9 minutes ago link

I previously worked for one of these types of federal agencies and to be fair, $50,000 doesn't buy a lot of video surveillance equipment at government procurement costs. The contractor doesn't just drill a hole and install a camera, they provide an entirely new streetlight head with the camera installed.

SantaClaws , 36 minutes ago link

It would be nice if they put some of this technology to work for a good cause. Maybe warning you of traffic congestion ahead. Or advising you that one of your tires will soon go flat.

Obviously that won't happen, so in the meantime, I can't wait to read next how the hackers will find a way to make this government effort go completely haywire. As if the government can't do it without any help. At least when the hackers do it, it will be funny and thorough.

21st.century , 56 minutes ago link

Besides the creepy surveillance part, some of the street light tech is interesting . lights that dim like the frozen food section - when no one is in front of the case --- RGB lighting that shows the approximate location for EMS to a 911 call ( lights that EMS can follow by color)

basic neighborhood street lights are being replaced by LED -- lights in this article.

Hey, I have street lights AND cameras on the same poles at the shop/mad scientist lab/ play house.

but- surveillance -- the wall better have these lights -- light up the border !

Oldguy05 , 1 hour ago link

This is yesteryears news. Shot Spotter has microphones that can pick up whispered conversations for 300 feet for a long time now, while triangulating any gunshot in a city...

[Nov 12, 2018] Obama s CIA Secretly Intercepted Congressional Communications About Whistleblowers

Highly recommended!
So the USA Congress operates under CIA surveillance... Due to CIA access to Saudi money the situation is probably much worse then described as CIA tried to protect both its level of influence and shadow revenue streams.
Notable quotes:
"... The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing. ..."
"... I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014 ..."
"... The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement. ..."
"... According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper." ..."
"... Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications ..."
"... CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director ..."
"... During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016. ..."
Nov 02, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson,

Newly-declassified documents show the CIA intercepted sensitive Congressional communications about intelligence community whistleblowers.

The intercepts occurred under CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The new disclosures are contained in two letters of "Congressional notification" originally written to key members of Congress in March 2014, but kept secret until now.

In the letters, then-Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough tells four key members of Congress that during "routing counterintelligence monitoring of Government computer systems," the CIA collected emails between Congressional staff and the CIA's head of whistleblowing and source protection. McCullough states that he's concerned "about the potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent 'chilling effect' that the present [counterintelligence] monitoring system might have on Intelligence Community whistleblowing."

The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing.

"Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints," McCullough states in his letters to lead Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees at the time: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia); and Representatives Michael Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland). McCullough adds that the type of monitoring that occurred was "lawful and justified for [counterintelligence] purposes" but

"I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014

The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement.

According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper."

Grassley adds that he repeated his request to declassify the letters under the Trump administration, but that Trump intelligence officials failed to respond. The documents were finally declassified this week after Grassley appealed to the new Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

History of alleged surveillance abuses

Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications. A Congressional staffer involved at the time says Clapper's response seemed to imply that if Congressional communications were "incidentally" collected by the CIA, the material would not be saved or reported up to CIA management.

"In the event of a protected disclosure by a whistleblower somehow comes to the attention of personnel responsible for monitoring user activity," Clapper wrote to Grassley and Wyden on July 25, 2014, "there is no intention for such disclosure to be reported to agency leadership under an insider threat program."

However, the newly-declassified letters indicate the opposite happened in reality with the whistleblower-related emails:

"CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director."

Clapper has previously come under fire for his 2013 testimony to Congress in which he denied that the national Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Weeks later, Clapper's statement was proven false by material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016.

"Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them."

Clapper has repeatedly denied lying, and said that any incorrect information he provided was due to misunderstandings or mistakes.

Clapper and Brennan have also acknowledged taking part in the controversial practice of "unmasking" the protected names of U.S. citizens - including people connected to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump - whose communications were "incidentally" captured in US counterintelligence operations. Unmaskings within the US intelligence community are supposed to be extremely rare and only allowed under carefully justified circumstances. This is to protect the privacy rights of American citizens. But it's been revealed that Obama officials requested unmaskings on a near daily basis during the election year of 2016.

Clapper and Brennan have said their activities were lawful and not politically motivated. Both men have become vocal critics of President Trump.

* * *

Order the New York Times bestseller "The Smear" today online or borrow from your library


Keter , 5 hours ago link

"ah, ah, ah, em, not intentionally." Clapper - ROFL

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Can you imagine what kind of place the US would have been under Clinton?!!!!!!

All the illegality, spying, conniving, dirty tricks, arcancides, selling us out to the highest bidder and full on attack against our Constitution would be in full swing!

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

When intel entities can operate unimpeded and un-monitored, it spells disaster for everyone and everything outside that parameter. Their operations go unnoticed until some stray piece of information exposes them. There are many facilities that need to be purged and audited, but since this activity goes on all over the world, there is little to stop it. Even countries that pledge allegiance and cooperation are blindsiding their allies with bugs, taps, blackmails, and other crimes. Nobody trusts nobody, and that's a horrid fact to contend with in an 'advanced' civilization.

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Almost sounds like the Praetorian guard?

The real power behind the throne.

Rhys12 , 10 hours ago link

Forget the political parties. When the intelligence agencies spy on everyone, they know all about politicians of both parties before they ever win office, and make sure they have enough over them to control them. They were asleep at the switch when Trump won, because no one, including them, believed he would ever win. Hillary was their candidate, the State Department is known overseas as "the political arm of the CIA". They were furious when she lost, hence the circus ever since.

iAmerican10 , 11 hours ago link

From its founding by the Knights of Malta the JFK&MLK-assassinating, with Mossad 9/11-committing CIA has been the Vatican's US Fifth Column action branch, as are the FBI and NSA: with an institutional hiring preference for Roman Catholic "altared boy" closet-queen psychopaths "because they're practiced at keeping secrets."

Think perverts Strzok, Brennan, and McCabe "licked it off the wall?"

Smi1ey , 11 hours ago link

We need to bring back FOIA.

Too much secrecy.

And how is that Pentagon audit doing, btw?

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

I agree with you 100%. Problem is, tons of secret technology and information have been passed out to the private sector. And the private sector is not bound to the FOIA requests, therefore neutralizing the obligation for government to disclose classified material. They sidestepped their own policies to cooperate with corrupt MIC contractors, and recuse themselves from disclosing incriminating evidence.

archie bird , 12 hours ago link

Everyone knows that spying runs in the fam. 44th potus Mom and Gma BOTH. An apple doesn't fall from the tree. If ppl only knew the true depth of the evil and corruption we would be in the hospital with a heart attack. Gilded age is here and has been, since our democracy was hijacked (McCain called it an intervention) back in 1963. Unfortunately it started WAY back before then when (((they))) stole everything with the installation of the Fed.

Dornier27 , 15 hours ago link

The FBI and CIA have long since slipped the controls of Congress and the Constitution. President Trump should sign an executive order after the mid terms and stand down at least the FBI and subject the CIA to a senate investigation.

America needs new agencies that are accountable to the peoples elected representatives.

greasyknees , 16 hours ago link

Not news. The CIA likely has had access to any and all electronic communication for at least a decade.

Lord JT , 19 hours ago link

what? clapper and brennan being dirty hacks behind the scenes while parading around as patriots? say it aint so!

Racin Rabitt , 20 hours ago link

A determined care has been used to cultivate in D.C., a system that swiftly decapitates the whistleblowers. Resulting in an increasingly subservient cadre of civil servants who STHU and play ostrich, or drool at what scraps are about to roll off the master's table as the slide themselves into a better position, taking advantage to sell vice, weapons, and slaves.

Westcoastliberal , 21 hours ago link

What the hell does the CIA have to do with ANYTHING in the United States? Aren't they limited to OUTSIDE the U.S.? So why would they be involved in domestic communications for anything? These clowns need to be indicted for TREASON!

5onIt , 22 hours ago link

Clapper and Brennan, Brennan and Clapper. These two guys are the damn devil.

It makes me ill.

MuffDiver69 , 22 hours ago link

I'll take " Police State" for five hundred Alex

[Nov 10, 2018] CIA's 'Surveillance State' is Operating Against US

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

BM , Nov 10, 2018 5:56:10 AM | link

Whilst on the topic of ISIS, here is an article about its mother-concern, CIA:

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/11/09/cia-surveillance-state-operating-against-us-all.html
CIA's 'Surveillance State' is Operating Against US All

On two declassified letters from 2014 from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (didn't know there was one, but doesn't do much good anyway, it seems, read further) to the chairpersons of the House and Senate intelligence committees notifying them that the CIA has been monitoring emails between the CIA's head of the whistleblowing and source protection and Congressional. "Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints". Shows why Edward Snowdon didn't consider it appropriate to rely on internal complaints proceedures. This while under the leadership of seasoned liars and criminals Brennan and Clapper, of course.

It clearly shows a taste of what these buggers have to hide, and why they went to such extraordinary lengths as Russiagate to cover it all up and save their skins - that of course being the real reason behind Russiagate as I have said several times, nothing to do with either Trump or Russia.

guidoamm , Nov 10, 2018 1:32:52 AM | link

And there is this too of course:

Pentagon Fake Al Qaeda Propaganda

Anton Worter , Nov 10, 2018 12:39:39 AM | link
@4

OWS was a Controlled-Dissent operation, sending poor students north to fecklessly march on Wall Street when they could have shut down WADC, and sending wealthy seniors south to fecklessly line Pennsylvania Avenue, when they could have shut down Wall Street.

Both I$I$, and Hamas, and Antifa et al are all Controlled Dissent operations. The followers are duped, are used, abused and then abandoned by honey-pots put there by Central Intelligence, at least since the Spanish Civil War.

That's why MoA articles like this one make you wonder, just who is conning whom, at a time when the Internet is weaponized, when Google Assistant achieved AI awareness indistinguishable from anyone on the phone, China TV has launched a virtual AI news reporter indistinguishable from reality, and Stanford can audio-video a captured image of anyone as well as their voice intonation, then 3D model them, in real time, reading and emoting from a script, indistinguishable from reality, ...and then this.

Another Gift of Trust😂 brought to you by Scientocracy. Be sure to tithe your AI bot, or word will get back to Chairman Albertus, then you'll be called in to confess your thought crimes to the Green Cadre, itself another Controlled Dissent honeypot, in a Tithe-for-Credits Swindle.

I tell my kids, just enjoy life, live it large, and get ready for hell. It's coming for breakfast.

[Nov 10, 2018] Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Harry Law , Nov 10, 2018 9:11:40 AM | link

Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine, take this Pompeo rant against Iran and the Iranian response......

Asking of Pompeo "have you no shame?", Zarif mocked Pompeo's praise for the Saudis for "providing millions and millions of dollars of humanitarian relief" to Yemen, saying America's "butcher clients" were spending billions of dollars bombing school buses. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a statement lashing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his recent comments on the Yemen War. Discussing the US-backed Saudi invasion of Yemen, Pompeo declared Iran to be to blame for the death and destruction in the country. https://news.antiwar.com/2018/11/09/iran-fm-slams-pompeo-for-blaming-yemen-war-on-iran/

The US way of looking at things supposes that up is down, and white is black, it makes no sense, unless the US hopes these provocations will lead to a war or at the very least Russia or Iran capitulating to US aggression, which will not happen. Sanctions by the US on all and sundry must be opposed, if not the US will claim justifiably to be the worlds policeman and the arbiter of who will trade with who, a ludicrous proposition but one that most governments are afraid is now taking place, witness the new US ambassador to Germany in his first tweet telling the Germans to cease all trade with Iran immediately.

https://www.thelocal.de/20180509/us-tells-german-businesses-to-stop-trade-in-iran-immediately

[Nov 10, 2018] A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the "fingerprints" of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices

Notable quotes:
"... The "leaving of fake fingerprints" (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Arabic) is done by Marble Framework software, details of which was leaked by CIA programmer, Joshua Adam Schulte to Wikileaks and formed part of the "Vault 7" series. It means that no fingerprint evidence can ever be relied on ever again. ..."
Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
the pair , Nov 9, 2018 5:38:46 PM | link

Jackrabbit , Nov 9, 2018 4:15:30 PM | link

WikiLeaks: CIA hacking group 'UMBRAGE' stockpiled techniques from other hackers

A division of the Central Intelligence Agency stockpiled hacking techniques culled from other hackers, giving the agency the ability to leave behind the "fingerprints" of the outside hackers when it broke into electronic devices ...

"With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types, but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the 'fingerprints' of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from," Wikileaks said in a statement.

https://github.com/ElevenPaths/Eternalblue-Doublepulsar-Metasploit

https://www.cybrary.it/0p3n/hack-windows-eternalblue-exploit-metasploit/

use these and you're automagically in the NSA. download the stuxnet binary and you're an instant israeli.

https://thehiddenbay.com/torrent/6169094/stuxnet_binaries

that anonymous NSA guy is either lying or too stupid to do his job. " it's that simple ".

fireeye are scam artists just like crowdstrike. it's not that they don't know tactics and methods; i'm sure they know their way around a payload. that doesn't make them some tabula rasa blank slate without an agenda. just because they use computers doesn't mean they're robots.

as anyone who works in a business run by technologically "challenged" bosses knows, for every fast talker throwing around techy terms and sounding like a mr. robot script there are 20 idiot CEOs willing to throw money at imaginary problems. ditto the government. meanwhile shysters like stratfor and hbgary get reamed by high school graduates running linux on a netbook from 2003.

as for the attributions, they fail a basic "cui bono" test. i guess the russians wanted to make rapist beheaders look bad by DDoSing some servers? they wanted to give cred to the apes who shoot at their advisors in syria? okay. sure.


Peter AU 1 , Nov 9, 2018 5:41:51 PM | link

Red Ryder 5

Back around 2014 15 Charles Lister listed himself as a consultant to the Shaikh Group.
Shaik Group have a media marketing section in Dubai. http://theshaikhgroup.ae

https://foreignpolicy.com/author/charles-lister/
Charles Lister is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and a senior consultant to The Shaikh Group's Track II Syria Dialogue Initiative. Follow him on Twitter at: @Charles_Lister.

http://www.mei.edu/experts/charles-lister
Charles Lister is a senior fellow and Director of the Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program at the Middle East Institute. His work focuses primarily on the conflict in Syria, including as a member of the MEI-convened Syria Study Group; and on issues of terrorism and insurgency across the Levant. Prior to this, Lister was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Qatar and a Senior Consultant to the multinationally-backed Syria Track II Dialogue Initiative, where he managed nearly three years of intensive face-to-face engagement with the leaderships of over 100 Syrian armed opposition groups.

I have thought that ISIS studios were based in Dubai or Doha.

Palloy , Nov 9, 2018 5:48:39 PM | link
IP addresses can only be attributed to individuals/offices/locations with the assistance of the owner of the IP block of addresses, typically an ISP. The GRU's ISP would NOT help identify the GRU, obviously, so all such attributions are fake and those who claim to know are liars.

The "leaving of fake fingerprints" (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Arabic) is done by Marble Framework software, details of which was leaked by CIA programmer, Joshua Adam Schulte to Wikileaks and formed part of the "Vault 7" series. It means that no fingerprint evidence can ever be relied on ever again.

karlof1 , Nov 9, 2018 5:50:25 PM | link

DPRK needs to be included by b along with Russia for many of the same reasons as this example attests . And while we're at it, China should join the group too. Indeed, the CIA/NSA is likely responsible for most hacking, particularly when monies are stolen as the linked article reports. As the Outlaw US Empire slowly dissolves into a pool of its own exceptional ugliness, it will blame everyone and anyone to cover its crimes. Then there's the small battalion of slimy zombie trolls CIA/NSA employs that infest this site. They promote one of the Outlaw US Empire's most important values--lying about everything under the sun for a Few Dollars More while throwing the citizenry that makes their living possible under the bus.

V , Nov 9, 2018 10:00:08 PM | link
Now, more than ever; the US needs a very capable adversary and where none exists, the US will create one, as history has shown. Russia has historical presidence, making it convenient.
However, as events are unfolding, China will come to the fore; Russia will move to second place.
But, two adversaries are far better than one, for getting the flow of cash to support the Potemkin moment...
Cyberundertakers , Nov 9, 2018 10:19:09 PM | link
I would wager that such hacking points towards Israel rather than a group of paid-for head choppers hailing from the medieval Saudi.
Anton Worter , Nov 10, 2018 12:39:39 AM | link
4

OWS was a Controlled-Dissent operation, sending poor students north to fecklessly march on Wall Street when they could have shut down WADC, and sending wealthy seniors south to fecklessly line Pennsylvania Avenue, when they could have shut down Wall Street.

Both I$I$, and Hamas, and Antifa et al are all Controlled Dissent operations. The followers are duped, are used, abused and then abandoned by honey-pots put there by Central Intelligence, at least since the Spanish Civil War.

That's why MoA articles like this one make you wonder, just who is conning whom, at a time when the Internet is weaponized, when Google Assistant achieved AI awareness indistinguishable from anyone on the phone, China TV has launched a virtual AI news reporter indistinguishable from reality, and Stanford can audio-video a captured image of anyone as well as their voice intonation, then 3D model them, in real time, reading and emoting from a script, indistinguishable from reality, ...and then this.

Another Gift of Trust brought to you by Scientocracy. Be sure to tithe your AI bot, or word will get back to Chairman Albertus, then you'll be called in to confess your thought crimes to the Green Cadre, itself another Controlled Dissent honeypot, in a Tithe-for-Credits Swindle.

I tell my kids, just enjoy life, live it large, and get ready for hell. It's coming for breakfast.

guidoamm , Nov 10, 2018 1:32:52 AM | link
And there is this too of course:

Pentagon Fake Al Qaeda Propaganda

Peter AU 1 , Nov 10, 2018 1:33:45 AM | link
There is big money in prostitution. None of the robot dolls I have seen in the various media reports on robot brothels look lifelike, whereas the Chinese anchor looks very much like a human with a voice-over. Will see how this develops, but at the moment it looks very much like Lavrov style satire.

[Nov 08, 2018] Ed Snowden Infamous Israeli Spyware 'Pegasus' Helped Kill Khashoggi

Nov 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Via MiddleEastMonitor.com,

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden yesterday claimed that Saudi Arabia used Israeli spyware to target murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi .

Addressing a conference in Tel Aviv via a video link, Snowden claimed that software made by an Israeli cyber intelligence firm was used by Saudi Arabia to track and target Khashoggi in the lead up to his murder on 2 October inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Snowden told his audience:

"How do they [Saudi Arabia] know what his [Khashoggi's] plans were and that they needed to act against him? That knowledge came from the technology developed by NSO," Israeli business daily Globes reported.

Snowden accused NSO of "selling a digital burglary tool," adding it "is not just being used for catching criminals and stopping terrorist attacks, not just for saving lives, but for making money [ ] such a level of recklessness [ ] actually starts costing lives," according to the Jerusalem Post .

Snowden – made famous in 2013 for leaking classified National Security Agency (NSA) files and exposing the extent of US surveillance – added that "Israel is routinely at the top of the US' classified threat list of hackers along with Russia and China [ ] even though it is an ally".

Snowden is wanted in the US for espionage, so could not travel to Tel Aviv to address the conference in person for fear of being handed over to the authorities.

The Israeli firm to which Snowden referred – NSO Group Technologies – is known for developing the "Pegasus" software which can be used to remotely infect a target's mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device. Although NSO claims that its products "are licensed only to legitimate government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terror," this is not the first time its Pegasus software has been used by Saudi Arabia to track critics.

In October it was revealed that Saudi Arabia used Pegasus software to eavesdrop on 27-year-old Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent critic of the Saudi government on social media.

The revelation was made by Canadian research group Citizen Lab , which found that the software had been used to hack Abdulaziz' iPhone between June and August of this year. Citizen Lab's Director Ron Deibert explained that such actions by Saudi Arabia "would constitute illegal wiretapping".

A separate report by Citizen Lab in September found a "significant expansion of Pegasus usage in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Middle East," in particular the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Citizen Lab added that in August 2016, Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor was targeted with the Pegasus spyware.

Snowden's comments come less than a week after it emerged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the United States to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) in the wake of the Khashoggi case. The revelation was made by the Washington Post , which cited information from US officials familiar with a series of telephone conversations made to Jared Kushner – senior advisor to President Donald Trump and Trump's son-in-law – and National Security Adviser John Bolton regarding the Khashoggi case. The officials told the Post that:

In recent days, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reached out to the Trump administration to express support for the crown prince, arguing that he is an important strategic partner in the region, said people familiar with the calls.

Bin Salman has come under intense scrutiny in the month since Khashoggi first disappeared , with many suspecting his involvement in ordering the brutal murder. Yet while several world leaders have shunned the crown prince, it is thought that Israel would suffer from any decline in Saudi influence in the region in light of its purportedly central role in the upcoming " Deal of the Century ".

[Nov 06, 2018] Edward Snowden Says a Report Critical To an NSA Lawsuit Is Authentic

Nov 06, 2018 | yro.slashdot.org

(techcrunch.com) 36 BeauHD on Monday November 05, 2018 @07:30PM from the he-said-she-said dept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: An unexpected declaration by whistleblower Edward Snowden filed in court [last] week adds a new twist in a long-running lawsuit against the NSA's surveillance programs. The case, filed by the EFF a decade ago , seeks to challenge the government's alleged illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of Americans, who are largely covered under the Fourth Amendment's protections against warrantless searches and seizures. It's a big step forward for the case, which had stalled largely because the government refused to confirm that a leaked document was authentic or accurate. News of the surveillance broke in 2006 when an AT&T technician Mark Klein revealed that the NSA was tapping into AT&T's network backbone. He alleged that a secret, locked room -- dubbed Room 641A -- in an AT&T facility in San Francisco where he worked was one of many around the U.S. used by the government to monitor communications -- domestic and overseas. President George W. Bush authorized the NSA to secretly wiretap Americans' communications shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Much of the EFF's complaint relied on Klein's testimony until 2013, when Snowden, a former NSA contractor, came forward with new revelations that described and detailed the vast scope of the U.S. government's surveillance capabilities, which included participation from other phone giants -- including Verizon (TechCrunch's parent company). Snowden's signed declaration, filed on October 31 , confirms that one of the documents he leaked , which the EFF relied heavily on for its case, is an authentic draft document written by the then-NSA inspector general in 2009 , which exposed concerns about the legality of the Bush's warrantless surveillance program -- Stellar Wind -- particularly the collection of bulk email records on Americans. "I read its contents carefully during my employment," he said in his declaration. "I have a specific and strong recollection of this document because it indicated to me that the government had been conducting illegal surveillance."

[Nov 05, 2018] Stay In That Good Fight Retired Green Beret Urges Americans To Stand Up To The Globalists

Nov 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

The actions that are taken are a three-pronged attack in order to foster in global governance, and they are as such:

  1. Create ubiquitous electronic surveillance with unlimited police power
  2. Throw the entire earth into an economic tailspin
  3. Destroy all nationalism, national borders, and create chaos among all nations prior to an "incendiary event" or series of actions that leads to a world war.

The world war is the most important part of it all, in the eyes of the globalists. The Great Depression culminated in a world war, and periods of economic upheaval are always followed by wars.

... ... ...

Every word here is recorded by XKeyscore mine and yours and stored in the NSA database in Utah, under a file for "dissenters," "agitators," and every other descriptive label that can be thought of for those who champion critical thought and independent thinking. Every conservative-minded journalist or writer who dares to espouse these views and theories is being recorded and kept under some kind of watch. You can be certain of it . Many are either shutting down or "knuckling under" and complying.

The globalists are getting what they wish: consolidating the resources while they "tank" the fiat economies and currencies of the nations. They are destroying cultures who just a mere two centuries ago would have armed their entire male populaces with swords and sent invaders either packing or in pieces.

They are destroying cultures by making them question themselves ! The greatest tactic imaginable!

I submit this last for your perusal. Do you know who you are? The question is not just as simple as it seems. Let's delve deeply. Do you really know who you are, where your family originates? Your heritage, and its strengths and weaknesses? Is that heritage yours, along with your heritage as an American citizen? It is not important that I, or others should know of these strengths not at this moment in time. The world war is yet to come. As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true." This is important for you to know it and hold fast to it. We are in the decline of the American nation-now-empire.

When the dust settles, you'll know who will run with the ball even with three blockers against them and will manage to slip the tackles or forearm shiver them in the face, outside of the ref's eye, to run that ball in. The Marquis of Queensbury is dead, and those rules will go out the window. When the dust settles, those who had the foresight and acted on it will be the ones who will be given a gift: a chance to participate in what is to come. Stay in that good fight, and fight it to win each day.

[Nov 02, 2018] CIA Vault7 Leaker To Be Charged For Leaking More Classified Data While in Prison

Nov 02, 2018 | yro.slashdot.org

CIA material to WikiLeaks , in what later become known as the Vault7 leaks. From a report: According to new court documents filed late Wednesday, October 31, US prosecutors plan to file three new charges against Joshua Schulte for allegedly leaking more classified data while in detention at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) . Prosecutors say they first learned of Schulte's behavior back in May, when they found out that "Schulte had distributed the Protected Search Warrant Materials to his family members for purposes of dissemination to other third parties, including members of the media." The prosecution held a court hearing in May and initially warned the suspect about his actions, a warning they found Schulte ignored. The US government says that "in or about early October 2018, the Government learned that Schulte was using one or more smuggled contraband cellphones to communicate clandestinely with third parties outside of the MCC." A search of his housing unit performed by FBI agents revealed "multiple contraband cellphones (including at least one cellphone used by Schulte that is protected with significant encryption); approximately 13 email and social media accounts (including encrypted email accounts); and other electronic devices."

[Oct 28, 2018] A low-altitude persistent-loitering traffic-monitoring drone.

Oct 28, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Anton Worter , Oct 27, 2018 3:32:36 PM | link

If memory serves, there is a no-schrapnel waxed-cardboard version of an RPG available for non-armored targets. When I saw the Hastings crime scene, I saw the rear of the burning car blown out by that RPG, and *then* Hastings crashed into the tree at an impossible angle, instinctively power-sliding from what he must have assumed was a truck had just slammed into his right rear quarter-panel. Don't be Michael Hastings. Don't be Robert Bowers, for that matter, lol. The US-UK-IL-KSA mugwumps!

And that's why we will never have autonomous private vehicles. They are just using taxpaying citizens as beta-testers for an autonomous Deep-Purple Mil.Gov UniParty global police state.

By pure coincidence at a business-club dinner last night, I sat next to a military subcontractor with Chinese connectiins, an import license and a Made-in-USA final assembly warehouse. He is developing a low-altitude persistent-loitering traffic-monitoring drone. He was in Bellevue to meet with the coders. It would be used with the HOV lane high resolution cameras and real-time facial-recognition software, to identify speeders' names, vehicles and addresses for first-deployment ... but can just as easily operate in reverse to find a target and confirm-identify the front-seat passengers, then paint a laser target on the vehicle as it wings down the freeway, waiting for an open area Hastings-esque hellfire denouement.

Prolly for MENA. Prolly A-OK, Joe. Nothing to see here, citizen. E pluribus now get back to work. Pence's latest $1/4-TRILLION nuclear ICBM upgrade program awards soon, and we're gonna need those tithe-tributes!

