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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

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.

Just the set of headers (and your address book) constitute something much more dangerous then a single 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. 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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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

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

[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] 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

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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

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"... 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 are locked down good. Rooting, jailbreaking, or what ever you call it is the way to go if your concerned about privacy.

Socratic Dog -> valjoux7750 Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:31 Permalink

Rooting isn't difficult. That's why they try so hard to stop you doing it.

[Aug 14, 2018] Paranoia as a natural condition of people living in the national security state: Faraday Cages for sale! Get yours today -- or they'll get you tomorrow!

** This story brought to you by the Divorce Lawyers of America **
Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

toady -> hedgeless_horseman Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:41 Permalink

Duh. Who didn't know this?

Even taking the battery out doesn't work anymore... they've built in transistors that will hold enough juice to keep the tracking capabilities enabled for several hours after the battery is removed.

NidStyles -> toady Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:44 Permalink

Are you kidding me Gracie? I assume it was you sending the nutcase

johngaltfla -> NidStyles Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:45 Permalink

Man are those geeks going to be bored as fucking hell tracking me.

Alananda -> johngaltfla Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:59 Permalink

I dindu nuffin. I never do nothing. What -- me worry? I have nothing to hide. Idiot.

johngaltfla -> Alananda Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:57 Permalink

Humor and sarcasm. Try Googling it.

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 13, 2018] Google Is Constantly Tracking, Even If You Turn Off Device Location History

You do not need to keep you phone on when you driving, do you ?
Aug 13, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:25 74 SHARES

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Google is actually tracking you even when you switch your device settings to Location History "off" .

As journalist Mark Ames comments in response to a new Associated Press story exposing Google's ability to track people at all times even when they explicitly tell Google not to via iPhone and Android settings, "The Pentagon invented the internet to be the perfect global surveillance/counterinsurgency machine. Surveillance is baked into the internet's DNA."

In but the latest in a continuing saga of big tech tracking and surveillance stories which should serve to convince us all we are living in the beginning phases of a Minority Report style tracking and pansophical "pre-crime" system, it's now confirmed that the world's most powerful tech company and search tool will always find a way to keep your location data .

The Associated Press sought the help of Princeton researchers to prove that while Google is clear and upfront about giving App users the ability to turn off or "pause" Location History on their devices, there are other hidden means through which it retains the data .

According to the AP report :

Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you've been. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored."

That isn't true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.

For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are .

And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like "chocolate chip cookies," or "kids science kits," pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude -- accurate to the square foot -- and save it to your Google account .

The issue directly affects around two billion people using Google's Android operating software and iPhone users relying on Google maps or a simple search.

Among the computer science researchers at Princeton conducting the tests is Jonathan Mayer, who told the AP , "If you're going to allow users to turn off something called 'Location History,' then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off," and added, "That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have."

Google, for its part, is defending the software and privacy tracking settings , saying the company has been perfectly clear and has not violated privacy ethics.

"There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people's experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services," a Google statement to the AP reads. "We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time."

According to the AP, there is a way to prevent Google from storing the various location marker and metadata collection possibilities, but it's somewhat hidden and painstaking.

Google's own description on how to do this as a result of the AP inquiry is as follows :

To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information. Called "Web and App Activity" and enabled by default, that setting stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account.

When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. But leaving "Web & App Activity" on and turning "Location History" off only prevents Google from adding your movements to the "timeline," its visualization of your daily travels. It does not stop Google's collection of other location markers.

You can delete these location markers by hand, but it's a painstaking process since you have to select them individually , unless you want to delete all of your stored activity.

Of course, the more constant location data obviously means more advertising profits and further revenue possibilities for Google and its clients, so we fully expect future hidden tracking loopholes to possibly come to light.

Beginning in 2014, Google has utilized user location histories to allow advertisers to track the effectiveness of online ads at driving foot traffic . With the continued possibility of real-time tracking to generate billions of dollars, it should come as no surprise that Google would seek to make it as difficult (or perhaps impossible?) as it can for users to ensure they aren't tracked.

As for the government, we can only imagine the creative surveillance "fun" Washington's 16+ intelligence agencies are having with such a powerful tool right now.

[Aug 11, 2018] The Week In Tech Infowars and China's Great Firewall

Aug 11, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

I was surprised by the reactions (good and bad) to the column. Some readers were sarcastic. Not having access to Google, Facebook or Twitter? "Lucky them!" wrote one Facebook user. "They have not missed anything important!" said another.

... ... ...

In other news this week:

Li Yuan is the Asia tech columnist for The Times. She previously reported on China technology for The Wall Street Journal. You can follow her on Twitter here: @LiYuan6.

[Aug 07, 2018] Hit piece on Tulsi Gabbard in the Intercept, attacking her anti-war politics.

Aug 07, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

scarno , August 3, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Hit piece on Tulsi Gabbard in the Intercept, attacking her anti-war politics. I guess "real progressives" want to bomb the villages to save them.

Lambert Strether Post author , August 4, 2018 at 12:02 am

The Intercept is a pretty serious venue. By "hit piece," do you mean a piece that doesn't support your favorite candidate?

The Rev Kev , August 4, 2018 at 12:33 am

I think that scarno may have a point. Take a look at the image at the beginning of the article of Gabbard and then compare it with the one of one of her opponents – Shay Chan Hodges. That is a tell right there. Gabbard has her faults but the willingness to go to Syria and see for herself what the actual situation itself was not one of them.
I note too that that OPCW report on the chemical attack was used against Gabbard in this article. I remember that "attack" which got discredited six ways to Sunday. That was the one where Jihadists in flip-flops were standing in a crater full of "toxic" chemical weapon residue taking samples for the OPCW. And the OPCW believed their chain of custody claims.
The Intercept may be a serious publication but I note that it was a newly-minted journalist ( https://theintercept.com/staff/aidachavez/ ) that wrote this story and you certainly wouldn't trust the Intercept to protect you if you came to them with a hot story – as Reality Winner found out to her cost.

scarno , August 4, 2018 at 12:55 am

The Intercept is a venue that prints what dot-com scam-billionaire Omidyar asks of it, or without such instructions, what it's editors' positions happen to be. I think some of their pieces are well-reasoned and others quite specious, and often enough they are willing to print what I think is propaganda. Like you, I try to take arguments and evidence as they come, adjust my analytical framework when necessary, and seek out truth. The process isn't so different with WaPo or NYT then it is with the Intercept, is it?

The article I linked discusses a primary challenge to Congresswoman Gabbard, who has been endorsed by Our Revolution, PP; who resigned her vicechair of DNC in 2015 in protest of what she saw as the sidelining of left interests in the presidential race. Hardly someone who is likely to face a primary challenge from the left. The article admits, in fact, that she has no serious primary challengers, yet the article highlights the her un-serious "progressive" challenger, who is upset that Tulsi has the temerity to oppose US intervention in Syria and elsewhere. It's typical blob logic: if you oppose murderous war in wherever, you despise human rights.

Read it. It's a hit piece. And why is it published at all? Omidyar is Hawaii's richest resident. But perhaps that has nothing to do with it.

FluffytheObeseCat , August 4, 2018 at 1:04 am

It's a well written piece, containing what appear to be accurate assessments of the 2 candidates' stances on a few issues. The author pointed out early on that the opponent is native Hawaiian, and that Gabbard is not.

It drips with implications about Gabbard's foreign policy views; the only coverage of her representation of her district is in a quote from her opponent, who claims she spoke to constituents and "found" they couldn't point to anything Gabbard had done for them. Gabbard's whiteness was used very skillfully against her, along with a few dog whistles about her military background and anti-jihadist views.

It was a skillful, Identitarian hit piece. The haute doyens of left coast "leftist" propriety do not like Gabbard.

Matt , August 4, 2018 at 9:36 am

"Outside of cultivating her image as an anti-interventionist, however, Gabbard has urged a continuation of the so-called war on terror. She's also won the approval of some conservatives and members of the far right. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon reportedly arranged her November 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump, and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke has praised some of her foreign policy positions."

The first sentence is a sensible criticism. The rest is innuendo, guilt by association. Is that serious?

[Aug 07, 2018] Live Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress

Zuckerberg states that Facebook will have a huge "counterterrorism" team. Any counterterrorism team doubles as anti-dissidents team.
Notable quotes:
"... The team is comprised of 200 people, who he said are just focused on counterterrorism. Zuckerberg said content reviewers also go over flagged information. ..."
"... "I think we have capacity in 30 languages that we are working on and in addition to that, we have a number of AI tools that we are developing like the one's that I mentioned that can proactively go flag the content," he said in response to a question from Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana. ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.cnn.com

Actually there were a couple of moments in this dog and pony show where truth surfaced ;-)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers today that his company has a counterterrorism team.

The team is comprised of 200 people, who he said are just focused on counterterrorism. Zuckerberg said content reviewers also go over flagged information.

"I think we have capacity in 30 languages that we are working on and in addition to that, we have a number of AI tools that we are developing like the one's that I mentioned that can proactively go flag the content," he said in response to a question from Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana.

She asked Zuckerberg how the team stops terrorist groups from recruiting and communicating.

He said the team first identifies those groups' patterns of communicating. They then design systems that proactively flag the messaging, so those accounts could be removed.

The company outlined its counterterrorism approach in 2017 in a blog post , where it said that the team included "academic experts on counterterrorism, former prosecutors, former law enforcement agents and analysts, and engineers."

[Aug 06, 2018] Krieger Stop Complaining And Just Delete Facebook by Mike Krieger

To a certain extent Facebook success is the success of narcissism and herd mentality. There is not much of value in Facebook and the level programming at least several years ago was really primitive (although implementation was not -- due to giant scale they faced all king of complex problems)
In a way people who use Facebook for email are idiots. People who post all kind of personal information on their Facebook pages are sick (ersatz collectivism at one time popular among adolescents).
Who help Zuckerberg to grow the company to this level is a very interesting question indeed. If definitely is a part of Prism like Google, Yahoo and Hotmail?
His testimony before the Congress raises certain questions. Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress - watch live is very educational listering to any Facebook user. It is essentially intelligence company masking as a social site with advertizing as the core business model.
Aug 06, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

I wrote just one post last week and it centered around the dangers posed to society by U.S. tech giants . I specifically called out Facebook, pointing out how company executives are currently groveling to politicians in order to prevent legislation that might deem it a monopoly and curtail its power.

I explained how U.S. politicians prefer to use the power and reach of tech giants for their own ends rather than take them down a notch. Politicians aren't at all concerned about the outsized influence of centralized tech behemoths engineering society using secret algorithms, they just want to be in control of how this power is abused.

Meanwhile, today's biggest news is the uniform move by three U.S. tech giants to de-platform Alex Jones and his Infowars website. The main companies involved are Apple, Facebook and Google (via YouTube), as reported in The Guardian :

All but one of the major content platforms have banned the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as the companies raced to act in the wake of Apple's decision to remove five podcasts by Jones and his Infowars website.

Facebook unpublished four pages run by Jones for "repeated violations of community standards", the company said on Monday. YouTube terminated Jones's account over him repeatedly appearing in videos despite being subject to a 90-day ban from the website, and Spotify removed the entirety of one of Jones's podcasts for "hate content"

Facebook's and YouTube's enforcement action against Jones came hours after Apple removed Jones from its podcast directory. The timing of Facebook's announcement was unusual, with the company confirming the ban at 3am local time.

Put aside what you think of Alex Jones for a moment. If they can do this to him and not fear the repercussions, they can do it to anybody. This is about power, and these platforms together account for a massive share of content distribution in the U.S. Ultimately, this is just a particularly muscular and in your face example of what's known as Silicon Valley's cultural imperialism .

I know a lot of people think the answer is to get Congress to do something, as if those monumentally corrupt donor puppets have any interest in helping the public.

... ... ...

I'd also like to point out that Facebook's stock was up over 4% today, completely shrugging off any potential backlash from users. Executives assume its users are all addled junkies unwilling to give up convenience and their addiction no matter what the company does. Are they right?

Speaking of which, on the same day the move against Jones was announced we learn Facebook is in talks with mega banks to get your financial information.

From The Wall Street Journal :

Facebook Inc.wants your financial data.

The social media giant has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users.

Facebook increasingly wants to be a platform where people buy and sell goods and services, besides connecting with friends. The company over the past year asked JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and U.S. Bancorp to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, said people familiar with the matter.

Facebook executives don't actually care about anything besides their profits and power, so the only way you can take any individual action against the company is to delete your account. I haven't engaged with Facebook since 2012, so permanently deleting it wasn't a personal sacrifice, but I did it anyway earlier today.

... ... ...

Don't wait for other people to change things for you, stop whining and take some individual responsibility. If you agree that Facebook's primarily a nefarious narcissism-factory wasteland masquerading as a platform just delete it... before it deletes you.

* * *

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[Aug 04, 2018] Edward Snowden 5 years in Russia and still relevant as ever

Aug 04, 2018 | theduran.com

TASS reported that August 1 was the five year anniversary of Edward Snowden's being granted temporary asylum in the Russian Federation. This happened after his release of an enormous trove of information showing clandestine and illegal practices being carried out by the US intelligence agencies to gather information on just about anyone in the world, for any – or no – reason at all.

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Edward Snowden, 35, is a computer security expert. In 2005-2008, he worked at the University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Study of Language sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and at the global communications division at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In 2007, Snowden was stationed with diplomatic cover at the US mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2009, he resigned from the CIA to join the Dell company that sent him to Hawaii to work for the NSA's information-sharing office. He was particularly employed with the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm.

In June 2013, Snowden leaked classified information to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, which revealed global surveillance programs run by US and British intelligence agencies. He explained the move by saying that he wanted to tell the world the truth because he believed such large-scale surveillance on innocent citizens was unacceptable and the public needed to know about it.

The Guardian and The Washington Post published the first documents concerning the US intelligence agencies' spying on Internet users on June 6, 2013. According to the documents, major phone companies, including Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel, handed records of their customers' phone conversations over to the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who also had direct access to the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Paltalk, AOL and Apple. In addition, Snowden's revelations showed that a secret program named PRISM was aimed at collecting audio and video recordings, photos, emails and information about users' connections to various websites.

The next portion of revelations , which was published by the leading newspapers such as The Guardian, Brazil's O Globo, Italy's L'Espresso, Germany's Der Spiegel and Suddeutsche Zeitung, concerned the US spying on politicians. In particular, it became known that the NSA and Great Britain's Government Communications Headquarters intercepted the phone calls that foreign politicians and officials made during the G20 summit in London in 2009. British intelligence agencies particularly tried to intercept then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's phone calls. US intelligence monitored the phone calls of 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

According to the disclosed information, the NSA regularly gathered intelligence at the New York and Washington offices of the European Union's mission. The agency also achieved access to the United Nations' internal video conferences and considers the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as one of its major targets for spying.

The leaks also uncovered details about the Blarney and Rampart-T secret surveillance programs. Blarney, which started in 1978, is used to collect information related to counter-terrorism, foreign diplomats and governments, as well as economic and military targets. Rampart-T has been used since 1991 to spy on foreign leaders. The program is focused on 20 countries, including Russia and China.

Snowden also let the world know that Germany's Federal Intelligence Service and Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution used the NSA's XKeyScore secret computer system to spy on Internet users, monitoring their web activities. In addition, the NSA and Great Britain's Government Communications Headquarters developed methods that allowed them to hack almost all the encryption systems currently used on the Internet. Besides, the leaked documents said that the NSA had secretly installed special software on about 100,000 computers around the globe that provided access to them and made cyber attacks easier. In particular, the NSA used a secret technology that made it possible to hack computers not connected to the Internet.

Portions of the information Snowden handed over to Greenwald and Poitras continue to be published on The Intercept website . According to edwardsnowden.com – a website commissioned by the Courage foundation (dedicated to building support for Snowden), a total of 2,176 documents from the archive have been published so far.

The NSA and the Pentagon claim that Snowden stole about 1.7 mln classified documents concerning the activities of US intelligence services and US military operations. He is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. He is facing up to ten years in prison on each charge.

As can be seen, Mr. Snowden's work is of extreme importance now in the connected Internet age. But how is his life in Russia now?

According to Sputnik News, his life goes on . Reports say that he is continuing to learn the Russian language and to travel about the country:

Anatoly Kucherena, Edward Snowden's lawyer, has revealed some details of the renowned whistleblower's life to Sputnik. According to him, Snowden has found a job, is actively traveling around Russia and is continuing to learn the language.

Kucherena added that Snowden receives visits from his girlfriend, Lindsey Mills, and his parents. When asked about the whistleblower's favorite place in Russia, his lawyer said that he likes St Petersburg "a lot."