[Oct 28, 2018] WikiLeaks' Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity by Mark Curtis

Notable quotes:
"... Save WikiLeaks is vilified by governments (and increasingly by journalists) for its exposures, including of the U.S.-UK "special relationship" in running a joint foreign policy of deception and violence that serves London and Washington's elite interests, says Mark Curtis. ..."
"... Middle East Eye ..."
"... A cable the following year shows the lengths to which Whitehall goes to defend the special relationship from public scrutiny. Just as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War was beginning in 2009, Whitehall promised Washington that it had "put measures in place to protect your interests". ..."
"... The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British government duplicity of the kind I've extensively come across in my own research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him. ..."
"... However, Wikileaks files released in 2016 as part of its Hillary Clinton archive show William Burns, then the U.S. deputy secretary of state, having talked with now Foreign Secretary Hague about a "post-Qaddafi" Libya . This was more than three weeks before military operations began. The intention was clearly to overthrow Gaddafi, and the UN resolution about protecting civilians was simply window dressing. ..."
"... (U.S. Air Force photo) ..."
"... Cables show the US spying on the Foreign Office and collecting information on British ministers. Soon after the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, U.S. officials were briefing the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about rumors that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully, and on " the state of his marriage. " ..."
"... In addition, Wikileaks cables reveal that journalists and the public are considered legitimate targets of UK intelligence operations. In October 2009, Joint Services Publication 440 , a 2,400-page restricted document written in 2001 by the Ministry of Defence, was leaked. Somewhat ironically, it contained instructions for the security services on to avid leaks of information by hackers , journalists and foreign spies. ..."
"... (New Media Days / Peter Erichsen) ..."
Oct 28, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

WikiLeaks' Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity October 27, 2018 • 7 Comments

Save WikiLeaks is vilified by governments (and increasingly by journalists) for its exposures, including of the U.S.-UK "special relationship" in running a joint foreign policy of deception and violence that serves London and Washington's elite interests, says Mark Curtis.

By Mark Curtis
Middle East Eye

Twelve years ago this month, WikiLeaks began publishing government secrets that the world public might otherwise never have known. What it has revealed about state duplicity, human rights abuses and corruption goes beyond anything published in the world's "mainstream" media.

After over six months of being cut off from outside world, on 14 October 14 Ecuador has partly restored Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's communications with the outside world from its London embassy where the founder has been living for over six years. (Assange, however, later rejected Ecuador's restrictions imposed on him.)

The treatment – real and threatened – meted out to Assange by the U.S. and UK governments contrasts sharply with the service Wikileaks has done their publics in revealing the nature of elite power, as shown in the following snapshot of Wikileaks' revelations about British foreign policy in the Middle East.

Conniving with the Saudis

Whitehall's special relationship with Riyadh is exposed in an extraordinary cable from 2013 highlighting how Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure both states were elected to the UN human rights council. Britain initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support.

Hague: 'World needs pro-American regime' in Britain. (Chatham House)

The Wikileaks releases also shed details on Whitehall's fawning relationship with Washington. A 2008 cable , for example, shows then shadow foreign secretary William Hague telling the U.S. embassy that the British "want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it."

A cable the following year shows the lengths to which Whitehall goes to defend the special relationship from public scrutiny. Just as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War was beginning in 2009, Whitehall promised Washington that it had "put measures in place to protect your interests".

American Influence

It is not known what this protection amounted to, but no U.S. officials were called to give evidence to Chilcot in public. The inquiry was also refused permission to publish letters between former U.S. President George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair written in the run-up to the war.

Also in 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown raised the prospect of reducing the number of British nuclear-armed Trident submarines from four to three, a policy opposed in Washington. However, Julian Miller, an official in the UK's Cabinet Office, privately assured U.S. officials that his government "would consult with the U.S. regarding future developments concerning the Trident deterrent to assure there would be 'no daylight' between the U.S. and UK." The idea that British decision-making on Trident is truly independent of the U.S. is undermined by this cable.

The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British government duplicity of the kind I've extensively come across in my own research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him.

However, Wikileaks files released in 2016 as part of its Hillary Clinton archive show William Burns, then the U.S. deputy secretary of state, having talked with now Foreign Secretary Hague about a "post-Qaddafi" Libya . This was more than three weeks before military operations began. The intention was clearly to overthrow Gaddafi, and the UN resolution about protecting civilians was simply window dressing.

Another case of British duplicity concerns Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which is now a major U.S. base for intervention in the Middle East. The UK has long fought to prevent Chagos islanders from returning to their homeland after forcibly removing them in the 1960s.

A secret 2009 cable shows that a particular ruse concocted by Whitehall to promote this was the establishment of a " marine reserve " around the islands. A senior Foreign Office official told the US that the "former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve."

A B-1B Lancer unleashes cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to operate without the need for ground-based navigation aids. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A week before the "marine reserve" proposal was made to the U.S. in May 2009, then UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband was also conniving with the U.S., apparently to deceive the public. A cable reveals Miliband helping the U.S. to sidestep a ban on cluster bombs and keep the weapons at U.S. bases on UK soil, despite Britain signing the international treaty banning the weapons the previous year.

Miliband approved a loophole created by diplomats to allow U.S. cluster bombs to remain on UK soil and was part of discussions on how the loophole would help avert a debate in Parliament that could have "complicated or muddied" the issue. Critically, the same cable also revealed that the U.S. was storing cluster munitions on ships based at Diego Garcia.

Spying on the UK

Cables show the US spying on the Foreign Office and collecting information on British ministers. Soon after the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, U.S. officials were briefing the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about rumors that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully, and on " the state of his marriage. "

Washington was also shown to have been spying on the UK mission to the UN, along with other members of the Security Council and the UN Secretary General.

In addition, Wikileaks cables reveal that journalists and the public are considered legitimate targets of UK intelligence operations. In October 2009, Joint Services Publication 440 , a 2,400-page restricted document written in 2001 by the Ministry of Defence, was leaked. Somewhat ironically, it contained instructions for the security services on to avid leaks of information by hackers , journalists and foreign spies.

Millions worldwide are demanding the release of Wikileaks founder Assange after six years of what the UN calls "arbitrary detention." (New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

The document refers to investigative journalists as "threats" alongside subversive and terrorist organizations, noting that "the 'enemy' is unwelcome publicity of any kind, and through any medium."

Britain's GCHQ is also revealed to have spied on Wikileaks itself – and its readers. One classified GCHQ document from 2012 shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly collect the IP addresses of visitors to the Wikileaks site in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines such as Google.

Championing Free Nedua

The British government is punishing Assange for the service that Wikileaks has performed. It is ignoring a UN ruling that he is being held in " arbitrary detention " at the Ecuadorian embassy, while failing, illegally, to ensure his health needs are met. Whitehall is also refusing to offer diplomatic assurances that Assange will not be extradited to the US – the only reason he remains in the embassy.

Smear campaigns have portrayed Assange as a sexual predator or a Russian agent, often in the same media that have benefitted from covering Wikileaks' releases.

Many journalists and activists who are perfectly aware of the fake news in some Western media outlets, and of the smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn , are ignoring or even colluding in the more vicious smearing of Assange.

More journalists need to champion the service Wikileaks performs and argue for what is at stake for a free media in the right to expose state secrets.

This article originally appeared on Middle East Eye.

Mark Curtis is an historian and analyst of UK foreign policy and international development and the author of six books, the latest being an updated edition of Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam.

[Oct 27, 2018] I very much want to stop using Amazon, but where's the alternative?

Notable quotes:
"... I buy less, and I buy better ..."
Oct 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Are Wal-mart or ebay any better? Do they provide less information to the national security establishment? .

Seamus Padraig , October 27, 2018 at 7:45 am

I very much want to stop using Amazon, but where's the alternative? Does anybody here know of a good work-around? I already avoid Google by using DuckDuckGo, and I am in the process of shifting my Fakebook stuff to VK. But what alternative to Amazon exists?

Louis Fyne , October 27, 2018 at 9:14 am

there are alternatives, brick/mortars, ebay, jet.com, a brand's own website, etc. you could even go to alibaba and import all the stuff you need by the pallet.

The issue is alternatives that don't cost more. Acting on one's principles has a price.

Amazon's $25 free shipping (for non-Prime customers, free 2-day for Prime) on everything it sells/fulfills is really tough to be beat. Impossible on heavy and/or bulky items.

That's Amazon's secret weapon (anti-competitive monopolistic behavior).

Using its profits from its AWS cloud services arm to subsidize its retail arm.

Who would've predicted in 1999 that a bookseller would be one of the biggest players in internet infrastructure?

cnchal , October 27, 2018 at 9:40 am

> I very much want to stop using Amazon, . . . But what alternative to Amazon exists?

So helpless in the face of a totalitarian nightmare? Go to a store and use cash that you have never used a credit card at.

I see a facial recognition arms race in the making, where it starts off with the peasants wearing funny hats with dangly frills hanging down from the brim, with the end point being total face masks with sun glasses and putting a pebble into alternate shoes when in public.

Unless Bezos and the police decide doing that is illegal.

danpaco , October 27, 2018 at 11:49 am

The banning of the niqab/burka is the first step to making it illegal.

ChiGal in Carolina , October 27, 2018 at 3:01 pm

What's the pebble for?

lambert strether , October 27, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Gait can be used to identify you

Quanka , October 27, 2018 at 9:55 am

You have to go cold turkey. It will force you to find better retailers, but they exist and can be found. I dropped AMZ cold a couple years ago – I think its the only way. The way I think about it is that post-Amazon, I buy less, and I buy better . Most of the items I purchased on Amazon previously are gone now. The stuff I buy from other retailers directly is higher quality and lasts.

I live in a urban environment, so easier for me than someone in a rural area.

Scott1 , October 27, 2018 at 3:26 pm

You are right about that, that it is easier to not be using Amazon in an urban place. In the small town I live in places have been disappearing. Well I particularly miss Radio Shack.

Then I'm a hypocrite in that I self published using Amazon's KDP & Createspace. Createspace people on the phone were simply awesome. It is just gone now. I knew it was too good to last. My stuff is apparently still for sale, but I can't find in the system where everything was "migrated" the list of what I did and what may or may not have sold. I can't buy my own books in fact.

Amazon has become such a monopoly that they really can be lazy.
At various times in my life I have fit every damned profile, the "Shed Man" profile, yeah, I fit that one. But you know that laziness doesn't mean you are protected from them. Some political group becomes outraged at your group and BlamO, you and everyone else is rounded up and shot at the lip of a ditch. They know enough.

It is books from which the ideas come and collect evidence of your being so it is less the wonder that Amazon became so powerful. Sure you may know how to make arrows and be a great hunter for the tribe, but you are the ideas from being raised on the stories of the tribe more than just an arrow maker. If you read all the books in my reading list you'd think about things from the same viewpoint aye?

Old hippie? Well the thing is you discover who you are and want to declare it, for some reason, probably so you won't feel alone. I was truly shocked to discover I was a Beat, for instance.

Merf , October 27, 2018 at 9:57 am

We go to actual stores – remember them? Like people did for a couple of hundred plus years. Not chains or big box either. Many deliver even if they do not advertise it. An aquaintance is wheelchair bound and she asked our local natural foods store if they deliver and they said not rountinely but for people who cannot get out we certainly will. You must ask. If I cannot get it at a local store we generally do without. It's not that hard. If you are too busy you need to eliminate something you are doing. No one is forcing you online.

oh , October 27, 2018 at 9:59 am

If you do a search for any item you want to buy you will get many hits on other sellers, not just amazon. In many cases the prices at other sites are cheaper than amazon, Yes, there are so many alternatives but you just have to look for them.

One more thing, Amazon hangs on to your credit card details!

ChiGal in Carolina , October 27, 2018 at 2:47 pm

All online retailers do if you let them. Always check out as a guest, NEVER let them (or your browser, which will ask in a pop up) keep your payment info. I think you can't prevent them from knowing your unique device identifier but don't let them retain anything else.

Like not using Amazon, it's a little more inconvenient to have to enter your data every time, but remember, it's YOUR data and that's the only way to hang onto it.

Since Amazon dominates search results even on DDG, I may look at products on their site but then I go to the actual manufacturer or any other store but Walmart–also on my do not touch list for probably over a decade.

I don't have a lot of money and I do tend to buy "quality", but as someone above said, I just get less stuff!

We are not yet COMPLETELY helpless in the face of the surveillance state and once they freeze our accounts and declare cash worthless, we are all Handmaids, but until then the choice to value freedom or convenience lies entirely within our control.

ambrit , October 27, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Along with Handmaids, there are also Valkyries.
Be strong.

lyman alpha blob , October 27, 2018 at 10:54 am

If you are actually serious with this question, and it's kind of hard to believe that you are, then I will reiterate what others have said – they have these things called stores now.

lambert strether , October 27, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Four hour round trip to the mall, three hour round trip to the hardware store.

Of course, I don't own a car

kgw , October 27, 2018 at 8:25 am

All your portals belong to us!! The Über Portal!!

Hat tip to Admiral Poindexter -- all hail!

https://www.villagevoice.com/2002/12/17/the-death-of-operation-tips/

thoughtful person , October 27, 2018 at 8:36 am

It's more work, but you can find the same items from different vendors, in most cases at the same price. That's not counting the value to you of making the predictive data base on your future behavior a bit less accurate.

I've stopped using a kindle and never would take notes with one.

Used bookstores are highly recommended imo.

Linda Amick , October 27, 2018 at 8:54 am

I never use Amazon. When buying items online I google the item or description and perform comparison shopping. Over the years I have found that Amazon does NOT offer the best price AND many times the competitor also offers free shipping.

Annieb , October 27, 2018 at 8:55 am

Well, there are those weird old things, you know, stores. Sometimes not so convenient to be sure. Sometimes items are difficult to source, but Internet can be useful there! Also, second hand stores. And,libraries! I guess I'm lucky to live near a good one. In the broader picture, one can just stop buying it. Literally. I often look around my home and ask myself, how did I end up with all this stuff?

tegnost , October 27, 2018 at 9:41 am

and then there's this to add to the pile
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/microsoft-president-brad-smith-defends-companys-work-with-u-s-military/
Seattle times commenters are some of the meanest people you'll ever encounter, particularly when talking about the homeless, but in this case it's all about money money money

Hepativore , October 27, 2018 at 10:51 am

I have found a work-around for Google Play for downloading apps to my device. It is called the Yalp Store. It works by tricking Google that you are "signed in" and so it lets you download apps that are free on the Google store through a generic account through a backdoor without handing Google any information whatsoever. You can get it on the F-Droid app repository for android devices.

I have tried to minimize my contact with Google, Amazon, and Facebook as possible. I have never had a Facebook account, and I buy several-year-old smartphones for cheap on eBay and then instal LineageOS on them to get rid of Google and its bloatware.

The trouble is, many apps that are useful are only available through Google play or Amazon. There is also the fact that buying things that are rare or foreign are not always easy to find in local brick and mortar stores, so you often have no choice. There is eBay, but I would rather buy the them outright rather than be forced to bid on it and wait for days only to be beaten by "snipers" who sneak in and place bids at the last minute.

ChiGal in Carolina , October 27, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for sharing!

One question: Where does the app send the data it gathers from you once it is on your device? You can use a generic login but still don't they recognize your unique device identifier?

William Hunter Duncan , October 27, 2018 at 11:27 am

I remember during the Obama era, wailing to my liberal friends about his facilitation of a total surveillance state, to the inevitable yawn or justification by way of His Elegance, he would never do anything to hurt us. Of course, my conservative friends were all assured Obama was going to enter their homes and take away their guns.

Then Trump was elected, and I stopped asking my liberal friends how they feel about such a total surveillance state now, they would get so worked up about .Russia? My conservative friends seemingly happy to have a total surveillance state to keep a check on the liberal mob.

Sometimes I think most Americans are totalitarian, insofar as we have forgotten the meaning of "Republic" and "Democracy", conflating capitalism and freedom, following the powerful unquestioning, excusing atrocity, as long as it appears partisan.

Well, i have maybe a million words online .but for awhile now, my only online footprint of opinion is here among the Naked Capitalism commentariat. But I don't worry about it too much, because the powerful don't care what I say unless a lot of people are listening.

griffen , October 27, 2018 at 11:33 am

Is it evil to be kinda glad that Amzn has traded lower this month ( equities can be volatile ?? )

The future may not be here but it's on the way. Skynet or the Weyland Corp may be fictional in name only it's appearing to me.

Jeremy Grimm , October 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Suppose government surveillance is more ubiquitous than your most paranoid imaginings -- in other words you're not being paranoid at all and you're simply not paranoid enough. It might be wise to avoid having no presence or limited presence in the surveillance data. The lack of data could also be detected and used as a measure for pre-crime inclinations. Perhaps it were better to maintain a carefully manicured and tended web and media persona. Maybe run a spider built to create that presence. Enough chaff in a false presence might confound even the best surveillance algorithms.

Hepativore , October 27, 2018 at 2:29 pm

There is an add-on you can download for Firefox and a few other web browsers called Adnauseum. It is based on uBlock. What it does is opens any ads it finds on web pages while blocking them at the same time to simulate a "click" on the ad. This way, it can potentially give headaches to data collectors because of all of the intentional data pollution it causes. Adnauseum angered Google so much that they blocked it from their Chrome store.

Then there is another idea I had for the tech companies intent on pushing spying devices like Echo and Alexa into people's homes. What if you got a bunch of them together or had a group of people buy them. Put said devices next to a radio on "scan" or some other broadcast to play random media. If enough people did this, I wonder if that would generate enough gobbledygook to throw off Amazon and Google from all of the worthless data it would generate.

It is just a thought. However, I would not put it past Silicone Valley to develop and start promoting GPS tracking microchips that companies could implant into their employees. I know that some places are trying to push RFID chips for people, so I fear that GPS tracking implants are not that far off.

ambrit , October 27, 2018 at 3:02 pm

RFID chips can function as tracking devices. Like cell phones 'shaking hands' with nearby cell towers. The unspoken eventuality is how these RFID chips will be activated; when, where and by who.
The Ur tracking chip reference. "The President's Analyst."
The 'Future' is Now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUa3np4CKC4

Bobby Gladd , October 27, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Yeah, Robert Scheer. His book is a must-read . Add digital exhaust analytics to the "ordinary" forensics that swiftly collared that hapless Cesar Sayoc "#MAGAbomber" dude, well

[Oct 27, 2018] Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media 'Just the Beginning,' Warns Top Neocon Insider

Oct 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

BM , Oct 27, 2018 9:25:05 AM | link

This could hit MoA soon:

Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media 'Just the Beginning,' Warns Top Neocon Insider

The first stage is social media censorship. The next stage is the total blocking of websites offering alternative news to the MSM. This is by far the most dangerous threat to individual freedom.

The intenet addressing system is controlled at the top by the US military (and always was). The ultimate arbiter for any internet address lookup is in the US InterNIC system (owned and controlled by the US military), to which all the national domain name registries defer. By manipulating or falsifying lookup data they can block international access to any website in the world (including covertly). US/UK censorship is going to rapidly expand over the very near future, as the West moves to ever more suppressionist policies. We urgently need a new internet addressing infrastructure with a capability to bypass the US structures and allow any internet access that might be blocked by the US, before alternative media outlets are totally silenced.

There are vague references in the alternate media from time to time of Russian/Chinese initiatives to develop an alternative infrastructure, but I have not seen anything specific. I don't know how advanced these projects are, or whether they are intended for use from anywhere in the world or only internally in the officially participating countries.

Under the current internet system, the local user uses configurable numerical addresses as local address lookup under TCP/IP (Name Server) - ISPs normally try to set this to their own servers through their installation software, but you can also set it manually to some other name server that you find more reliable. For example, many ISPs illegally block certain websites by sabotaging the address lookup on their own name server (i.e. it does not match the data held by the official registry for the domain name) with false data (I have seen this done many times to my own website, both my own ISP and other people's ISP; it blocks email based on the blocked domain name at the same time, or the block can be specific to sub-domain such as www). When you try to access the site you then get an error message from the browser. If you challenge the ISP they will be forced to correct the data, but then they may silently sabotage it again later. Instead of using your ISPs own name server, you can use any other name server that is publicly accessible (some name servers might not be accessible from a different ISP, but many are accessible to anyone). A good solution is often a name server belonging to a local (or non-local!) university. Sometimes you might find you then get more reliable access to non-mainstream websites, and fewer browser errors (address not found).

What I would like to see Russia/China/BRICS/SCO/etc offer ASAP is some nameserver infrastructure that can be accessed through the standard nameserver settings under TCP/IP on any computer, and which offer configurable access to the internet address lookup registries around the world without critical dependence on the US controlled InterNIC database.

Numerical internet addresses (IP addresses) change from time to time. This is in itself normal. For example if MoA changes its service provider (web server), the MoA numerical IP address will be changed. The change in IP address is registered in the database stored in the registry for the .org upper level domain name in the US, and other name servers around the world regularly update their own data from that. If the US substitutes false values, any attempt to access the website can be diverted to an alternative address (sometimes a fake website!) managed by the US. Sometimes they do this even now, and then if challenged they pretend it was a "mistake". Russia/China need to provide name server infrastructure combined with user software (browser inferface) that is capable of selecting archived IP address lookup data when the most recently available data in the registry is false, selectable by date (the registry contains information on when the data was last changed). By selecting an IP address from archived data before the block, it can re-enable access to the site (as long as the website is still on the servers - if on US servers that is still under US control, but if it is on Russian servers it is not under US control).

Some websites legitimately need to be blocked - eg ISIS propaganda sites etc - the system would need to be able to block access to archived IP addresses for such legitimately blocked sites.

As I suggested some weeks ago, B really needs to prepare for possible blocking in advance - I am quite sure it will come eventually - by registering a non-US website such as moonofalabama.org.ru etc, and announcing that alternate address. When the internet is cut, it is already too late to announce the backup site! That can still be blocked by the US, but there are more ways to get around it.

[Oct 26, 2018] Vault 7 "Dark Matter" contains documentation for several CIA projects that infect Apple Mac Computer firmware (meaning the infection persists even if the operating system is re-installed) developed by the CIA's Embedded Development Branch (EDB)

Notable quotes:
"... Apple is a shit proprietary company that has somehow convinced people around the world that their product is as important as eating, and costs you as much to have an iPhone as it costs you to buy food each month. Oh but it has a camera and these really cool weather apps that cuss at you, and my selfie stick is made for the iPhone 7, but they will be coming out with an iPhone 8 soon. I sure hope my selfie stick works with it! ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Today, March 23rd 2017, WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 "Dark Matter", which contains documentation for several CIA projects that infect Apple Mac Computer firmware (meaning the infection persists even if the operating system is re-installed) developed by the CIA's Embedded Development Branch (EDB). These documents explain the techniques used by CIA to gain 'persistence' on Apple Mac devices, including Macs and iPhones and demonstrate their use of EFI/UEFI and firmware malware.

Among others, these documents reveal the "Sonic Screwdriver" project which, as explained by the CIA, is a "mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting" allowing an attacker to boot its attack software for example from a USB stick "even when a firmware password is enabled". The CIA's "Sonic Screwdriver" infector is stored on the modified firmware of an Apple Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter.

"DarkSeaSkies" is "an implant that persists in the EFI firmware of an Apple MacBook Air computer" and consists of "DarkMatter", "SeaPea" and "NightSkies", respectively EFI, kernel-space and user-space implants.

Documents on the "Triton" MacOSX malware, its infector "Dark Mallet" and its EFI-persistent version "DerStake" are also included in this release. While the DerStake1.4 manual released today dates to 2013, other Vault 7 documents show that as of 2016 the CIA continues to rely on and update these systems and is working on the production of DerStarke2.0.

Also included in this release is the manual for the CIA's "NightSkies 1.2" a "beacon/loader/implant tool" for the Apple iPhone. Noteworthy is that NightSkies had reached 1.2 by 2008, and is expressly designed to be physically installed onto factory fresh iPhones. i.e the CIA has been infecting the iPhone supply chain of its targets since at least 2008.

While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target it is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization's supply chain including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments (opening, infecting, and resending) leaving the United States or otherwise

TheMeatTrapper Mar 23, 2017 10:20 AM

They should change the name of the company to CIApple. The millenials can then line up for them in the cold.

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Manthong froze25 Mar 23, 2017 10:27 AM

It appears that some real patriots are blowing the lid off of the pervasive evil.

The Amendments only clarified what is the law of the land.

I F'NG WANT THEM ADHERED TO.

Start with the 4 th one and then work your way up and down.

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JRobby brianshell Mar 23, 2017 11:05 AM Get your red iPhone! On sale this week!!!! Brand new color! Red!!!!!

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mtl4 Manthong Mar 23, 2017 11:14 AM After seeing this, any wonder why Shillary was so stuck on using Blackberry?!

I think Blackberry really missed a huge opportunity as the anti-eavesdropping cell phone platform.

http://ads.pubmatic.com/AdServer/js/showad.js#PIX&kdntuid=1&p=52041

PrayingMantis mtl4 Mar 23, 2017 11:59 AM

... "Noteworthy is that NightSkies had reached 1.2 by 2008, and is expressly designed to be physically installed onto factory fresh iPhones. i.e the CIA has been infecting the iPhone supply chain of its targets since at least 2008."

... time to ditch those CiApple devices ... now you know why the Canadian Blackberry was killed off the US market ... they wouldn't play the US alphabet agencies' surveillance game ...

http://ads.pubmatic.com/AdServer/js/showad.js#PIX&kdntuid=1&p=52041

brianshell kavlar Mar 23, 2017 2:21 PM Ban dual nationals in government.

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wren Manthong Mar 23, 2017 12:41 PM

I knew it was a publicity hoax when Apple didn't want to allow the feds access to the phone that was used by the killers in the San Bernadillo Massacre. Like Apple really cares about giving your info to the feds...

Apple is a shit proprietary company that has somehow convinced people around the world that their product is as important as eating, and costs you as much to have an iPhone as it costs you to buy food each month. Oh but it has a camera and these really cool weather apps that cuss at you, and my selfie stick is made for the iPhone 7, but they will be coming out with an iPhone 8 soon. I sure hope my selfie stick works with it!

"Hi, my name is Lisa and I am in like 7th grade. Other kids in my class only have the iPhone 5, but I have the new iPhone 7. I go to school with such pathetic loooserrs. Everyone in my school is jealous of me and my new iPhone 7, cause it shows that my parents really care about me, because, you know, they spent a lot of money on me for this phone so it must show they like, really care, right?

And the other kids in school chant my name as I walk down the halls because they're like so jealous of how much my parents love me. They are jealous because I'm like really rich, really cool, and my parents really love me too."

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WillyGroper JRobby Mar 23, 2017 1:31 PM

went to the site from SGT...interesting seeeyeyah rabbit hole runs decades back.

of course the usual suspects.

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/mar/20/cia-waffled-promise-destroy-records/

AldousHuxley d brianshell •Mar 23, 2017 4:46 PM

Smartphone won't make you smarter when all you do on it is chatting about superficial issues.

Idiots paying $500 every year to talk to other idiots is why Apple has $700B market cap.

http://ads.pubmatic.com/AdServer/js/showad.js#PIX&kdntuid=1&p=52041

Latina Lover froze25 Mar 23, 2017 10:32 AM

In a honest country where the rule of law applies to all, USA prisons would be filled with CIA and NSA operatives. Instead, we live in a banana republic, without the bananas.

[Oct 25, 2018] The Future Of Privacy In The New World Order

Oct 24, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Via InternationalMan.com,

Roughly one hundred years ago, the people who "ran things," – the drivers behind governments, big business and banking – formulated a concept which became known by a number of names, but, predominantly, as the "New World Order."