"He is doing alright: his girlfriend visits him, he has a good job and he's continuing to study Russian. His parents visit him occasionally. [They] have no problems with visas. At least they have never complained about having any trouble," the lawyer said.

After Snowden released classified NSA documents, he fled first to Hong Kong, then, on June 23, 2013, arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong. The whistleblower remained in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport until he was granted temporary asylum in Russia, which was later prolonged to 2020.

[Aug 03, 2018] The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism

Notable quotes:
"... Reprinted with permission from the Black Agenda Report . ..."
Aug 03, 2018 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism Written by Glen Ford Friday August 3, 2018
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"The Facebook intervention is a qualitative escalation of the McCarthyite offensive."

Facebook has assumed additional political police powers, disrupting a planned counter-demonstration against white supremacists, set for August 12th in Washington, on the grounds that it was initiated and inspired by "Russians" as part of a Kremlin campaign to "sow dissention" in the US. The Facebook intervention is a qualitative escalation of the McCarthyite offensive launched by the Democrat Party and elements of the national security state, and backed by most of the corporate media, initially to blame Hillary Clinton's 2016 defeat on "collusion" between Wikileaks, "the Russians" and the Trump campaign to steal and publicize embarrassing Clinton campaign emails.

After failing to produce one shred of hard evidence to support their conspiracy theory, the anti-Russia hysteria mongers switched gears, focusing on the alleged purchase of about $100,000 in Facebook ads by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a St. Petersburg-based Russian company, over a multi-year period. The problem was, most of the ads had no direct connection to the presidential contest, or were posted after the election was over, and many had no political content, at all. The messages were all over the place, politically, with the alleged Russian operatives posing as Christian activists, pro- and anti-immigration activists, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller was forced to flip the script, indicting 13 Russians for promoting general "discord" and undermining "public confidence in democracy" in the United States – thus creating a political crime that has not previously been codified in the United States.

"Mueller was forced to flip the script."

In doubling down on an unraveling conspiracy tale, the Mueller probe empowered itself to tar and feather all controversial speech that can be associated with utterances by "Russians," even if the alleged "Russians" are, in fact, mimicking the normal speech of left- or right-wing Americans -- a descent, not into Orwell's world, but that of Kafka (Beyond the Law) and Heller (Catch-22).

Facebook this week announced that it had taken down 32 pages and accounts that had engaged in "coordinated and inauthentic behavior" in promoting the August 12 counter-demonstration against the same white supremacists that staged the fatal "Unite the Right" demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago. Hundreds of anti-racists had indicated their intention to rally against "Unite the Right 2.0" under the banner of Shut It Down DC, which includes D.C. Antifascist Collective, Black Lives Matter D.C., Hoods4Justice, Resist This, and other local groups.

Facebook did not contend that these anti-racists' behavior was "inauthentic," but that the first ad for the event was purchased by a group calling itself "Resisters" that Facebook believes were behaving much like the Internet Research Agency. "At this point in our investigation, we do not have enough technical evidence to state definitively who is behind it," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy . "But we can say that these accounts engaged in some similar activity and have connected with known I.R.A accounts."

"The Mueller probe empowered itself to tar and feather all controversial speech that can be associated with utterances by 'Russians,' even if the alleged 'Russians' are, in fact, mimicking the normal speech of left- or right-wing Americans."

Chelsea Manning, whose prison sentence for sending secret documents to Wikileaks was commuted by President Obama, said the counter-protest was "organic and authentic"and that activists had begun organizing several months ago. "Folks from D.C. and Charlottesville have been talking about this since at least February," Manning told The New York Times.

"This was a legitimate Facebook event that was being organized by Washington, DC locals," says Dylan Petrohilos , of Resist This. Petrohilos was one of the defendants in the Trump inauguration "riot" prosecutions. He protested Facebook's disruption of legitimate free speech and assembly. "DC organizers had controlled the messaging on the no UTR fb page and now FB made it harder for grassroots people to organize," he tweeted. The organizers insist the August 12 counter-demonstration -- "No Unite the Right 2 – DC" -- is still a go, as is the white supremacist rally.

Whoever was first to buy a Facebook ad – the suspected Russian "Resisters," or Workers Against Racism, who told the Daily Beast they decided to host their own anti-"Unite the Right 2.0" event because they thought "Resisters" was an "inexperienced liberal organizer" – there was no doubt whatsoever that the white supremacists would be confronted by much larger numbers of counter-demonstrators, in Washington. Nobody in Russia needed to tell US anti-racists to shut the white supremacists down, or vice versa. The Russians didn't invent American white supremacy, or the native opposition to it. Even if Mueller, Facebook, the Democratic Party and the howling corporate media mob are to be believed, the "Russians" are simply mimicking US political rhetoric and sloganeering – and weakly, at that. The Workers Against Racism thought the "Resisters" weren't worth partnering with, but that the racist rally must be countered. The Shut It Down DC coalition didn't need the "Resisters" to crystallize their thinking on white supremacism.

"Chelsea Manning said the counter-protest was 'organic and authentic."

The Democratic Party and corporate media, speaking for most of the US ruling class – and actually bullying one of its top oligarchs, Mark Zuckerberg – is on its own bizarre and twisted road to fascism. (Donald Trump's proto-fascism is the old fashioned, all-American type that the white supremacists want to celebrate on August 12.) With former FBI Director Robert Mueller at the head of the pack, they have created a pseudo legal doctrine whereby "Russians" (or US spooks pretending to be Russians) can be indicted for launching a #MeToo campaign of mimicry, echoing the rhetoric and memes indigenous to US political struggles, while the genuine, "authentic" American political voices – the people who are being mimicked – are labeled co-conspirators in a foreign-based "plot," and their rights to speech and assembly are trashed.

That's truly crazy, but devilishly clever, too. If "Russian" mimics (or cloaked spooks) can reproduce the vocabulary and political program of US dissent, then all of us actual US lefties can be dismissed as "dupes of the Russians" or "co-conspirators" in the speech crimes of our mimics -- for sounding like ourselves.

Reprinted with permission from the Black Agenda Report .


[Aug 03, 2018] A Threat to Global Democracy How Facebook Surveillance Capitalism Empower Authoritarianism

Notable quotes:
"... Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy ..."
"... The War and Peace Report ..."
"... Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy ..."
"... Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy ..."
"... If you want to organize a protest out of the eyes of the government, the worst thing you can do is use Facebook or Twitter in that effort, right? ..."
"... Look, any police department, any state security service anywhere in the world that doesn't infiltrate protest groups or, you know, activist groups that way is foolish, right? It's so easy. Facebook makes surveillance so easy. ..."
"... It's great for motivating people to get into the street, but don't be surprised if there are a couple guys with crew cuts in the crowd with you. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | www.democracynow.org

...We speak with Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of "Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy." He is a professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia.

AMY GOODMAN : Facebook has been at the center of a number of controversies in the United States and abroad. Earlier this year, Facebook removed more than 270 accounts it determined to be created by the Russia-controlled Internet Research Agency. Facebook made that move in early April, just days before founder and CEO Mark Zuckeberg was question on Capitol Hill about how the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested data from more than 87 million Facebook users without their permission in efforts to sway voters to support President Donald Trump. Zuckerberg repeatedly apologized for his company's actions then.

MARK ZUCKERBERG : We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here.

AMY GOODMAN : Today we spend the hour with a leading critic of Facebook, Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy . He's professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. We're speaking to him in Charlottesville.

Professor, welcome to Democracy Now!

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Oh, thanks. It's good to be here.

AMY GOODMAN : Well, let's begin with this latest news. There are hearings today that the Senate Intelligence Committee is holding, and yesterday Facebook removed these -- well, a bunch of pages, saying they don't know if it's Russian trolls, but they think they are inauthentic. Talk about these pages, what they mean, what research is being done and your concerns.

... ... ...

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Yeah. Look, Cambridge Analytica was a great story, right? It finally brought to public attention the fact that for more than five years Facebook had encouraged application developers to get maximal access to Facebook data, to personal data and activity, not just from the people who volunteered to be watched by these app developers, but all of their friends -- right? -- which nobody really understood except Facebook itself and the application developers. So, thousands of application developers got almost full access to millions of Facebook users for five years. This was basic Facebook policy. This line was lost in the storm over Cambridge Analytica.

...You know, Steve Bannon helped run the company for a while. It's paid for by Robert Mercer, you know, one of the more evil hedge fund managers in the United States. You know, it had worked for Cruz, for Ted Cruz's campaign, and then for the Brexit campaign and also for Donald Trump's campaign in 2016. So it's really easy to look at Cambridge Analytica and think of it as this dramatic story, this one-off. But the fact is, Cambridge Analytica is kind of a joke. It didn't actually accomplish anything. It pushed this weird psychometric model for voter behavior prediction, which no one believes works.

And the fact is, the Trump campaign, the Ted Cruz campaign, and, before that, the Duterte campaign in the Philippines, the Modi campaign in India, they all used Facebook itself to target voters, either to persuade them to vote or dissuade them from voting. Right? This was the basic campaign, because the Facebook advertising platform allows you to target people quite precisely, in groups as small as 20. You can base it on ethnicity and on gender, on interest, on education level, on ZIP code or other location markers. You can base it on people who are interested in certain hobbies, who read certain kinds of books, who have certain professional backgrounds. You can slice and dice an audience so precisely. It's the reason that Facebook makes as much money as it does, because if you're selling shoes, you would be a fool not to buy an ad on Facebook, right? And that's drawing all of this money away from commercially based media and journalism. At the same time, it's enriching Facebook. But political actors have figured out how to use this quite deftly.

AMY GOODMAN : "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. This is Democracy Now! , democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report . We're spending the hour with professor Siva Vaidhyanathan, who is author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy . He's speaking to us from Charlottesville, from the University of Virginia, professor of media studies and head of the Center for Media and Citizenship at UVA . Your book, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy .

I want to go back to the beginning of this interview, where we talked about Facebook taking down more than 30 pages, saying that they are not authentic. We immediately got responses from all over saying the protest against the Unite the Right rally in Washington, D.C., in August, around the anniversary of the attacks at your university, University of Virginia, are real. These protests against Unite the Right are real. So, this goes to a very important issue, Professor, that you now have Facebook, this corporation, deciding what we see and what we don't see. It's almost as if they run the telephone company and they're listening to what we say and deciding what to edit, even if some of the stuff is absolutely heinous that people are talking to each other about -- the idea of this multinational corporation becoming the publisher and seen as that and determining what gets out. So, yes, there's a protest against Unite the Right. That is very real. They've taken down one page, that might not have been real, organizing the protest against Unite the Right. And the Unite the Right rally is supposed to be happening. What, for example, would happen if there was a protest against Facebook, Siva?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Yeah, you can't use Facebook to protest against Facebook, by the way. You can't even use Facebook to advertise a book about Facebook, for actually one --

AMY GOODMAN : What do you mean?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Well, they will not allow a group or a page or an advertisement to contain the word "Facebook." And it's not just to insulate themselves from criticism. That is a nice bonus for them. But it's really because they don't want any sort of implication that the company itself is endorsing any group or page or product. So, the use of the word -- look, the only way Facebook operates is algorithmically, right? It has machines make very blunt decisions. So the very presence of the word "Facebook" will knock a group down or knock a page down. And so you can't use Facebook to criticize Facebook, not very effectively.

AMY GOODMAN : So what about your book, which has the word "Facebook" in it?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Right. I can't -- I can't buy ads on Facebook about it. But that's OK. I think I'll do OK.

... ... ...

But in addition, Facebook has the ability to get hijacked, because what it promotes mostly are items that generate strong emotions. What generates strong emotions? Well, content that is cute or lovely, like puppies and baby goats, but also content that is extreme, content that is angry, content that is hateful, content that feeds conspiracy theories. And this hateful, angry conspiracy theory collection doesn't just spread because people like it. In fact, it, more often than not, spreads because people have problems with it. If I were to post some wacky conspiracy theory on my Facebook page today, nine out of 10 of the comments that would follow it would be friends of mine arguing against me, telling me how stupid I was for posting this. The very act of commenting on that post amplifies its reach, puts it on more people's news feeds, makes it last longer, sit higher. Right? So the very act of arguing against the crazy amplifies the crazy. It's one of the reasons that Facebook is a terrible place to deliberate about the world. It's a really effective place if you want to motivate people toward all sorts of ends, like getting out to a rally. But it's terrible if you actually want to think and discuss and deliberate about the problems in the world. And what the world needs now more than anything are more opportunities to deliberate calmly and effectively and with real information. And Facebook is working completely against that goal.

by around 2002, Google figured out how to target ads quite effectively based on the search terms that you had used. By about 2007, Facebook was starting to build ads into its platform, as well. And because it had so much more rich information on our interests and our connections and our habits, and even, once we put Facebook on our mobile phones, our location -- it could trace us to whatever store we went into, whatever church or synagogue or mosque we went into; it could know everything about us -- at that point, targeting ads became incredibly efficient and effective. That's what drove the massive revenues for both Facebook and Google. That's why Facebook and Google have all the advertising money these days, right? It's why the traditional public sphere is so impoverished, why it's so hard to pay reporters a living wage these days, because Facebook and Google is taking all that money -- are taking all that money, because they developed something better than the display ad of a newspaper or magazine, frankly. But there was just no holding back on that. As a result, once Facebook goes big, once Twitter emerges around 2009, you start seeing --

... ... ...

Right now, there are 220 million Americans who regularly use Facebook. That's pretty flat. But there are 250 million people in India who regularly use Facebook, so more than in the United States. And that's only a quarter of the population of India. So, not only is the future of Facebook in India, the present of Facebook is in India. So let's keep that in mind. This is a global phenomenon. The United States matters less and less every day.

Yet the United States Congress has inordinate power over Facebook. The fact that its headquarters is here, for one thing. The fact that the major stock markets of the world pay strong attention to what goes on in our country, right? So we have the ability, if we cared to, to break up Facebook. We would have to revive an older vision of antitrust, one that takes the overall health of the body politic seriously, not just the price to consumers seriously. But we could and should break up Facebook. We never should have -- excuse me -- allowed Facebook to purchase WhatsApp. We should never have allowed Facebook to purchase Instagram. Those are two of the potential competitors to Facebook. If those two companies existed separately from Facebook and the data were not shared among the user files with Facebook, there might be a chance that market forces could curb the excesses of Facebook. That didn't happen. We really should sever those parts. We should also sever the virtual reality project of Facebook, which is called Oculus Rift. Virtual reality has the potential to work its way into all sorts of areas of life, from pilot training to surgeon training to pornography. In all of these ways -- to shopping -- right? -- to tourism. In all of these ways, we should be very concerned that Facebook itself is likely to control all of the data about one of the more successful and leading virtual reality companies in the world. That's a problem. Again, we should spin that off. But we should also limit what Facebook can do with its data. We should have strong data protection laws in this country, in Canada, in Australia, in Brazil, in India, to allow users to know when their data is being used and misused and sold.

Those are necessary but, I'm afraid, insufficient legislative and regulatory interventions. Ultimately, we are going to have to put Facebook in its place and in a box. We are going to have to recognize, first of all, that Facebook brings real value to people around the world. Right? There are not 2.2 billion fools using Facebook. There are 2.2 billion people using Facebook because it brings something of value to their lives, often those puppy pictures or news of a cousin's kid graduating from high school, right? Those are important things. They are not to be dismissed. There are also places in the world where Facebook is the entire media system, or at least the entire internet, places like sub-Saharan Africa, places like Myanmar, places like Sri Lanka, and increasingly in India, Facebook is everything. And we can't dismiss that, as well. And so, we are -- AMY GOODMAN : Well, I mean, the government works with Facebook. For example, you talk about --

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN : -- Myanmar, Burma. It's more expensive to get internet on your phone if you're trying to access a site outside of Facebook.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : That's right.