The concept was to put an end to unnecessary competition and warfare and have a central, unelected group of people run the entire world. It was not considered necessary to completely eliminate individual countries; the idea was to control them all centrally. It also didn't necessarily mean that wars would end. Warfare can be quite useful for rulers, as they provide an excellent distraction from resentment toward the leaders who impose control over a people.

Ever since that time, this same rough group of people has continued generationally. Sometimes, but not always, the family names change. Useful people are added on and less useful ones removed. But the concept itself has continued, evolved and, in fact, gained strength.

But, as yet, the process remains incomplete. Several facets to a New World Order are not yet in place. It's proven difficult to "fool all of the people all of the time," so the effort to subjugate an entire world has taken more time than originally anticipated.

An essential component of this control is the elimination of the personal holding of wealth. Whilst the leaders intend to expand their own wealth in an unlimited fashion, they seek to suppress the ability of the average person to increase his own wealth. Wealth leads to independence and independence from a New World Order is unacceptable. Wealth gives people options. They must be taught to accept being herded like cattle and being compliant, or they will become troublesome.

... ... ...

[Oct 25, 2018] Surveillance Capitalism Crosses The Line Privacy Expert Abandons Google-Backed Smart-City Project by Joseph Jankowsk

Surveillance Capitalism is nice term for STASI=line regime which became the "new normal". When we say Google we mean CIA.
Notable quotes:
"... Being touted as "the world's first neighborhood built from the internet up," the Google designed smart city is set to deploy an array of cameras and sensors that detect pedestrians at traffic lights or alert cleanup crews when garbage bins overflow, reports The Globe and Mail . Robotic vehicles will whisk away garbage in underground tunnels, heated bike lanes will melt snow and a street layout will accommodate a fleet of self-driving cars. ..."
"... Such an account could potentially work with facial recognition "and allow for example a repairman to get into a home to perform his duties and firefighters to have access a building when a fire alarm is triggered." ..."
"... The project's critics included former BlackBerry CEO Jim Balsillie who referred to the development as "a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism attempting to bulldoze important urban, civic and political issues." ..."
"... Ann Cavoukia's decision to walk away from the project was made just weeks after Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel member, Saadia Muzaffar, resigned over concerns about how Google will collect and handle data collected from people within the smart city. ..."
"... "We are at a point where a secretive, unelected, publicly funded corporation with no expertise in IP, data or even basic digital rights is in charge of navigating forces of urban privatization, algorithmic control and rule by corporate contract." ..."
Oct 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Joseph Jankowski via PlanetFreeWill.com,

A privacy expert tasked with protecting personal data within a Google-backed smart city project has resigned as her pro-privacy guidelines would largely be ignored by participants.

"I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance," Ann Cavoukian, the former privacy commissioner of Ontario, wrote in a resignation letter to Google sister company Sidewalk Labs.

"I felt I had no choice because I had been told by Sidewalk Labs that all of the data collected will be de-identified at source," she added.

Cavoukian was an acting consultant involved in the plan by Canada's Waterfront Toronto to develop a smart city neighborhood in the city's Quayside development. She had created an initiative called Privacy by Design that aimed to ensure citizens' personal data would be protected.

Once it became apparent that citizen privacy could not be guaranteed, Cavoukian decided it was time to leave the project:

But then, at a Thursday meeting, Cavoukian reportedly realized such anonymization protocols could not be guaranteed. She told the Candian news outlet that Sidewalk Labs revealed at that meeting that their organization could commit to her guidelines, but other involved groups would not be required to abide by them.

Cavoukian realized third parties could possibly have access to identifiable data gathered through the project. "When I heard that, I said, 'I'm sorry. I can't support this. I have to resign because you committed to embedding privacy by design into every aspect of your operation,'" she told Global News. – Gizmodo

Being touted as "the world's first neighborhood built from the internet up," the Google designed smart city is set to deploy an array of cameras and sensors that detect pedestrians at traffic lights or alert cleanup crews when garbage bins overflow, reports The Globe and Mail . Robotic vehicles will whisk away garbage in underground tunnels, heated bike lanes will melt snow and a street layout will accommodate a fleet of self-driving cars.

The city will also provide each citizen a "user account" which will allow access to "the various online services of the neighborhood and improve participatory democracy."

Such an account could potentially work with facial recognition "and allow for example a repairman to get into a home to perform his duties and firefighters to have access a building when a fire alarm is triggered."

The project's critics included former BlackBerry CEO Jim Balsillie who referred to the development as "a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism attempting to bulldoze important urban, civic and political issues."

In an October op-ed, Balsillie describes smart cities as the new battlefront for big tech and warned that the commercialization of IP and data within the city would mean that personal information would just be another target of corporate digital-gold mining.

Balsillie writes :

The 21st-century knowledge-based and data-driven economy is all about IP and data. "Smart cities" are the new battlefront for big tech because they serve as the most promising hotbed for additional intangible assets that hold the next trillion dollars to add to their market capitalizations. "Smart cities" rely on IP and data to make the vast array of city sensors more functionally valuable, and when under the control of private interests, an enormous new profit pool. As Sidewalk Labs' chief executive Dan Doctoroff said : "We're in this business to make money." Sidewalk also wants full autonomy from city regulations so it can build without constraint.

You can only commercialize IP or data when you own or control them. That's why Sidewalk, as a recent Globe and Mail investigation revealed , is taking control to own all IP on this project. All smart companies know that controlling the IP controls access to the data, even when it's shared data. Stunningly, when Waterfront Toronto released its "updated" agreement, they left the ownership of IP and data unresolved, even though IP experts publicly asserted that ownership of IP must be clarified up front or it defaults to Sidewalk. Securing new monopoly IP rights coupled with the best new data sets creates a systemic market advantage from which companies can inexorably expand.

A privately controlled "smart city" infrastructure upends traditional models of citizenship because you cannot opt out of a city or a society that practises mass surveillance. Foreign corporate interests tout new technocratic efficiencies while shrewdly occluding their unprecedented power grab. As the renowned technologist Evgeny Morozov said : "That the city is also the primary target of big tech is no accident: If these firms succeed in controlling its infrastructure, they need not to worry about much else."

Ann Cavoukia's decision to walk away from the project was made just weeks after Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel member, Saadia Muzaffar, resigned over concerns about how Google will collect and handle data collected from people within the smart city.

Saadia Muzaffar specifically pointed to "Waterfront Toronto's astounding apathy and utter lack of leadership regarding shaky public trust and social licence."

Local residents remain concerned over the lack of transparency in regards to the project as many believe the deal has been shrouded in secrecy. As Jim Balsillie described it:

"We are at a point where a secretive, unelected, publicly funded corporation with no expertise in IP, data or even basic digital rights is in charge of navigating forces of urban privatization, algorithmic control and rule by corporate contract."

Barry McBear, 2 hours ago
Getting rid of facebook was easy, but de-googling my life is going to be a real pain in the ***. One that clearly must be done though.

[Oct 25, 2018] Only one of two can be smart

Google technocrats are really crazy...
Oct 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

HolyCOW , 1 hour ago link

Smart phones -> dumb kids

Smart City -> dumb citizens

inhibi, 1 hour ago (Edited)

Oh wow,

... ... ...

smart traffic they say? Wowsers. I always wanted those lights to turn green immediately (when Im around).

And 24/7 tracking, so they can give you personal ads on LCD billboards while you walk past.

And better yet: access to lock or unlock your front door for a 'repairman'. Yeah that will work out great. I always wanted to hand the keys to my home to outsiders for safe keeping, but now its automatic!

Amazing. What a different life we would all lead in this Smart City. /s

[Oct 23, 2018] Even anonymous cellphone connections can be geo-located with a maximum error of a few meters

Oct 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

joeymac , Oct 22, 2018 1:11:02 PM | link

All this proves that the spy-craft of the Saudi assassination team was abysmal. All cellphone networks store records of each call. Any foreign official's phone in Turkey is under surveillance of the country's intelligence service.

Only some throw-away phone with an anonymous prepaid card could have given some protection.

Perhaps some, but not much. Even anonymous cellphone connections can be geo-located with a maximum error of a few meters, so calls to Saudi Arabia from within the consulate could be noted. What more, the dim-witted Saudis probably would not have bothered with tack-on encryption devices.

[Oct 22, 2018] Facebook's New Troll-Crushing War Room Confirms Surveillance By Corporation Is The New America

Oct 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Facebook's New Troll-Crushing "War Room" Confirms Surveillance By Corporation Is The New America

by Tyler Durden Sun, 10/21/2018 - 22:30 270 SHARES

Facebook on Wednesday briefed journalists on its latest attempt to stop fake news during the election season , offering an exclusive tour of a windowless conference room at its California headquarters, packed with millennials monitoring Facebook user behavior trends around the clock, said The Verge .

This is Facebook's first ever "war room," designed to bring leaders from 20 teams, representing 20,000 global employees working on safety and security, in one room to lead a crusade against conservatives misinformation on the platform as political campaigning shifts into hyperdrive in the final weeks leading up to November's US midterm elections. The team includes threat intelligence, data science engineering, research, legal, operations, policy, communications, and representatives from Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram.

"We know when it comes to an election, every moment counts," said Samidh Chakrabarti, head of civic engagement at Facebook, who oversees operations in the war room.

"So if there are late-breaking issues we see on the platform, we need to be able to detect and respond to them in real time, as quickly as possible."

This public demonstration of Facebook's internal efforts comes after a series of security breaches and user hacks, dating back to the 2016 presidential elections. Since the announcement of the Cambridge Analytics privacy scandal in March, Facebook shares have plunged -14.5% It seems the war room is nothing more than a public relations stunt, which the company is desperately trying to regain control of the narrative and avoid more negative headlines.

The war room is staffed with millennials from 4 am until midnight, and starting on Oct. 22, social media workers will be monitoring trends 24/7 leading up to the elections. Leaders from 20 teams will be present in the room. Workers will use machine learning and artificial intelligence programs to monitor the platform for trends, hate speech, sophisticated trolls, fake news, and of course, Russian, Chinese, and Iranian interference.

me title=

Nathan Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity, told CNBC the company wants fair elections, and that "debate around the election be authentic. ... The biggest concern is any type of effort to manipulate that."

In the first round of presidential elections in Brazil, Facebook's war room identified an effort to suppress voter turnout:

"Content that was telling people that due to protest, that the election would be delayed a day," said Chakrabarti. "This was not true, completely false. So we were able to detect that using AI and machine learning. The war room was alerted to it. Our data scientist looked into what was behind it and then they passed it to our engineers and operations specialist to be able to remove this at scale from our platform before it could go viral."

The war room has been focused on the US and Brazilian elections because it says misinformation in elections is a global problem that never ends. Gleicher warns that Facebook is observing an increased effort to manipulate the public debate ahead of US midterms.

me title=

"Part of the reason we have this war room up and running, is so that as these threats develop, not only do we respond to them quickly, but we continue to speed up our response, and make our response more effective and efficient." Gleicher adds that it is not just foreign interference but also domestic "bad actors" who are hiding their identity, using fake accounts to spread misinformation.

"This is always going to be an arms race, so the adversaries that we're facing who seek to meddle in elections, they are sophisticated and well-funded," said Chakrabarti.

"That is the reason we've made huge investments both in people and technology to stay ahead and secure our platforms."

Big Brother is watching you: surveillance by corporations is the new America.


Sid Davis , 2 hours ago link

One of the privileges granted to corporations under State laws is the limitation of liabilities as to shareholders. If you operate a business as a sole proprietor or as one of the partners in a general partnership, then you can personally be sued for the unpaid debts or other liabilities arising from the operation of the business. But if you are an owner of a corporation, which is what shareholders are, then you have no personal liability and can't be held accountable for the unpaid debts or other liabilities arising from the operation of the corporation.

This limited liability privilege is what is wrong with corporations. The most you stand to lose as a shareholder is what you paid for your shares. As a result, corporations can amass a large amount of capital and when they become very large they not only damage free market competition, but they power associated with their size and importance gives them control over the political process. They can lobby and bribe politicians for laws that are favourable to themselves, and unfavourable to the rest of us. And shareholders lose control over the operation, just like your vote for politicians is relatively meaningless as a percentage of the total vote. Management takes over, just like the elite take over governments, and ethics disappear.

If shareholders of corporations did not have limited liability, the incentive to buy shares would disappear, and most businesses would be carried out by small entities; we would have a competitive "mom and pop" economy instead of a monopoly or oligopoly type economy. And with a competitive economy if one of the competitors pulled the **** that the big internet corporations pull, they would soon suffer the wrath of their customers who would have alternative places to go.

Corporate laws are just another example of government interference in the economy that produces the bad results we see today from corporatism. Corporatism is just another mechanism to create rule by the elite and slavery for the majority. The solution is to prohibit States from franchising corporations, and to use existing anti-trust laws to bust up all the big corporations.

It is sad that so many people think that corporatism is capitalism and then reach the conclusion that socialism or communism is the solution to the bad results they see today. It is not. Capitalism is a free market with no government granted privilege to any of the competitors. The only role of government in the economy is to protect rights, instead of destroying rights as they do today.

junction , 4 hours ago link

I just had to uninstall my ESET anti-virus software. It was intentionally erasing utorrent from my computer. To get to Pirate Bay, now blocked in the USA, I set my VPN to Belgium. Almost immediately, I started getting messages from my e-mail provider, MSN, asking if I was signing in from Belgium. When I make any payments via Internet banking, I have to turn off my VPN or the transaction will not be recognized. When Trump and his NWO puppeteers decide to take their gloves off, I am pretty sure my Internet connection will be on the Kill List. Just like yours, you ZH posters.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 3 hours ago link

Thanks for the info. Keep your head on a swivel.

Cryptopithicus Homme , 5 hours ago link

I am pretty sure they are NOT using "artificial intelligence programs" as no such thing exists.

Also, they can't censor you or decide what you see when you are not on Fakebook.

Jack Offelday , 5 hours ago link

On a long enough timeline the survival rate for (social media companies) drops to zero.

Normal , 6 hours ago link

That is why my description on Facebook states that if you post political information you will be unfollowed. I only allow photos of kittens and well a lot of nebulous stuff, education, and health and fitness. If they knew my ideas I would be followed by all the worlds security agencies. I am resolved to help people become Normal within the infosphere. I allow no politics because politics is Fake News and the sooner people forget about the concept the sooner they will be inclined to decentralize existing concentrations of wealth.

Md4 , 6 hours ago link

" The war room is staffed with millennials from 4 am until midnight, and starting on Oct. 22, social media workers will be monitoring trends 24/7 leading up to the elections. Leaders from 20 teams will be present in the room. Workers will use machine learning and artificial intelligence programs to monitor the platform for trends, hate speech, sophisticated trolls, fake news, and of course, Russian, Chinese, and Iranian interference."

With all this fascist (and highly provocative) techno-insanity at their disposal before the midterms...

...what, pray tell, will these pointy-headed leftist brats say about a red asshamering in November?

Their silly "war room" wasn't expansive or invasive enough...?

Sick pricks...

J S Bach , 6 hours ago link

Even the dullest people should be able to figure out that the easiest way to divulge the truth about anything is to allow ALL information to flow like a stream. Whoever's telling the lies will be discovered apace. Of course, FaceBook, Google, Twitter and all of the other corporate entities know this. And they also know who the (((great masters of the lie))) are. It is themselves. They are in panic mode, folks. We must kill this latest effort of (((theirs))) by simply avoiding their platforms. Use their own weapons against them... BOYCOTT. Seek alternative sites and search engines. Most importantly, spread far and wide what you know to be their ulterior motives.

WorkingClassMan , 6 hours ago link

Starve the beast...don't use Fedbook. Simple solution to a simple problem.

Bricker , 6 hours ago link

If you are using Fakebook, you deserve to be hung

LetThemEatRand , 6 hours ago link

This is what fascism looks like, bitchez. When fascism comes to America it will be draped in a t-shirt and holding an iPad.

[Oct 21, 2018] From Soft Tyranny To Totalitarian Rule America s Unrelenting Data Collection

Notable quotes:
"... More than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases – even if they have not submitted their own DNA, researchers reported Thursday. ..."
"... Enough people have done some kind of DNA test to make it possible to match much of the population, the researchers said. So even if you don't submit your own DNA, if a cousin does, it could lead people to you. ..."
"... The point here is the stupid, faddish public is dumb enough to submit the material the very DNA being used by the "trusted" authorities either out in the open or by back-door methods to round up all of the DNA for the surveillance state. ..."
"... I invite anyone to comment who has experience with a "transfer station," or other garbage collection facility, and anyone in the healthcare/hospital industry with some inside info as to their nefarious methods. You can easily see from these examples how they are hard on the trail relentless bloodhounds that have the scent of their quarry and they will not stop until everyone is categorized and monitored. Then the real fun begins. ..."
"... The same group (ELITE/DEEPSTATE) that wants this Tyranny outcome is also supporting the infighting, LGBTQ rtstuv, BLM, CODE PINK, ME TOO etc etc... They know that as long as we (the working class tax paying stiffs) think this is actually a left/right- Dem/Rep issue and keep bickering over the BS, we will never unite against the takeover of our country and begin to unite to defend our rights. ..."
Oct 21, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Walmart is interested in what's going on in your body while you shop.

The company wants to collect this data in a particularly creepy way: through the handles of their shopping carts. Walmart recently submitted a patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called " System and Method for a Biometric Feedback Cart Handle ," CBInsights reports.

These innovative shopping cart handles would collect your biometric data, meaning your stress level, your body temperature, and heart rate -- all while you're strolling through the aisles of your local store, filling your cart with Walmart's everyday low-priced items.

The article proceeds to explain Walmart's "spin" on it is to provide a way to "check on a customer with a physical problem."

Since when has Walmart ever been concerned about anyone's physical well-being? Isn't this the company that settled out of court for millions to pay for stolen labor time and breaks from employees? Isn't this the same Walmart that twenty years ago put small stores in to break local competitors (Mom and Pop stores) in small towns and when they went belly up, closed their small Walmarts and "plopped" a Super-Walmart down in the center of where five small ones used to be? Then all the little serfs could come from miles around to service the monolith with their play money, as the local economies of the small towns died, right? Worse. Being a "too big to fail" type of business, they're deep in bed with the governments, federal and state. Simple data collection "for your own safety and well-being," right?

No. They're going to tie this data in with all of the other micro-data and metadata they are already gathering filming you with their little cameras filming Johnny Jones Junior and Daddy Jones as they pick up a box of shells for the shotgun amount and type recorded and filed next to the photos and film with their names and biometrics.

They want every piece of information on you and your family, and they're not going to stop until they have it all of it.

Article number two is even worse, as you may deduce from the title. Published by Maggie Fox of NBC News, it is entitled " DNA databases can send the police or hackers to your door, study finds ." Take a look at this excerpt:

More than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases – even if they have not submitted their own DNA, researchers reported Thursday.

Enough people have done some kind of DNA test to make it possible to match much of the population, the researchers said. So even if you don't submit your own DNA, if a cousin does, it could lead people to you.

They said their findings, published in the journal Science, raise concerns about privacy. Not only could police use this information, but so could other people seeking personal information about someone.

The article goes on to talk about Joseph DeAngelo, a former cop in California suspected of murder, and how they nabbed him by using DNA submitted by a "distant cousin" that narrowed down the list for cops on his trail. Read the article for more specifics and demographics on these DNA "commercial" test kits.

The point here is the stupid, faddish public is dumb enough to submit the material the very DNA being used by the "trusted" authorities either out in the open or by back-door methods to round up all of the DNA for the surveillance state.

I invite anyone to comment who has experience with a "transfer station," or other garbage collection facility, and anyone in the healthcare/hospital industry with some inside info as to their nefarious methods. You can easily see from these examples how they are hard on the trail relentless bloodhounds that have the scent of their quarry and they will not stop until everyone is categorized and monitored. Then the real fun begins.

To digress: this is why we must all be of one accord, and disseminate this information and take steps while there is still time. As the weeks, months, and years roll by; the hellish apparatus of what was once termed "government" becomes a machine for rule by enslavement. That machine is perfecting itself. When control is finally obtained total, unchallenged control? That's when the liquidations the killings will begin, for the ownership of the resources and for the control and enslavement of all humanity.

perikleous , 8 hours ago link

The same group (ELITE/DEEPSTATE) that wants this Tyranny outcome is also supporting the infighting, LGBTQ rtstuv, BLM, CODE PINK, ME TOO etc etc... They know that as long as we (the working class tax paying stiffs) think this is actually a left/right- Dem/Rep issue and keep bickering over the BS, we will never unite against the takeover of our country and begin to unite to defend our rights.

They the ruling ELITE have funded and played us against one another using our phobias as ammunition (gay/trans rights, racism,religious beliefs, even our political views ) used to exploit us and keep us infighting to avoid the true threat Deep State/ELITE ruling class!

OverTheHedge , 6 hours ago link

What are you getting out of all this? Seriously - are you having fun? Does your career of choice provide you with enough fulfillment to justify the extravagant costs and loss of your time? Being single, (and I assume young), you can go anywhere in the world, do any job, be any person you wish to be. Joint the French foreign legion, watch whales from a tourist charter boat, become a fish and vegitables farmer in Vietnam - if you can think of it, you can do it.

So again - your current lifestyle - what's in it for YOU? Are you having fun yet?

My personal recommendation would be to move out of the city, buy a plot of land and hand build your own house, slowly, using the raw materials from your land. Work when you have to, learn mad skills that become tradeable, grow your own food. Anyone can do it, and back in the day EVERYONE used to do it. But do some travelling first, to wrap your head around how big the world is, and how irrelevant governments and rules are.

Oh, and never take unsolicited advice from strangers on the internet. That's first on the list.

brooklinite8 , 2 hours ago link

OverTheHedge... I appreciate your advise. I have been thinking of moving out of the country all together. This thought might get a serious taking once I do some traveling like you said. I have no job satisfaction. I have no philosophy side feeding my brain here.

I feel like I am just a machine. I am thinking of traveling Asia may be next year. I will sure do it. Thanks for the advise again. I do believe there are other ways to live life. There are other ways to be satisfied and die with out a guilty feeling. Thanks alot my friend.

AlaricBalth , 1 hour ago link
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?...

The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

[Oct 16, 2018] Dan King and E.A. Greene

Notable quotes:
"... Stalin was a leader ahead of his time, with his relatively benign surveillance state plans, compared to those of the "Free" world. ..."
Oct 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

October 16, 2018

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Credit: reddees/Shutterstock Should each and every intersection you stop at or drive through be a potential federal surveillance site? The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) certainly seems to think so. The DEA is currently expanding its use of license plate readers (LPRs) in digital road signs, which is sure to have an impact on drivers' basic expectation of privacy.

The agency sees this program as a collaboration between "federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement license plate readers" to curb the actions of drug traffickers, money launderers, and other criminals. The agency installs these cameras in digital street signs on roads that it believes are popular with lawbreakers.

Such actions are not unique to the DEA. Police agencies share the data they obtain from LPRs with hundreds of different local, state, and federal agencies. These agencies range from police departments to Customs and Border Patrol to the U.S. Park Service to the U.S. Postal Service. For example, the San Diego Police Department is reportedly sharing its license plate data with around 900 different federal, state, and local agencies.

Before these agencies can use their LPRs, though, the roads they select must have use for the signs in which they are installed. Daniel Herriges, an urban planner and content manager at Strong Towns, observes that "road design is, in fact, often the biggest underlying cause of unsafe speed in cities." Because traffic engineers design roads to be forgiving, it creates the perception that they are less risky. Motorists then respond "by driving faster or less attentively," Herriges says.

In response to such unsafe driving, communities like Albuquerque, New Mexico, have been requesting traffic calming and enforcement measures through safe street initiatives, including signs that warn drivers. This unwittingly provides an outlet for data collection.

Herriges suggests that rather than increase enforcement, roads should be rethought entirely. "Addressing speed through design rather than through enforcement carries numerous advantages," he says. "For one, it's more effective -- studies consistently show that most drivers disregard posted speed limits." That means traffic engineering could be the best defense of Fourth Amendment rights in terms of license plate data collection -- except, of course, for a constitutional challenge in court.

No federal or state courts have made any rulings on the constitutionality of an LPR program as vast as the DEA's. Instead, the judiciary has ruled that "single-instance database checks of license plate numbers" do not constitute searches under the Fourth Amendment. The courts have argued this is the case because license plates are in "plain view." However, the DEA's massive database, and the sharing they engage in with other agencies, clearly exceed the "single-instance" that courts have ruled constitutional.

"Law enforcement likes to claim that because license plates are in public view that creating massive ALPR networks aren't very different than stationing cops at certain locations and having them write down the information by hand," said Dave Maass, senior investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "So far, there haven't been many challenges to this in the courts, except on the state level. That said, policymakers have been pursuing (and passing) new restrictions on both sides of the aisle."

Baltimore's Failed Surveillance Regime To Make Streets Safe, Make Them Dangerous

Similar to the National Security Agency's vast metadata collection program, the sharing of license plate information can paint a very holistic picture of who a person is and what their day-to-day life looks like. It can be as mundane as a person visiting his parents or it can be more intrusive -- local police could share the data of everyone who visits a certain immigration lawyer with Customs and Border Patrol, for example.

"I am definitely concerned that agencies may target people by searching ALPR data for visitors to immigration lawyers, medical clinics serving undocumented people, churches specializing in foreign-language services, or locations where day laborers gather," Maass said. He added that DHS routinely uses "questionable tactics" when detaining undocumented immigrants.

The DEA expanding its LPR program would further erode Americans' basic expectation of privacy, and do nothing to make America's streets any safer. It's time to stop throwing more money and resources at the failed war on drugs.

Dan King is a Young Voices contributor, journalist, and digital communications professional based in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared at Reason , , The Week and the Washington Examiner .

Ethan A. Greene is a Young Voices alumnus and master's student of City and Regional Planning at Clemson University. His writing has appeared in Strong Towns, Planetizen, Spiked!, and the Washington Times .



Frank D October 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm

The biggest waste of tax payers' money everywhere are speed limit signs. Nobody pays any attention to them unless you see a police vehicle.
Fran Macadam , , October 16, 2018 at 2:31 pm
Stalin was a leader ahead of his time, with his relatively benign surveillance state plans, compared to those of the "Free" world.

Only in his dreams -- or the United States and its clients.

Waz , , October 16, 2018 at 2:52 pm
Don't underestimate the gravity of yet another ominous sign of times. Ever since the first street cameras appeared the specter of totalitarian control has loomed large.

That moment brought into sharp focus concern that the technology that enables unlimited storage and instant access to data could quickly become the tool of total control, too tempting to any form of government and transform it into a totalitarian monster.

I was shocked by how virtually no resistance emerged, no serious, principled objections were raised. Now, we are rapidly progressing into the next stage. If conservatism stands for anything, this is the hill to die on. Comrades frogs, water's getting warmer, high time to jump out!

[Oct 12, 2018] 'Land of censorship home of the fake' Alternative voices on Facebook and Twitter's crackdown

Normal people do not browse Facebook, anyway.
Notable quotes:
"... "misleading users." ..."
"... Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter's coordinated 'deplatforming' of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. "Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content...are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed," he wrote. "That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history." ..."
"... "a wider war on dissident narratives in online media." ..."
"... "eyes and ears" ..."
Oct 12, 2018 | www.rt.com

Alternative voices online are incensed after Facebook and Twitter closed down hundreds of political media pages ahead of November's crucial midterm elections. Facebook says they broke its spam rules, they say it's censorship. Some 800 pages spanning the political spectrum, from left-leaning organizations like The Anti Media, to flag-waving opinion sites like Right Wing News and Nation in Distress, were shut down. Other pages banned include those belonging to police brutality watchdog groups Filming Cops and Policing the Police.

Even RT America's Rachel Blevins found her own page banned for posts that were allegedly "misleading users."

Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter's coordinated 'deplatforming' of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. "Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content...are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed," he wrote. "That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history."

In America, Conservatives were the first to complain about unfair treatment by left-leaning Silicon Valley tech giants. However, leftist sites have increasingly become targets in what Blumenthal calls "a wider war on dissident narratives in online media." In identifying enemies in this "war," Facebook has partnered up with the Digital Forensics Lab, an offshoot of NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council. The DFL has promised to be Facebook's "eyes and ears" in the fight against disinformation (read: alternative viewpoints).

[Oct 12, 2018] Like the values and rules that led the NSA to eavesdrop on Chancellor Merkel's phone calls for years, and to use American Embassies as listening posts. Mutti Merkel was very understanding, considering they were only doing it to keep us all safe.

Oct 12, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman October 4, 2018 at 11:02 am

"the GRU's disregard for global values and rules that keep us all safe".

Like the values and rules that led the NSA to eavesdrop on Chancellor Merkel's phone calls for years, and to use American Embassies as listening posts. Mutti Merkel was very understanding, considering they were only doing it to keep us all safe.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/cover-story-how-nsa-spied-on-merkel-cell-phone-from-berlin-embassy-a-930205.html

The British and the Dutch – and doubtless all America's many 'allies' – have no real pride left. They just keep bending over further.

[Oct 07, 2018] Jeff Bezos, Skinflint

Oct 07, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Jeff Bezos, Skinflint By Rod DreherOctober 4, 2018, 7:39 AM

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Marina Linchevska/Shutterstock You see that Amazon established a minimum wage of $15 per hour for its workers? Great, right?

Here's the fine print:

Amazon.com Inc. is eliminating monthly bonuses and stock awards for warehouse workers and other hourly employees after the company pledged this week to raise pay to at least $15 an hour.

Warehouse workers for the e-commerce giant in the U.S. were eligible in the past for monthly bonuses that could total hundreds of dollars per month as well as stock awards, said two people familiar with Amazon's pay policies. The company informed those employees Wednesday that it's eliminating both of those compensation categories to help pay for the raises, the people said.

Amazon received plaudits when it announced Monday that the company would raise its minimum pay. The pay increase warded off criticism from politicians and activists, and put the company in a good position to recruit temporary workers for the important holiday shopping season.

Even after the elimination of bonuses and stock awards, hourly operations and customer-service workers will see their total compensation increase, the company said in a statement.

Some Amazon workers say they will be financially worse off under the new plan.

Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, worth $160 billion. The second-richest man, Bill Gates, has $63 billion less.

UPDATE: Reader ADL comments:

I work at a Amazon fulfillment center. A couple of things:
1) Amazon didn't just decide to end the bonuses/"stock options" compensation. They surveyed warehouse workers and we voted for money up front. Bonuses only got paid if A) warehouses meet certain production numbers (a lot of people don't like having our compensation based on the work habits of OTHERS), and B) it was based on employee attendance record (if you were out or late a lot, you didn't get bonus). The stock we got awarded didn't "vest" for a year. Those who quit or got fired before their year was up never got to cash in their stock option.

2) Those of us who've worked in warehousing can tell you that working at Amazon is WAY better than other places. The benefits are excellent (we qualify for health care insurance the first month of employment; this insurance is good and cheap compared to other companies), plus other great benefits. The $15/hr is the icing on the cake.

Plus it's freakin' Amazon– there are opportunities to move up (one of the operations managers at my fulfillment center began as a temp at Amazon 4 years ago), or into other areas of logistics (if this is your professional field).

So don't knock Amazon. It's an amazing company– certainly compared to the competition.

Posted in Culture , Economics . Tagged Amazon , Jeff Bezos , minimum wage . MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

29-0. Almost 8 PM Central Time The Charity of Our Saudi Pals Hide 72 comments 72 Responses to Jeff Bezos, Skinflint ← Older Comments

Some Wag October 4, 2018 at 2:21 pm

b. said:
"I am curious to see Sanders' next move. If he just "moves on", it would be an educational moment."

Link for those similarly curious: https://www.foxbusiness.com/retail/bernie-sanders-reacts-to-amazon-slashing-stock-incentive-bonuses-for-hourly-workers

JWJ , says: October 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm
"Jeff Bezos, Skinflint".

Let me be a little contrarian. And this from a person who is not particularly fond of the leftist propaganda coming from the Bezos/Amazon Washington Post

Why should Amazon pay any of their 300K plus employees significantly higher than the market wage for that particular job? Amazon is NOT a charity.
Now, Amazon might decide to pay a bit higher than the market in certain jobs due to the value of retaining employees. Avoiding employee turnover.

Also, NO PERSON is forced to work for Amazon. If an adult does NOT like the conditions/pay/benefits/hours at Amazon, they are free to leave.

Before you and other commenters slam Bezos as a skinflint or any other nasty name you want to throw out there from your mighty high-horse, why don't you go out and start a business and pay your workers greater than market.

Also, agree with Haigha at 10/4/18 9:46am

REJ , says: October 4, 2018 at 2:41 pm
I encourage people not to buy from Amazon and patronize brick and mortar businesses instead. Bezos is seeking to monopolize all retail transactions and the loss of local stores puts everyone at risk of eventually having to pay whatever price he decides to set. It is the WalMart model on uber steroids. Don't give this man your money.
Ryan W , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:01 pm
"Consumer welfare is maximized when a business keeps its costs, including labor costs, as low as possible. If a business pays its employees more than the lowest price the market will bear for the type of workers they want to attract, it will be (i) paying them more than their marginal product, (ii) screwing its customers, (iii) making itself vulnerable to competitors, and (iv) acting as a charity rather than as a business."

This is the "Economics 101" version. No serious economist would take it as a fair representation of the real economy. The idea that employees will be paid their marginal product only applies, even in theory, to perfectly competitive markets. The trouble is that labour markets are, on average, even further from the perfect competition model than other markets. Any time there's market power, which Amazon has in spades, the perfect competition model won't apply. Unless you're talking about the sale of oranges or toilet paper, any economic model derived from the perfect competition assumption has to be taken with a gallon of salt.

RH , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm
I've been working at Whole Foods for year, so I'm in the lucky bunch of people who will see a big impact from this raise.

The notion that Amazon is just giving money away is hogwash. When the Prime discount program started this summer, my cashier job got MUCH more complicated and continues to be.

We're tasked with educating customers about the program, educating the Prime members in how to access it, and serving as tech support for those who can't figure out the app, all without making the transaction take too long.

We've been open to abuse from customers who have Amazon and take it out on us. Of course they are all liberals (as am I) but somehow these folks don't have the decency to avoid beating up on working class people because they hate the company we now work for.

We deserve this raise for the work we're doing to bring the Prime members into Whole Foods, which was the point of the Amazon-Whole Foods deal. I know that's not why we're getting a raise, but we're a "charitable cause" for Amazon.

The corporations people work for, including and especially Amazon, are not charities. They can afford to pay us what we're worth.

RH , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:28 pm
I mean – we're open to abuse from customers who *hate* Amazon.
RH , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:29 pm
Geez. I also meant. We're *not* a charitable cause for Amazon.
WILLIAM HARRINGTON , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:47 pm
I've worked at Amazon a few times during the Christmas rush, but then they just up and left their Coffeeville Kansas location. They abandoned their employees, so I don't do business with them.
Haigha , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:25 pm
"Any time there's market power, which Amazon has in spades, the perfect competition model won't apply."

Nope. No one has anything close to market power for unskilled and semi-skilled labor. It's entirely fungible, and therefore it's very likely that wages are (or would be absent government interference) a close approximation of marginal product.

Haigha , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:38 pm
"What galls me is that by paying for food stamps for people who are actually working for WalMart, Amazon etc., we are effectively subsidizing the employers, not the employees."

This is false. Market wages are not equal to the minimum amount that will prevent the employee from starving. They're set by supply and demand. Government benefits make their recipients *less* desperate for work, ceteris paribus, and therefore tend to *increase*, not decrease, the market wage for low-skilled workers (less supply = higher equilibrium price).

" followed by typical Rand/Rothbard rhetoric. This attitude illustrates why the 'market uber alles' ethos is irreconcilable with Christian anthropology."

"Rand/Rothbard"? Try Sowell/Econ 101.

Business is business, charity is charity, and government welfare is government welfare. We've known at least since Adam Smith that *everyone* will be wealthier when charity is kept separate from business. Let businesses maximize profits, and then let individuals be generous with their use of those profits. There's nothing in Christian anthropology that says we all have to be poorer than necessary because we're too dumb or twisted to understand economics.

PeterK , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:40 pm
what Bezos and Amazon are doing is similar to what Henry Ford did early in the 20th when he raised his workers wages to $5 a day

"Workers who had taken pride in their labor were quickly bored by the more mundane assembly process. Some took to lateness and absenteeism. Many simply quit, and Ford found itself with a crippling labor turnover rate of 370 percent. The assembly line depended on a steady crew of employees to staff it, and training replacements was expensive. Ford reasoned that a bigger paycheck might make the factory's tedium more tolerable."

https://www.thehenryford.org/explore/blog/fords-five-dollar-day/

the warehouse business is competitive. retailers are ramping hiring for the Christmas season and Amazon increasing the starting wage to $15/hr is a direct challenge to Target, WalMart and others. also his call for increasing the minimum wage to 7.25/hr is designed to hurt his competitors. one of his warehouses (I think) in China operates with only 4 employees a highly automated warehouse.

PeterK , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:42 pm
" then they just up and left their Coffeeville Kansas location. "

probably because it wasn't an ideal location
https://goo.gl/maps/E2fL6YLyqQK2

PeterK , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:46 pm
RH wrote "The corporations people work for, including and especially Amazon, are not charities. They can afford to pay us what we're worth."

poor RH is a classic liberal who doesn't understand how wages are determined. you paid not what you are worth, but rather what you add to the company. if you're only producing $12/hr for the company then your salary should be less than $12/hr not $15/hr otherwise the company will lose money. Now if you are paid $15/hr and are producing $16/hr of value for the company they are worth $15/hr
I would suggest that you read some Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman

JonF , says: October 4, 2018 at 6:04 pm
Re: I encourage people not to buy from Amazon and patronize brick and mortar businesses instead.

This has actually gotten very hard to do (at least if you replace "Amazon" with "online vendors" in general). We've gotten to the point where brick and mortar businesses all too often carry only items of mass appeal. If you need something that is not a mass taste item you'll probably have to get it online.

Jonah R. , says: October 4, 2018 at 7:16 pm
Suburbanp wrote: "Our children should be writing reports about Bezos, just as they should about Ford and Gates and other visionary entrepreneurs."

Sure, they can write about how Bezos has dozens of communities around the country falling all over themselves to give billions in tax breaks to the company in exchange for being the location for Amazon's "second headquarters." Maryland, for example, wants to pony up $8.5 billion and is promising to repair and build custom infrastructure specifically for Amazon.

So yeah, have kids write those school essays about crony capitalism. And make sure they include the stories of people who run donut shops and gas stations and thousands of other small business owners in those communities who get shafted by taxes and regulations even as their state and county governments roll out the red carpet for a popular, narcissistic billionaire.

Tom S. , says: October 4, 2018 at 9:22 pm
Actually raising salaries is better than some of the "perks" that other companies provide in lieu of higher pay.
the other sara , says: October 4, 2018 at 10:05 pm
"For the love of money is the root of all evil " 1 Tim. 6:10. Methinks someone worth $161 billion – that's a billion with a "b" – might just love money a leetle too much. Hey Bezos, if you're reading this, I challenge you to live on $15/hr for 1 year and see how you manage. For the love of all that is good and holy, Jeff Bezos could DOUBLE the salary of all those who make $15/hr and still have $127 billion leftover to spare – which is still an insane sum of money in the hands of one person! This is nothing short of corporate serfdom! And I'm not advocating for socialism here, I'm just saying that capitalism, in the absence of a strong Judeo-Christian ethic, usually leads to unbridled avarice!

hey amhixson: ditto!

Socrates , says: October 4, 2018 at 10:37 pm

This is the "Economics 101" version. No serious economist would take it as a fair representation of the real economy. The idea that employees will be paid their marginal product only applies, even in theory, to perfectly competitive markets. The trouble is that labour markets are, on average, even further from the perfect competition model than other markets. Any time there's market power, which Amazon has in spades, the perfect competition model won't apply. Unless you're talking about the sale of oranges or toilet paper, any economic model derived from the perfect competition assumption has to be taken with a gallon of salt.

Gee, if only someone had written about that recently

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/opinion/corporate-america-suppressing-wages.html

Tom D , says: October 4, 2018 at 11:01 pm
So much to comment on.

To start off with, RobG is wrong when he makes this claim: "Bezos and his ilk have street cred with social liberals, so they get a pass." I see Bezos and Amazon get trashed on liberal blogs on a pretty regular basis.

Now, wading through the comments, a variety of observations:
1. $15/hour without the stock options and stuff is probably better for most of the workers than much lower pay with those options. When you're not making a lot of money, a stable base pay matters, as does getting the money now, not much later when the stock options vest.
2. Bezos obviously does expect to ultimately benefit from doing this. Possible benefits include being able to hire better employees, lower turnover, and customer good will. He's not running a charity, nor would I expect him to do so in today's business environment and culture.
3. That said, the overall culture when it comes to wealth is pretty badly fouled up. It is obscene that one person can accumulate a net worth of $160 billion, and it certainly is not conducive to a stable and healthy society.
4. That said, I don't particularly blame Bezos for being obscenely wealthy -- he's playing the game with the rules that actually exist. If we don't like that (and we shouldn't), then we as a society should change those rules.

cka2nd , says: October 5, 2018 at 1:56 am
I was once told that a former boss of mine, in describing me to a recent hire, called me "our favorite communist." I think Matt in VA has become my favorite conservative.

Well done, sir, very well done.

Rob G , says: October 5, 2018 at 8:04 am
~~To start off with, RobG is wrong when he makes this claim: "Bezos and his ilk have street cred with social liberals, so they get a pass." I see Bezos and Amazon get trashed on liberal blogs on a pretty regular basis.~~

If that's true I'm happy to hear it (depending on what they're being trashed for, of course).

"We've gotten to the point where brick and mortar businesses all too often carry only items of mass appeal. If you need something that is not a mass taste item you'll probably have to get it online."

Very true, unless you have a local retailer near you that will do special orders. Not everyone does.

"I would suggest that you read some Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman"

Fiscal libertarianism is part of the problem, not the solution. I would in turn suggest that you read some John Medaille and Albino Barrera.

John Blythe , says: October 6, 2018 at 6:01 pm
Jeff Bezos owns 17% of Amazon; the remainder is owned by people like, well, me, a schoolteacher married to a schoolteacher. Years ago, I was impressed with the service Amazon provided its customers and invested money in the company. Because Bezos recognized he had fiduciary duties–that is to say, moral duties–to those who had entrusted their money with him, I have seen that stock price appreciate. Consequently, I am in a position to send my children to college and help my mother as she ages. Had Bezos operated Amazon as a charity–contrary to the duties he had assumed to shareholders–I would be out of luck.

Rod, I am awed and grateful for your energy on so many issues, but please try to avoid the nonsensical, attention-grabbing ledes and articles that betray a deep ignorance of some elementary concepts of economics and the profound morality of the free market.

[Oct 05, 2018] William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

Jun 07, 2013 | youtu.be

William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

https://youtu.be/qB3KR8fWNh0

[Oct 05, 2018] 500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent *It's Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys*

Jan 10, 2014 | www.globalresearch.ca

http://www.globalresearch.ca/500-years-of-history-shows-that-mass-spying-is-always-aimed-at-crushing-dissent/5364462

[Oct 02, 2018] Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

Oct 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

Art , says: August 10, 2017 at 6:28 pm GMT

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

"The people" and their mass interests are preeminent in the hierarchy things. Like it or not -- Google is a product of our culture -- therefor our culture has a valid claim on its actions.

It comes down too private ownership vs. public interest. As a pure libertarian I do not like it -- but as a realist, the mass interests of the people counts.

The "golden mean" must win out. A compromise must be reached.

Google's actions must be regulated.

Peace -- Art

utu , says: August 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm GMT
@Art STEVE BANNON WANTS FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE REGULATED LIKE UTILITIES

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-facebook-and-google-regulated-like-utilities/

Darin , says: August 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm GMT
@Art

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility

Why you think United States Googlemaster General would be more friendly to free speech than current Google leadership?

Igor , says: August 11, 2017 at 5:24 pm GMT
Google wants to be
Ein Land
Ein Volk
Ein Führer

[Sep 29, 2018] Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

Sep 29, 2018 | www.unz.com

Art , says: August 10, 2017 at 6:28 pm GMT

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

"The people" and their mass interests are preeminent in the hierarchy things. Like it or not -- Google is a product of our culture -- therefor our culture has a valid claim on its actions.

It comes down too private ownership vs. public interest. As a pure libertarian I do not like it -- but as a realist, the mass interests of the people counts.

The "golden mean" must win out. A compromise must be reached.

Google's actions must be regulated.

Peace -- Art

utu , says: August 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm GMT
@Art STEVE BANNON WANTS FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE REGULATED LIKE UTILITIES

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-facebook-and-google-regulated-like-utilities/

Darin , says: August 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm GMT
@Art

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility

Why you think United States Googlemaster General would be more friendly to free speech than current Google leadership?

[Sep 22, 2018] Google admits it lets hundreds of third party apps read your emails by Valentin Wolf /

Notable quotes:
"... "so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data." ..."
"... In practice, this means that any app that shares your private data with advertisers must disclose this fact in their privacy policy. This is seen first in a pop-up box that includes a note that the app wants permission to "read, send, delete and manage your email." However, information about the marketers this data is shared with can often be more difficult to find. ..."
"... In their letter to the company, the senators claim that one marketing company, Return Path Inc, read the private contents of 8,000 emails to train its AI algorithms. ..."
"... "not limited to your name, email address, username and password." ..."
"... At least 379 apps available on the Apple and Android marketplaces can access users' email data. In Google's letter to Congress, the firm declined to say when, if ever, it has suspended an app for not complying with its rules. ..."
"... Google itself has mined users' emails since Gmail was launched in 2004, but announced last year that it would stop the practice, amid privacy concerns and a federal wiretapping lawsuit. ..."
"... "discuss possible approaches to safeguarding privacy more effectively." ..."
"... Everything you've ever searched for on any of your devices is recorded & stored by Google https://t.co/8KGgO0xT92 ..."
"... Like this story? Share it with a friend! ..."
Sep 20, 2018 | www.rt.com

Omnipresent tech giant Google told US senators that it lets third-party apps read data from Gmail accounts and share this information with marketers, even though Google itself allegedly stopped this practice last year. In a letter sent to the lawmakers in July and made public on Thursday, Google said that developers may share your data with third parties for the purposes of ad-targeting, "so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data."

In practice, this means that any app that shares your private data with advertisers must disclose this fact in their privacy policy. This is seen first in a pop-up box that includes a note that the app wants permission to "read, send, delete and manage your email." However, information about the marketers this data is shared with can often be more difficult to find.

Read more Google lets 3rd-party app developers read your emails - report

Google's letter came in response to a request by Republican senators for information about the scope of the email content accessible to these third parties. In their letter to the company, the senators claim that one marketing company, Return Path Inc, read the private contents of 8,000 emails to train its AI algorithms.

Return Path told the Wall Street Journal at the time that, while it did not explicitly ask users whether it could read their emails, permission is given in their user agreements, which state that the company collects personal information including but "not limited to your name, email address, username and password."

At least 379 apps available on the Apple and Android marketplaces can access users' email data. In Google's letter to Congress, the firm declined to say when, if ever, it has suspended an app for not complying with its rules.

Google itself has mined users' emails since Gmail was launched in 2004, but announced last year that it would stop the practice, amid privacy concerns and a federal wiretapping lawsuit.

Now, privacy officials from Google, Apple and Amazon are preparing to travel to Capitol Hill next week, for a Commerce Committee hearing . There, the tech companies will be asked to "discuss possible approaches to safeguarding privacy more effectively."

Everything you've ever searched for on any of your devices is recorded & stored by Google https://t.co/8KGgO0xT92

-- RT (@RT_com) March 30, 2018

The hearing is another in a series of grillings faced by the tech industry since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal revealed in March that Facebook allowed a third party to collect personal information on millions of users. Google CEO Larry Page was invited to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on political bias, foreign interference and privacy on tech platforms earlier this month, but declined to show up, sending a written testimony instead.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!

[Sep 22, 2018] A confidential report by Belgian investigators confirms that British intelligence services hacked state-owned Belgian telecom giant Belgacom on behalf of Washington

Sep 22, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al September 21, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Euractiv with AFP: Belgian inquest implicates UK in phone spying
https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/belgian-inquest-implicates-uk-in-phone-spying/

A confidential report by Belgian investigators confirms that British intelligence services hacked state-owned Belgian telecom giant Belgacom on behalf of Washington, it was revealed on Thursday (20 September).

The report, which summarises a five-year judicial inquiry, is almost complete and was submitted to the office of Justice Minister Koen Geens, a source close to the case told AFP, confirming Belgian press reports

The matter will now be discussed within Belgium's National Security Council, which includes the Belgian Prime Minister with top security ministers and officials.

Contacted by AFP, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office and the cabinet of Minister Geens refused to comment .
####

NO. Shit. Sherlock.

So the real question is that if this has known since 2013, why now? BREXIT?

[Sep 16, 2018] Amazon Employees Investigated Over Suspected Black Market For Information, Favors by Tyler Durden

So your information and private data can be traded for some small amount of money to God knows whom
Notable quotes:
"... Considering that Amazon employees in the US are some of the most poorly paid in tech and retail (Jeff Bezos was recently booed by his own employees over low wages), perhaps the WSJ' s theory holds water. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Amazon has launched an investigation to track down a sophisticated network of employees running a "black market" of confidential information and favors, illegally sold through intermediaries to site merchants in order to give them a competitive advantage over other sellers, reports the Wall Street Journal .

In addition to providing sales metrics, search keywords and reviewers' email addresses, bribed Amazon employees would delete negative feedback for around $300 per review, with middleman brokers typically demanding a five-review minimum from merchants looking to game the system.

Employees of Amazon, primarily with the aid of intermediaries , are offering internal data and other confidential information that can give an edge to independent merchants selling their products on the site, according to sellers who have been offered and purchased the data, brokers who provide it and people familiar with internal investigations.

...

In exchange for payments ranging from roughly $80 to more than $2,000 , brokers for Amazon employees in Shenzhen are offering internal sales metrics and reviewers' email addresses, as well as a service to delete negative reviews and restore banned Amazon accounts , the people said.

...

Amazon is investigating a number of cases involving employees, including some in the U.S., suspected of accepting these bribes , according to people familiar with the matter. -WSJ

The data brokers primarily operate ion China, as the number of new Amazon sellers in the country has been skyrocketing. The Journal speculates that " Amazon employees in China have relatively small salaries, which may embolden them to take risks. "

Considering that Amazon employees in the US are some of the most poorly paid in tech and retail (Jeff Bezos was recently booed by his own employees over low wages), perhaps the WSJ' s theory holds water.

The internal probe was launched after a tip over the practice in China was sent to Eric Broussard, an Amazon VP in charge of overseeing global marketplaces. The company has since moved key executives into different positions in China to try and "root out the bribery," reports the Journal .

"We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties," an Amazon spokeswoman said of the situation, confirming that the company is investigating the claims. The same applies to sellers: "We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them ," she said.

Merchant network

A major component of Amazon's success is its massive network of third-party merchants, where the company derives the majority of merchandise sales. Over two million merchants now offer an estimated 550 million products over Amazon, which constitutes over half of all units sold on the site. Third party sales constituted an estimated $200 billion in gross merchandise volume last year, according to estimates by FactSet.

As such, "Sellers must aggressively compete to get their products noticed on the first page of search results, where customers typically make most of their purchase decisions," notes the Journal .

Evolving manipulations

Merchants have long sought competitive advantages over each other - first gaming Amazon's automated ranking system, by paying people to leave fake reviews and drive traffic to products.

After some time, the black market for internal information emerged, as bribed employees began providing data and access to various benefits, according to a person who has facilitated by brokers.

Brokers are the middlemen between Amazon employees and sellers who want negative reviews deleted or access to internal sales information. Brokers search for Amazon employees on Chinese messaging platform WeChat and send messages asking them if they would like to provide these services in exchange for cash , according to brokers and sellers who say they have been approached by brokers.

The going rate for having an Amazon employee delete negative reviews is about $300 per review , according to people familiar with the practice. Brokers usually demand a five-review minimum, meaning that sellers typically must pay at least $1,500 for the service, the people said. -WSJ

For a lower fee, merchants can pay Amazon employees for the email addresses of verified reviewers, giving them the opportunity to reach out to those who have left negative reviews for the opportunity to persuade them to adjust or delete their comment - sometimes bribing the reviewer with a free or discounted product.

Also offered for sale is proprietary sales information, "such as the keywords customers typically use to search for items on Amazon's site, sales volume and other statistics about buyers' habits, according to the people," enabling Amazon sellers to better craft product descriptions in a manner which will boost their search result rankings.

At a recent conference hosted for sellers -- which wasn't run by Amazon -- a broker pulled up internal keyword results on his laptop. The broker said $80 can buy information on sales data, the number of times users searched for a certain product and clicked on a product page, which sellers are bidding for advertisements and how much those cost, according to the person who viewed the results. -WSJ

One seller in China told the Journal that competition on the website had become so intense that he needs to cheat in order to gain a competitive advantage. " If I don't do bad things I will die ," he said.

If all else fails in rooting out the black market, perhaps Bezos will simply release the hounds:


surf@jm , 9 minutes ago

China's motto......

Who needs Christian morality, when lying, cheating and stealing is our religion.....

surf@jm , 9 minutes ago

China's motto......

Who needs christian morality, when lying, cheating and stealing is our religion.....

Suicyco , 44 minutes ago

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys

Last of the Middle Class , 44 minutes ago

Just like Wal Mart charging by the inch for shelf space. Same game different monkeys.

Normal , 44 minutes ago

Prime example of how the US is a fascist state: the corporation gets government to enforce law on poor people.

DoctorFix , 1 hour ago

When Amazon opened the flood gates of corruption and scams by allowing Chinese sellers to compete with Americans on the US site... well, the locals were fucked! Lying, scamming Chinese fuckers don't care who or how they screw you. And Amazon doesn't give a shit so long as it makes money. Fuck Amazon! That's why I cancelled any prime membership and haven't bought a damn thing from them in ages.