AMY GOODMAN : It's free to use Facebook services on your phone.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Right, Facebook -- use of Facebook does not count against your data cap in Myanmar and in about 40 other countries around the world, the poorest countries in the world. So, the poorest places in the world are becoming Facebook-dependent at a rapid rate. This was -- Facebook put this plan forward as a philanthropic arm. And one could look at it cynically and say, "Well, you were just trying to build Facebook customers." But the people who run Facebook are true believers that the more people use Facebook for more hours a day, the better humanity will be. I think we've shown otherwise. I know my book shows otherwise. And I think we've built -- we've allowed Facebook to build this terrible monster that is taking great advantage of the people who are most vulnerable. And it's one reason I think we should pay less attention to what's going on.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, but, Professor Vaidhyanathan, I think also, though, the importance of your book is that while you concentrate on Facebook, you make the point over and over again that it's not just Facebook. I think in the conclusion to your book -- I want to read a section where you talk about technopoly. And you say, "Between Google and Facebook we have witnessed a global concentration of wealth and power not seen since the British and Dutch East India Companies ruled vast territories, millions of people, and the most valuable trade routes." And then you go on to say, "Like the East India Companies, they excuse their zeal and umbrage around the world by appealing to the missionary spirit: they are, after all, making the world better, right? They did all this by inviting us in, tricking us into allowing them to make us their means to wealth and power, distilling our activities and identities into data, and launching a major ideological movement" -- what Neil Postman, the famous NYU critic, called technopoly. And then you go on to say, "'Technopoly is a state of culture. It is also a state of mind. It consists of the deification of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology.'" You could say this about Uber, about Airbnb, about all these folks that are saying that data and technology will save the world.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : That's right. It's a false religion. And what we really need is to rehumanize ourselves. That is the long, hard work. So, I can propose a few regulatory interventions, and they would make a difference, but not enough of a difference. Fundamentally, we have to break ourselves out of this habit of techno-fundamentalism -- trying to come up with a technological solution to make up for the damage done by the previous technology. It's a very bad habit. It doesn't get us anywhere. If we really want to limit the damage that Facebook has done, we have to invest our time and our money in institutions that help us think, that help us think clearly, that can certify truth, that can host debate -- right? -- institutions like journalism, institutions like universities, public libraries, schools, other forms of public forums, town halls. We need to put our time and our energy into face-to-face politics, so we can look our opponents in the eye and recognize them as humans, and perhaps achieve some sort of rapprochement or mutual understanding and respect. Without that, we have no hope. If we're engaging with people only through the smallest of screens, we have no ability to recognize the humanity in each other and no ability to think clearly. We cannot think collectively. We cannot think truthfully. We can't think. We need to build -- rebuild, if we ever had it, our ability to think. That's ultimately the takeaway of my book. I hope we can figure out better, richer ways to think. We're not getting rid of Facebook. We're going to be with it -- we're going to have it for a long time. We might even learn to use it better, and we might rein it in a little better. But, ultimately, the big job is to train ourselves to think better.

AMY GOODMAN : So, Siva, let me ask you about WeChat in China. I mean, WeChat is everything there. It's Yelp, PayPal, Google, Instagram, Facebook, all rolled into one. You write, "With almost a billion users, WeChat has infused itself into their lives in ways Facebook wishes it could."

... ... ...

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : The other part of their long-term strategy is, Mark Zuckerberg wants to get into the Chinese market. That is the one place in the world where he can't do business effectively. He would love to take on WeChat directly. But here's the big difference. WeChat, like every other application or software platform in the People's Republic of China answers to the People's Republic of China. There is constant, full surveillance by the government. WeChat cannot operate without that. Facebook seems to be willing to negotiate on that point. If Facebook became more like WeChat, it's very likely that around the world it would have to cut very strong agreements with governments around the world that would allow for maybe not Chinese level of surveillance, but certainly a dangerous level of surveillance and licensing. And so, again, we might not sweat that in the United States or in Western Europe, where we still have some basic civil liberties -- at least most of us do -- but people in Turkey, people in Egypt, people in India should be very worried about that trend.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about the issue, that's been much publicized, of the role of Facebook and Twitter and other social media in protest movements, in dissident movements around the world, whether it's in Egypt during the Tahrir Square protests or other parts of the world?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : I think one of the great tragedies of this story is that we were misled into thinking that social media played a direct and motivating role in the uprisings in 2011. In fact, almost nobody in Egypt used Twitter at the time. The handful of people who did were cosmopolitans who lived in Cairo. And what they did, they used Twitter to inform the rest of the world, especially journalists, what was going on in Egypt. That was an important function, but it wasn't used to organize protests. Neither was Facebook, really, for the simple reason that the government watches Facebook, right? The government watches Twitter. If you want to organize a protest out of the eyes of the government, the worst thing you can do is use Facebook or Twitter in that effort, right? In addition, when we think about the Arab Spring, the alleged Arab Spring, we often focus on --

... ... ...

AMY GOODMAN : The Guardian reports today, quote, "A trove of documents released by the city of Memphis late last week appear to show that its police department has been systematically using fake social media profiles to surveil local Black Lives Matter activists, and that it kept dossiers and detailed power point presentations on dozens of Memphis-area activists along with lists of their known associates." The report reveals a fake Memphis Police Department Facebook profile named "Bob Smith" was used to join private groups and pose as an activist. We have just 30 seconds, Siva.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Yeah. Look, any police department, any state security service anywhere in the world that doesn't infiltrate protest groups or, you know, activist groups that way is foolish, right? It's so easy. Facebook makes surveillance so easy.

My friends who do activism, especially human rights activism, in parts of the world that are authoritarian, the first thing they tell people is get off of Facebook. Use other services to coordinate your activities. Right? Use analog services and technologies. Right? Facebook is the worst possible way to stay out of the gaze of the state. It's great for motivating people to get into the street, but don't be surprised if there are a couple guys with crew cuts in the crowd with you.

[Jul 28, 2018] What Does Google Know About You An (Auto)Complete Guide by John Mason

Jul 27, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by John Mason via TheBestVPN.com,

How much does Google really know about you? We did a deep-dive into the data the company collects to find out...

Google might just know you better than anyone.

Thanks to the data the tech giant collects in order to sell ads, Google has a wealth of information on you -- from what you look like to where you live and where you've traveled. The corporation may even be able to guess your favorite food.

Just how does Google know all of this? Jump to our infographic for a quick overview of everything Google knows about you, or check out our full guide by clicking on the icons below.

Although "Google it" has officially entered the cultural lexicon, the mega-corporation is much more than a search engine. It's through its apps, internet-related services, acquired companies and more that the technology company collects data on you. Below, we've broken down the most common app, product or service Google uses to track data, as well as an overview of the specific data collected.

From what you've searched online and the websites you've visited to who your contacts are and what you talk about, Google knows a lot about you. The company is then able to take this information and make informed decisions regarding what you might be interested in, which they show you in the form of ads.

Google's apps give the company a wealth of information on you, from the personal details that make up who you are to your interests, your past travels and your future goals.

Who You Are

From facial recognition to audio recordings and intuitive search, Google is able to create a comprehensive -- and unnervingly correct -- profile about what makes you, you.

Your appearance
Thanks to facial recognition in Google Photos, the search engine probably has a pretty good idea of what you look like. In fact, you can create a "label" within Google Photos that's essentially a tag for each person in your images, and Google is able to separate out that person from every photo you upload -- even if the photo only includes a partial picture or is obscured.

Your voice
If you've ever used voice commands with Google Home, an Android device, or any other Google product or device, the site has a log of it. In fact, not only can you view your past voice commands in the " Voice and Audio " section of Google's My Activity section, you can hear them as well. The site keeps a full history of your audio commands, including voice recordings.

Your religious/political beliefs
Have you searched Google for how to donate to a political campaign? Visited a candidate's website? Watched a sermon on YouTube? Google uses all of this information to build a comprehensive profile that covers everything from whether you're more religious or spiritual to who you're probably voting for in the next election.

Your health status
If you use Google Fit, the company probably has a pretty good overview of your health, from how active you are to the calories you burn a day to your fitness goals. But even if you don't use this Google app, the site probably has a pretty good understanding of the state of your immune system -- or at least how you view it -- from your Google searches. In fact, compiling search engine data and cross-referencing it against patterns may even allow Google to tell if you're getting sick or dealing with a medical issue.

Your personal details
Searched Google for the best lactose-free milk? For what to expect when you're expecting? For how to learn Spanish fast? Everything you search is tracked by Google, which can be used to better understand personal details about your life, from whether you have dietary restrictions to what languages you speak.

Everywhere You've Ever Been

Location tracking is one of the areas Google excels in -- thanks to advanced location recognition technology, the company knows everything from where you went on vacation two summers ago to what restaurant you eat at most often.

Your home and office
Android phones, which run off of Google's services, and Pixel, Google's own phone, track and record your location through several means, including Wi-Fi, GPS and cellular networks. This means that the phone knows everywhere you are, every day, and how long you're there for.

Google is able to interpret that data and draw conclusions from it -- for example, where you live is probably where your phone is for the majority of nights and weekends. In fact, it may only take Google Now three days to determine where you live. For those on Apple devices or other operating systems, Google Maps works in a similar way.

Places you visit
In addition to collecting information about where you live and work, Google is able to track the other places you visit most often. Do you have a favorite coffee shop? A running route? A daycare center you use every weekday? Google probably knows about it.

Places you've traveled
Google doesn't just know the ins and outs of your everyday life. The tech company knows where you've traveled too, be it a weekend getaway or a month-long trip to a different country.

Not only can Google track the places you've traveled to, it can see what you did while you were there. If you visited a museum in Paris or went line-dancing in Texas, Google knows -- down to the exact time you arrived, how long you stayed, and how long it took you to get from one destination to another. The location tracking can even tell the method of transportation you used, like if you walked or took a train.

Additionally, Google's acquisition of Waze means the site can collect data on where you've been even if you're not connected to Maps or on a Google device.

Who Your Friends Are

Between your contacts and conversations in Gmail and Hangouts and the appointments you make in Google Calendar, the company knows everything from who you're talking with to when and where you're seeing them.

Who you talk to
If you use Gmail for your personal or work email, Google has a list of all your contacts, including who you talk to the most: navigate to Google's " Frequently contacted " section to see which of your Gmail contacts you spend the most time conversing with (and to check if Google's assessment of who you like the most aligns with your own). Android and Pixel users also give Google access to their phone contacts and text messages.

Where you meet
Meeting a friend for coffee later? If it's on your Google Calendar, the company knows about it -- and, thanks to location tracking, can map your trip from your house to the coffee shop and back. If you take a picture with your friend at the shop and upload it to Google Photos, Google can use facial recognition to add them to their own specific photo album. You can also tag the location the photo was taken as well.

If, years later, you're trying to remember who you grabbed coffee with that day, Google can help you remember.

What you talk about
Does Google keep track of what you talk about over Gmail? It's an issue up for debate -- the company announced in 2017 that they would stop reading emails for the purposes of creating targeted advertisements. Whether they've actually stopped reading them altogether is another matter.

What You Like and Dislike

Google is in the business of knowing what you're into -- it's how the search engine creates and sells such a personalized advertising experience. From your favorite movie genre to your favorite type of food, Google knows your preferences.

Food, books and movies
Google can use search engine data, like recipes you've researched or book titles you've searched for, to form an idea of what you like and dislike. Certain apps like Google Books, which keeps tracks of the books you've searched and read, deepen this knowledge. Additionally, Google owns YouTube, which means they know which movie trailers you've been seeking out.

Google uses this information, as well as the websites you've visited and the ads you've clicked on, to create a profile of the subjects they think you're interested in. You can see a full list of who they think you are -- down to what shows you watch and what hobbies you pursue in your free time -- in their ads dashboard .

Where you shop and what you buy
If you've ever used Google Shopping to compare the prices of online vendors, Google knows about it. They also know what products you've searched and clicked on through Google Search and can track your website visits and what products you've viewed on retailer websites through Google Chrome.

Your Future Plans

Google's knowledge isn't limited to what you've done in the past or are doing in the present. The company can also use data from their applications and search engine to make predictions about what you'll be doing in the future.

What you're interested in buying, seeing or eating
Interested in seeing a new movie? Checking out a new restaurant or taking a weekend trip to a new city? If you've used Google Search to look up the movie times, make an online reservation or scout out the best tourist activity, Google knows.

Upcoming trips and reservations
Have you searched restaurants to eat at and shows to go to in the city you're visiting? Have you created an itinerary in Google Calendar? Google can collect that data in order to assess your upcoming trips. Google also scans your emails to see what flights you have coming up and can automatically add restaurant reservations to your schedule based on confirmations that have been sent to Gmail.

Future life plans
Have you been searching about homeownership? About when the best age to have children is? About tips for travelling to China? Google uses this information to understand more about you and what you want in the future, to better tailor online advertisements to your needs.

Your Online Life

At its most basic, Google is a search engine and internet services company. So, it's no surprise that in addition to knowing a wealth of your personal details, the site also knows everything there is to know about what you do online.

Websites you've visited
Google keeps a comprehensive list of every site you've visited on Chrome, from any device. The site also keeps a running tab of every search you've run, every ad you've clicked on and every YouTube video you've watched.

Your browsing habits
From how many sites you have bookmarked to how many passwords Chrome auto-fills, Google has a comprehensive understanding of your browser habits, including:

If you're unnerved by the amount of information Google has on you, there are several steps you can take to get around the company's relentless tracking.

1. Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure option to keep Google from tracking you while you're online. Although virtual private networks can't completely keep the company from accessing your data, they do hide your IP address , encrypt your internet traffic and make your browsing history private, keeping your online actions much more secure.

2. Use private browsing

Use Google's Incognito Mode to ensure that the pages you access won't show up in your browsing history or search history. Be aware, however, that other websites can still collect and share information about you, even when you're using private browsing.

3. Adjust your privacy settings

Check out Google's Activity Controls to change what data is stored about you and visit your Activity Page to delete stored history and activity.

4. Turn off location reporting

In Google Maps -- as well as in your Android and Pixel device settings, if you use those products -- disable location reporting to keep Google from tracking where you are and where you go. If you use Google Maps or Waze for directions, though, the company can still collect location data on you when you're using those apps.

5. Use a different browser and search engine

To stop Google from tracking your searches and website visits, you can use another browser and search engine, like Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Bing. However, this will only stop Google from tracking you -- Microsoft (or whatever company owns the browser you switch to) will get your data instead.

6. Delete your Google accounts

To truly stop the tech giant from tracking you, you'll need to take drastic measures -- namely, disavowing the use of any of the company's products. That means deleting any apps linked to the company, including Gmail, Google Drive and any Android devices, and moving to a different browser and search engine.

Google has made life a lot simpler in many ways. Google Search has made answers just a click away. Google Maps has made directions easy to find and understand. Google Drive has made working across multiple platforms seamless.

This convenience comes with a price: privacy. If you're concerned about how Google is tracking you -- and what they're doing with the data -- follow the steps above to keep yourself safe, and visit Google's Privacy Site for a more comprehensive overview of what data Google is tracking and how they use it.

[Jul 28, 2018] Google, Facebook, MSN, and Twitter are all highly suspect

Notable quotes:
"... When monopolies are allowed flourish, giants develops. Giants tend to covet the source of their monopolies. In the case of Information monopolies, removing available information and omitting it from search engine searches and public indexes, often start as a means to offer access in exchange for money , but soon evolves into using technology to control the entire information environment . ..."
"... Gating access to information and controlling one's information environment allows to engineer a persons culture, sense of self, and level of satisfaction (as in pacification) this is done much the same way a psychiatrist might do to a rat caged in a research lab. ..."
Aug 24, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

fudmier , Aug 24, 2017 5:27:02 AM | 65

re: 37 .. get Tor Browswer use Duckduckgo.com which I believe is free from tracking .

Google Facebook MSN, and Twitter are all highly suspect.. as is email that is secretly maintained by our largest communications giant. IMHO.
the biggest danger to democracy I see is not trade corruption between leaders of nation states, but on-going removal of available information from view of the common ordinary people (denial of access is one thing, but denial of awareness that certain information might exist is quite another ).

At the moment the American Disabilities act is forcing colleges and educational institutions to remove educational materials from public access and denying the public the use of such educational materials.

When monopolies are allowed flourish, giants develops. Giants tend to covet the source of their monopolies. In the case of Information monopolies, removing available information and omitting it from search engine searches and public indexes, often start as a means to offer access in exchange for money , but soon evolves into using technology to control the entire information environment .

Gating access to information and controlling one's information environment allows to engineer a persons culture, sense of self, and level of satisfaction (as in pacification) this is done much the same way a psychiatrist might do to a rat caged in a research lab. .

[Jul 28, 2018] Alphabet's Eric Schmidt Steps Down From Executive Chairman Role

There are two faces of Google: evil (systematic collection of user data, collision with the intelligence agencies( Snowden revelations about PRISM, Gmail) and good (Googlemap (rumored to be a present from the US military), Youtube, Google translator, Google scholar, and several other projects).
Jul 28, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

It documents that Eric Emerson Schmidt , the Executive Chairman of Alphabet – an American multinational conglomerate that owns a lot and among them Google – is working on "de-ranking" alleged propaganda outlets such as Russia Today, RT – the world's third largest television network – and Sputnik.