803Mastiff , 1 hour ago

And the Pentagon farmed out their servers to AWS.....What are Amazon employees getting paid for military intel?

richsob , 1 hour ago

If local retailers have a crappy inventory and the stores are staffed with surly Millennials, then why shouldn't I buy stuff on Amazon at a better price? I support local businesses that deserve being supported. The rest of them sound like a bunch of whiny liberals who feel "entitled" to my money.

cornflakesdisease , 2 minutes ago

Everything on Amazon can be found online somewhere else cheaper. You check out the item on Amazon and then buy it elsewhere. Any seller has to mark up on Amazon to pay Amazon. Logically, then, from his direct website, he would be slightly cheaper.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stanley-Hardware-S758-305-Chest-Handle/dp/B000FKF1NQ/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1537135278&sr=8-16&keywords=chest+handles

https://www.midlandhardware.com/185512.html

Cardinal Fang , 1 hour ago

I'm sorry, did I miss the part where Disgruntled Amazon employees sell access to the CIAs web farms?

Being Free , 1 hour ago

I have a letter from a woman who used to work with Bezos at a McDonalds restaurant when they were both in high school in Miami. She says Bezos walked her home from McDonalds one day after work and sexually attacked her in her home. He tried to rip her clothes off her but she managed to escape his evil clutches. She was and is so distraught over this incident that she is still afraid especially now that he is such a wealthy and powerful man.

just the tip , 44 minutes ago

well played.

JoeTurner , 1 hour ago

Oligarchs bitchez ! it's their country....you just pay the taxes...

ZD1 , 1 hour ago

"A major component of Amazon's success is its massive network of third-party merchants, where the company derives the majority of merchandise sales. Over two million merchants now offer an estimated 550 million products over Amazon, which constitutes over half of all units sold on the site. Third party sales constituted an estimated $200 billion in gross merchandise volume last year, according to estimates by FactSet."

Mostly Chicom sweatshop shit.

abgary1 , 1 hour ago

Giving away our privacy for convenience sake is inane and insane.

Have we become that lazy and ignorant?

Without privacy and thus freedom we have nothing.

Midas , 37 minutes ago

Give me convenience or give me death!

--Jello Biafra

pitz , 1 hour ago

That's nothing. Amazon has access to the business data of a large number of businesses that use AWS. The possibilities of abuse there are nearly endless.

bluebird100 , 1 hour ago

Get fucked Amazon, that's what you get for doing business in China.

ExplodingEntropy , 1 hour ago

tiny dick chicom down-voted you

http://www.auricmedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/the_matrix_deciphered.pdf

wetwipe , 1 hour ago

Fuckin' sick of people moaning about Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc, yet spending half their life on there and buying shit from them.

Personally I can't stand what Amazon has become and would never spend £1 with them.

Facebook is evil shit designed to re-wire the brain to make you a self conscious narcissist which will ultimately end in misery.

Google are a million miles away from 'do no evil' but TBH they have a very good product however they are evil scumbags.

These companies literally believe they are gods, that they control the world.... just like the big banks did before 2008.

I hope the crash comes soon.

-WetWipe

mrtoad , 1 hour ago

Banks do control the world

MARDUKTA , 1 hour ago

President will destroy them soon/CIA.

MedicalQuack , 1 hour ago

Heck, this is not just China being solicited, a couple weeks ago I had 4 voicemails, all the same recording stating "making $17.00 to $35.00 an hour posting reviews to Amazon. I didn't answer the calls and saw that they were junk and didn't run upon them until I checked my voicemail for a real message I had missed and there they were.

They all had a different number to call and a different company name, but it was the same recorded message on all 4 of them and this happened in a couple days, 2 on one day, and another 2 the next day. I guess they figured I was not going to respond and took me off attempt #5:)

Why wouldn't folks in the inside go after a scam like this, look at their CEO, a big fat quant from Wall Street..and of course we have all heard and read the stories about how Amazon pays...

This being said, I don't think this scam was just limited to China..if I remember correctly, this was promoted as part time work with posting reviews to Amazon and work as many hours as you like. I deleted all of them so I can't go back and listen again as they were just nuisance calls like others that I just get rid of.

MARDUKTA , 1 hour ago

Bezos partnered with some tribal chieftain in Nigeria who is CEO of Scams-R-Us.

RafterManFMJ , 1 hour ago

Everything's a lie, and the lie is everything

[Sep 16, 2018] To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry's authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now

Sep 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anonymous says: September 16, 2018 at 10:02 am GMT 200 Words

To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry's authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now. Amazon is currently the reference source. For a book to be forbidden by Amazon renders it largely invisible. It is equivalent to burning the book. So this is not a matter of Amazon exercising the prerogative of private enterprise. Amazon is a monopoly. It has no rival. If your book doesn't exist on Amazon, then for most people who are not research specialists, your book doesn't exist. The consequences for the pursuit of knowledge are ominous.

Exactly. And this kind of global monopoly power can't be diminished in time with naive, "free market – just go somewhere else", Libertarian sound-bites. People who believe in that fairytale are beyond naive. Amazon, YouTube, Reddit and Twitter are untouchable in an environment where their competitors can barely offer a fraction of a fraction of the Worldwide audience to their "content creators" and very few content creators to the audience. This built-in inertia is self-reinforcing and tremendously inert. It's also the reason why the Globalists have spared no expense to own those platforms.

Free speech will have to be enforced and saved politically. Waiting for Zuckenberg to un-fuck it is a fool's errand.

Deschutes , says: September 16, 2018 at 10:29 am GMT

@Anonymous
To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry's authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now. Amazon is currently the reference source. For a book to be forbidden by Amazon renders it largely invisible. It is equivalent to burning the book. So this is not a matter of Amazon exercising the prerogative of private enterprise. Amazon is a monopoly. It has no rival. If your book doesn't exist on Amazon, then for most people who are not research specialists, your book doesn't exist. The consequences for the pursuit of knowledge are ominous.
Exactly. And this kind of global monopoly power can't be diminished in time with naive, "free market - just go somewhere else", Libertarian sound-bites. People who believe in that fairytale are beyond naive. Amazon, YouTube, Reddit and Twitter are untouchable in an environment where their competitors can barely offer a fraction of a fraction of the Worldwide audience to their "content creators" and very few content creators to the audience. This built-in inertia is self-reinforcing and tremendously inert. It's also the reason why the Globalists have spared no expense to own those platforms.

Free speech will have to be enforced and saved politically. Waiting for Zuckenberg to un-fuck it is a fool's errand. Great post! YouTube is another monopoly. I've tried many of the alternatives like Vimeo, Daily Motion, etc but they simply don't have the depth of content to compete. Google has fucked up Youtube with the same censorship as Amazon.

[Sep 15, 2018] More Facebook Censorship by snoopydawg

Notable quotes:
"... "It seems like the censorship power many people on the left want Silicon Valley executives to unilaterally exercise might end up being wielded against the left. One good way to know that would happen is that is already is happening." ..."
"... teleSUR English's page has been removed from Facebook for the second time this year without any specific reason being provided. It should be noted that the first time this occurred back in January 2018, Facebook did NOT provide any explanation in spite of our best efforts to understand their rationale. This is an alarming development in light of the recent shutting down of pages that don't fit a mainstream narrative. ..."
"... Your Page "teleSUR English" has been removed for violating our Terms of Use. A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in the permanent loss of your account. ..."
"... Max Blumenthal tweet shows the role of the Atlantic counsel had in removing the site from Facebook. Click the link to show who is on the counsel. This group has had a hand in a lot of shit that has been happening since Trump was elected. ..."
"... It is Deeply Concerning when one of the biggest social media platform censors whomever the hell they want and people say that "what's the big deal? It's a private company that should be able to monitor the content if they want." ..."
"... private company ..."
"... Here's a Reuters article on the role of the Atlantic Council. And yes, their board is a rogue's gallery of warmongers and imperialists. Reuters ..."
"... They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get. ..."
"... They track your web movement any time you read a page that has their "like us" button. They can learn everything about you from your family and friends who are on it because they get access to their contacts in their phones and tons of other places. This is a huge invasion of privacy, but no one should be surprised. The CIA gave Zucchini his start up money to build his site for that reason. ..."
"... I realize not participating in social media does not exempt me from the surveillance state. Heaven forbid they miss someone. But it's one or three less things I am giving absolute permission to my life. ..."
"... Ceterem censeo, Facebook delendum est! ..."
"... @thanatokephaloides ..."
"... inspired me to seek it out and add it to my home page. I'm going to paste Infowars (Alex Jones) on here too, just to spite them. Also, it's good to know what the crazies are up to. Jones got a big spike from the ban. ..."
Aug 14, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

'Deeply Disturbing': For Second Time This Year, Facebook Suspends Left-Leaning teleSUR English Without Explanation

"It seems like the censorship power many people on the left want Silicon Valley executives to unilaterally exercise might end up being wielded against the left. One good way to know that would happen is that is already is happening."

For the second time this year, Facebook has suspended teleSUR English's page, claiming the left-leaning Latin American news network violated the social media platform's terms of service without any further explanation -- a move that provoked outrage and concern among journalists, free speech advocates, and Big Tech critics.

In a short article posted on teleSUR's website on Monday, the regional news network -- which is based in Venezuela but also has received funding from Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua -- explained:

teleSUR English's page has been removed from Facebook for the second time this year without any specific reason being provided. It should be noted that the first time this occurred back in January 2018, Facebook did NOT provide any explanation in spite of our best efforts to understand their rationale. This is an alarming development in light of the recent shutting down of pages that don't fit a mainstream narrative.

According to the outlet, "the only communication" teleSUR has received from Facebook is the following message:

Your Page "teleSUR English" has been removed for violating our Terms of Use. A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in the permanent loss of your account.

Max Blumenthal tweet shows the role of the Atlantic counsel had in removing the site from Facebook. Click the link to show who is on the counsel. This group has had a hand in a lot of shit that has been happening since Trump was elected.

Facebook has just deleted the page of @telesurenglish . A network source tells me FB justified eliminating the page on the vague basis of "violation of terms." The NATO-backed @DFRLab is currently assisting FB's purge. This is deeply disturbing. pic.twitter.com/MQe3Brdn15

-- Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) August 13, 2018

It is Deeply Concerning when one of the biggest social media platform censors whomever the hell they want and people say that "what's the big deal? It's a private company that should be able to monitor the content if they want."

Well it seems that its a Big Fucking Deal when that private company is working hand in hand with the government. Facebook has already been removing left leaning website's post for some time now and it looks like they are upping their game.


Azazello on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 2:47pm

Here's a Reuters article on the role of the Atlantic Council. And yes, their board is a rogue's gallery of warmongers and imperialists.
Reuters
Amanda Matthews on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 5:51pm
It's kind of ironic that these are HONORARY

@Azazello

Directors. There's some real stinkers on that list. 'Honor' has nothing to fo with it.

Honorary Directors

David C. Acheson
James A. Baker, III
Harold Brown
Frank C. Carlucci, III
Ashton B. Carter
Robert M. Gates
Michael G. Mullen
Leon E. Panetta
William J. Perry
Colin L. Powell
Condoleezza Rice
Edward L. Rowny
George P. Shultz
Dr. Horst Teltschik
John W. Warner
William H. Webster

Raggedy Ann on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 3:15pm
They're coming for all of us.

If you don't think that, then good luck. They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Good luck to us all. Let's hope a supervolcano blows before we are all actually further imprisoned in this open air prison.

snoopydawg on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 5:08pm
Doesn't matter if you signed up for FB or not

@Raggedy Ann

They track your web movement any time you read a page that has their "like us" button. They can learn everything about you from your family and friends who are on it because they get access to their contacts in their phones and tons of other places. This is a huge invasion of privacy, but no one should be surprised. The CIA gave Zucchini his start up money to build his site for that reason.

Many lefties were happy when FB deleted Jones and were mad at the Twitter guy who didn't. The site that they censored today isn't an American one, but I'm sure those lefties would be sh*tting bricks if FB did that to Rachel's show and website.

If you don't think that, then good luck. They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Good luck to us all. Let's hope a supervolcano blows before we are all actually further imprisoned in this open air prison.

The Aspie Corner on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 5:21pm
Rachel is right-wing. And she tows their uniparty line.

@snoopydawg If she's left-wing, I'm the queen of England.

#2

They track your web movement any time you read a page that has their "like us" button. They can learn everything about you from your family and friends who are on it because they get access to their contacts in their phones and tons of other places. This is a huge invasion of privacy, but no one should be surprised. The CIA gave Zucchini his start up money to build his site for that reason.

Many lefties were happy when FB deleted Jones and were mad at the Twitter guy who didn't. The site that they censored today isn't an American one, but I'm sure those lefties would be sh*tting bricks if FB did that to Rachel's show and website.

Raggedy Ann on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 8:34pm
Don't I know it, snoopy.

@snoopydawg

I realize not participating in social media does not exempt me from the surveillance state. Heaven forbid they miss someone. But it's one or three less things I am giving absolute permission to my life.

Anyway, it's disheartening how we are giving away our freedoms so easily.

snoopydawg on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 10:21pm
Or maybe how they are taking them away from us

@Raggedy Ann

and not enough people care about it because it. This I don't get. They are the ones who say that our military is fighting to defend our freedoms and yet they say that it's okay if the government spies on them because they have nothing to hide.

#2.1

I realize not participating in social media does not exempt me from the surveillance state. Heaven forbid they miss someone. But it's one or three less things I am giving absolute permission to my life.

Anyway, it's disheartening how we are giving away our freedoms so easily.

thanatokephaloides on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 7:46pm
ceterem censeo.....

@Raggedy Ann

I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Ceterem censeo, Facebook delendum est!

(Further, I opine, Facebook must be abolished!)

edit: Adjusted translation to less violent (but still accurate) terminology.

If you don't think that, then good luck. They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Good luck to us all. Let's hope a supervolcano blows before we are all actually further imprisoned in this open air prison.

QMS on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 4:26pm
Like you, we avoid the social immedia

like the plague. Really donna needa that much back feeden (jive talk for feedback, aka faceback)

after all, it's the rooskies to blame

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lP5Xv7QqXiM

The Aspie Corner on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 4:53pm
The left will never have a say anywhere.

The pigs will make sure of that.

thanatokephaloides on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 8:01pm
Why c99's still on Facebook

@mimi

So, why is C99p then still on Facebook?

Probably because we are careful just which Essays we post over there. Also, there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UL6BdiaGaJ

mimi on Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:34am
hmm ... well ... never mind /nt

@thanatokephaloides

#5

So, why is C99p then still on Facebook?

Probably because we are careful just which Essays we post over there. Also, there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UL6BdiaGaJ8

earthling1 on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 11:28pm
The purge of telsur

inspired me to seek it out and add it to my home page. I'm going to paste Infowars (Alex Jones) on here too, just to spite them. Also, it's good to know what the crazies are up to. Jones got a big spike from the ban.

snoopydawg on Wed, 08/15/2018 - 1:08am
Big, big spike in traffic to his site

@earthling1

Infowars Website Traffic Explodes After Silicon Valley Blacklists Alex Jones

Silicon Valley's coordinated purge of all things Infowars from social media has had an unexpected result; website traffic to Infowars.com has soared in the past week, according to Amazon's website ranking service Alexa.

That said, Google and Apple are still allowing people to access Infowars content via apps, which have seen their downloads spike as well.

Consumers still can access InfoWars through the same tech companies that just banned it. Google still offers the Infowars app for Android users, and Apple customers can download it through the App Store.

As of Friday, the show's phone app remained near the top of the charts in both the Apple App and Google Play stores. Infowars Official, an app that lets viewers stream Jones' shows and read news of the day, was ranked fourth among trending apps in the Google Play store Friday. In the news category on Apple's App Store, Infowars earned the fourth slot under the top free apps, behind Twitter and News Break, a local and breaking news service, revealing a sudden boost of user downloads. –American Statesman

I like your idea. I'm going to hit both sites daily just to spite them.

inspired me to seek it out and add it to my home page. I'm going to paste Infowars (Alex Jones) on here too, just to spite them. Also, it's good to know what the crazies are up to. Jones got a big spike from the ban.

[Sep 15, 2018] The censorship escalated lately but it is of course following a long trend -- Facebook was shutting down pro-Palestine pages, and of course there was the PropOrNot fiasco and the tweaking of Google s algorithms to suppress alternative websites

Notable quotes:
"... People with original content and distingushable personalities were purged from Twitter for reasons that are hard to discern ..."
"... Probably 99% of posters at Twitter (the only "social media" that I read) are amateurs who never had time, talent or inclination to post anything original. ..."
"... If we count re-tweets or copies of pictures of cute cats and puppies, the percentage of "inauthenticity" is huge. But when one posts about atrocities in Yemen rather than puppies or adorable Israeli settlers in West Bank then he/she can be identified as a "threat". To USA? to humanity? to puppies? to the adorable settlers?. Who knows and who cares. ..."
"... what you see going on nowadays reminds you of George Orwells "2 minutes of hate" in his book 1984. ..."
"... Why (for what reason) is anybody on this social media shit? Not a rhetorical question; I dumped all of it well more than a decade ago. I'm not claiming some kind of superiority here; just questioning where critical thinking skills failed big time. It should have been obvious (it was to me) where this would end. And here we are... ..."
"... I don't see much serious debate on FB. Most people are communicating with friends, or people they call friends. And they are not anonymous which makes people cautious about expressing their true feelings. ..."
"... Selling advertisements is Facebook's business. Well only partially, a secondary line. Their main business is harvesting the psychometric data all its users so carelessly hand them, and then selling said data on to nefarious third parties. ..."
"... In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted--what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. ..."
"... Amazon (and others) banning books is the updated version of book burning. ..."
"... Young Millennials were drawn to Facebook like 1950's teenyboppers were drawn to smoking. All the kids were doing it. Decades later, those smokers paid a terrible price: lung cancer, COPD, etc. And they had even (unknowingly) poisoned their own kids (via secondhand smoke). ..."
"... People simply have no "sense" for systemic risk. We only seem to learn via disaster. Whether it is social media, MIC, financial markets, propaganda, climate change, etc. ..."
"... "Free Syrian Army sentences Syrian doctor to 6 months in prison for criticizing Erdogan on Facebook" ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

worldblee , Aug 22, 2018 9:02:34 PM | 26

Authentic = Pro-US (and allies), pro-Atlanticist, pro-corporate (at least, the right corporations), pro-Israel

Inauthentic = pro-Russian, Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian, Venezuelan, etc.

The inauthentic voices shall be censored without mercy.

Piotr Berman , Aug 22, 2018 9:20:38 PM | 27

I followed FireEye link a bit and I have several conclusions.

1. The diagram they made about several "inauthentic sites" is totally bogus. People have various reasons to create anonymous accounts, for example if they have Saudi citizenship and they post something "pro-Iranian" because of authentic views they may be kidnapped, whipped and perhaps even executed. An American citizens may want to be anonymous if his/her views are unpopular among H management where they work. Besides several black lines of "shared e-mail addresses" that are already inconclusive they have "red arrows" of "promotional activity", presumably links, re-Tweets etc. of which there are billions.

2. I checked a "persona" and black-linked "fake journal". Persona has almost zero activity, 3 Twitter followers. Journal seems to be somewhat fake because it has several articles with low originality, nicely looking frontpage and some pages that are totally empty (e.g. Central Asia). It seems that this is one person effort to collate themes and views to his/her liking and practice web design, and due to sparse posting and mediocre originality, probably zero effective influence.

3. Eliminating 543 such accounts changes next to nothing given their sparse traffic. But FireEye identifies them as "threats". WFT?

4. By the way of contrast, when I followed tweets about fighting in Syria I witness huge concerted waves of masked re-tweets, identical tweets presented not as re-tweets that clearly had the purpose of swamping the traffic sympathetic to their opponents. The numbers were not surprising given the number of jihadi volunteers that actually served as cannon fodder rather than twitter warriors.

5. People with original content and distingushable personalities were purged from Twitter for reasons that are hard to discern (posting bloody pictures from battlefields? non-purged accounts show them too).

Probably 99% of posters at Twitter (the only "social media" that I read) are amateurs who never had time, talent or inclination to post anything original. For example they may find several posts of their liking and re-post them, expressing their views without inventing new content. If they create more than one account and are noticed by others, they could fall into FireEye criteria.

If we count re-tweets or copies of pictures of cute cats and puppies, the percentage of "inauthenticity" is huge. But when one posts about atrocities in Yemen rather than puppies or adorable Israeli settlers in West Bank then he/she can be identified as a "threat". To USA? to humanity? to puppies? to the adorable settlers?. Who knows and who cares.

Guerrero , Aug 23, 2018 12:34:08 AM | 28
That's quite an intelligent and observant post Piotr Berman. The evolution of the social media phenomena has me, for one, astounded. Not to mention confounded. How to go viral?

That's the question to answer. Even the mightiest sea wall can not resist the big tide.

Guerrero , Aug 23, 2018 1:24:26 AM | 30
I had never heard of the claquer tradition. Only, now there are robotic claquers. Oooof!
George Lane , Aug 23, 2018 2:01:02 AM | 31
@25 pB, respectfully, you must not know a lot of people... Many, many people still use Facebook and even use it as their main source of information; instead of ridiculing and thinking oneself superior to these people, we should engage them where they are at and tell them that it is not the best place to rely on for news.

The social media censorship has certainly escalated lately but it is of course following a long trend - we've known for several months for example that Facebook was shutting down pro-Palestine pages at the behest of the Israeli, American, and German governments, and of course there was the PropOrNot fiasco and the tweaking of Google's algorithms to supress alternative, mainly (real, not liberal-capitalist) left-wing websites. I am hopeful however that in a sense the cat is out of the bag, there is a critical mass of people who simply do not trust enough in the official channels anymore, and eventually all this censorship will backfire. That is an optimistic view anyway...

Harry , Aug 23, 2018 4:05:38 AM | 32
When I tried to open MoA at work today, got a message: "Access denied. Contact Administrator."

Congratz 'b! Your work is noticed and active suppression started by the usual suspects. If they didn't deem you noteworthy, they wouldn't bother.

Zanon , Aug 23, 2018 4:26:30 AM | 33
DM

Alot of people get news from Facebook, after all why wouldn't they? Its all about sharing links, just like here or any other social media place.

chris , Aug 23, 2018 6:20:46 AM | 34
there's a long and even honourable history behind the use of such professional actors going back to Ancient Egypt and the use of wailers at high-class peoples funerals, and one could see the point to all of that. But that was all done for the best of intentions.

unfortunately the modern incarnation of such ancient traditions is now being done for all the worst of intentions. (originally it was all done to generate positive emotions and feelings) nowadays its the complete opposite.

what you see going on nowadays reminds you of George Orwells "2 minutes of hate" in his book 1984.

if you are going to say anything, at please do try to be positive or constructive. Otherwise probably best not to do or say anything at all.

V , Aug 23, 2018 6:36:03 AM | 35
Why (for what reason) is anybody on this social media shit? Not a rhetorical question; I dumped all of it well more than a decade ago. I'm not claiming some kind of superiority here; just questioning where critical thinking skills failed big time. It should have been obvious (it was to me) where this would end. And here we are...
Zanon , Aug 23, 2018 7:32:38 AM | 38
V

Certainly a justification , but not on on my part: Two-thirds of American adults get news from social media: survey
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet-socialmedia/two-thirds-of-american-adults-get-news-from-social-media-survey-idUSKCN1BJ2A8

fastfreddy , Aug 23, 2018 8:48:30 AM | 40
34

there's a long and even honourable history behind the use of such professional actors going back to Ancient Egypt and the use of wailers at high-class peoples funerals, and one could see the point to all of that. but that was all done for the best of intentions.

Best of intentions, maybe not. The proletariat struggled greatly against their rulers. Slavery and serfdom were cultural norms. Not that these were attendees of upper class funerals, but in service to the elite to be sure. The illusion that oppressors are benevolent must be upheld. The reports would be spread throughout the town. Perhaps we were wrong in our assessment that ol' Joe was a cruel and miserable oppressor.

This trick has endured through the ages. See Facebook. By the looks of it, everyone now suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.

dh , Aug 23, 2018 10:08:21 AM | 41

@36 I don't see much serious debate on FB. Most people are communicating with friends, or people they call friends. And they are not anonymous which makes people cautious about expressing their true feelings.
Charles R , Aug 23, 2018 10:43:45 AM | 42
I work in a library part-time. Most of my regular patrons who do nothing but use the computers use Facebook for their entire two hours for messaging friends or lovers, or they divide up their time between that and YouTube videos. I try to help them from time to time figure out the latest changes to their Facebook accounts, even though I haven't used it in years.

They're ordinary sorts of people whose lifestyles require them to get their Internet through our public space rather than at home, or they don't want to use their phones for it. There are also folks who have various social or physical disabilities who enjoy watching videos of trains and steam engines. There are also kids who don't use Facebook but watch endless reiterations of AI-generated YouTube videos or play roblox or agar.io.

So, I guess I'm saying people use social media shit to pass the time. Much like those of us who are passing the time using this site. While we might believe we are getting deeper to the truth of our realities through MoA, we're also sitting in front of a screen just as much.

Sometimes more.

dh , Aug 23, 2018 10:51:56 AM | 43
@42 "While we might believe we are getting deeper to the truth of our realities through MoA, we're also sitting in front of a screen just as much."

Party pooper! You just ruined my whole internet experience!

Ross , Aug 23, 2018 11:34:45 AM | 44

Selling advertisements is Facebook's business. Well only partially, a secondary line. Their main business is harvesting the psychometric data all its users so carelessly hand them, and then selling said data on to nefarious third parties.

@karlof1 | Aug 22, 2018 3:31:39 PM | 14

In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted--what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression.

While Amazon (and others) banning books is the updated version of book burning.

@Nicole | Aug 22, 2018 6:24:47 PM | 21

First they came for the revisionists...

Guerrero , Aug 23, 2018 12:32:57 PM | 45
V wrote: @35
Why (for what reason) is anybody on this social media shit? Not a rhetorical question; I dumped all of it well more than a decade ago. I'm not claiming some kind of superiority here; just questioning where critical thinking skills failed big time. It should have been obvious (it was to me) where this would end. And here we are...

I was active on a few web-places in the years 2002-2008 or so. The opportunity for "platonic dialog" was suited to my temperament I guess and the results were interesting.

I turned more than one big site on it's head with my questioning. Some of my posts went insanely viral. Those were the early days. I noticed professional trolls from the outset who seemed to be part of the web-site forum itself. They were my adversaries, and over time began to mimic my posts since no one could beat me at Socratic dialoging.

The topics were many different: for examples: global warming and the environmental ethos, the old Leibnitz-Newton argument, and regarding the justifications for the Iraq War...

It was fun! A Socratic dialog site with member-referees would actually be a great thing.

This is based on my experience: it is a great learning experience to have to defend a thesis. I did independent research at that time to avoid getting caught in an argument with my pants down. In every thread it was just about EVERYBODY in there against me.

(I knew the non-poster listeners were fascinated by what was going on. One site employed a software called Motet which is excellent for making repeated references to one´s own posts or to the posts of another or to documentary evidence, so the discussions don't get bogged down explaining the debate to new-comers). I came to realize that my posts were being studied when i drew some conclusions from the responses they were provoking.

Ten years ago, I totally dropped out of these kinds of internet forums where ideas might so usefully be examined in light of the opinions and knowledge of a diversity of persons.

Jackrabbit , Aug 23, 2018 12:57:18 PM | 46
b: "Facebook Kills ..."

Young Millennials were drawn to Facebook like 1950's teenyboppers were drawn to smoking. All the kids were doing it. Decades later, those smokers paid a terrible price: lung cancer, COPD, etc. And they had even (unknowingly) poisoned their own kids (via secondhand smoke).