Who is Eric Schmidt?

On the Wikipedia link you can read more about Mr. Schmidt , one of the richest person on earth, an advocate of net neutrality, a corporate manager and owner of a lot, a collector of modern art, etc. And you can read about his heavy involvement with Hillary Clinton's recent campaign and the Obama administration and about Schmidt's involvement with Pentagon, too.

Eric Emerson Schmidt's name is associated with the world's largest and most systematic data collecting search engine , Google, that millions upon millions use. School children, teachers, parents, media people, politicians and you and I all daily "google" what we need to know.

While we do that, Google tracks everything about us and if you are searching for a thing to buy, say a camera, be sure that camera ads will shortly after turn up on your screen. And they know everything we are interested in through our "googling" including political interests and hobbies.

Playing God

This very powerful corporate leader with a open political orientation has decided - as will be seen 58 seconds into the video – that the Internet and his hugely dominating search engine a) shall cave in to political pressure, b) de-rank at least these two Russian media organizations because c) he knows they are "propaganda outlets" (it isn't discussed at all or compared with US or other countries' media) and d) in the name of political correctness it is OK to limit the freedom of opinion-formation.

In fact, he says in a few words that he – well, not he himself but a computer program and mechanism called an algorithm – shall decide what you are I shall be able to find. Google as Good, Google as God.

Conspicuously, his de-ranking – read censorship – policy shall not hit media (as far as we can understand from this clip at least and not from this backgrounder either) that have, for instance, been using fake news and planted stories, omitted facts and perspectives and sources and told us propaganda and worse about, say, US wars around the world.

It's Russia's media. And naturally you ask: Whose next? And where does that end? ("Wherever they burn books, in the end will also burn human beings." – Heinrich Heine).

Obvious human rights violation

This type of political paternalism is not only totally unethical and foolish, it's a violation of human rights. It cannot be defended with the argument that other countries and media outlets also use propaganda. The Western world – the U.S. in particular – calls itself 'the free world" and gladly, without the slightest doubts, fights and kills to spread that freedom around the world and has done so for decades.

We humans have right to information without interference – at least if international law counts. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

You abuse power, Mr. Schmidt

Mr Schmidt, you are blatantly and clearly interfering in the rights of millions, if not billions, to know. To seek information. To shape their opinions.

With your few words you abuse your almost unlimited digital, political, economic and 'defence' power – much much worse than if you had sexually abused just one woman for which older men today are fired or choose to resign.

This has to be stated irrespective of whether we like or dislike Russia and its media. That is not the issue here. This has to be fought against because it is slippery slope, Mr Schmidt.

You ought to stand up and use your powers with principles and vision: To protect the Internet against every and each reduction of freedom. Freedom for all, also the fake news-makers however we define them. Yes, there is another solution for that problem and it is not your paternalism.

It just cannot be for you to decide what is good for others and collect data about us all which is only good for you.

Has the West really become so insecure about itself?

Censorship – de-ranking – and information warfare is not the solution to anything. A strong society or culture that believes in its own moral value and vitality does not censor. Dictatorships – "regimes" – do.

Mr. Schmidt has much more power than many state leaders but he is not up to it and how would he be able to re-rank themes and media again in the future.

Has the West, the US and Western culture become so weak, so trembling at the sight of the global future and so morally deranged that it cannot live with – does not believe it can compete factually and intelligently with – other views? With fake? With propaganda by others? If so, that is where the Soviet Union was in the early 1980s. And if so, watch the writing of the Western walls!

Education and trust

There are much better solutions – if you think. Mr. Schmidt may also google them

It's education – education of young and old to learn to identify what is trustworthy and what is not. Learning to learn on the Internet. It is dialogue and it is dignity – instead of succumbing to the lowest of levels that he accuses others of being at.

And there is more solutions.

Making democracy, freedom and human rights stronger – by believing in human beings, their intelligence and solidarity. When Google de-ranks, it de-humanises. It offends the intelligence of the world's users of the Google search engine.

It sinks to the low level where fakers and liars are – devoid of morals but passionate about selling a particular message even if totally unfounded.

What are you so afraid of, Mr. Schmidt?

If I were Eric Schmidt, I think I would be afraid of being perceived as a "useful idiot" or an an evil operator on behalf of US militarism – since he is targeting Russia in a the new Cold War atmosphere.

After all is/was a member also of various US government security and Pentagon related boards. And after all, he spoke at the Halifax Security Forum filled with military defence people and hardliners who see only Russia, North Korea and Iran as problems, never the US itself. One of the panels deals with the "Post-Putin Prep"!

Regime change in Russia too in the future and with truthful news from Google?

Mr. Schmidt and his corporate fellows should also be afraid that millions will become more sympathetic to Russia Today, Sputnik and even Russia itself precisely because of his words.

There are no wars on the ground without information war. If Schmidt's Google fights political wars with de-ranking, many of us will be de-parting to more peaceful, rights-respecting and ethical search engines than his. ...


Thought Processor , Dec 21, 2017 5:17 PM

I would imagine that the CIA will still have key oversight even if Schmidt steps down.

Pinto Currency -> bamawatson , Dec 21, 2017 5:30 PM

Just because he used the company to interfere in the US election siding with Clinton?

Surely In-Q-Tel would appove, no?

Yes We Can. But... -> HowdyDoody , Dec 21, 2017 5:49 PM

Perhaps this sheds a bit of light on the matter...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2377785/Google-CEO-serial-womani...

Cutter -> Yes We Can. But Lets Not. , Dec 21, 2017 5:51 PM

Yup. I was thinking it. Didn't want to say it.

Laughing.Man -> Yes We Can. But Lets Not. , Dec 21, 2017 6:01 PM

Never would have guessed that he's a serial womanizer. I was expect something more disgusting.

Yes We Can. But... -> Laughing.Man , Dec 21, 2017 7:11 PM

Well, he does have the serial love-nest soundproofed.

topspinslicer , Dec 21, 2017 5:38 PM

About time. He did plenty of evil . Why be such an arrogant bastard when you are a mere mortal?

Tachyon5321 , Dec 21, 2017 5:39 PM

Right, considering Schmidt is known to have hung out at the Playboy manor and has loved up more than his share of the babes... No proof, but this sounds like damage control.

DipshitMiddleCl... , Dec 21, 2017 5:53 PM

Googles dragnet is scary good. They have 1984 levels of power via manipulation of data and information.

I wouldnt be surprised if they have secretive hedge funds internally or "partners" in which they share data with to trade on.

Avichi , Dec 21, 2017 6:04 PM

38 Million Home in Montecito CA ...may be burnt down by recent Thomas Fire ? Need Money for Alimony and Insurance ? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2377785/Google-CEO-serial-womani...

Here is his home http://virtualglobetrotting.com/map/eric-e-schmidts-house/

Mena Arkansas , Dec 21, 2017 6:05 PM

So will he go back to his day job at the NSA or just retire to banging young women not his wife on his megayacht?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2371719/Googles-Eric-Schmidts-op...

http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/eric-schmidt-google-scandal

pitz , Dec 21, 2017 6:22 PM

Never understood why Google went anywhere. It wasn't superior to anything search-wise until the mid 2000s and earlier in the decade was little more than a joke with a curious name. "PageRank" was nothing particularly interesting, and was generally too computationally complex to implement anyways. Almost nothing was uniquely invented at Google, a company that mostly leveraged open source software created elsewhere. So what is Google really? And why do they have such a cult following?

ThanksIwillHave... -> pitz , Dec 21, 2017 6:50 PM

Yahoo atrophied in the face on millions of websites, Alta Vista conquered that but the user still had read thru wads of results, then Google came along and it was a breath of fresh air, then Google accrued too much power and became Goolag.

GreatUncle -> ThanksIwillHaveAnother , Dec 21, 2017 8:55 PM

+1 Alta Vista was good, but the CIA / US government did not back them.

But if they had they would be in the same position as google.

[Jul 28, 2018] Ex-Amazon workers talk of 'horrendous' conditions

Aug 01, 2013 | www.youtube.com

Hundreds of employees of online store Amazon on zero hours contracts are subjected to a regime described as "horrendous" and "exhausting", it is claimed.


Shaun Dobbie , 2 years ago

The place is full of favoritism and you MUST hit target at all times regardless of what barriers you face. Mostly I have enjoyed my job there but I am starting to be picked on.

Adoon Q , 1 year ago

This is the worst place to ever work. They say you have two 15 minute breaks but it's actually a lot less. The amount of people waiting to go through 2 metal detector doors is unreal. It's more like a 7 minute break if you're lucky, same with the lunch. So glad that I'm not working at this company anymore, I now have a much better job with better hours and pay.

spidermandan2k7 , 1 year ago

I worked for amazon in 2014, the interview was via an agency where a group of us has to do a couple of written tests and then urinate into pots. I applied for the picker and packer team and when I got started I was put on the heavy lifting section.

Once I got my first shift/training the "team leaders" were useless and anytime you asked a question it was like an issue to them. One female team leader tried to ignore me for as long as she could until i finally got her attention and she answered with a nasty attitude.

On my second day which was my first time doing the heavy lifting, "team leaders" walking across a skywalk just above our heads and constantly monitoring what everything was doing even going as far as to smack a stick on the railing to stop a conversation.

They would occasionally be walking behind you aswell. It felt more like work in a prison being watched by guards.

The security staff were the biggest bunch of overly macho idiots I've ever seen, walking around with the chests pushed out and shouting silly jokes at the workers expense. You're not allowed nothing in your pockets while in the warehouse and I was told a lighter would be fine by one of the team leaders, but once I went to leave through the metal detectors one of the said macho bunch came over and spoke to me like dirt demanding my name and when I tried to explain it to him his attitude become more hostile to me.

Needless to say after my 2nd shift I quit as I was not about to put myself through something like that.

When I went into hand my ID card in 2 team leaders and 2 security were at reception and even giving that back consisted of a nasty attitude and asking what I was doing and why I was leaving. I simply smiled and said better job offer and left without giving them a chance to talk. It truly is a horrible place to work for and could be advertised as a prison job experience!

No Hope For Humanity , 1 year ago

My sister worked for Amazon for about a month before they sacked her.

She said they followed her everywhere from the bathroom to the break room, and she wasn't allowed to take more than one five minute break a day.

She had one friend there who she talked to, and they fired him as well. Amazon is garbage.

whoami , 1 year ago

Bezos is yet another disgusting immoral man driven by his mortal greed - with proof. if every amazon user that is aware of this reality decided to not buy from amazon again, this would be the fairest punishment. I wish everyone has an alternative choice for work and never has to choose to work for this greedy and inhumane corporation called amazon. absolutely revolting.

[Jul 28, 2018] Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine Hachette Book Group PublicAffairs

Notable quotes:
"... NBC Evening News ..."
"... Surveillance Valley ..."
"... Surveillance Valley ..."
Jul 28, 2018 | www.publicaffairsbooks.com

The Secret Military History of the Internet

by Yasha Levine The internet is the most effective weapon the government has ever built.

In this fascinating book, investigative reporter Yasha Levine uncovers the secret origins of the internet, tracing it back to a Pentagon... Read More

Genre: Nonfiction / Political Science / Privacy & Surveillance

On Sale: February 6th 2018

Price: $16.99 / $21.99 (CDN)

Page Count: 384

ISBN-13: 9781610398039

Public Affairs Logo Read Excerpt Request Desk/Exam Copy

Don't miss news from PublicAffairs

By clicking 'Sign Up,' I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Hachette Book Group's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use What's Inside Prologue Oakland, California

I t was February 18, 2014, and already dark when I crossed the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and parked my car in downtown Oakland. The streets were deserted, save for a couple of homeless men slumped in a heap against a closed storefront. Two police cruisers raced through a red light, sirens blaring.

I approached Oakland's city hall on foot. Even from a distance, I could see that something unusual was going on. A line of parked police cars ran down the block, and news anchors and TV camera crews scampered about, jockeying for position. A large group of people milled near the entrance, a few of them setting up what looked like a giant papier-mâché rat, presumably intended as a symbol for snitching. But the real action was inside. Several hundred people packed Oakland's ornate high-domed city council chamber. Many of them carried signs. It was an angry crowd, and police officers flanked the sides of the room, ready to push everyone out if things got out of hand.

The commotion was tied to the main agenda item of the night: the city council was scheduled to vote on an ambitious $11 million project to create a citywide police surveillance hub. Its official name was the "Domain Awareness Center" -- but everyone called it "the DAC." Design specs called for linking real-time video feeds from thousands of cameras across the city and funneling them into a unified control hub. Police would be able to punch in a location and watch it in real time or wind back the clock. They could turn on face recognition and vehicle tracking systems, plug in social media feeds, and enhance their view with data coming in from other law enforcement agencies -- both local and federal. 1

Plans for this surveillance center had been roiling city politics for months, and the outrage was now making its presence felt. Residents, religious leaders, labor activists, retired politicians, masked "black bloc" anarchists, and reps from the American Civil Liberties Union -- they were all in attendance, rubbing shoulder to shoulder with a group of dedicated local activists who had banded together to stop the DAC. A nervous, bespectacled city official in a tan suit took the podium to reassure the agitated crowd that the Domain Awareness Center was designed to protect them -- not spy on them. "This is not a fusion center. We have no agreements with the NSA or the CIA or the FBI to access our databases," he said.

The hall blew up in pandemonium. The crowd wasn't buying it. People booed and hissed. "This is all about monitoring protesters," someone screamed from the balcony. A young man, his face obscured by a mask, stalked to the front of the room and menacingly jammed his smartphone in the city official's face and snapped photos. "How does that feel? How do you like that -- being surveilled all the time!" he yelled. A middle-aged man -- bald, wearing glasses and crumpled khakis -- took the podium and tore into the city's political leaders. "You council members somehow believe that the Oakland Police Department, which has an unparalleled history of violating the civil rights of Oaklanders and which cannot even follow its own policies, be it a crowd control policy or a body camera policy, can somehow be trusted to use the DAC?" He left with a bang, yelling: "The only good DAC is a dead DAC!" Wild applause erupted.

Oakland is one of the most diverse cities in the country. It's also home to a violent, often unaccountable police department, which has been operating under federal oversight for over a decade. The police abuse has been playing out against a backdrop of increasing gentrification fueled by the area's Internet boom and the spike in real estate prices that goes along with it. In San Francisco, neighborhoods like the Mission District, historically home to a vibrant Latino community, have turned into condos and lofts and upscale gastro pubs. Teachers, artists, older adults, and anyone else not making a six-figure salary are having a tough time making ends meet. Oakland, which for a time was spared this fate, was now feeling the crush as well. But locals were not going down without a fight. And a lot of their anger was focused on Silicon Valley.

The people gathered at city hall that night saw Oakland's DAC as an extension of the tech-fueled gentrification that was pushing poorer longtime residents out of the city. "We're not stupid. We know that the purpose is to monitor Muslims, black and brown communities and protesters," said a young woman in a headscarf. "This center comes at a time when you're trying to develop Oakland into a playground and bedroom community for San Francisco professionals. These efforts require you to make Oakland quieter, whiter, less scary and wealthier -- and that means getting rid of Muslims, black and brown people and protesters. You know this and so do developers. We heard them at meetings. They are scared. They verbally admit it."

She had a point. A few months earlier, a pair of Oakland investigative journalists had obtained a cache of internal city-planning documents dealing with the DAC and found that city officials seemed to be interested more in using the proposed surveillance center to monitor political protests and labor union activity at the Oakland docks than in fighting crime. 2

There was another wrinkle. Oakland had initially contracted out development of the DAC to the Science Applications International Corporation, a massive California-based military contractor that does so much work for the National Security Agency that it is known in the intelligence business as "NSA West." The company is also a major CIA contractor, involved in everything from monitoring agency employees as part of the agency's "insider threat" programs to running the CIA's drone assassination fleet. Multiple Oakland residents came up to blast the city's decision to partner with a company that was such an integral part of the US military and intelligence apparatus. "SAIC facilitates the telecommunications for the drone program in Afghanistan that's murdered over a thousand innocent civilians, including children," said a man in a black sweater. "And this is the company you chose?"

I looked around the room in amazement. This was the heart of a supposedly progressive San Francisco Bay Area, and yet the city planned on partnering with a powerful intelligence contractor to build a police surveillance center that, if press reports were correct, officials wanted to use to spy on and monitor locals. Something made that scene even stranger to me that night. Thanks to a tip from a local activist, I had gotten wind that Oakland had been in talks with Google about demoing products in what appeared to be an attempt by the company to get a part of the DAC contract.