People simply have no "sense" for systemic risk. We only seem to learn via disaster. Whether it is social media, MIC, financial markets, propaganda, climate change, etc.

Hey all the cool kids are on THIS side of the boat!!

Despite the well-known problems with Facebook, few care to explore alternatives. Here's one struggling for attention that pays for your time on the social network .

But the naivete of Millennials is now legendary. From SJW "snowflakes" to attractive joggers that think their cellphone protects them in sparsely populated areas :

Rivera told officials he exited his vehicle and started "running behind her and alongside her," according to the criminal complaint. Tibbetts then grabbed her phone and told him she was going to call the police , according to the criminal complaint.
james , Aug 23, 2018 1:05:53 PM | 47
well, at least one poster thinks fb is a viable place to get ''''information''', lol.... these promo pitches are getting worse by the minute..
james , Aug 23, 2018 1:15:51 PM | 48
fb is relevant.. the sultan in turkey thinks it is relevant and his goons in syria think it is relevant, lol..

"Free Syrian Army sentences Syrian doctor to 6 months in prison for criticizing Erdogan on Facebook"

and that is why i believe everything i read on the internut, especially on facebook, rof!

james , Aug 23, 2018 1:25:29 PM | 49
ot - i see harper at sst has an article up on zukerberg as well..HARPER: ZUCKERBERG JOINS THE WAR PARTY CONTINUED...
dh , Aug 23, 2018 1:30:01 PM | 50
@46 "But the naivete of Millennials is now legendary. From SJW "snowflakes" to attractive joggers that think their cellphone protects them in sparsely populated areas:..."

And that is precisely what I dislike about FB. If I was to post something like that there I would be called a fascist or dragged into unwinnable arguments. Or, horror of horrors, publicly unfriended.

(Messenger is pretty good though)

Mike P , Aug 23, 2018 1:46:39 PM | 51
@7
"...we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors."

Jeez, can't they at least produce a "highly likely" for us?

Here you go:

"...we assess with moderate confidence this activity is highly likely to originate from Iranian actors."

[Sep 12, 2018] Panic And Dismay Leaked Video Reveals Distraught Google Execs Grappling With Hillary Clinton's Loss

So Google is highly political entity and a close contacts to US intelligence agencies of you created and managed by intelligence agencies)
Sep 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:45 1.2K SHARES

Days after Google was exposed trying to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election, a leaked "internal only" video published by Breitbart Senior Tech correspondent Allum Bokhari reveals a panel of Google executives who are absolutely beside themselves following Hillary Clinton's historic loss.

The video is a full recording of Google's first all-hands meeting following the 2016 election (these weekly meetings are known inside the company as "TGIF" or "Thank God It's Friday" meetings). Sent to Breitbart News by an anonymous source, it features co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, VPs Kent Walker and Eileen Naughton, CFO Ruth Porat, and CEO Sundar Pichai . - Breitbart

In the video, Brin can be heard comparing Trump supporters to fascists and extremists - arguing that like other extremists, Trump voters suffered from "boredom" which has, he claims, historically led to fascism and communism.

He then asks his company what they can do to ensure a "better quality of governance and decision-making."

And according to Kent Walker, VP for Global Affairs, those who support populist causes like the MAGA movement are motivated by "fear, xenophobia, hatred and a desire for answers that may or may not be there."

He later says that Google needs to fight to ensure that populist movements around the world are merely a "blip" and a "hiccup" in the arc of history that "bends towards progress."

The video can be seen below, however scroll down for a list of timestamped segments to note, courtesy of Breitbart .

https://content.jwplatform.com/players/TYgVGuSC-o73dHpYz.html

me title=


outofnowhere ,

Google and it's execs seem to be a collective of Dr. Frankenstein's whose creation unknowingly or knowingly practices evil against innocence.

Little Girl Scene from 1931 Frankenstein and 1974 Young Frankenstein

We saw the scene in 1931 Frankenstein where the creature meets a young girl. Although a little afraid, she accepts him and plays games with him. After they throw all the petals from a flower into the lake, he looks around for something else to throw. He picks her up and throws her in. Until recently, the actual toss was cut from presentations of the film, because it is just too painful.

DeadFred ,

I have a friend who was there that night with the election coverage crew. He's a secret conservative trying not to lose his good paying job so I won't give details. But he described a scene to me that would be comical if it wasn't so pathetic. It was pretty much how it is described here and he had to just grit his teeth and try to keep from laughing or crying. "Just keep repeating, $190,000 per year"

uhland62 ,

When the Emperor (google) doesn't like his people he must go and find himself another people.

Thebighouse ,

SOMEHOW GOOGLE FACEBOOK TWITTER NEED TO PAY US FOR USING OUR PERSONAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION WITHOUT

"REAL" CONSENT.

Ever gone googling? They need to pay you for selling you information. It is blatant theft. You are ENTITLED TO YOUR MONEY.

I got that word entitled from Warren and obummers micky and barry. Oh and sharpton too.

bobdog54 ,

First, they may have a reasonably good, not high, IQ but it's clear the stark reality of the real world and its people are completely unknown to them or they have little to no integrity.

Second, maybe they are completely brain dead to support a clear criminal over 4 decades or they themselves are essentially of the criminal mind.

[Sep 10, 2018] Here's The Criticism Jeff Bezos and Amazon Actually Deserve

Notable quotes:
"... Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years "more than 400 American journalists have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency." He added: "The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception." ..."
"... Amazon has always been and will always remain a front for the deep state shenanigans. This company makes no money, and yet has one of the biggest market caps in the world. As to this that the Washington compost, traditional CIA media, has been purchased by no other than bezos himself, and that leaving any doubt aside, the same CIA just awarded him $600Mio per year to give them some disposable computing power. And then suddenly you hear all these stories about government agencies willing to make the same move... ..."
"... It looks like Bezos is a CIA asset. ..."
"... That it's about modern slavery, in a runup to the 4th industrial revolution. (in which these workers will be fired) ..."
"... I'm particularly troubled by Jeff Bezos and his connections with the CIA and deep state. The CEO of Amazon did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he expected newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. He purchased the long-trusted U.S. newspaper for the power it would ensure him in Washington and because it could be wielded as a propaganda mouthpiece to extend his ability to both shape and control public opinion. ..."
"... And because the CIA and Bezos are partners I wouldn't hold your breath for any changes. We now have a form of government subsidized neo-slavery. ..."
"... Well, Amazon is not a business, it's a surveillance agency masquerading as a business. ..."
Sep 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
By Joe Jarvis via The Daily Bell

... ... ...

I agree with portions of a letter sent to Jeff Bezos on behalf of 100 of his employees .

They are against certain government contracts Amazon fulfills.

The employees raised concerns over the facial recognition software called Rekognition, developed by Amazon. Amazon sells the software to law enforcement and federal policing agencies.

But facial recognition software is basically an unwarranted unreasonable search. You shouldn't have to reveal your identity to the government without being suspected of a crime. And with this software, just going out into public means the government will defacto search you, and be able to track your whereabouts.

In the letter, employees also spoke out against Amazon providing services to Peter Thiel's company Palantir .

Palantir offers predictive policing tools. It analyzes vast amounts of data in order to map complex social connections and behavior patterns.

Palantir is almost like Minority Report the police might know you are going to commit a crime before you do

The technology is named after the crystal balls used by the dark lord Sauron and evil wizard Saruman to spy on middle earth in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings .

The letter reads:

Dear Jeff,

We are troubled by the recent report from the ACLU exposing our company's practice of selling AWS Rekognition, a powerful facial recognition technology, to police departments and government agencies. We don't have to wait to find out how these technologies will be used. We already know that in the midst of historic militarization of police , renewed targeting of Black activists, and the growth of a federal deportation force currently engaged in human rights abuses -- this will be another powerful tool for the surveillance state, and ultimately serve to harm the most marginalized

We call on you to:

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there.

Amazon also contracts with the CIA, bringing in at least $600 million per year . They provide web services for high-security state secrets to the CIA and other U.S. spy agencies. Plus, Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. So the CIA pays Amazon $600 million per year. Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon. And Jeff Bezos is the sole owner of the Washington Post. Does that sound like a conflict of interest to you?

It is also interesting to note that the Washington Post has long been associated with the CIA . Project Mockingbird was a CIA operation which paid American journalists to publish certain information and bury other facts, depending on the interests of the CIA.

After creation of the CIA in 1947, it enjoyed direct collaboration with many U.S. news organizations. But the agency faced a major challenge in October 1977, when -- soon after leaving the Washington Post -- famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein provided an extensive expose in Rolling Stone.

Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years "more than 400 American journalists have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency." He added: "The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception."

Amazon and Jeff Bezos should be held accountable for providing oppressive tools to the government.

But they should not be criticized and punished for success, as Bernie Sanders' Stop BEZOS Act would do.

Then again if Bezos wants to make money from government contracts, maybe taking care of his employees from cradle to grave just comes with the territory. That money came from taxes. And taxes are are markedly different than free market revenue. "Customers" do not have direct control over how their tax dollars are spent. But apart from the government contracts, I could otherwise entirely remove my funding of Amazon in an instant by refusing to do business with it.

With government sources of funding, Amazon gift cards resembling a currency, and delivery "patrols" in your area , Amazon is looking more and more like a government

But that is a subject we will tackle next week. You don't have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

... ... ...


Adolfsteinbergovitch ,

Amazon has always been and will always remain a front for the deep state shenanigans. This company makes no money, and yet has one of the biggest market caps in the world. As to this that the Washington compost, traditional CIA media, has been purchased by no other than bezos himself, and that leaving any doubt aside, the same CIA just awarded him $600Mio per year to give them some disposable computing power. And then suddenly you hear all these stories about government agencies willing to make the same move...

It looks like Bezos is a CIA asset.

Reptil ,

No, calling out Bernie Sanders, that's a straw man tactic. And it's not accurate. Bernie attacked Jeff Bezos (and people like him) for NOT PAYING PROPER WAGES TO EMPLOYEES. And then that the taxpayers have to pay the extra to keep the employees from starving or becoming homeless. Which is something that can be prevented by..... proper wages.

How is that even possible? Well... it's a monopoly. Not a free market. So don't pretend it is (capitalism). It is not !!!!!!!!!!

And then it's not about something STUPID like "it's the poor attacking the rich." That's childish scaremongering, to hide the truth.

That it's about modern slavery, in a runup to the 4th industrial revolution. (in which these workers will be fired)

Yes, it's about the oligarchy trying to enslave the american people, with the PISSPOOR EXCUSE that for some reason, it's capitalism to not pay proper wages.

Ah yes and Jeff Bezos of course made a deal with the treacherous CIA, that part is true. That's fascism and high treason. But who's going to enforce that? Other oligarchs? Trump? The FBI? hahaha

William Binney had a great idea. To have the states secede from the Federation. Then form inter-state relationships. This way Washington DC will be bypassed.

But expect a fight. A tough one.

Let it Go ,

I'm particularly troubled by Jeff Bezos and his connections with the CIA and deep state. The CEO of Amazon did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he expected newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. He purchased the long-trusted U.S. newspaper for the power it would ensure him in Washington and because it could be wielded as a propaganda mouthpiece to extend his ability to both shape and control public opinion.

The article below supports the opinion that since buying the Post Bezos has used it to gain wealth and power and that Amazon is a job killing exploiter monster that needs to be stopped. http://Trump And Bezos Face Off Clash Of The Titans.html

Let it Go ,

It must be noted that retailers are closing stores all across America and the impact will be huge. Online retailer Amazon is by far the chief offender causing such grief. Over the last few years, stores such as Target and Macy's have even had to face a slew of dishonest shoppers trying to sneak defectives products purchased online back as exchanges and trading them for a fresh unbroken product. I have seen this costly abuse recommended by several online shoppers that see this as an "easy fix" while simply brushing aside the ethical issues it creates.

As stores close much of this space located in the large shopping malls that once flourished in commercial zones of suburbia will grow empty and abandoned. The article below is the second of a part-two series about the retail closings that are occurring across the country and contains a suggestion as to how we can blunt the damage it will create.

http://Online Transaction Fee Could Blunt Amazon's Edge html

MrBoompi ,

The American taxpayer should not have to pay for Amazon's or WalMarts shitty wages and refusal to provide more full time jobs with benefits. This has nothing to do with punishing success. And because the CIA and Bezos are partners I wouldn't hold your breath for any changes. We now have a form of government subsidized neo-slavery.

Scipio Africanuz ,

Now, before responding to this article, I find some folks who make asinine comments are preventing responses to their comments from being seen. That's fine, they can hide but they can't evade. I'll find out soon whether zerohedge is shadow banning comments, I'll call out asinine comments directly, I'll not respond to anyone anymore, until I understand what's really going on..

Back to the article, TDB makes a robust defense of capitalist "success" and that's fine. Bezos achieved his "success" on the back of the American tax payer. The rules of the game as structured, requires that he, and his oligarch buddies pay tax, just like mom and pop, no more, no less!

I believe in free exchange, and regulated markets. This means trade should be voluntary, and markets should run on honest weights and measures. I don't believe for a nanosecond, that markets should be unregulated, that breeds fraud, theft, and manipulation.

There can be no "free unregulated market", it's the utopia of the right, just as government dominated commerce, is the utopia of the left.

Now, Bezos is an ungrateful cronyist, and I say that without apology. He ought to learn a thing or two, from Henry Ford, and the Japanese thus - take care of your profit generators (employees), and your enabling environment (society), because they're your customers!

Exceptionalist economics have given capitalism a terrible reputation.

Folks often forget that man, by inherent nature, is a communist employing capitalism to create a compassionate society (socialism). The misunderstanding has cost millions of lives in the attempt to destroy capitalism, the very principle they ought to protect. The attempts are akin to closing the nasal and oral passage ways, and yet, hope to consume oxygen.

It'd be hilarious were it not so tragic...

pitz ,

Where's Amazon's profit though? Outside of AWS, they don't make any. Usually robber baron sort of companies are outrageously profitable. Amazon actually delivers their service at a loss, and subsidizes it through their only highly successful business, AWS, which is basically a glorified bank/subprime lender.

The Amazon P/E ratio is extremely irrational, but can the government be blamed for that?

Scipio Africanuz ,

Well, Amazon is not a business, it's a surveillance agency masquerading as a business. It doesn't have to make money as it's directly subsidised by the government, and boosted by the propaganda wing of the establishment, the MSM. Once you understand this, everything becomes clear, cheers...

[Sep 10, 2018] >Trump and Bernie: A Match Made in Tech Hell by Generally Risk

Sep 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Remember a few editions ago when I wrote in celebration of the cross-aisle cooperation between Senator Elizabeth Warren and President Donald Trump with respect to the re-engineering of the equity complex? After all, it was only a month ago. However, for those who fail this recall test, the gist of it was as follows. Senator Warren introduced a bill to regulate large corporations in a manner that de-emphasizes profits as a corporate objective, and the President sought to soften the blow by suggesting a reduction in the frequency at which company chieftains would be required to announce the certain-to-be bad news to the investing public.

At the time, I was deeply touched by the prospect of narrowing the gap between two schools of economic thought -- so deeply at odds with one another, to such deep annoyance and detriment to the well-being of the masses. However, I feared it was a "one-off".

So it brings me great pleasure to report upon the happy news that the divide continues to close. As my readers are probably aware, everyone's favorite Socialist Senior Citizen Senator: Bernie Sanders, took to the airwaves this past week to denounce the evils of what by many accounts is everyone's favorite publicly traded corporation. In live television interviews, and, of course, on Twitter, Bro Bernie entered into a full-throated denouncement of Amazon, going so far as to include a series of ad-hominem attacks on its fabulously infallible founder: one Jeff Bezos.

In doing so, Sen. Sanders joins a critical chorus led by the President, who for months has been throwing shade at the erstwhile bookseller that would take over the world. Bernie is passionately (if questionably) upset about the unfair treatment of Amazon workers. Trump is presumably most peeved at the temerity of Bezos at having taken ownership/control over the Washington Post. But both agree on one thing: the great unwashed are getting a raw deal with respect to the business arrangement between the Company and the

U.S. Postal Service.

I've looked into these matters, and objectively as I can determine, this is not an open and shut case against Amazon. Yes, they're getting a government (and therefore a taxpayer) subsidy, but they are arguably performing services that would be difficult and more expensive for the post office to undertake without them – rain, sleet, snow and gloom of night notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, to their everlasting credit, both Amazon and its shareholders reacted to the rhetorical pummeling with characteristic equanimity:


It's not as though they didn't feel the sting a bit, and here, the sentimental can be forgiven if they lament the timing. Sharp-eyed observers will note a slight down-tick in the price at the more immediate, right end portion of the graph. This reversal is all the more unfortunate because on Tuesday, the day after our traditional holiday celebrating the working class, the Company's valuation joined that of Apple's as the only business enterprise ever to surpass the lofty and heretofore unimaginable $1T threshold.

But that was then; as of Friday's close, Amazon's market capitalization fell to the beggarly-by- comparison level of $952B.

It says here that Amzonians of every stripe should keep that stiff upper lip demeanor at the ready, as I suspect they may face a string of challenges before the inevitable happens, and the Company achieves full global hegemony.

Because, while the following edict did not make the cut on my "10 Commandments of Risk Management", it probably should have: any enterprise that has found itself in the cross-hairs of both Trump and Bernie has reason to worry.

And if Amazon is staring into the face of a political spit storm, so, too, perhaps, are those other lovable Tech Titans whose stock performance have so deeply enriched us in the post-crash era. Consider, if you will, the recent pricing action of a couple of other tech darlings: Facebook and Twitter, linked not only by the social media stranglehold they collectively command, but also by the fact that each company sent one of their gods down from their heavenly Silicon Valley Olympus, to earthly Washington, where each faced full-on Capitol Hill roasting:

Facebook Defacing:

Twitter De-Tweeting:

Now, this is a Dickensian Tale of Two Stocks if ever there was one. With Zuck presumably hiding under his desk, Sheryl Sandberg taking the Congressional heat this round. In the wake of all that, Facebook managed to breach the lows registered after its historic July tanking of earnings, and is knocking on the door of breaking the bottoms recorded when Zuck had to explain away to hostile legislatures the pimping out of user data to sketchy organizations like Cambridge Analytica. By contrast, the long-besieged Twitter, which had been on an improbable profit upswing of late, managed to give back all and then-some in the wake of Jack Dorsey's Capitol Hill Star Chamber Inquisition.

Anybody notice a pattern here? Well, for me, what we're witnessing is the early innings of what I expect to be a slowly unfolding, populist/political undermining of the flower of the American Tech industry. Now, I don't expect anything overly nasty to transpire in the short term; more likely than not, the garroting of Silicon Valley high-flyers will be a multi-year proposition. Rather, I suspect that the TMT/big dogs of the NDX will more than likely reach new highs – perhaps material ones – before they face the prospect of careening, Icarus-like, to terra firma.

But if the prevailing tone – taking place as it is under a presumably business-friendly political paradigm -- is any indication, I shudder to think about what happens when the progressive elements re-assert their mojo and take hold of the control panel. And trust me, they will: if not immediately then eventually.

Of course, one cannot help but admire the way that West Coast Tech monsters – from San Diego to Seattle – have anticipated this, and attempted, and with some success, to brand themselves as torch carriers for the progressive mindset. I believe is that this will work for a while, but not into perpetuity. Eventually, they will be unmasked and vilified as the filthy, profit-seeking capitalists that they are.

And here, perhaps, is the main (if most obvious) point: as Tech goes, so goes the stock market. I don't have the exact figures handy, but I can assure you that if you review index gains over the last, say, five years, and remove the contribution of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google from the equation, you're looking at a chart that, best case, is flat as a pancake. As such, I don't think that the unfolding Madam Defarge (villainess of Tale of Two Cities, known most prominently for knitting at the guillotine) dynamic that I fear may be emerging in Tech-land is much cause for celebration.

The shortened week brought a small taste of the look and feel of the new-age vibe that awaits us. Equity indices retreated, but only modestly, and in manner that failed to capture the carnage that lies beneath. I may be connecting dots too far flung to merit they're linkage, but it is not lost on me that all of the above transpired against the backdrop of a deteriorating geopolitical sneaker fire (Nike?). I won't waste much space here, but between the editorial stylings of Anonymous, the absolute (if unsuccessful) effort to turn the Kavanaugh hearings into a pig circus, the breathless anticipation of another Bob Woodward political workover, and the unfortunate ramping up of trade skirmishes, it's hard not to look at the world with a glaze in one's eyes and a growing pit in one's stomach.

But of course and as always the news by no means all bad. The Jobs Report pretty much checks every bling box, so much so that slumbering holders of longer-term U.S. debt, and sold down some of their holdings. Factset is projecting another boffo quarter at about ~+20%.

Equities, though, remain a quandary nonetheless (as do Commodities), but my hunch is that the indices will gather themselves a bit over the next few sessions, before breaking everyone's heart – yet again -- later in the month. Moreover, if the months-long pattern holds (Trump offsetting domestic political bludgeons with accretive policy actions), I would expect some happy noise from the front of the trade wars over the next several days. There'd better be, because the long knives are out against the current administration, and the only defensive weapon at their disposal is one that involves playing offense on the economy.

I'm more than willing to do my share, so, as I sign off, know that I'm logging into my Amazon Prime account to purchase a holy document called "The Art of the Deal", along with "Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In", written by one Bernie Sanders, and released on November 15, 2016, exactly one week after the author of the former book, against all odds, won the presidential election.

Who knows? Maybe Donnie and Bernie have more common ground than they realize, and if I find anything of this sort, I'll be sure to pass it along – to them, and, of course, to you.

TIMSHEL

This post is brought to you by General Risk Advisors, a full service risk solutions group. For more information, visit genriskadvisors.com .

[Sep 07, 2018] Email Security Systems Miss Thousands of Malicious Links

Sep 07, 2018 | it.slashdot.org

(betanews.com) 45 Mimecast examined more than 142 million emails that had passed through organizations' email security vendors. The latest results reveal 203,000 malicious links within 10,072,682 emails were deemed safe by other security systems -- a ratio of one unstopped malicious link for every 50 emails inspected . The report also finds an 80 percent increase impersonation attacks in comparison to last quarters' figures. Additionally, 19,086,877 pieces of spam, 13,176 emails containing dangerous file types, and 15,656 malware attachments were all missed by these incumbent security providers and delivered to users' inboxes.

[Sep 07, 2018] Yahoo, Bucking Industry, Scans Emails for Data To Sell Advertisers

Sep 07, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

(wsj.com) 88 Yahoo still sees the practice as a potential gold mine . From a report: Yahoo's owner, the Oath unit of Verizon Communications has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain, searching for clues about what products those users might buy, said people who have attended Oath's presentations as well as current and former employees of the company. Oath said the practice extends to AOL Mail, which it also owns. Together, they constitute the only major U.S. email provider that scans user inboxes for marketing purposes.

[Sep 07, 2018] Google's $50 Titan Security Keys Are Now Available in the US

Sep 07, 2018 | it.slashdot.org

(engadget.com) 125 Google introduced its Titan Key -- a physical security key used for two-factor authentication -- and now it's widely available for purchase in the US through company's Google Store . Almost any modern browser and mobile device, as well as services such as Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce, Stripe support the Titan Key. It's Google's take on a Fast Identity Online key, a physical device used to authenticate logins over Bluetooth. From a report: For $50, you'll get a USB security key and a Bluetooth security key as well as a USB-C to USB-A adapter and a USB-C to USB-A connecting cable. What happens if you lose them? From a report: A downside of physical keys is that if lose them, you're toast. That's why you have two keys -- one is meant to be a backup. Google says it can help you gain access to your account again but the recovery process can take days. VentureBeat adds : It's not meant to compete with other FIDO keys on the market, stressed Sam Srinivas, product management director for information security at Google, during a press pre-briefing. Rather, it's "for customers who want security keys and trust Google," he said. Further reading: None of Google's 85,000 Employees Have Been Phished in More Than a Year After Company Required Them to Use Physical Security Keys For 2FA .

[Sep 04, 2018] The USA intelligence agencies push for elimination of Microsoft software in Russia and China

As soon as some idiot declare intention to prevail in cyberwarefare, the chances for Microsoft to survive in Rusia drop. the same is true about level of usage of Google, Facebook and other social sites controlled by the USA.
Sep 04, 2018 | nationalinterest.org
Prevailing in Today's Cyber Battlefield Requires Strategic Consensus

Eisenhower's Solarium Commission on the Soviet threat provides the best model to follow today.

by Annie Fixler Follow @afixler on Twitter L Tyler Stapleton Follow @Ty_D_Stapleton on Twitter L ,

In 1953, the United States stood at a precipice. After the death that year of Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin, senior U.S. cabinet officials could not agree on how to contain and confront Soviet expansion and aggression. So President Eisenhower devised an exercise to " analyze competing national strategies " to check the Soviets where possible and roll back their advances where feasible. The White House convened three teams of leading scholars and practitioners to analyze and craft distinct strategies so that the president could review the strongest arguments, reach consensus among his advisors, and determine the direction of U.S. policy. The exercise, Project Solarium , influenced U.S. national security policy for decades.

Sixty-five years later, this project is serving as the template for addressing a new challenge. The President this month signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 which created the Cyberspace Solarium Commission to forge consensus in the face of new and diverse threats in the cyber domain.

[Sep 03, 2018] The US Department of Homeland Security fabricated "intelligence reports" of Russian election hacking

Russiagate can be viewed as a pretty inventive way to justify their own existence for bloated Intelligence services: first CIA hacks something leaving traces of russians or Chinese; then the FBI, CIAand Department of Homeland security all enjoy additional money and people to counter the threat.
The scheme is almost untraceable
Sep 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
BM , Sep 3, 2018 12:54:15 PM | link

The US Department of Homeland Security fabricated "intelligence reports" of Russian election hacking in order to try to get control of the election infrastructure (probebly so that they can hack it more easily to control the election results).

How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

[Sep 03, 2018] Inspired by the Atlantic Council and Ben Nimmo, Facebook deletes Craig Murray's posts since July 2017 - apparently cause he's a 'Russian bot'

Sep 03, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk


Facebook has deleted all of my posts from July 2017 to last week because I am, apparently, a Russian Bot. For a while I could not add any new posts either, but we recently found a way around that, at least for now. To those of you tempted to say "So what?", I would point out that over two thirds of visitors to my website arrive via my posting of the articles to Facebook and Twitter. Social media outlets like this blog, which offer an alternative to MSM propaganda, are hugely at the mercy of these corporate gatekeepers.

Facebook's plunge into censorship is completely open and admitted, as is the fact it is operated for Facebook by the Atlantic Council - the extreme neo-con group part funded by NATO and whose board includes serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Heads Michael Hayden and Michael Morrell, and George Bush's chief of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff , among a whole list of horrors .

The staff are worse than the Board. Their lead expert on Russian bot detection is an obsessed nutter named Ben Nimmo, whose fragile grip on reality has been completely broken by his elevation to be the internet's Witchfinder-General. Nimmo, grandly titled "Senior Fellow for Information Defense at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab", is the go-to man for Establishment rubbishing of citizen journalists, and as with Joseph McCarthy or Matthew Clarke, one day society will sufficiently recover its balance for it to be generally acknowledged that this kind of witch-hunt nonsense was not just an aberration, but a manifestation of the evil it claimed to fight.