Google possibly helping Oakland spy on its residents? If true, it would be particularly damning. Many Oaklanders saw Silicon Valley companies such as Google as being the prime drivers of the skyrocketing housing prices, gentrification, and aggressive policing that was making life miserable for poor and low-income residents. Indeed, just a few weeks earlier protesters had picketed outside the local home of a wealthy Google manager who was personally involved in a nearby luxury real estate development.

Google's name never came up during the tumultuous city council meeting that night, but I did manage to get my hands on a brief email exchange between a Google "strategic partnership manager" and an Oakland official spearheading the DAC project that hinted at something in the works. 3

In the weeks after the city council meeting, I attempted to clarify this relationship. What kinds of services did Google offer Oakland's police surveillance center? How far did the talks progress? Were they fruitful? My requests to Oakland were ignored and Google wasn't talking either -- trying to get answers from the company was like talking to a giant rock. My investigation stalled further when Oakland residents temporarily succeeded in getting the city to halt its plans for the DAC.

Though Oakland's police surveillance center was put on hold, the question remained: What could Google, a company obsessed with its progressive "Don't Be Evil" image, offer a controversial police surveillance center?

At the time, I was a reporter for Pando , a small but fearless San Francisco magazine that covered the politics and business of Silicon Valley. I knew that Google made most of its money through a sophisticated targeted advertising system that tracked its users and built predictive models of their behavior and interests. The company had a glimpse into the lives of close to two billion people who used its platforms -- from email to video to mobile phones -- and it performed a strange kind of alchemy, turning people's data into gold: nearly $100 billion in annual revenue and a market capitalization of $600 billion; its cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a combined personal wealth estimated to be $90 billion.

Google is one of the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in the world, yet it presents itself as one of the good guys: a company on a mission to make the world a better place and a bulwark against corrupt and intrusive governments all around the globe. And yet, as I traced the story and dug into the details of Google's government contracting business, I discovered that the company was already a full-fledged military contractor, selling versions of its consumer data mining and analysis technology to police departments, city governments, and just about every major US intelligence and military agency. Over the years, it had supplied mapping technology used by the US Army in Iraq, hosted data for the Central Intelligence Agency, indexed the National Security Agency's vast intelligence databases, built military robots, colaunched a spy satellite with the Pentagon, and leased its cloud computing platform to help police departments predict crime. And Google is not alone. From Amazon to eBay to Facebook -- most of the Internet companies we use every day have also grown into powerful corporations that track and profile their users while pursuing partnerships and business relationships with major US military and intelligence agencies. Some parts of these companies are so thoroughly intertwined with America's security services that it is hard to tell where they end and the US government begins.

Since the start of the personal computer and Internet revolution in the 1990s, we've been told again and again that we are in the grips of a liberating technology, a tool that decentralizes power, topples entrenched bureaucracies, and brings more democracy and equality to the world. Personal computers and information networks were supposed to be the new frontier of freedom -- a techno-utopia where authoritarian and repressive structures lost their power, and where the creation of a better world was still possible. And all that we, global netizens, had to do for this new and better world to flower and bloom was to get out of the way and let Internet companies innovate and the market work its magic. This narrative has been planted deep into our culture's collective subconscious and holds a powerful sway over the way we view the Internet today.

But spend time looking at the nitty-gritty business details of the Internet and the story gets darker, less optimistic. If the Internet is truly such a revolutionary break from the past, why are companies like Google in bed with cops and spies?

I tried to answer this seemingly simple question after visiting Oakland that night in February. Little did I know then that this would take me on a deep dive into the history of the Internet and ultimately lead me to write this book. Now, after three years of investigative work, interviews, travel across two continents, and countless hours of correlating and researching historical and declassified records, I know the answer.

Pick up any popular history of the Internet and you will generally find a combination of two narratives describing where this computer networking technology came from. The first narrative is that it emerged out of the military's need for a communication network that could survive a nuclear blast. That led to the development of the early Internet, first known as ARPANET, built by the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency (known today as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA). The network went live in the late 1960s and featured a decentralized design that could route messages even if parts of the network were destroyed by a nuclear blast. The second narrative, which is the most dominant, contends that there was no military application of the early Internet at all. In this version, the ARPANET was built by radical young computer engineers and playful hackers deeply influenced by the acid-drenched counterculture of the San Francisco Bay Area. They cared not a damn about war or surveillance or anything of the sort, but dreamed of computer-mediated utopias that would make militaries obsolete. They built a civilian network to bring this future into reality, and it is this version of the ARPANET that then grew into the Internet we use today. For years, a conflict has raged between these historical interpretations. These days, most histories offer a mix of the two -- acknowledging the first, yet leaning much more heavily on the second.

My research reveals a third historical strand in the creation of the early Internet -- a strand that has all but disappeared from the history books. Here, the impetus was rooted not so much in the need to survive a nuclear attack but in the dark military arts of counterinsurgency and America's fight against the perceived global spread of communism. In the 1960s, America was a global power overseeing an increasingly volatile world: conflicts and regional insurgencies against US-allied governments from South America to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. These were not traditional wars that involved big armies but guerrilla campaigns and local rebellions, frequently fought in regions where Americans had little previous experience. Who were these people? Why were they rebelling? What could be done to stop them? In military circles, it was believed that these questions were of vital importance to America's pacification efforts, and some argued that the only effective way to answer them was to develop and leverage computer-aided information technology.

The Internet came out of this effort: an attempt to build computer systems that could collect and share intelligence, watch the world in real time, and study and analyze people and political movements with the ultimate goal of predicting and preventing social upheaval. Some even dreamed of creating a sort of early warning radar for human societies: a networked computer system that watched for social and political threats and intercepted them in much the same way that traditional radar did for hostile aircraft. In other words, the Internet was hardwired to be a surveillance tool from the start. No matter what we use the network for today -- dating, directions, encrypted chat, email, or just reading the news -- it always had a dual-use nature rooted in intelligence gathering and war.

As I traced this forgotten history, I found that I was not so much discovering something new but uncovering something that was plainly obvious to a lot of people not so long ago. Starting in the early 1960s in the United States, a big fear about the proliferation of computer database and networking technologies arose. People worried that these systems would be used by both corporations and governments for surveillance and control. Indeed, the dominant cultural view at the time was that computers and computing technology -- including the ARPANET, the military research network that would grow into the Internet we use today -- were tools of repression, not liberation.

In the course of my investigation, I was genuinely shocked to discover that as early as 1969, the first year that the ARPANET came online, a group of students at MIT and Harvard attempted to shut down research taking place at their universities under the ARPANET umbrella. They saw this computer network as the start of a hybrid private-public system of surveillance and control -- "computerized people-manipulation" they called it -- and warned that it would be used to spy on Americans and wage war on progressive political movements. They understood this technology better than we do today. More importantly, they were right. In 1972, almost as soon as the ARPANET was rolled out on a national level, the network was used to help the CIA, the NSA, and the US Army spy on tens of thousands of antiwar and civil rights activists. It was a big scandal at the time, and the ARPANET's role in it was discussed at length on American television, including NBC Evening News .

This episode, which took place forty-five years ago, is a vital part of the historical record, important to anyone who wants to understand the network that mediates so much of our lives today. Yet you won't find it mentioned in any recent book or documentary on the origins of the Internet -- at least not any that I could find, and I read and watched just about all of them.

Surveillance Valley is an attempt to recover part of this lost history. But it is more than that. The book starts in the past, going back to the development of what we now call the Internet during the Vietnam War. But it quickly moves into the present, looking at the private surveillance business that powers much of Silicon Valley, investigating the ongoing overlap between the Internet and the military-industrial complex that spawned it half a century ago, and uncovering the close ties that exist between US intelligence agencies and the antigovernment privacy movement that has sprung up in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks. Surveillance Valley shows that little has changed over the years: the Internet was developed as a weapon and remains a weapon today. American military interests continue to dominate all parts of the network, even those that supposedly stand in opposition.

Yasha Levine

New York

December 2017

[Jul 18, 2018] Why I Hate Google, Twitter, and Facebook

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... twelve (12) days old ..."
"... carefully curated ..."
"... have innovated the paragraph ..."
"... Amen to the part about Google. Once upon a time I could start a Google search with a high probability of finding something useful. These days I have to darned near know the result before I'll find anything. ..."
"... I agree that Google search is not as good as it once was but it could be that the web itself has changed with far more commercial and bubble gum content. There was a time long ago when only nerds used computers. ..."
"... I find Google regularly overriding specific search terms, particularly when I put in a short phrase in quotes, which means Google is supposed to deliver results that match that exact phrase. First page, even the very first result, regularly violate the search criteria. Never happened before ~ 2 years ago. ..."
"... "Isikoff checked the facts for his new book so hard, they were carried off unconscious, and remain in a coma" ..."
Jul 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on July 17, 2018 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

I am a blogger. It is my job to blog, which I've been doing on a daily basis since 2003. Reading and writing is what I do all day. I'm lucky to be able to survive doing it, and I'm happy to be doing it[1]. I hate Google because it tries to make me a stupid reader. I hate Twitter and Facebook because they make me a stupid writer. I've been wanting to get this off my chest for some time, so allow me to explain.

Let's where I start, with reading. As a blogger, I need to process and filter enormous amounts of newsworthy content hours a day, every day (as does Yves). I am like an enormous baleen whale nourished by krill. So here is how the insanely stupid and wasteful Google News helps me -- and you, dear readers! -- do this:

(I've erased the Weather box at top right, which is Google's little way of letting me know it's tracking my location even though cookies are off.) First, look at the page, which is a complete screenful on a laptop (i.e., on the screen of professional content creator who values his time, not a teensy little cellphone screen). In the news links column at left, there are a grand total of nine (9) stories. Please, can we get the steam-era list of blue links back, where we could scan 30 or 40 headlines in a single second's saccade? And note the sources: CNN, HuffPost, Fox, WaPo, NBC News, NPR, CNN, and the WSJ. This is an ecoystem about as barren as my neighbor's lawn! (And if you click on the laughingly named "View full coverage" link, you'll see a page just as empty and vacuous though slightly less barren, with more obcure sources, like Reuters. Or Salon.) You will also note the obvious way in which the page has been gamed by gaslighters and moral panic engineers, who can drive every other story off the front page through sheer volume Finally, you'll note that the fact checkers include organs of state security , in the form of polygraph.info , "a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America (VOA)​ and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty."

Now let's try to use Google News for search. (I find Google proper, though still crapified, better for news, especially if I limit the search by time.) I chose "start treaty," for obvious reasons. Here is the results page:

Yes, on a complete, entire laptop page, there are in total five (5) hits, 3 from the impoverished ecosytem noted above, and one from an organ of state security (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty). The last hit, from Vox, is twelve (12) days old . Surely there's something more current? Note also the random ordering of the hits: Today, yesterday, 6 days ago, 2 days ago, 12 days ago. (There is, of course, no way to change the ordering.) A news feed that doesn't organize stories chronologically? That doesn't surface current content? What horrible virus has rotted the brain matter of the Google engineers who created this monstrosity? And one more thing:

Famously, the normal Google search page ends with "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next." Crapified though Google search results are, if you spend some time clicking and scanning, you'll generally be able to come up with something useful five or ten pages in, maybe (if you're lucky) from a source you don't already know exists. Not so with Google "News." When the page ends, it just ends. When the algo has coughed up whatever hairball it's coughed up, it's done. No more. Again, this is news? What about the same story a week ago? A month ago? What does "our democracy" have a free press for, if Google gets in the way of being able to find anything?

So, the Google News experience is so vile and degrading in its stupidity and insolence that I use another tool for reading the news: Twitter. And despite its well-deserved reputation as a hell-site, Twitter -- carefully curated -- does the job, as long as you don't ask too much of it, like news that's more than a month or so old. My beef with Twitter is not as a reader, but as a writer. Here is how you create a tweet in Twitter:

I'll have a sidebar on those miserably inadequate writing tools, at left, in a moment. For now, look at the bottom right: Those disruptive Silicon Valley engineers have innovated the paragraph :

When you click that plus sign, you get A second Tweet, connected to the first, in an easy-to-close-accidentally modal dialog box!

Here, I remind you of the steam age of Blogger, where you could -- hold onto your hats, here, folks -- create a post, composed of paragraphs -- or, if you were a poet, lines; or an artist, images and captions; or an accountant, tables -- all with at least some degree of "flow" and ease. You could even have subheads, to divide your content into sections! The billionaire brainiacs at Twitter have managed to create that first, minimal functionality -- the paragraph -- but without the ability to re-arrange, or even to edit your paragraphs after posting! Does Jack laugh alone at night?[2].

... ... ...


Zachary Smith , July 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Amen to the part about Google. Once upon a time I could start a Google search with a high probability of finding something useful. These days I have to darned near know the result before I'll find anything. Google News used to have a dense list of news stories. I don't have a bookmark to the place anymore, relying instead on blog headlines and the like.

Since I've heard nothing good about Facebook I'm agreeable to the notion the site isn't something for me. Never tried "tweeting" and have no plans to do so.

Carolinian , July 17, 2018 at 4:22 pm

I agree that Google search is not as good as it once was but it could be that the web itself has changed with far more commercial and bubble gum content. There was a time long ago when only nerds used computers.

But I don't agree that Google News was ever very useful. Google always admitted that it was edited by algo and it seemed to be a kind of Headline News news summary–the opposite of what a hard core news junkie would want.

RSS is still around and IMO the most useful tool for keeping track of a large number of websites. For off the beaten path links that may not show up on a favorite site there are websites like this one (thanks Yves and Lambert and Jerri-Lynn).

Yves Smith , July 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm

To your first point, no.

I find Google regularly overriding specific search terms, particularly when I put in a short phrase in quotes, which means Google is supposed to deliver results that match that exact phrase. First page, even the very first result, regularly violate the search criteria. Never happened before ~ 2 years ago.

Google in recent years has optimized for:

  1. Shopping
  2. Recency
  3. "Authoritativeness" of sites. The latter criterion, as interpreted by Google = MSM above all. Academic sites get downranked too.
David May , July 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

So much truth here. Similar story with YouTube: even though Jimmy Dore Is my most watched YouTuber by a long shot, notifications for new vids NEVER, ever, ever appear in my notification thingy or at the top of the page. Never. Google engineers are braniac math scientists (as Jimmy Dore might say), so this is a feature, not a bug. This is deliberate suppression. Inverted totalitarianism.

Arizona Slim , July 17, 2018 at 3:55 pm

I've noticed the same thing. I have to go to Jimmy's channel in order to learn what's new.

ambrit , July 17, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Same here with my "Tinfoil Hatt" sites.

David Carl Grimes , July 17, 2018 at 10:48 pm

I can attest to the same thing. And when I type jimmy on the search box, I always get jimmy Fallon as the first option even though I constantly search for Jimmy Dore.

Jeff W , July 17, 2018 at 6:38 pm

YouTube, for whatever reason, splits the functionality into two parts: subscribing and notifications. If you "just" subscribe, you will not get a number badge indicating a notification at the top right of your YouTube page -- you have to click the "notifications bell" in order to get notifications.

On the YouTube Settings | Notifications page you can also choose to get email messages regarding notifications and choose some other options regarding notifications for YouTube activity. On that same page, if you click Manage all subscriptions (which is buried in the text under Channel subscriptions ), you can see all your subscriptions and which ones have the bell clicked or not.

If you click the hamburger (three bar) icon on the upper left, next to the YouTube logo, that toggles a pane where you can see your history, your subscriptions, your settings and some other things. Even if you haven't clicked the notifications bell, you can see, under Subscriptions , the number of not-yet-watched videos you have, listed by individual channel you've subscribed to. (That's how I generally know that there is a new Jimmy Dore video since I am subscribed to the channel but I don't have notifications turned on.)

All of this is such poorly implemented usability that I hesitate to call it deliberate anything but I won't discount it, either.

Jim Haygood , July 17, 2018 at 3:55 pm

As of September 28th, Alphabet (a/k/a Google), Facebook and Twitter will join an all-new Communications Services sector. Its core is the old Telecommunications Services sector, which has shrunk to but three companies in the S&P 500 (Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink).

Also joining Communications Services will be media and cable companies -- a full roster of corporate villainy, as it were. The complete list of 22 constituents appears here:

http://www.sectorspdr.com/sectorspdr/sector/xlc/holdings

A Communications Services ETF is already trading in advance of the sector's official debut in September. Owing to the exit of seven current Information Technology stocks (including Alphabet, Facebook and Twitter, the targets of Lambert's ire) and 16 Consumer Discretionary stocks (including Comcast, Disney and Netflix), these sectors will change in composition on Sep 28th.