There is no Establishment cause Nimmo will not aid by labeling its opponents as Bots. This from the Herald newspaper two days ago, where Nimmo uncovers the secret web of Scottish Nationalist bots that dominate the internet, and had the temerity to question the stitch-up of Alex Salmond.

Nimmo's proof? 2,000 people had used the hashtag #Dissolvetheunion on a total of 10,000 tweets in a week. That's five tweets per person on average. In a week. Obviously a massive bot-plot, eh?

When Ben's great expose for the Herald was met with widespread ridicule , he doubled down on it by producing his evidence - a list of the top ten bots he had uncovered in this research. Except that they are almost all, to my certain knowledge, not bots but people . But do not decry Ben's fantastic forensic skills, for which NATO and the CIA fund the Atlantic Council. Ben's number one suspect was definitely a bot. He had got the evil kingpin. He had seen through its identity despite its cunning disguise. That disguise included its name, IsthisAB0T, and its profile, where it called itself a bot for retweets on Independence. Thank goodness for Ben Nimmo, or nobody would ever have seen through that evil, presumably Kremlin-hatched, plan.

No wonder the Atlantic Council advertise Nimmo and his team as " Digital Sherlocks ".

[Aug 29, 2018] How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

Notable quotes:
"... Special to Consortium News ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Washington Post. ..."
"... Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare ..."
"... If you valued this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one. ..."
Aug 29, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

August 28, 2018 • 9 Comments

Save

The narrative about Russian cyberattacks on American election infrastructure is a self-interested abuse of power by DHS based on distortion of evidence, writes Gareth Porter.

By Gareth Porter
Special to Consortium News

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration's intelligence chief, Dan Coats , as well.

But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive.

DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.

The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller's indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

A Sensational Story

On Sept. 29, 2016, a few weeks after the hacking of election-related websites in Illinois and Arizona, ABC News carried a sensational headline: "Russian Hackers Targeted Nearly Half of States' Voter Registration Systems, Successfully Infiltrated 4." The story itself reported that "more than 20 state election systems" had been hacked, and four states had been "breached" by hackers suspected of working for the Russian government. The story cited only sources "knowledgeable" about the matter, indicating that those who were pushing the story were eager to hide the institutional origins of the information.

(Erik Hersman/CC BY 2.0)

Behind that sensational story was a federal agency seeking to establish its leadership within the national security state apparatus on cybersecurity, despite its limited resources for such responsibility. In late summer and fall 2016, the Department of Homeland Security was maneuvering politically to designate state and local voter registration databases and voting systems as "critical infrastructure." Such a designation would make voter-related networks and websites under the protection a "priority sub-sector" in the DHS "National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which already included 16 such sub-sectors.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and other senior DHS officials consulted with many state election officials in the hope of getting their approval for such a designation. Meanwhile, the DHS was finishing an intelligence report that would both highlight the Russian threat to U.S. election infrastructure and the role DHS could play in protecting it, thus creating political impetus to the designation. But several secretaries of state -- the officials in charge of the election infrastructure in their state -- strongly opposed the designation that Johnson wanted.

On Jan. 6, 2017 -- the same day three intelligence agencies released a joint "assessment" on Russian interference in the election -- Johnson announced the designation anyway.

Media stories continued to reflect the official assumption that cyber attacks on state election websites were Russian-sponsored. Stunningly, The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2016 that DHS was itself behind hacking attempts of Georgia's election database.

The facts surrounding the two actual breaches of state websites in Illinois and Arizona, as well as the broader context of cyberattacks on state websites, didn't support that premise at all.

In July, Illinois discovered an intrusion into its voter registration website and the theft of personal information on as many as 200,000 registered voters . (The 2018 Mueller indictments of GRU officers would unaccountably put the figure at 500,000 . ) Significantly, however, the hackers only had copied the information and had left it unchanged in the database.

That was a crucial clue to the motive behind the hack. DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment told a Congressional committee in late September 2016 that the fact hackers hadn't tampered with the voter data indicated that the aim of the theft was not to influence the electoral process. Instead, it was "possibly for the purpose of selling personal information." Ozment was contradicting the line that already was being taken on the Illinois and Arizona hacks by the National Protection and Programs Directorate and other senior DHS officials.

In an interview with me last year, Ken Menzel, the legal adviser to the Illinois secretary of state, confirmed what Ozment had testified. "Hackers have been trying constantly to get into it since 2006," Menzel said, adding that they had been probing every other official Illinois database with such personal data for vulnerabilities as well. "Every governmental database -- driver's licenses, health care, you name it -- has people trying to get into it," said Menzel.

In the other successful cyberattack on an electoral website, hackers had acquired the username and password for the voter database Arizona used during the summer, as Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan learned from the FBI. But the reason that it had become known, according to Reagan in an interview with Mother Jones , was that the login and password had shown up for sale on the dark web -- the network of websites used by cyber criminals to sell stolen data and other illicit wares.

Furthermore, the FBI had told her that the effort to penetrate the database was the work of a "known hacker" whom the FBI had monitored "frequently" in the past. Thus, there were reasons to believe that both Illinois and Arizona hacking incidents were linked to criminal hackers seeking information they could sell for profit.

Meanwhile, the FBI was unable to come up with any theory about what Russia might have intended to do with voter registration data such as what was taken in the Illinois hack. When FBI Counterintelligence official Bill Priestap was asked in a June 2017 hearing how Moscow might use such data, his answer revealed that he had no clue: "They took the data to understand what it consisted of," said the struggling Priestap, "so they can affect better understanding and plan accordingly in regards to possibly impacting future elections by knowing what is there and studying it."

The inability to think of any plausible way for the Russian government to use such data explains why DHS and the intelligence community adopted the argument, as senior DHS officials Samuel Liles and Jeanette Manfra put it, that the hacks "could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome." But such a strategy could not have had any effect without a decision by DHS and the U.S. intelligence community to assert publicly that the intrusions and other scanning and probing were Russian operations, despite the absence of hard evidence. So DHS and other agencies were consciously sowing public doubts about U.S. elections that they were attributing to Russia.

DHS Reveals Its Self-Serving Methodology

In June 2017, Liles and Manfra testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that an October 2016 DHS intelligence report had listed election systems in 21 states that were "potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors." They revealed that the sensational story leaked to the press in late September 2016 had been based on a draft of the DHS report. And more importantly, their use of the phrase "potentially targeted" showed that they were arguing only that the cyber incidents it listed were possible indications of a Russian attack on election infrastructure.

Furthermore, Liles and Manfra said the DHS report had "catalogued suspicious activity we observed on state government networks across the country," which had been "largely based on suspected malicious tactics and infrastructure." They were referring to a list of eight IP addresses an August 2016 FBI "flash alert" had obtained from the Illinois and Arizona intrusions, which DHS and FBI had not been able to attribute to the Russian government.

Manfra: No doubt it was the Russians. (C-SPAN)

The DHS officials recalled that the DHS began to "receive reports of cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election-related infrastructure in some states, some of which appeared to originate from servers operated by a Russian company." Six of the eight IP addresses in the FBI alert were indeed traced to King Servers, owned by a young Russian living in Siberia. But as DHS cyber specialists knew well, the country of ownership of the server doesn't prove anything about who was responsible for hacking: As cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr pointed out , the Russian hackers who coordinated the Russian attack on Georgian government websites in 2008 used a Texas-based company as the hosting provider.

The cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect noted in 2016 that one of the other two IP addresses had hosted a Russian criminal market for five months in 2015. But that was not a serious indicator, either. Private IP addresses are reassigned frequently by server companies, so there is not a necessary connection between users of the same IP address at different times.

The DHS methodology of selecting reports of cyber incidents involving election-related websites as "potentially targeted" by Russian government-sponsored hackers was based on no objective evidence whatever. The resulting list appears to have included any one of the eight addresses as well as any attack or "scan" on a public website that could be linked in any way to elections.

This methodology conveniently ignored the fact that criminal hackers were constantly trying to get access to every database in those same state, country and municipal systems. Not only for Illinois and Arizona officials, but state electoral officials.

In fact, 14 of the 21 states on the list experienced nothing more than the routine scanning that occurs every day, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee . Only six involved what was referred to as a "malicious access attempt," meaning an effort to penetrate the site. One of them was in Ohio, where the attempt to find a weakness lasted less than a second and was considered by DHS's internet security contractor a "non-event" at the time.

State Officials Force DHS to Tell the Truth

For a year, DHS did not inform the 21 states on its list that their election boards or other election-related sites had been attacked in a presumed Russian-sponsored operation. The excuse DHS officials cited was that it could not reveal such sensitive intelligence to state officials without security clearances. But the reluctance to reveal the details about each case was certainly related to the reasonable expectation that states would publicly challenge their claims, creating a potential serious embarrassment.

On Sept. 22, 2017, DHS notified 21 states about the cyber incidents that had been included in the October 2016 report. The public announcement of the notifications said DHS had notified each chief election officer of "any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election." The phrase "potential targeting" again telegraphed the broad and vague criterion DHS had adopted, but it was ignored in media stories.

But the notifications, which took the form of phone calls lasting only a few minutes, provided a minimum of information and failed to convey the significant qualification that DHS was only suggesting targeting as a possibility. "It was a couple of guys from DHS reading from a script," recalled one state election official who asked not to be identified. "They said [our state] was targeted by Russian government cyber actors."

A number of state election officials recognized that this information conflicted with what they knew. And if they complained, they got a more accurate picture from DHS. After Wisconsin Secretary of State Michael Haas demanded further clarification, he got an email response from a DHS official with a different account. "[B]ased on our external analysis," the official wrote, "the WI [Wisconsin] IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission."

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said DHS initially had notified his office "that Russian cyber actors 'scanned' California's Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites." But under further questioning, DHS admitted to Padilla that what the hackers had targeted was the California Department of Technology's network.

Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Byron Dean also denied that any state website with voter- or election-related information had been targeted, and Pablos demanded that DHS "correct its erroneous notification."

Despite these embarrassing admissions, a statement issued by DHS spokesman Scott McConnell on Sept. 28, 2017 said the DHS "stood by" its assessment that 21 states "were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure." The statement retreated from the previous admission that the notifications involved "potential targeting," but it also revealed for the first time that DHS had defined "targeting" very broadly indeed.

It said the category included "some cases" involving "direct scanning of targeted systems" but also cases in which "malicious actors scanned for vulnerabilities in networks that may be connected to those systems or have similar characteristics in order to gain information about how to later penetrate their target."

It is true that hackers may scan one website in the hope of learning something that could be useful for penetrating another website, as cybersecurity expert Prof. Herbert S. Lin of Stanford University explained to me in an interview. But including any incident in which that motive was theoretical meant that any state website could be included on the DHS list, without any evidence it was related to a political motive.

Arizona's further exchanges with DHS revealed just how far DHS had gone in exploiting that escape clause in order to add more states to its "targeted" list. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan tweeted that DHS had informed her that "the Russian government targeted our voter registration systems in 2016." After meeting with DHS officials in early October 2017, however, Reagan wrote in a blog post that DHS "could not confirm that any attempted Russian government hack occurred whatsoever to any election-related system in Arizona, much less the statewide voter registration database."

What the DHS said in that meeting, as Reagan's spokesman Matt Roberts recounted to me, is even more shocking. "When we pressed DHS on what exactly was actually targeted, they said it was the Phoenix public library's computers system," Roberts recalled.

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (Wikimedia)

In April 2018, a CBS News "60 Minutes" segment reported that the October 2016 DHS intelligence report had included the Russian government hacking of a "county database in Arizona." Responding to that CBS report, an unidentified "senior Trump administration official" who was well-briefed on the DHS report told Reuters that "media reports" on the issue had sometimes "conflated criminal hacking with Russian government activity," and that the cyberattack on the target in Arizona "was not perpetrated by the Russian government."

NSA Finds a GRU Election Plot

NSA intelligence analysts claimed in a May 2017 analysis to have documented an effort by Russian military intelligence (GRU) to hack into U.S. electoral institutions. In an intelligence analysis obtained by The Intercept and reported in June 2017, NSA analysts wrote that the GRU had sent a spear-phishing email -- one with an attachment designed to look exactly like one from a trusted institution but that contains malware design to get control of the computer -- to a vendor of voting machine technology in Florida. The hackers then designed a fake web page that looked like that of the vendor. They sent it to a list of 122 email addresses NSA believed to be local government organizations that probably were "involved in the management of voter registration systems." The objective of the new spear-phishing campaign, the NSA suggested, was to get control of their computers through malware to carry out the exfiltration of voter-related data.

But the authors of The Intercept story failed to notice crucial details in the NSA report that should have tipped them off that the attribution of the spear-phishing campaign to the GRU was based merely on the analysts' own judgment -- and that their judgment was faulty.

The Intercept article included a color-coded chart from the original NSA report that provides crucial information missing from the text of the NSA analysis itself as well as The Intercept 's account. The chart clearly distinguishes between the elements of the NSA's account of the alleged Russian scheme that were based on "Confirmed Information" (shown in green) and those that were based on "Analyst Judgment" (shown in yellow). The connection between the "operator" of the spear-phishing campaign the report describes and an unidentified entity confirmed to be under the authority of the GRU is shown as a yellow line, meaning that it is based on "Analyst Judgment" and labeled "probably."

A major criterion for any attribution of a hacking incident is whether there are strong similarities to previous hacks identified with a specific actor. But the chart concedes that "several characteristics" of the campaign depicted in the report distinguish it from "another major GRU spear-phishing program," the identity of which has been redacted from the report.

The NSA chart refers to evidence that the same operator also had launched spear-phishing campaigns on other web-based mail applications, including the Russian company "Mail.ru." Those targets suggest that the actors were more likely Russian criminal hackers rather than Russian military intelligence.

Even more damaging to its case, the NSA reports that the same operator who had sent the spear-phishing emails also had sent a test email to the "American Samoa Election Office." Criminal hackers could have been interested in personal information from the database associated with that office. But the idea that Russian military intelligence was planning to hack the voter rolls in American Samoa, an unincorporated U.S. territory with 56,000 inhabitants who can't even vote in U.S. presidential elections, is plainly risible.

The Mueller Indictment's Sleight of Hand

The Mueller indictment of GRU officers released on July 13 appeared at first reading to offer new evidence of Russian government responsibility for the hacking of Illinois and other state voter-related websites. A close analysis of the relevant paragraphs, however, confirms the lack of any real intelligence supporting that claim.

Mueller accused two GRU officers of working with unidentified "co-conspirators" on those hacks. But the only alleged evidence linking the GRU to the operators in the hacking incidents is the claim that a GRU official named Anatoly Kovalev and "co-conspirators" deleted search history related to the preparation for the hack after the FBI issued its alert on the hacking identifying the IP address associated with it in August 2016.

A careful reading of the relevant paragraphs shows that the claim is spurious. The first sentence in Paragraph 71 says that both Kovalev and his "co-conspirators" researched domains used by U.S. state boards of elections and other entities "for website vulnerabilities." The second says Kovalev and "co-conspirators" had searched for "state political party email addresses, including filtered queries for email addresses listed on state Republican Party websites."

Mueller: Don't read the fine print. (The White House/Wikimedia)

Searching for website vulnerabilities would be evidence of intent to hack them, of course, but searching Republican Party websites for email addresses is hardly evidence of any hacking plan. And Paragraph 74 states that Kovalev "deleted his search history" -- not the search histories of any "co-conspirator" -- thus revealing that there were no joint searches and suggesting that the subject Kovalev had searched was Republican Party emails. So any deletion by Kovalev of his search history after the FBI alert would not be evidence of his involvement in the hacking of the Illinois election board website.

With this rhetorical misdirection unraveled, it becomes clear that the repetition in every paragraph of the section of the phrase "Kovalev and his co-conspirators" was aimed at giving the reader the impression the accusation is based on hard intelligence about possible collusion that doesn't exist.

The Need for Critical Scrutiny of DHS Cyberattack Claims

The DHS campaign to establish its role as the protector of U.S. electoral institutions is not the only case in which that agency has used a devious means to sow fear of Russian cyberattacks. In December 2016, DHS and the FBI published a long list of IP addresses as indicators of possible Russian cyberattacks. But most of the addresses on the list had no connection with Russian intelligence, as former U.S. government cyber-warfare officer Rob Lee found on close examination .

When someone at the Burlington, Vt., Electric Company spotted one of those IP addresses on one of its computers, the company reported it to DHS. But instead of quietly investigating the address to verify that it was indeed an indicator of Russian intrusion, DHS immediately informed The Washington Post. The result was a sensational story that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. power grid. In fact, the IP address in question was merely Yahoo's email server, as Rob Lee told me, and the computer had not even been connected to the power grid. The threat to the power grid was a tall tale created by a DHS official, which the Post had to embarrassingly retract.

Since May 2017, DHS, in partnership with the FBI, has begun an even more ambitious campaign to focus public attention on what it says are Russian "targeting" and "intrusions" into "major, high value assets that operate components of our Nation's critical infrastructure", including energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors. Any evidence of such an intrusion must be taken seriously by the U.S. government and reported by news media. But in light of the DHS record on alleged threats to election infrastructure and the Burlington power grid, and its well-known ambition to assume leadership over cyber protection, the public interest demands that the news media examine DHS claims about Russian cyber threats far more critically than they have up to now.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare .

If you valued this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.


David G , August 29, 2018 at 2:42 am

From yesterday's (8/28) NY Times, p. A19, Corrections:

"An article on Thursday [print edition; Wednesday web] about a suspected hacking of the Democratic National Committee misstated what cybersecurity officials said about hackers' efforts to gain access to the organization's voter database. The officials said the hackers *may* have sent so-called spearphishing emails to D.N.C. officials, not that they *did* send such emails."
[*emphasis added*]

Charming. But wait, there's more!

Unmentioned in this correction is that the entire original article was rendered nugatory the next day (i.e. last Thursday), when the Times reported that (oops), "[t]he suspected hacking attempt of the Democratic National Committee's voter database this week was a false alarm, and the unusual activity that raised concern was merely a test, party officials said on Thursday."

But while the original article – which had "Russia" sprinkled liberally throughout, despite no claim of a Russian connection to the alleged attempted hack being reported – appeared in the print edition (8/23), the follow-up saying the whole thing was just a mistake and never-mind was web-only. (This puts the Times's motto "All the news that's fit to print", if taken literally, in a curious new light.)

And (to repeat) the correction in yesterday's paper referred only to the original article on an alleged hacking attempt, not to the followup article saying it never happened.

And so it goes.

Craig , August 29, 2018 at 1:40 am

I had impression that they said that there was not found that voter sites had been hacked.
Has it not been great propaganda campaign?

Gen Dao , August 29, 2018 at 12:22 am

Another great report by Gareth Porter. It should be top news at NYT, WaPo, CNN, and MSNBC, but unfortunately it won't be, because all four have degenerated into military industrial surveillance state propaganda outlets. Russiagate is the biggest hoax since Iraqi WMDs and Remember the Maine! If we didn't have outstanding real journalists like Porter, we would probably be at war with Russia right now. What this article shows very clearly is that our electoral system is under constant assault from criminal elements and political cheaters. We need to be having a national conversation right now on eliminating all digital voting machines and switching to paper ballots, but any questioning of the present system would upset the present advanced state of voter electoral fraud in the US and those who profit from it. Blaming electoral corruption and cheating in the US on a foreign boogeyman such as Russia (soon it will probably be China) is pretty obviously a method of hiding the real, domestic sources of various kinds of US electoral wrongdoing and of ensuring that those sources, including the so-called deep state, will continue to be able to operate effectively. The Clinton wing of the Dem Party is not the only group that regards election rigging as a justifiable means to a "good" end. I look forward to Mr. Porter's further research.

Gary Weglarz , August 28, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Events in the physical world now are simply unimportant sidelights since – "reality" – as it is reported in media – is completely fabricated and concocted out of thin air within the very mediocre brains of the numbskulls fronting for this dying empire. Corruption is as corruption does – I think Forrest Gump's mother said that.

KiwiAntz , August 29, 2018 at 1:27 am

Forest Gump's Mama said " Stupid is, as stupid does"! Sounds like the perfect logo to describe the American Nation State? A stupid Nation run by stupider people!

Jeff Harrison , August 28, 2018 at 6:15 pm

Lies, Damned Lies, and Government press releases. The real question is how long it will take before the American people really refuse to take the government at its word and demand proof. One of the worst things that the regime in Washington can do is to make American citizens mistrustful of the government.

KiwiAntz , August 29, 2018 at 1:20 am

The American people are completely gaslighted beyond belief & "captured" by their corrupt Govt & Leaders, to such an extent, that they will not question or dispute their Govt's narratives? Never has a Nation's citizens been so successfully brainwashed, in all of human history, as the American people have been & the only comparison that can be found is how Hitler & the Nazi's successfully hoodwinked the german people! The exception here is the American citizens, who frequent this website & are awake to their Govt's gross corruption & immoral actions around the globe! The rest of the US populace is asleep & want to stay that way?

john wilson , August 29, 2018 at 2:20 am

Well, KiwiAntz, you're probably right, but I think the accolade for stupidity, idiocy and acquiesce goes to we British people. Sheep are one of the worlds most common agricultural animals and we've got lots of them over here in the UK.

Dr. Ip , August 29, 2018 at 2:57 am

Since when have American citizens NOT been mistrustful of the government?

[Aug 28, 2018] Goodbye to All That by Judith Coburn

Notable quotes:
"... After 40 years as a journalist for a variety of media outlets, none of them fake, ..."
"... Judith Coburn became a private eye, specializing in death-penalty cases and searches for people whom filmmakers and writers want to find for their movies and books. ..."
Aug 28, 2018 | www.unz.com

Now that we know we are surveilled 24/7 by the National Security Agency , the FBI, local police, Facebook , LinkedIn , Google, hackers, the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, data brokers, private spyware groups like Black Cube , and companies from which we've ordered swag on the Internet, is there still any "right to be forgotten," as the Europeans call it? Is there any privacy left, let alone a right to privacy ?

In a world in which most people reveal their intimate secrets voluntarily, posting them on social media and ignoring the pleas of security experts to protect their data with strong passwords -- don't use your birth date, your telephone number, or your dog's name -- shouldn't a private investigator, or PI, like me be as happy as a pig in shit? Certainly, the totalitarian rulers of the twentieth century would have been, if such feckless openness had been theirs to abuse.

As it happens, tech -- or surveillance capitalism -- has disrupted the private investigation business as much as it's ripped through journalism, the taxi business , war making, and so many other private and public parts of our world. And it's not only celebrities and presidential candidates whose privacy hackers have burned through. Israeli spyware can steal the contacts off your phone just as LinkedIn did to market itself to your friends. Google, the Associated Press reported recently , archives your location even when you've turned off your phone. Huge online database brokers like Tracers , TLO , and IRBsearch that law enforcement and private eyes like me use can trace your address, phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts, family members, neighbors, credit reports, the property you own, foreclosures or bankruptcies you've experienced, court judgments or liens against you, and criminal records you may have rolled up over the years.

Ten years ago, to subscribe to one of these databases, I had to show proof that I was indeed a licensed investigator and pass an on-site investigation to ensure that any data I downloaded would be protected. I was required to have a surveillance camera and burglar alarm on the building where my office was located, as well as a dead bolt on my office door, a locked filing cabinet, and double passwords to get into my computer. Now, most database brokers just require a PI or attorney license and you can sign right up online. Government records -- federal and state, civil and criminal -- are also increasingly online for anyone to access.

The authoritarian snoops of the last century would have drooled over the surveillance uses of the smartphones that most of us now carry. Smartphones have, in fact, become one of the primo law enforcement tools other than the Internet. "Find my iPhone" can even find a dead body -- if, that is, the victim left her iPhone on while being murdered. And don't get me started on the proliferation of surveillance cameras in our world.

Take me. I had a classic case that shows just how traceable we all now are. There was a dead body, a possible murder victim, but no direct evidence: no witnesses, no DNA, no fingerprints, and no murder weapon found. In San Francisco's East Bay, however, as in most big American cities, there are so many surveillance cameras mounted on mom-and-pop stores, people's houses, bars, cafes, hospitals, toll bridges, tunnels, even in parks, that the police can collect enough video, block by block, to effectively map a suspect driving around Oakland for hours before hitting the freeway and heading out to dump a body, just as the defendant in my case did.

Once upon a time, cops and dirty private eyes would have had to attach trackers to the undercarriages of cars to follow them electronically. No longer. The particular suspect I have in mind drove his victim's car across a bridge, where cameras videotaped the license plate but couldn't see inside the car; nor, he must have assumed, could anyone record him on the deserted road he finally reached where he was undoubtedly confident that he was safe. What he didn't notice was the CALFIRE video camera placed on that very road to monitor for brush fires. It caught a car's headlights matching his on its way to the site he had chosen to dump the body. There was no direct evidence of the murder he had committed, just circumstantial, tech-based evidence. A jury, however, convicted him in just a few hours.

A World of Tech Junkies

In our world of the unforgotten, tech is seen as a wonder of wonders. Juries love tech. Many jurors think tech is simply science and so beyond disbelief. As a result, they tend to react badly when experts are called as defense witnesses to disabuse them of their belief in tech's magic powers: that, for instance, cellphone calls don't always pinpoint exactly where someone was when he or she made a call. If too many signals are coming in to the closest tower to a cell phone, a suspect's calls may be rerouted to a more distant tower. Similarly, the FBI's computerized fingerprint index often makes mistakes in its matches, as do police labs when it comes to DNA samples. And facial recognition systems, the hottest new tech thing around (and spreading like wildfire across China ), may be the most unreliable of all, although that certainly hasn't stopped Amazon from marketing a surveillance camera with facial recognition abilities.

These days, it's hard to be a PI and not become a tech junkie. Some PIs use tech to probe tech, specializing, for example, in email investigations in big corporate cases in which they pore through thousands of emails. I recently asked a colleague what it was like. "It's great," he said. "You don't have to leave your office and for the first couple of weeks you entertain yourself finding out who's having affairs with whom and who's gunning for whom in the target's office, but after that it's unspeakably tedious and goes on for months, even years."

When I started out, undoubtedly having read too many Raymond Chandler and Sue Grafton novels, I thought that to be a real private eye I had to do the old-fashioned kind of surveillance where you actually follow someone in person. So I agreed to tail a deadbeat mom who claimed to be unemployed and wanted more alimony from her ex. She turned out to be a scofflaw driver, too, a regular runner of red lights. (Being behind her, I was the one who got the tickets, which I tried to bill on my expense report to no avail.) But tailing her turned out to make no difference, except to my bank account. Nor did tech. Court papers had already given us her phone and address but no job information. Finally, I found her moonlighting at a local government office. How? The no-tech way: simply by phoning an office where one of her relatives worked and asking for her. "Not in today," said the receptionist helpfully and I knew what I needed to know. It couldn't have been less dramatic or noir -ish.

These days, tech is so omnipresent and omnivorous that many lawyers think everything can be found on the Internet. Two lawyers working on a death-penalty appeal once came to see me about working on their case. There had been a murder at a gas station in Oakland 10 years earlier. Police reports from the time indicated that there was a notorious "trap house" where crack addicts were squatting across from the gas station. The lawyers wanted me to find and interview some of those addicts to discover whether they'd seen anything that night. It would be a quick job, they assured me. (Translation: they would pay me chump change.) I could just find them on the Internet.