In this exclusive chart, the new post-Sep 28th sectors are backcast as if they all existed today:

https://ibb.co/n9C1KJ

Communications Services had been lagging the S&P 500 until last month, when government approval of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner set off a frenzy in other media stocks which might be bought or merged. With Alphabet and Facebook making up 44.3% of Communications Services by weight, these two giants will tend to dominate its performance.

s , July 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Narrow markets with volume, stock buy backs are so yesterday .

diptherio , July 17, 2018 at 4:01 pm

The future is federated. Individual instances, hosted by whoever wants to set one up, that can link to each other, for a fully customizable experience. I like Mastodon (a bird-site replacement), and my particular instance at social.coop, even though it doesn't have any of your writerly tools either. But it's open source, so the ability to add them is there:

https://mastodon.social/about

PeerTube also seems to be taking off, as a federated video sharing platform.

LDK , July 17, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Lambert, you can get back your Old Google News format (pre-AI change) by using this link instead as follows: https://news.google.com/news/feeds?output=rss&q=%
It doesn't take away Google's attempt at controlling our information flow with its new AI Gnews format But it should help you get your blue links & sections back ;) – with the caveat that you can't click on said headlines/sections' "see real time coverage" (in which case you go back to our Ministry of Information's AI approved interface). However you can expand on the little down arrow next to each headlines and click on the working links.

Kurt Sperry , July 17, 2018 at 10:39 pm

That's excellent, thank you. Noticeably decrapifies from the new default format.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:29 am

That's less insane, though all the other issues remain.

Funny to think all this crap is just larded on top of good ol' RSS. It's like one of Clive's banking systems

Fred , July 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

If you are letting algorithms decide what you watch or read, you are basically giving up. At least use a search engine like Duck Duck Go and never read the news on FB or Twit.

False Solace , July 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

Duck Duck Go has its own news section which I've used a few times, and it seemed to have way more links than Lambert's screenshot of Google News. Don't know what sites DDG includes but maybe it could be an alternative.

BoulderMike , July 17, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Sadly though I find the same problem with DuckDuckGo. Meaning, it returns the results it wants, rather than what I asked for. Even if I ask for results from the past week I get stuff from 8 years ago. And if I ask for something like Stereo Speakers I get things like "speakers at this years conference ..", etc. Just pure garbage. And the key complaint I have is that Amazon shows up every other result for page after page. If I search for "how to best fertilize tomatoes in Colorado", I get a result showing tomatoes available on Amazon.com. And at the top of every search is a "ribbon" of results from Amazon almost exclusively and with "Prime" in the results box. I hate Amazon and wish I could never see that word again, or the words Jeff Bezos. Sigh.

Richard , July 17, 2018 at 10:04 pm

I have the same issue with DDG. My understanding is that it is not different from Google in terms of search results, but simply that it won't surveil you:
Their ad campaign: "Same s*&$ results as Google, but no one will know you're looking!"

Hepativore , July 17, 2018 at 11:14 pm

What about Qwant? I do not like how it feels it has to open links and images in a separate tab automatically, and it takes forever to load images, but I have heard good things about the search engine.

Nlowhim , July 18, 2018 at 3:50 am

I've been using other methods like -siteihate.com or site:.edu to find papers etc on a topic. For geopolitics I try to find a human rights group nearby to see what they say. News is hard to sift through

Procopius , July 18, 2018 at 12:58 am

I don't do Twitter, thank you, but Facebook has News? Hoocoodanode? It's not something I would ever think of using, but one of my friends (who is always threatening to unfriend me) once ranted that she knew the Russians interfered with our election because she saw the bots and memes. When I asked her how she knew a bot she never answered. She's a solid Russiagate cult believer. I suspect she must get her news from FB.

FlashFlud , July 17, 2018 at 4:29 pm

I've noticed it's really, really tough now to find via Google any serious, longform blogs on investing, energy, etc. Almost everything that comes up when I search a topic is a listicle/clickbait, a Salon article, some horrible startup platform with only 10-50 active users, or something locked behind a paywall.

I always thought the best metaphor for this is the end of the "Old West" – all the territory is fenced off and none of the owners want you trespassing on their land. I actually do think the best internet tools were all de-centralized – "federated" as one of your commenters put it.

For instance, wasn't it great when you could make an RSS feed out of literally any series of sites and just click on what you find interesting? Granted, I still think that's possible but I don't see nearly as many websites pushing that compatibility anymore. Instead it's all SEO and racing to be "discoverable" by the big platforms. Information, writing, and the exchange of ideas have suffered as a result.

Dave , July 17, 2018 at 4:40 pm

I've been very happy since switching to Duck Duck Go. Occasionally I can't find something and think, "I'm going to actually go into google.com and see if it runs a better search" and it almost never does.

To me the more interesting point here is Lambert's second/third one, which is that, although both Twitter and Facebook decry the rise of fake news, their format is an especially hard one to write a nuanced critique in. It's difficult (if not impossible) to put a string of URLs in a Facebook post without actually putting the whole jumbled up 200-character strings of the URLs in – instead of just hotlinking a word! – and you can't format headings, sections, and subsections easily – so any discussion just basically devolves into "No, read this!" "Well, read this!" "What about this!", etc. And they don't always post comments chronologically, or in an order I can make sense of anyway, so you can't follow the ongoing discussion clearly anyway.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:30 am

> they don't always post comments chronologically, or in an order I can make sense of anyway

It's almost like they're trying to destroy any possibility of a decent discussion.

bob mcmanus , July 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm

Interestingly, as apparently the default, Firefox gives me a drop down list of "Latest News" headlines (? at least 50) which are I think entirely from the Guardian and BBC. Not great, too much human interest and soccer scores, and the articles are too often small or video, but god knows better than NYT and WaPo, and I can and do go on from there to the rest of the Guardian site. I don't know if that is configurable, if I could replace it with al-jazerra, Asia Times or RT

But I also have Jacobin Naked Capitalism and Counterpunch in quick buttons and I spend my time there. Should nuclear war start, I would want analysis before headlines. I am content with being a few days or week behind.

GERMO , July 17, 2018 at 5:09 pm

Gahd yes -- thanks for this post.

When Google News changed to whatever it is now I stopped using it entirely. It's not an aggregator in any sense at all, to me. I used to use Google as the home page and hit up the news page and felt like I had a newspaper to go with my morning coffee. It's ludicrous now. I just go directly to NC links and watercooler actually, and find my way around from there and from my local online paper. "Sad!"

JCC , July 17, 2018 at 11:48 pm

Google News has been slipping for a couple of years now, and has gotten exceptionally bad since it deployed the new layout. I now check it once or twice a week at the most and mainly just to read the headlines in order to find out what I'm supposed to believe.

The first site I open every morning is this site, read the articles of the titles that catch my interest (most) and then settle in with a cup of coffee or two and the Links Page.

The only serious problem I have with Naked Capitalism and its Links Section is that I'm often late for work as a direct result of opening the Links page (which reminds me, It's getting near my semi-annual donation :-)

Tinky , July 17, 2018 at 5:24 pm

This is a good opportunity for me to get something off of my chest, something that infuriates me.

I don't know what entity is responsible for designing the auto-correct function in (most, if not all) internet comment fields, but the result is shockingly bad.

First, it is fundamentally flawed. When the system offers a possible correction, it should allow the user to ignore the suggestion and continue typing. Instead, having implemented the tool completely backwards, it forces the user to close the suggestion, resulting in an obvious waste of time. The arrogance of assuming that the program is likely to be correct is compounded tremendously by the fact that – unbelievably – it does the exactly same thing for words that are capitalized!

I am dumfounded that anyone could be so stupid as to implement a program that attempts to correct proper names.

The fact that those involved in the initial design haven't yet discerned these obvious flaws, and there hasn't been widespread outrage over this issue, reflects very poorly on all involved.

ambrit , July 17, 2018 at 5:44 pm

I can attest that I usually run into spell check functions with abysmally poor vocabularies. (I just noticed that 'spell check' has connotations of Ye Darke Artes.) I have become inured to leaving those wavy red underlines in place when I 'post' a comment.
As for stupidity .

Tinky , July 17, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Yes, those which simply underline words in red are fine. It is the auto-correct versions to which I refer.

Amfortas the Hippie , July 17, 2018 at 7:04 pm

I knew something was up when every embedded(i guess) spellcheck i ran across couldn't spell Nietzsche and insisted that i always capitalise walmart(and cease using cambridge spelling immediately!).
i usually ignore the red squiggly, too
the worst was a samsung phone my wireless company gave me as an "upgrade". the text function had a "learning" spellcheck/autocorrect that you were supposed to just keep using so that it could eventually figure out what you were trying to say so at the beginning, every single word opened up a sort of square flower thing of unrelated(as a rule) words.
it was impossible I gather more so due to my habit of using archaic and obscure language and after you disabled it, it turned itself back on.
as a convenience.

Ur-Blintz , July 17, 2018 at 6:19 pm

d'accord!

but you have to admit that sometimes it's funny. today my phone kept correcting "detente" into "dead aunt".

Disturbed Vote , July 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm

It all goes back to Unix days, and DWIM. Do what I mean. According to the Hacker's Dictionary, the guy who invented DWIM has a permanent death sentence on assigned to him ;-)

http://www.hacker-dictionary.com/terms/DWIM

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:32 am

Nice to see the Hacker's Dictionary quoted. It's a wonderful resource, and a reminder that not all programmers suck (just the ones riding scooters to their regulatory arbitrage start-ups in Silicon Valley).

rfdawn , July 17, 2018 at 9:16 pm

Agree entirely. Alas, it is often not the "program" doing this. My ipad has a popup touchscreen keyboard (courtesy of iOS) that tries to enforce English spellings in every text-entry situation including non-English webpages. As Lambert says, hilarity ensues.

Gregorio , July 18, 2018 at 8:13 am

Spell check creates a whole new world of problems when one routinely types in more than one language.

barefoot charley , July 18, 2018 at 10:23 am

My smartypants phone has detected me reading Voltaire (copyright-free Kindle for sitting and waiting) and decided when I stammer texts to communicate with under-50s that I must be speaking French. So my word-salads are bi-lingual. But the youth of today don't think I'm erudite, they think I'm crazy. Dunno why, monolingual stammering isn't much better. But unless I get a Trump-style thumb job, I can't type on my telephone (which is as it should be, but I'm so old I remember when people answered their phones).

Mark Gisleson , July 17, 2018 at 5:43 pm

I did a C-list version of what Lambert does during that golden period of blogging he mentions. He doesn't really give enough shrift to the amount of time he spends reading each day, and it would be impossible to know how much effort goes into his interpretive remarks that all too often spare me the bother of reading establishment tripe.

This is the gold standard for aggregation blogging: ample links, clarifying remarks, snark. Reading this blog turned my old blog into a watered down version of this blog. I stole a lot from Lambert Strether because he does this better than anyone else. (Pro tip: don't steal from crappy writers)

I suspect Robot Wisdom as a prior influence, but now we're talking super old-timey stuff.

ambrit , July 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm

I detect the 'Cold Dead Hands' of Addison and Steele. Also somewhat an influence arising from the Spectre of an old dead Scot.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:35 am

[lambert blushes modestly].

Never read Robot Wisdom! I came in after that point. I first encountered the blogosphere when Paul Krugman mentioned Atrios in one of his columns and I went to look. And that was that. I was unemployed at the time, and spent most of my time reading blogs instead of looking for work

Richard , July 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm

Thanks for including labeled screen shots in your critique of FB, Goog, Twit. For those of us who don't use those sites, it really helped comprehension.
Great post. I guess there really are a million ways to discourage people from thinking clearly, including bs silicon valley editing tools.

Hayek's Heelbiter , July 17, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Amen! Amen! Amen!

I'm re-writing a historical romantic drama that i first completed in 1985, set mostly in Paris and Vienna in the 1870s. I did major rewrites in the 1990s for a major star, who soon got a contract to earn tens (or maybe hundreds of times) what a low-budget art house film would have paid and promptly walked the project. As soon as your star is gone, your project isn't one of the walking dead, it's totally graveyard dead.

The Internet was just coming into its own in the mid-1990s, and I have dozens of pages of incredibly useful research material I downloaded from the web.

Fast forward to 2018, and a studio is again interested in the project. But it wants the script rewritten from the female protagonist's viewpoint.

I again turned to the Internet to research the era.

Guess what?

No matter what set of keywords I use, no matter how I structure my Boolean searches, I get hundreds and hundreds of links to commercial sights, advertisements for Viennese and Parisian stores popping up left right and center.

Out of 100 links, maybe one has useful information.

Fortunately, not yet having had an intervention on an episode of HOARDERS, I managed to locate in a mislabeled several thousand pages I photocopied from out-of-print books on the subject.

God bless the Brooklyn Public Library and their hard-working Reference Desk librarians. There's a special place in Heaven for them.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:36 am

Amazing!

Synoia , July 17, 2018 at 6:24 pm

The engineers who butchered Twitter and Facebook's edit tools probably thought that way.

Engineers do what management tells them to do.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:37 am

But their worldview already inclined them in the direction management wished them to go. (And sometimes management doesn't even know what it wants anyhow.)

lakecabs , July 17, 2018 at 6:25 pm

I noticed when I looked up Elon Musk Mars trip. I went through page after page of links to how great it was that he launched a car into outer space with no reference that he actually missed Mars.

Then again on this submarine fiasco.

none , July 17, 2018 at 7:25 pm

I look at https://lite.cnn.io/en if I want a quick scan of headlines (CNN only of course). https://text.npr.org/ is sort of similar but from NPR.

Milton , July 17, 2018 at 7:44 pm

I do things the old-fashioned way by compiling feeds from a list of 15, or so, sites into a js reader on my website. I don't use Google at all and have no use for any corporate website. What I will do, however, is browse the yahoo news stream just so I can get a feel of the day's mood but I never follow a link. The only site that I visit not via my news reader is NC.

Steve , July 17, 2018 at 9:18 pm

After Google messed up, I tried several possibles and ended up with Memeorandum.

JCC , July 17, 2018 at 11:36 pm

Never heard of that one before now. I just checked it out all the news promoting Cold War 2.0 right at your fingertips at least that's the way it looks tonight.

MsExPat , July 17, 2018 at 9:32 pm

I'm deep in the pit of learning about SEO optimization, and I can tell you that Google's search algorithms–together with Google AdWords–are to blame for the lousy quality of Google searches these days.

Google gives priority to websites based on:
t1) site speed (which means that unless you pay extra $$$ for superior hosting and upgraded cloud services, your site will drop in the rankings. And hey, guess who owns one of the fastest worldwide cloud hosting services? Google.)
2) Rules that force you to write "stupid" (or at least with zero flair and style) in order to get your website onto the first page of a search. The keyword has to be right up top, the header and meta-text have to be written just so, and within a character limit. You can't be arch or subtle or creative. Break a rule and you get no mercy from Google's ranking algorithm. You're just buried in the back.
3) Speaking of back, Google prioritizes sites and pages for backlinks, that is, for other sites that link back to your website or article. While that may seem to be a way of pushing quality websites to the top of a search, in actual practice this backlink thing is a game. My site has backlinks from the New York Times, CNN, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, and a host of other very authoritative high quality sites. However my competitor has a greater NUMBER of backlinks from more domains, and that counts for more, even though the links are from unknown travel bloggers.
4) Finally, the biggest drag on Google Search is the ads, which can take up the first half of the page before you get to a "real" search result.

It occurred to me the other day that scrapping or saving Net Neutrality may not really matter all that much. Google is so powerful that effectively they function like a commerce gateway, keeping out small businesses and websites that can't afford to hire the expensive software engineers and experts that you need nowadays to tweak and craft your site's backend so that it will show up in a Google search. Not to mention the added cost of fast hosting servers.

And the time suck of having to become familiar with all this stuff just so I can stay alive as a business!

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:39 am

> And the time suck of having to become familiar with all this stuff just so I can stay alive as a business!

It's almost like the relations of production are holding back the forces of production

NJroute22 , July 18, 2018 at 12:46 am

For real – it's gone down the crapper almost entirely.

One blog we started in 2005 was a gold mine for five to eight years. Then the revenue tumbled – for no logical reason to us. We were dissed. Maybe we didn't change the keywords or whatever to "keep up with the times," but good original content that wasn't pop culture or groupthink was shunned.

Fast forward to 2018, as we try to start up another new blog (this time promoting on the top four major "social media" sites), it's been tough going.

It seems that people don't want to find interesting, common sense oriented, critical thinking based content anymore.

If you're not talking about some utterly useless celebrity or bone-headed politician or dreadful sad story – no one cares to exercise those wonderful abilities they have to contemplate and reflect anymore. Deep thinkers are a dying breed.

Even searching for simple things on Google has gotten horrific.

I'm with others here. RSS reader (we use InoReader – awesome). When you stumble on a quality site – instantly subscribe. Your own curated "timeline" or "newsfeed."

Read all the articles on those sites you subscribe to, because they often link to other quality sites you can add to your museum of good publications.

Even if they're not exactly your ball of wax – keep them anyway. Not every post has to be up your alley.

The independent publisher with unique thoughts is an endangered species. Not because we're dying off – but because they're trying to kill us off via financial starvation.

There has to be a change of the tide eventually. Hopefully before it's too late.

Crosley Bendix , July 17, 2018 at 9:59 pm

I would appreciate hearing how you use Twitter in a way that is productive for you.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:41 am

My Twitter feed is extremely carefully curated. I do not subscribe directly to the usual sources (like CNN, etc.)

So I hear about a story only when someone I trust brings it to my attention, not when they do.

In addition I have a large number of quirky people with a wide skillset.

I originally joined Twitter to follow Black Lives Matter. It was invaluable, and not only because I got news and images I could get nowhere else, but because Black Twitter is really neat.

The Rev Kev , July 17, 2018 at 10:13 pm

And this is what happens when we let billionaires control what we see and do on the net. I have been a newshound for years and use to go through Google News and then a few favoured sites. These days I have reversed it around as Google News has become so crappified, so stripped of content and so cumbersome to use that I have switched it around.
As for Facebook and Twitter – not on your nelly though I know lots of people have to use it for professional reasons or for staying in contact with groups that do not have a presence elsewhere. The past several years I have found that I visit a lot of Russian sites as I tend to find more news of interest there which five years ago I would have found weird. The times they are a changin'.
Want to know what the future will be like. Take a look at the following clip from the film "Rollerball" – the first one – and you will see. The main character goes to visit the world computer for information as all of it is stored there. Upon arrival he finds that the computer has "lost" all the information on the 13th century in talking to the lead scientist. Here is that clip of our future-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmTWhvWgST0

polecat , July 17, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Haven't EVER used twits or bloodfunnelbook, and quit bevil when I saw the devil's pitchfork get way too lucky !

Procopius , July 18, 2018 at 12:44 am

I hate the "editor" in Facebook, too, but because there's no way to format anything. That big type you call their default? That goes away when you type three lines or so. It's only been there a couple of years and I don't know what they were thinking of when they added it. Why can't I choose my type size? Why can't I make text bold or italic? NC at least has those options. Other blogs let me enter most HTML formatting tags. Those "disruptive" engineers must be pretty weird people. Why would I want my post to be in HUGE type if I'm only posting one or two lines?

Thing I wanted to ask, how do you make google search time periods. Is that something they've added? A few years ago, after many people entered "I have the same question" they admitted they had no way to do so. Is it something you have to use advanced search for? Because I think I remember seeing something there, but I haven't used it for many years.

hunkerdown , July 18, 2018 at 1:21 am

That feature can be found under Tools → Any time, in the toolbar on the results page under the search query.

JBird , July 18, 2018 at 2:35 am

I just checked Google. I could be missing it. What I do see is simpler, less precise, and not as useful as the previous time period search. I use to use to be to chop off precisely the exact dates I wanted searched. For example any articles, websites, or just news on the Humbolt Squid from 1/1/1984 to 1/2/1986.

If I missed that option please tell me as it was useful.

JBird , July 18, 2018 at 2:14 am

Procopius,
Yes, your memory is fine as Google did make it fairly easy to search periods of time and to use Boolean search terms. Brief tutorials and instructions easy to find. Googleborg has been getting less useful for using the interwebs but it is easier to find stuff to buy. Strange is it not?

Lambert,
When I think about the crapification of Google et al I also think about the siloing of economics, political science, history and other fields, which are stripped of anything considered extraneous, and reduced to dry misinformative stats, formulae, and over simplied stories. Going from the broad interconnected field of anthropology to what is misleading labeled "economics" is like going from a real forest full of life to a museum diorama consisting of some ratty stuff animals, plastic plants, and some awfully painted background and being told both are comparable.

I think what used to be political economics, but now just economics, was still not broad enough but the current field of economics had everything not describing and validating neoliberal capitalist free market economics removed. Adam Smith's own complete writings would get him labeled a socialist. I cannot think that the deliberate, and it was deliberate, to simplify away all inconvenient facts, ideas, and theories from what is laughing called economics so that only a few pre-approved answers to the approved narrative is like Google, Twitter, and Facebook's near uselessness.

Dave , July 18, 2018 at 9:45 am

I was actually working with FB (as a vendor) when they implemented that big-type "feature". They were concerned that it was becoming almost mandatory to include a picture with your posts – essentially every ad on the site has a picture, links to articles and most any URLs automatically include a picture, and users were including more and more pictures themselves as most people switched their Facebook time to smartphones. As a result, if you posted a short, tweet-length text only message, it was easy to miss. So they inflated the font size to make short messages take up a similar amount of space as longer ones or ones with pictures.

It's not my preference at all, stylistically (especially with those hideous colored backgrounds) but, well A/B testing told them it resulted in increased eyeballs on those short posts.

Tomi , July 18, 2018 at 2:54 am

Facebook demanding you to enable cookies is not only for the advertisers, but it's required by the server so that it can do some essential things that are required to deliver an interactive web page. For example when you try to post a message on Facebook your browser will send a request to Facebook server. That request must be accompanied by the cookie so that server knows that the request came from you and not from someone else.

If you don't want cookies tracking you, you can still enable them, but you can delete all cookies before you close your browser. Many browsers will allow you to automatically delete cookies when you close the browser.

Temporarily Sane , July 18, 2018 at 3:07 am

Have you tried Feedly ? Until 2013 it was owned by Google (where it was known as Google Reader) but it was actually a decent piece of software so of course they had to get rid of it. IMNSHO it leaves the competition in the dust and is still, by far, the best news aggregator available.

NJroute22 , July 18, 2018 at 3:30 am

I tried Feedly in the past – didn't rub me the right way. As I said in a previous comment – InoReader works for us perfectly.

Why Google got rid of their Reader is a good sign they are evil.

Skip Intro , July 18, 2018 at 5:57 am

I am officially adopting the policy of understanding the word "check" in "fact check", to have the same meaning as when it is used in the context of ice hockey, i.e. "Isikoff checked the facts for his new book so hard, they were carried off unconscious, and remain in a coma"

barefoot charley , July 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

+1
It's a lol!

SubjectivObject , July 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

for me, anyway
"What horrible virus has rotted the brain matter of the Google engineers who created this monstrosity?"

all such anomalous characteristics are intentioned features

William Hunter Duncan , July 18, 2018 at 9:15 am

I blogged on blogger for 5 years, after which I had maybe 200 hits a day, most of which were bots. Unless you googled my full name, the blog would never be listed.

Facebook was never meant to be anything but a ghetto, to put people in pens to make a few people rich rich rich.

Twitter was always about making people twits. See: Trump, Hillary-bots, the sports/movie/tv complex .

These days I write long poems by hand, lol.

ObjectiveFunction , July 18, 2018 at 9:15 am

Great piece, it reminds me of Edward Tufte's classic "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint".

Of course, in spite of ET's popularity as a corporate tent revivalist, packing hotel ballrooms at $250 a seat, there's been no interruption in the steady dumbing down of communication, both written and graphic.

Scott1 , July 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Damnit. My comment disappeared.
I ended it asking if Naked Capitalism would become financially secure were it to own its own Servers that operated for profit regardless of content supported?
IT professionals Serve the Servers.
Drug dealers don't have to advertise.
Servers don't have to advertise, is what I thought.
I read the article. I read the comments. An idea appears above my eyes
between my eyebrows. 'Am I right or am I wrong?'
I love Naked Capitalism. Thanks

[Jun 28, 2018] Technology giants hold censorship meeting with US intelligence agencies by Will Morrow

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
Jun 27, 2018 | www.wsws.org

The New York Times and Washington Post this week published reports of a private meeting last month between eight major technology and social media corporations and the US intelligence agencies, to discuss their censorship operations in the lead-up to the November 2018 mid-term elections.

The meeting was convened at Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters on May 23, and was attended by representatives from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Snap, Twitter and Oath, owner of Yahoo! and a subsidiary of the telecommunications giant Verizon, along with agents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Post described the meeting, organized at the request of Facebook, as a "new overture by the technology industry to develop closer ties to law enforcement." Both articles were based on anonymous statements by individuals who attended. One attendee told the Post that the conversation was a "back-and-forth, with both sides talking about how they were thinking about the problem and how we were looking for opportunities to work together."

The meeting is yet another testament to the increasing integration of the technology giants with the US military/intelligence apparatus. These companies, which provide a growing share of the technical infrastructure for the repressive apparatus of the state, increasingly see the censorship of left-wing, anti-war, and progressive viewpoints as an integral part of their business strategy.

... ... ...

[Jun 28, 2018] Did Senator Warner and Comey 'Collude' on Russia-gate by Ray McGovern

Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. was in talks for a deal with Julian Assange but then FBI Director James Comey ordered an end to negotiations after Assange offered to prove Russia was not involved in the DNC leak, as Ray McGovern explains. ..."
"... Special to Consortium News ..."
"... The report does not say what led Comey to intervene to ruin the talks with Assange. But it came after Assange had offered to "provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases," Solomon quotes WikiLeaks' intermediary with the government as saying. It would be a safe assumption that Assange was offering to prove that Russia was not WikiLeaks' source of the DNC emails. ..."
"... If that was the reason Comey and Warner ruined the talks, as is likely, it would reveal a cynical decision to put U.S. intelligence agents and highly sophisticated cybertools at risk, rather than allow Assange to at least attempt to prove that Russia was not behind the DNC leak. ..."
"... On March 31, 2017, though, WikiLeaks released the most damaging disclosure up to that point from what it called "Vault 7" -- a treasure trove of CIA cybertools leaked from CIA files. This disclosure featured the tool "Marble Framework," which enabled the CIA to hack into computers, disguise who hacked in, and falsely attribute the hack to someone else by leaving so-called tell-tale signs -- like Cyrillic, for example. The CIA documents also showed that the "Marble" tool had been employed in 2016. ..."
"... In fact, VIPS and independent forensic investigators, have performed what former FBI Director Comey -- at first inexplicably, now not so inexplicably -- failed to do when the so-called "Russian hack" of the DNC was first reported. In July 2017 VIPS published its key findings with supporting data. ..."
"... Why did then FBI Director Comey fail to insist on getting direct access to the DNC computers in order to follow best-practice forensics to discover who intruded into the DNC computers? (Recall, at the time Sen. John McCain and others were calling the "Russian hack" no less than an "act of war.") A 7th grader can now figure that out. ..."
Jun 27, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Did Sen. Warner and Comey 'Collude' on Russia-gate? June 27, 2018 • 68 Comments

The U.S. was in talks for a deal with Julian Assange but then FBI Director James Comey ordered an end to negotiations after Assange offered to prove Russia was not involved in the DNC leak, as Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

An explosive report by investigative journalist John Solomon on the opinion page of Monday's edition of The Hill sheds a bright light on how Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and then-FBI Director James Comey collaborated to prevent WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from discussing "technical evidence ruling out certain parties [read Russia]" in the controversial leak of Democratic Party emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.

A deal that was being discussed last year between Assange and U.S. government officials would have given Assange "limited immunity" to allow him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been exiled for six years. In exchange, Assange would agree to limit through redactions "some classified CIA information he might release in the future," according to Solomon, who cited "interviews and a trove of internal DOJ documents turned over to Senate investigators." Solomon even provided a copy of the draft immunity deal with Assange.

But Comey's intervention to stop the negotiations with Assange ultimately ruined the deal, Solomon says, quoting "multiple sources." With the prospective agreement thrown into serious doubt, Assange "unleashed a series of leaks that U.S. officials say damaged their cyber warfare capabilities for a long time to come." These were the Vault 7 releases, which led then CIA Director Mike Pompeo to call WikiLeaks "a hostile intelligence service."

Solomon's report provides reasons why Official Washington has now put so much pressure on Ecuador to keep Assange incommunicado in its embassy in London.

Assange: Came close to a deal with the U.S. (Photo credit: New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

The report does not say what led Comey to intervene to ruin the talks with Assange. But it came after Assange had offered to "provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases," Solomon quotes WikiLeaks' intermediary with the government as saying. It would be a safe assumption that Assange was offering to prove that Russia was not WikiLeaks' source of the DNC emails.

If that was the reason Comey and Warner ruined the talks, as is likely, it would reveal a cynical decision to put U.S. intelligence agents and highly sophisticated cybertools at risk, rather than allow Assange to at least attempt to prove that Russia was not behind the DNC leak.

The greater risk to Warner and Comey apparently would have been if Assange provided evidence that Russia played no role in the 2016 leaks of DNC documents.

Missteps and Stand Down

In mid-February 2017, in a remarkable display of naiveté, Adam Waldman, Assange's pro bono attorney who acted as the intermediary in the talks, asked Warner if the Senate Intelligence Committee staff would like any contact with Assange to ask about Russia or other issues. Waldman was apparently oblivious to Sen. Warner's stoking of Russia-gate.

Warner contacted Comey and, invoking his name, instructed Waldman to "stand down and end the discussions with Assange," Waldman told Solomon. The "stand down" instruction "did happen," according to another of Solomon's sources with good access to Warner. However, Waldman's counterpart attorney David Laufman , an accomplished federal prosecutor picked by the Justice Departent to work the government side of the CIA-Assange fledgling deal, told Waldman, "That's B.S. You're not standing down, and neither am I."

But the damage had been done. When word of the original stand-down order reached WikiLeaks, trust evaporated, putting an end to two months of what Waldman called "constructive, principled discussions that included the Department of Justice."

The two sides had come within inches of sealing the deal. Writing to Laufman on March 28, 2017, Waldman gave him Assange's offer to discuss "risk mitigation approaches relating to CIA documents in WikiLeaks' possession or control, such as the redaction of Agency personnel in hostile jurisdictions," in return for "an acceptable immunity and safe passage agreement."

On March 31, 2017, though, WikiLeaks released the most damaging disclosure up to that point from what it called "Vault 7" -- a treasure trove of CIA cybertools leaked from CIA files. This disclosure featured the tool "Marble Framework," which enabled the CIA to hack into computers, disguise who hacked in, and falsely attribute the hack to someone else by leaving so-called tell-tale signs -- like Cyrillic, for example. The CIA documents also showed that the "Marble" tool had been employed in 2016.

Misfeasance or Malfeasance

Comey: Ordered an end to talks with Assange.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which includes among our members two former Technical Directors of the National Security Agency, has repeatedly called attention to its conclusion that the DNC emails were leaked -- not "hacked" by Russia or anyone else (and, later, our suspicion that someone may have been playing Marbles, so to speak).

In fact, VIPS and independent forensic investigators, have performed what former FBI Director Comey -- at first inexplicably, now not so inexplicably -- failed to do when the so-called "Russian hack" of the DNC was first reported. In July 2017 VIPS published its key findings with supporting data.

Two month later , VIPS published the results of follow-up experiments conducted to test the conclusions reached in July.

Why did then FBI Director Comey fail to insist on getting direct access to the DNC computers in order to follow best-practice forensics to discover who intruded into the DNC computers? (Recall, at the time Sen. John McCain and others were calling the "Russian hack" no less than an "act of war.") A 7th grader can now figure that out.

Asked on January 10, 2017 by Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (R-NC) whether direct access to the servers and devices would have helped the FBI in their investigation, Comey replied : "Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that's involved, so it's the best evidence."

At that point, Burr and Warner let Comey down easy. Hence, it should come as no surprise that, according to one of John Solomon's sources, Sen. Warner (who is co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) kept Sen. Burr apprised of his intervention into the negotiation with Assange, leading to its collapse.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years and prepared and briefed, one-on-one, the President's Daily Brief from 1981 to 1985.