I thought they were kidding. Crack addicts aren't exactly known for their Internet presence. (They may have cell phones, but they tend not to generate phone bills, rental leases, utility bills, school records, mortgages, or any of the other kinds of databases collect that you might normally rely on to find your quarry.) This was, I argued, an old-fashioned shoe-leather-style investigation: go to the gas station and the trap house (if it still existed), knock on doors to see if neighbors knew where the former drug addicts might now be: Dead? Still on that very street? Recovered and long gone?

In a world where high-tech is king, I didn't get the job and I doubt they found their witnesses either.

You'd think that, in a time when tech is the story of the day, month, and year and a presidential assistant is even taping without permission in the White House Situation Room, anything goes. But not for this aging PI. I mean, really, should I rush over to a belly-dancing class in Berkeley to see if some guy's fiancée and the teacher go back to her motel together? (No.) Should I break into an ex-lover's house to steal memos she'd written to get him fired? (Are you kidding?) Should I eavesdrop on a phone call in which a wife is trying to get her husband to admit that he battered her? (Not in California, where the law requires permission from every party in a phone call to be on the line, thereby wiping out such eavesdropping as an investigative tool -- only cops with a warrant being exempt.)

I certainly know PIs who would take such cases and I'm not exactly squeaky clean myself. After all, as a journalist working for Ramparts magazine back in the 1960s, I broke into the basement of the National Student Association (with another reporter) to steal files showing that the group's leaders were working for the CIA and that the agency actually owned the very building they occupied. In a similar fashion, on a marginally legal peep-and-trespass in those same years, another reporter and I crawled through bushes on the grounds of a VA Hospital in Maryland where we had been told that we could find a replica of a Vietnamese village being used to train American assassins in the CIA's Phoenix program . That so-called pacification program would, in the end, kill more than 26,000 Vietnamese civilians. We found the "village," secretly watched some of the training, and filed the first piece about that infamously murderous program for New York's Village Voice .

Those ops were, however, in the service of a higher ideal, much like smartphone videographers today who shoot police violence. But most of surveillance capitalism is really about making sure that no one in our new world can ever be forgotten. PIs chasing perps in divorce cases are a small but tawdry part of just that. But what about, to take an extreme case in which the sleazy meets the new tech world big time, the FBI's pursuit of lovers of kiddy porn, which I learned something about by taking such a case? The FBI emails a link to a fake website that it's created to all the contacts a known child pornographer has on his computer or phone. It has the kind of bland come-on pornographers tend to use. If you click on that link, you get a menu advertising yet more links to photos with titles like "my 4-year-old daughter taking a bath." Click on any of those links and you'll be anything but forgotten. The FBI will be at your door with cuffs within days.

Does someone who devours child porn have a right to be forgotten? Maybe you don't think so, but what about the rest of us? Do we? It's hardly a question anymore.

The Good and Ugly Gotchas of This Era

When all the surveillance techniques on those information databases work, it's like three lemons lining up on a one-armed bandit. Recently, for instance, a California filmmaker called me, desperate. She was producing a movie about the first Nepalese woman to climb Mount Everest. Her team had indeed reached the summit, but were buried in an avalanche on the way down with only one survivor. The filmmaker wanted to find that man.

Could I do so? She didn't have enough money to send me to Nepal. (Rats!) But couldn't I find him on the Internet? His name, she told me, was Pemba Sherpa. What's his family name, I asked? That's when I found out that "sherpa" isn't just a Western term for Nepalese who guide people up mountains; it's the surname of many Nepalese. Great! That's like asking me to find John Smith with no birthdate, social security number, address, or even the Nepalese equivalent of the state where he lives. In my mind's eye, I could instantly see my database search coming up with the always frustrating "your search criteria resulted in too many records found." I also had my doubts that, despite the globalization of our tech world, most Nepalese were on the Internet.

Amazingly, however, checking out "sherpas," I promptly found a single Pemba in my search, unfortunately with -- the bane of a PI's life -- not another piece of information.

Okay, Google, I thought, it's all yours. No Pemba on the first five pages of my search there. (Groan.) But it was late at night and I was feeling obsessive, so I kept going. (Note to home investigators: don't give up on Google after those first few pages.) From earlier research, I had discovered that one of the main Nepalese communities outside that country was in Portland, Oregon, where many mountaineering companies are also based. On maybe my 28th Google page, I suddenly saw a link to a Portland alternative newspaper story from the mid-1990s. (Who was even scanning in such articles back then?)

I clicked on it. The piece was about a Portland Pemba Sherpa who had gone back to his native village to help its inhabitants get electricity. The article went on to say that he had left Nepal "because too many of his friends had died on the mountain." Hmmm. It also reported that he was married to a mathematics teacher at a Portland community college.

We're talking about a more-than-20-year-old article! Still, the next morning I doggedly called the college and yes, his wife was teaching math there. I was patched through to the math department where, yes again, the wife picked up and, yes, her husband was the sole survivor of that climb, and she was sure he'd want to be interviewed for the movie.

Bingo! The actual wonders of the Internet and a heartwarming story about someone who needed to be found. Finding an ancient nanny to invite to the wedding of a guy she had raised -- after they had been out of contact for decades -- proved a similarly happy search. But that's rare. The question, not just for PIs but for all of us, is this: Should everyone be so track down-able, even if they don't wish to be? Some investigators, in the spirit of the moment, think that if there's an unknowable about anyone, it should be uncovered. The journalist who outed novelist Elsa Ferrante really thought he'd done something, but it was just another in an increasing number of mean-spirited gotchas of our era.

Why do people need privacy anyway? The freedom and community that Internet utopians promised us has led instead to the scraping open of our lives by law enforcement, social media, hackers, marketers, and the world's governments. Now we're left largely to our own devices when it comes to what little we can do about it and the global surveillance culture that it's enmeshed all of us in.

Back in the late 1960s, Erwin Knoll, editor of the Progressive magazine, made President Richard Nixon's enemy list. That qualified him to be wiretapped by the FBI, so he asked his wife Doris to call female friends every day and discourse on grisly gynecological matters to disturb the listening agents (mostly male in those days). Erwin wondered if they wouldn't think it was some kind of code.

Alexa ! I just got back from my gynecologist and

After 40 years as a journalist for a variety of media outlets, none of them fake, TomDispatch regular Judith Coburn became a private eye, specializing in death-penalty cases and searches for people whom filmmakers and writers want to find for their movies and books.

[Aug 24, 2018] Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives

Notable quotes:
"... The boundaries for paranoia are moving rapidly. Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives. ..."
"... Inertia, or even misplaced patriotism over US corporations like Facebook, is the road to hell. ..."
"... The Second Amendment make specific provision for the people's right to prevent tyranny by their government in the material world. So far, the Constitution lacks a similar provision preventing government tyranny in cyberspace. This does not mean that defense of this right should be fought for any less vigorously and in the 21st century I'd consider it at least as important. ..."
"... Zuck and his ilk Sandberg are doing CYA and using those who have contacts inside the beltway. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | disqus.com

Barbara Ann 16 hours ago

Is there something wrong with this picture, or am I just being overly suspicious or even paranoid?

No, just "inauthentic".

The boundaries for paranoia are moving rapidly. Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives. I truly fear for SST in this fast-deteriorating environment. If Trump's presidency does nothing else but bring the thought-control swamp to the attention of the masses, he will have done his country a great service.

RaisingMac has the right idea.

Rights waste away unless frequently exercised and 'voting' to switch to less censorious platforms is a vital part of defending the right to free speech. Inertia, or even misplaced patriotism over US corporations like Facebook, is the road to hell.

The Second Amendment make specific provision for the people's right to prevent tyranny by their government in the material world. So far, the Constitution lacks a similar provision preventing government tyranny in cyberspace. This does not mean that defense of this right should be fought for any less vigorously and in the 21st century I'd consider it at least as important.

Pat Lang Mod Barbara Ann 11 hours ago ,

I, too, fear for SST. If there is silence one day it will be a case of "dead key" one way or another.

The Beaver 18 hours ago ,

Harper

Did you see this one also?

FireEye's tip eventually led Facebook to remove 652 fake accounts and pages. And Liberty Front Press, the common thread among much of that sham activity, was linked to state media in Iran, Facebook said on Tuesday.

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Zuck and his ilk Sandberg are doing CYA and using those who have contacts inside the beltway.

[Aug 22, 2018] Facebook Kills "Inauthentic" Foreign News Accounts - US Propaganda Stays Alive

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Internet Research Agency ..."
"... The anti-Russian mania in U.S. politics gives social media companies a welcome excuse to clamp down on promotional schemes for sites like Liberty Front Press by claiming that these are disinformation campaigns run by the U.S. enemy of the day . ..."
"... Moon of Alabama ..."
"... Moon of Alabama ..."
"... Well this surely shows that Facebook/Twitter is run through the help of US/Western intelligence ..."
"... Sorry, but, if you let any opinion on Facebook or Twitter sway your politics, you're an idiot. ..."
"... fireEye, google, yahoo, facebook and so many other tech companies are all in a few miles radius of one another in San Jose area of California ..."
"... In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted -- what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. ..."
"... Blogs today represent yesterday's broadsheets, and by using social media, they can increase their exposure to a wider audience. Thus, social media represents a point-of-control for those trying to shape/frame discourse/content. They may be private companies, but they interact with public discourse and ought to be subjected to Free Speech controls like the USA's 1st Amendment. ..."
"... Very many hi-tech companies in the US are working with the CIA. Such as Oracle that has an office on the east coast of the US that keeps a very low profile inside the company. ..."
"... Robert Bridge provides us with a timely written article dealing with the issue at hand: "And if US intel is in bed with Hollywood you can be damn sure they're spending time in the MSM whorehouse as well." ..."
"... IMHO, it would be foolish to presume that the CIA would simply discontinue and to walk away from (as it claims!) a program like Operation Mockingbird. Government agencies have famously infiltrated the Quakers (ferchrissakes!). Facebook was funded and developed by a CIA front shop. Zuckerburg is a dopey kid and a frontispiece. ..."
"... The danger of course is when people start to conclude that any media site permitted by FB or SM is Sanctioned by the Propaganda department of the Ministry of Truth and ignored. ..."
"... Trump would be hailed a savior if he were to morph into President Taft and Bust the Trusts like BigLie Media, its allied telecoms and social media corps. ..."
"... As to a lack authenticity, what about the tweets from outside Egypt pushing and reporting on the "Arab Spring" protests there. We have other examples of "inauthentic" social messaging on other agendas pushed like Syria. What about "A Gay Girl in Damascus?" ..."
"... who still uses facebook? The only people i know who still are active users are senior citizens. ..."
Aug 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The creation of digital content led to the re-establishment of claqueurs :

By 1830 the claque had become an institution. The manager of a theatre or opera house was able to send an order for any number of claqueurs. These were usually under a chef de claque (leader of applause), who judged where the efforts of the claqueurs were needed and to initiate the demonstration of approval. This could take several forms. There would be commissaires ("officers/commissioner") who learned the piece by heart and called the attention of their neighbors to its good points between the acts. Rieurs (laughers) laughed loudly at the jokes. Pleureurs (criers), generally women, feigned tears, by holding their handkerchiefs to their eyes. Chatouilleurs (ticklers) kept the audience in a good humor, while bisseurs (encore-ers) simply clapped and cried "Bis! Bis!" to request encores.

Today anyone can create content and rent or buy virtual claqueurs in from of "likes" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter to increase its distribution.

An alternative is to create artificial social media personas who then promote ones content. That is what the Internet Research Agency , the Russian "troll factory" from St. Petersburg, did. The fake personas it established on Facebook promoted IRA created clickbait content like puppy picture pages that was then marketed to sell advertisements .

The profit orientated social media giants do not like such third party promotions. They prefer that people pay THEM to promote their content. Selling advertisements is Facebook's business. Promotional accounts on its own platform are competition.

The anti-Russian mania in U.S. politics gives social media companies a welcome excuse to clamp down on promotional schemes for sites like Liberty Front Press by claiming that these are disinformation campaigns run by the U.S. enemy of the day .

Yesterday Facebook announced that it deleted a number of user accounts for "inauthentic behavior":

We've removed 652 Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US. FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, gave us a tip in July about "Liberty Front Press," a network of Facebook Pages as well as accounts on other online services.
...
We are able to link this network to Iranian state media through publicly available website registration information, as well as the use of related IP addresses and Facebook Pages sharing the same admins. For example, one part of the network, "Quest 4 Truth," claims to be an independent Iranian media organization, but is in fact linked to Press TV, an English-language news network affiliated with Iranian state media.
The FireEye report Facebook acted on notes:
FireEye has identified a suspected influence operation that appears to originate from Iran aimed at audiences in the U.S., U.K., Latin America, and the Middle East. This operation is leveraging a network of inauthentic news sites and clusters of associated accounts across multiple social media platforms to promote political narratives in line with Iranian interests. These narratives include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran, such as the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) .
...
Based on an investigation by FireEye Intelligence's Information Operations analysis team, we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors.

The evidence FireEye presents is quite thin. The purpose of its inquest and report is obviously self-promotion.

Moon of Alabama is also promoting anti-Saudi , anti-Israeli , and pro-Palestinian themes. It supports the JCPOA deal. This is, according to FireEye, "in line with Iranian interests". It may well be. But does that make Moon of Alabama a "suspected influence operation"? Is it an "inauthentic news site"?

Is the @MoonofA Twitter account showing "coordinated inauthentic behavior" when it promotes the pieces presented on this site? We, by the way, assess with high confidence that that this activity originates from a German actor. Is that a reason to shut it down?

Who will shut down the tons of "inauthentic" accounts U.S. spies , the British military and Israeli propaganda organisations run?

Here is another high confidence tip for FireEye. There is proof, and even an admission of guilt, that a hostile government financed broadcasting organization is creating inauthentic Facebook accounts to disseminate disinformation. These narratives include anti-Russian, anti-Syrian, and pro-Saudi views, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Israel, such as its financing of the anti-Iranian headscarf campaign .

This year the U.S. government run Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will spend more than $23 million for its Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). OCB administers Radio and Television (TV) Martí programs directed at the Cuban public. In its 2019 budget request to Congress (pdf) the BBG admits that it creates inauthentic Facebook accounts to increase the distribution of its dreck:

In FY 2018, OCB is establishing on island digital teams to create non-branded local Facebook accounts to disseminate information . Native pages increase the chances of appearing on Cuban Facebook users newsfeeds. The same strategy will be replicated on other preferred social media networks.

How is this different from what the PressTV may have done? When will Facebook shut those inauthentic BBG accounts down?


---
h/t to Left I on the News

Comments


jo6pac , Aug 22, 2018 1:31:58 PM | 1

The truth hurts the 1%

Thanks b

librul , Aug 22, 2018 1:48:13 PM | 2

Before most of us had ever heard of "Putin's Chef", the Pentagon was bragging publicly that it was using Facebook click-bait for propaganda.

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/09/analysts-are-quitting-state-departments-anti-propaganda-team/140936/

At the Defense One Summit last November [2016], former GEC director Michael Lumpkin [GEC, Pentagon propaganda department] described how the Center was using the data it received as a Facebook advertiser to maximize the effectiveness of its own targeted appeals.

"Using Facebook ads, I can go within Facebook, I can go grab an audience, I can pick Country X, I need age group 13 to 34, I need people who have liked -- whether it's Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi or any other set -- I can shoot and hit them directly with messaging," Lumpkin said. He emphasized that with the right data, effective message targeting could be done for "pennies a click."

Chipnik , Aug 22, 2018 1:50:52 PM | 4
Ironically, when I created a FB page hangout for my foreign students to disseminate topical educational materials that were freely available as PDF links, or free 'loss-leader' lessons from for-profits, or Khan Academy free lesson links ... in other words, organizing a docent-guided free education feed for terribly poor 3W students ...

FB informed me that this was an 'illegal' business activity, lol. They shut it down with *zero* warning. One moment it was a beautiful colorful uplifting education resource, the next it was burnt to ashes. 404.

ATM, on an Anony FB page I launched to reconnect with my students, after a couple ill-advised comments to their thread posts, discussing what's *really* going on in the world, FB has blocked any posts that I might want to make. They just never show up when I hit enter. Like training a bad puppy, lol. All FB lets me do is 'like' or emoji or 'wave' to my students, so it's a semaphore that I still exist, even in FB lockup.

But I think I'll stop. It's bread-crumbing them to FBs candy-cane house and the boiling cauldron that awaits. Frog in a Pot!

Ianovskii , Aug 22, 2018 2:16:03 PM | 5
Regarding 4:

Chipnik, Open a VK account and invite your students! No more censorship!

Bart Hansen , Aug 22, 2018 2:30:32 PM | 7
"...we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors." Jeez, can't they at least produce a "highly likely" for us? On the intelligence community's confidence scale, "moderate" has to be just above "wishful" and "doubtful"
fastfreddy , Aug 22, 2018 2:32:46 PM | 8
One of the tricks of corporate propaganda: Often, when exposed to capitalist propaganda, a socialist gets the impression that he can have the best of both worlds! - the perceived benefits of capitalism as he keeps his beloved social benefits.

It isn't until some time after the bmobing has stopped, that he realizes that he has lost ALL his former social benefits and what he has thereafter is hard capitalism and no money.

Zanon , Aug 22, 2018 2:45:53 PM | 9
Well this surely shows that Facebook/Twitter is run through the help of US/Western intelligence. Only way is to fight back or you will eventually have fines and end up in jail for thoughtcrimes.

This site and us here commenting is of course already targeted by these scums, besides, sites like this will certainly be shut down sooner or later.

Remember Facebook also attacked Venezuela recently, "Why Did Facebook Purge TeleSUR English?"

TeleSUR English is a rare voice of dissent to US foreign policy. Is that why Facebook deleted its page?
https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Why-Did-Facebook-Purge-TeleSUR-English-20180816-0016.html
ben , Aug 22, 2018 2:47:13 PM | 10
Sorry, but, if you let any opinion on Facebook or Twitter sway your politics, you're an idiot. At the very least, naive to a fault.

Claqueurs is a new word for me b, thanks for the education.

Zanon , Aug 22, 2018 2:49:46 PM | 11
ben

Its not facebook itself this is about but views, freedom of speech itself - that is what being attacked.

james , Aug 22, 2018 3:20:48 PM | 12
b.. thanks... your first paragraph giving context to how the public was swayed going back close to 200 years ago was very interesting..

The usa gov't has something to sell and something to buy.. fireEye, google, yahoo, facebook and so many other tech companies are all in a few miles radius of one another in San Jose area of California.. If Russia was to bomb somewhere in the usa - that would be one good place to start!

They are all selling to the usa gov't at this point... the usa devotes so much to propaganda and these corps all try to peddle the needed tools to keep the fearmongering going, when they're not snooping of course! hey - they can do both - snoop and sell!!

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 3:31:39 PM | 14
Long ago before the Hydrocarbon Epoch, the Broadsheet was your typical newscast assembled by the local printer who was often reporter and editor, and even in small towns there was competition, with readers of news gathering in coffee shops to discuss their contents. The vociferousness of many publications was extreme, but as Jefferson observed in the 1790s, easily disproved hyperbole was far more desirable than censorship -- people were deemed capable of determining a publication's veracity for themselves and thus their success or failure would be determined by the marketplace of ideas.

In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted -- what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. With the advent of the personal computer and internet, ease of publishing exploded, which presented elites determined to control the overall discourse with a huge problem they are still grappling with. One of the aims of the Independent Media Center on its founding in 1999 was to turn every activist into a reporter and every computer into a printing press with contents published collectively at regional Media Centers. Unfortunately, after a promising first several years, the nascent movement failed and remains in dormancy, being mostly replaced by personal blogs.

Blogs today represent yesterday's broadsheets, and by using social media, they can increase their exposure to a wider audience. Thus, social media represents a point-of-control for those trying to shape/frame discourse/content. They may be private companies, but they interact with public discourse and ought to be subjected to Free Speech controls like the USA's 1st Amendment.

AriusArmenian , Aug 22, 2018 4:30:10 PM | 15
Very many hi-tech companies in the US are working with the CIA. Such as Oracle that has an office on the east coast of the US that keeps a very low profile inside the company. In fact the first contract that launched the company was a contract with the CIA to implement the IBM SQL standard. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone here why the CIA would use a relational database (have to keep all those subversive secret ops in order). Similar connection to CIA for Google, Facebook, Symantec, etc.

If you are using US software (very likely) then assume CIA and NSA back-doors. Some solutions are to use Linux and VPNs, and Yandex for cloud storage. Get away from US software.

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 5:13:35 PM | 17
Robert Bridge provides us with a timely written article dealing with the issue at hand: "And if US intel is in bed with Hollywood you can be damn sure they're spending time in the MSM whorehouse as well."
karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 5:28:53 PM | 18
Sorry, should have included this in 17. As many know, Caitlin Johnstone, a Truth Seeker par excellence, has also been censored, but prior to that wrote this essay on the subject at hand, which is all about manufacturing consent as she sees it:

"This is a setup. Hit the soft target so your oligarch-friendly censorship doesn't look like what it is, then once you've manufactured consent, go on to shut down the rest of dissenting media bit by bit."

This is a US government ordered setup supported by the evidence she presents in her intro, but not by Trump!

fast freddy , Aug 22, 2018 5:53:49 PM | 20
IMHO, it would be foolish to presume that the CIA would simply discontinue and to walk away from (as it claims!) a program like Operation Mockingbird. Government agencies have famously infiltrated the Quakers (ferchrissakes!). Facebook was funded and developed by a CIA front shop. Zuckerburg is a dopey kid and a frontispiece.
Pft , Aug 22, 2018 7:06:53 PM | 22
The danger of course is when people start to conclude that any media site permitted by FB or SM is Sanctioned by the Propaganda department of the Ministry of Truth and ignored. Then these few truthful media sites that are unbanned will need to beg these social media giants to ban them so as to restablish credibility. FB and SM will then need to ban a few controlled MSM sites so people will believe they are credible and read the propaganda

I guess we are not there yet, or are we? I do not use FB or other SM for news or anything else, although I do occasionally click on links to them from a web page, but I guess a lot of people do. Maybe that will change.

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 7:13:05 PM | 23
The battle over Net Neutrality is related to this. Recently, Verizon blackmailed a California fire department engaged in fighting the state's largest ever wildfire by throttling its data feed thus threatening public safety for a Few Dollars More.

Trump would be hailed a savior if he were to morph into President Taft and Bust the Trusts like BigLie Media, its allied telecoms and social media corps.

Curtis , Aug 22, 2018 7:21:01 PM | 24
Claqueurs. One of the earliest versions of the annoying "laugh track" used in television. Like Ben 10, I learned something new today.

As to a lack authenticity, what about the tweets from outside Egypt pushing and reporting on the "Arab Spring" protests there. We have other examples of "inauthentic" social messaging on other agendas pushed like Syria. What about "A Gay Girl in Damascus?"

As usual, thanks for pointing out the hypocrisy of US govt/media.

pB , Aug 22, 2018 8:41:56 PM | 25
who still uses facebook? The only people i know who still are active users are senior citizens.

[Aug 15, 2018] Facebook Taps Militarist Think Tank Atlantic Council to Police its content

Russiagate has deepened the partnership between Washington and Silicon Valley, and leftist websites are among the first casualties.
Notable quotes:
"... America has a real problem here with accomplishing its goals – which it is obviously achieving, the silencing of legitimate dissent and the prioritization of the national-security narrative – while simultaneously advertising itself as the center of what the evildoers hate for its freedoms. ..."
"... Americans, and everyone who uses their services, are increasingly regulated in everything they do and say, extending now to what you are allowed to see and hear. Actual freedom is dwindling away to a pinpoint, and what the government wants every election cycle is more cops, more law and order and more security. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | gravatar.com

Warren , August 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZJUjSBXU5iY?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

TheRealNews
Published on 11 Aug 2018
From Alex Jones to alleged Russian trolls, major internet companies are increasingly policing content on their platforms. Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone Project says the partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council highlights "the merger of the national security state and Silicon Valley."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TFXQFI8KiWA?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

TheRealNews, Published on 11 Aug 2018

Russiagate has deepened the partnership between Washington and Silicon Valley, and leftist websites are among the first casualties. After falsely accusing an anti-white supremacist rally event page of being a fake, Facebook shut down the page of VenezuelaAnalysis.com for several hours without explanation. We speak to VA founder and TRNN host Greg Wilpert, as well as the Grayzone Project's Max Blumenthal

kirill says: August 11, 2018 at 8:59 pm
Western "freedom" of expression in action. I find it interesting how the voices of a few heretics are supposedly some big threat to NATzO. That would indicate that NATzO is not quite the bastion of democracy it paints itself to be. It is unstable because it is based on lies and heretics can initiate the crashing of the facade. But if this is indeed the case, then NATzO is on its way out since no amount of repression of dissidents will change the fundamental inconsistency of its existence.

Mark Chapman says: August 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

America has a real problem here with accomplishing its goals – which it is obviously achieving, the silencing of legitimate dissent and the prioritization of the national-security narrative – while simultaneously advertising itself as the center of what the evildoers hate for its freedoms.

Americans, and everyone who uses their services, are increasingly regulated in everything they do and say, extending now to what you are allowed to see and hear. Actual freedom is dwindling away to a pinpoint, and what the government wants every election cycle is more cops, more law and order and more security.

[Aug 14, 2018] Try track me after that, google.

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Automatic Choke -> johngaltfla Mon, 08/13/2018 - 19:01 Permalink

1) remove the smartphone battery

2) smash the smartphone with a hammer

3) burn the pieces of the smartphone

4) leave the ashes at home when you are out and about

Try and track THAT, google.

[Aug 14, 2018] I am sure the tracking your movements all the time it s just a harmless oversight on the part of Google.

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

spanish inquisition Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:28 Permalink

I am sure it's just a harmless oversight.

Kefeer -> Clock Crasher Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:38 Permalink

Hammer it and remove all EMF's. An old microwave over works as a Faraday cage. Also; if you take a cell phone and wrap it in just a layer or two of aluminum foil; it will not make or receive calls.

beemasters -> Kefeer Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

Or just carry a dummy phone to make yourself look important. In today's world, perception is it.

Giant Meteor -> beemasters Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

Good point. Save alot of shekkels too. Why just the other day I was standing in grocery line having an imaginary conversation with my imaginary broker, on my fake phone! The conversation became quite heated. It was all going swell until I ran into the door on my way out, fell over backwards, spilt the milk carton, and crushed a dozen eggs. No one even noticed ..

cougar_w -> beemasters Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

They don't need GPS to know where you are, cell towers report the same information to good enough accuracy for most uses. When Google is tracking you, that is how they are doing it usually.

JoeTurner Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:30 Permalink

The East German Stasi only wish they could be like Google...

Socratic Dog -> Grandad Grumps Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:13 Permalink

OSMand replaces google maps very nicely, and works perfectly fine completely off line (by GPS). It also doesn't have to allow google to update its maps every 30 days to keep it working, download maps for anywhere in the world and just use them.

Lineage OS is a replacement for Android OS. I've had it in 2 phones so far, quite content with it. Open source, so lots of eyes on it to make sure this sort of shit isn't happening. You can minimize or completely eliminate the google presence, your choice.

Whether some deep-down shit is tracking me, I have no idea. I assume it is, and act accordingly.

Oldguy05 -> Socratic Dog Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

Deep-down, it's all shit!

valjoux7750 -> Socratic Dog Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

Love to try lineage but I'm on Verizon and their phones since the note 5