If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

[Jun 24, 2018] annamaria

Jun 24, 2018 | www.unz.com

says: May 21, 2017 at 2:30 am GMT 200 Words While the "progressives" badmouth bad-bad russkies for "destroying our democracy," an obscene spectacle of persecution of the most important whistleblower of our times continues.
"Getting Assange: the Untold Story," by JOHN PILGER

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/getting-assange-the-untold-story/

"Hillary Clinton, the destroyer of Libya and, as WikiLeaks revealed last year, the secret supporter and personal beneficiary of forces underwriting ISIS, proposed, "Can't we just drone this guy." According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington's bid to get Assange is "unprecedented in scale and nature." In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has sought for almost seven years to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted. Assange's ability to defend himself in such a Kafkaesque world has been severely limited by the US declaring his case a state secret. In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the "national security" investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was "active and ongoing" and would harm the "pending prosecution" of Assange. The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show "appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security." This is a kangaroo court."

[Jun 23, 2018] Sic Semper Tyrannis Laura Bush and Michael Hayden, No Fixing Stupid by Publius Tacitus

Jun 23, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

[Jun 19, 2018] DOJ Indicts Vault 7 Leak Suspect; WikiLeaks Release Was Largest Breach In CIA History Zero Hedge

Jun 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

A 29-year-old former CIA computer engineer, Joshua Adam Schulte, was indicted Monday by the Department of Justice on charges of masterminding the largest leak of classified information in the spy agency's history .

Schulte, who created malware for the U.S. Government to break into adversaries computers, has been sitting in jail since his August 24, 2017 arrest on unrelated charges of posessing and transporting child pornography - which was discovered in a search of his New York apartment after Schulte was named as the prime suspect in the cyber-breach one week after WikiLeaks published the "Vault 7" series of classified files. Schulte was arrested and jailed on the child porn charges while the DOJ ostensibly built their case leading to Monday's additional charges.

[I]nstead of charging Mr. Schulte in the breach, referred to as the Vault 7 leak, prosecutors charged him last August with possessing child pornography, saying agents had found 10,000 illicit images on a server he created as a business in 2009 while studying at the University of Texas at Austin.

Court papers quote messages from Mr. Schulte that suggest he was aware of the encrypted images of children being molested by adults on his computer, though he advised one user, "Just don't put anything too illegal on there." - New York Times

Monday's DOJ announcement adds new charges related to stealing classified national defense information from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2016 and transmitting it to WikiLeaks ("Organization-1").

The Vault 7 release - a series of 24 documents which began to publish on March 7, 2017 - reveal that the CIA had a wide variety of tools to use against adversaries, including the ability to "spoof" its malware to appear as though it was created by a foreign intelligence agency , as well as the ability to take control of Samsung Smart TV's and surveil a target using a "Fake Off" mode in which they appear to be powered down while eavesdropping.

The CIA's hand crafted hacking techniques pose a problem for the agency. Each technique it has created forms a "fingerprint" that can be used by forensic investigators to attribute multiple different attacks to the same entity .

...

The CIA's Remote Devices Branch's UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

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 .

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques . - WikiLeaks

Schulte previously worked for the NSA before joining the CIA, then "left the intelligence community in 2016 and took a job in the private sector," according to a statement reviewed in May by The Washington Post .

Schulte also claimed that he reported "incompetent management and bureaucracy" at the CIA to that agency's inspector general as well as a congressional oversight committee. That painted him as a disgruntled employee, he said, and when he left the CIA in 2016, suspicion fell upon him as "the only one to have recently departed [the CIA engineering group] on poor terms," Schulte wrote. - WaPo

Part of that investigation, reported WaPo, has been analyzing whether the Tor network - which allows internet users to hide their location (in theory) "was used in transmitting classified information."

In other hearings in Schulte's case, prosecutors have alleged that he used Tor at his New York apartment, but they have provided no evidence that he did so to disclose classified information. Schulte's attorneys have said that Tor is used for all kinds of communications and have maintained that he played no role in the Vault 7 leaks. - WaPo

Schulte says he's innocent: " Due to these unfortunate coincidences the FBI ultimately made the snap judgment that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me," Schulte said. He launched Facebook and GoFundMe pages to raise money for his defense, which despite a $50 million goal, has yet to r eceive a single donation.

me name=

The Post noted in May, the Vault 7 release was one of the most significant leaks in the CIA's history , "exposing secret cyberweapons and spying techniques that might be used against the United States, according to current and former intelligence officials."

The CIA's toy chest includes:

"The source code shows that Marble has test examples not just in English but also in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi. This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion, --- but there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages."

me title=

me title=

me title=

"Year Zero" documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration's commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA's cyber arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( "Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe" or CCIE) are given diplomatic ("black") passports and State Department cover.

These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the "smart" phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

CIA hackers developed successful attacks against most well known anti-virus programs. These are documented in AV defeats , Personal Security Products , Detecting and defeating PSPs and PSP/Debugger/RE Avoidance . For example, Comodo was defeated by CIA malware placing itself in the Window's "Recycle Bin" . While Comodo 6.x has a "Gaping Hole of DOOM" .

You can see the entire Vault7 release here .

A DOJ statement involving the Vault7 charges reads:

"Joshua Schulte, a former employee of the CIA, allegedly used his access at the agency to transmit classified material to an outside organization . During the course of this investigation, federal agents also discovered alleged child pornography in Schulte's New York City residence ," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.

On March 7, 2017, Organization-1 released on the Internet classified national defense material belonging to the CIA (the "Classified Information"). In 2016, SCHULTE, who was then employed by the CIA, stole the Classified Information from a computer network at the CIA and later transmitted it to Organization-1. SCHULTE also intentionally caused damage without authorization to a CIA computer system by granting himself unauthorized access to the system, deleting records of his activities, and denying others access to the system . SCHULTE subsequently made material false statements to FBI agents concerning his conduct at the CIA.

Schulte faces 135 years in prison if convicted on all 13 charges:

  1. Illegal Gathering of National Defense Information, 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(b) and 2
  2. Illegal Transmission of Lawfully Possessed National Defense Information, 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(d) and 2
  3. Illegal Transmission of Unlawfully Possessed National Defense Information, 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(e) and 2
  4. Unauthorized Access to a Computer To Obtain Classified Information, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(1) and 2
  5. Theft of Government Property, 18 U.S.C. §§ 641 and 2
  6. Unauthorized Access of a Computer to Obtain Information from a Department or Agency of the United States, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(2) and 2
  7. Causing Transmission of a Harmful Computer Program, Information, Code, or Command, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5) and 2
  8. Making False Statements, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 and 2
  9. Obstruction of Justice, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503 and 2
  10. Receipt of Child Pornography, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(2)(B), (b)(1), and 2
  11. Possession of Child Pornography, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(5)(B), (b)(2), and 2
  12. Transportation of Child Pornography, 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1)
  13. Criminal Copyright Infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(A) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(b)(1)

Billy the Poet -> Anarchyteez Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:50 Permalink

So Schulte was framed for kiddie porn because he released information about how the CIA can frame innocent people for computer crime.

A Sentinel -> Billy the Poet Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:59 Permalink

That seems very likely.

Seems like everyone has kiddy porn magically appear and get discovered after they piss off the deep state bastards.

And the best part is that it's probably just the deep state operatives' own private pedo collections that they use to frame anyone who they don't like.

A Sentinel -> CrabbyR Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:46 Permalink

I was thinking about the advancement of the technology necessary for that. They can do perfect fake stills already.

My thought is that you will soon need to film yourself 24/7 (with timestamps, shared with a blockchain-like verifiably) so that you can disprove fake video evidence by having a filmed alibi.

CrabbyR -> A Sentinel Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:07 Permalink

good point but creepy to think it can get that bad

peopledontwanttruth -> Anarchyteez Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:50 Permalink

Funny how all these whistleblowers are being held for child pornography until trial.

But we have evidence of government officials and Hollyweird being involved in this perversion and they walk among us

secretargentman -> peopledontwanttruth Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:51 Permalink

Those kiddy porn charges are extremely suspect, IMO.

chunga -> secretargentman Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:12 Permalink

It's so utterly predictable.

The funny* thing is I believe gov, particularly upper levels, is chock full of pedophiles.

* It isn't funny, my contempt for the US gov grows practically by the hour.

A Sentinel -> chunga Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:42 Permalink

I said pretty much the same. I further speculated that it was their own porn that they use for framing operations.

SybilDefense -> A Sentinel Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:33 Permalink

Ironically, every single ex gov whistle blower (/pedophile) has the exact same kiddie porn data on their secret server (hidden in plane view at the apartment). Joe CIA probably has a zip drive preloaded with titled data sets like "Podesta's Greatest Hits", "Hillary's Honey bunnies" or "Willy go to the zoo". Like the mix tapes you used to make for a new gal you were trying to date. Depending upon the mood of the agent in charge, 10,000 images of Weiner's "Warm Pizza" playlist magically appear on the server in 3-2-1... Gotcha!

These false fingerprint tactics were all over the trump accusations which started the whole Russia Russia Russia ordeal. And the Russia ordeal was conceptualized in a paid report to Podesta by the Bensenson Group called the Salvage Program when it was appearant that Trump could possible win and the DNC needed ideas on how to throw the voters off at the polls. Russia is coming /Red dawn was #1 or #2 on the list of 7 recommended ploys. The final one was crazy.. If Trump appeared to win the election, imagery of Jesus and an Alien Invasion was to be projected into the skies to cause mass panic and create a demand for free zanex to be handed out to the panic stricken.

Don't forget Black Lives Matters. That was idea #4 of this Bensenson report, to create civil unrest and a race war. Notice how BLM and Antifa manically disappeared after Nov 4. All a ploy by the Dems & the deep state to remain in control of the countrys power.

Back to the topic at hand. Its a wonder he didn't get Seth Riched. Too many porn servers and we will begin to question the legitimacy. Oh wait...

You won't find any kiddie porn on Hillary's or DeNiros laptop. Oh its there. You just will never ever hear about it.

cankles' server -> holdbuysell Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:57 Permalink

The Vault 7 release - a series of 24 documents which began to publish on March 7, 2017 - reveal that the CIA had a wide variety of tools to use against adversaries, including the ability to "spoof" its malware to appear as though it was created by a foreign intelligence agency ....

It probably can spoof child porn as well.

Is he charged with copyright infringement for pirating child porn?

BGO Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:43 Permalink

The intel community sure has a knack for sussing out purveyors of child pornography. It's probably just a coincidence govt agencies and child pornography are inextricably linked.

Never One Roach -> BGO Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:44 Permalink

Sounds like he may be a friend of Uncle Joe Biden whom we know is "very, very friendly" with the children.

NotBuyingIt -> BGO Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:09 Permalink

It's very easy for a criminal spook to plant child porn on some poor slob's machine - especially when they want to keep him on the hook to sink his ass for something bigger in the future. Who knows... this guy may have done some shit but I'm willing to bet he was entirely targeted by these IC assholes. Facing 135 years in prison... yet that baggy ass cunt Hillary walks free...

DoctorFix -> BGO Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:18 Permalink

Funny how they always seem to have a "sting" operation in progress when there's anyone the DC rats want to destroy but strangely, or not, silent as the grave when one of the special people are fingered.

MadHatt Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:43 Permalink

Transportation of Child Pornography, 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1)

Uhh... what? He stole CIA child porn?

navy62802 -> MadHatt Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:30 Permalink

Nah ... that's the shit they planted on him for an excuse to make an arrest.

MadHatt -> navy62802 Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:29 Permalink

If he stole all their hacking apps, wouldn't that be enough to arrest him?

Never One Roach Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:44 Permalink

That list of federal crimes is almost as long as Comey's list of Hillary Clinton's federal crimes.

_triplesix_ Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:46 Permalink

Of all these things the C_A can do, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that planting CP on a computer of someone you don't like would be a piece of cake, comparatively speaking.

_triplesix_ Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:46 Permalink

Of all these things the C_A can do, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that planting CP on a computer of someone you don't like would be a piece of cake, comparatively speaking.

Giant Meteor -> _triplesix_ Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:51 Permalink

It probably comes standard now buried within systems, like a sleeper cell. Just waiting for the right infraction and trigger to be pulled ..

PigMan Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:50 Permalink

Did he also leak that the CIA's favorite tactic is to plant kiddie porn on their targets computer?

ConnectingTheDots Mon, 06/18/2018 - 22:56 Permalink

The alphabet agencies would never hack someone's computer.

The alphabet agencies would never spy on US citizens (at least not wittingly)

The alphabet agencies would never plant physical evidence.

The alphabet agencies would never lie under oath.

The alphabet agencies would never have an agenda.

The alphabet agencies would never provide the media with false information.

/s

Chupacabra-322 Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:14 Permalink

The "Spoofing" or Digital Finger Print & Parallel Construction tools that can be used against Governments, Individuals, enemies & adversaries are Chilling.

The CIA can not only hack into anything -- they can download any "evidence" they want onto your phone or computer. Child pornography, national secrets, you name it. Then they can blackmail you, threatening prosecution for whatever crap they have planted, then "found" on your computer. They can also "spoof" the source of such downloads -- for instance, if they want to "prove" that something on your computer (or Donald Trump's computer) came from a "Russian source" -- they can spoof the IP address of a Russian source.

The take-away: no digital evidence the CIA or NSA produces on any subject whatsoever can be trusted. No digital evidence should be acceptable in any case where the government has an interest, because they have the complete ability to fabricate and implant any evidence on any iphone or computer. And worse: they have intentionally created these digital vulnerabilities and pushed them onto the whole world via Microsoft and Google. Government has long been at war with liberty, claiming that we need to give up liberty to be secure. Now we learn that they have been deliberately sabotaging our security, in order to augment their own power. Time to shut down the CIA and all the other spy agencies. They're not keeping us free OR secure, and they're doing it deliberately. Their main function nowadays seems to be lying us into wars against countries that never attacked us, and had no plans to do so.

The Echelon Computer System Catch Everything

The Flagging goes to Notify the Appropriate Alphabet,,,...Key Words Phrases...Algorithms,...It all gets sucked up and chewed on and spat out to the surmised computed correct departments...That simple.

Effective immediately defund, Eliminate & Supeona it's Agents, Officials & Dept. Heads in regard to the Mass Surveillance, Global Espionage Spying network & monitoring of a President Elect by aforementioned Agencies & former President Obama, AG Lynch & DIA James Clapper, CIA John Breanan.

#SethRich

#Vault7

#UMBRAGE

ZIRPdiggler -> Chupacabra-322 Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:29 Permalink

Since 911, they've been "protecting" the shit out of us. "protecting" away every last fiber of liberty. Was watching some fact-based media about the CIA's failed plan to install Yeltsin's successor via a Wallstreet banking cartel bet (see, LTCM implosion). The ultimate objectives were to rape and loot post-Soviet Russian resources and enforce regime change. It's such a tired playbook at this point. Who DOESNT know about this sort of affront? Apparently even nobel prize economists cant prevent a nation from failing lol. The ultimate in vanity; our gubmint and its' shadow controllers.

moobra Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:45 Permalink

This is because people who are smart enough to write walware for the CIA send messages in the clear about child porn and are too dumb to encrypt images with a key that would take the lifetime of the universe to break.

Next his mother will be found to have a tax problem and his brother's credit rating zeroed out.

Meanwhile Comey will be found to have been "careless".

ZIRPdiggler Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:05 Permalink

Yeah I don't believe for a second that this guy had anything to do with child porn. Not like Obama and his hotdogs or Clintons at pedo island, or how bout uncle pervie podesta? go after them, goons and spooks. They (intelligence agencies) falsely accuse people of exactly what they are ass-deep in. loses credibility with me when the CIA clowns or NSA fuck ups accuse anyone of child porn; especially one of their former employees who is 'disgruntled'. LOL. another spook railroad job done on a whistleblower. fuck the CIA and all 17 alphabet agencies who spy on us 24/7. Just ask, if you want to snoop on me. I may even tell you what I'm up to because I have nothing that I would hide since, I don't give a shit about you or whether you approve of what I am doing.

AGuy -> ZIRPdiggler Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:36 Permalink

"Yeah I don't believe for a second that this guy had anything to do with child porn."

Speculation by my part: He was running a Tor server, and the porn originated from other Tor users. If that is the case ( it would be easy for law enforcement to just assume it was his) law enforcement enjoys a quick and easy case.

rgraf Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:05 Permalink

They shouldn't be spying, and they shouldn't keep any secrets from the populace. If they weren't doing anything wrong, they have nothing to hide.

ZIRPdiggler -> rgraf Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:09 Permalink

It really doesn't matter if someone wants to hide. That is their right. Only Nazi's like our spy agencies would use the old Gestapo line, "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about. Or better yet, you should let me turn your life upside down if you have nothing to hide. " Bullshit! It's none of their fucking business. How bout that? Spooks and secret clowns CAN and DO frame anybody for whatever or murder whomever they wish. So why WOULDNT people be afraid when government goons start sticking their big snouts into their lives??? They can ruin your life for the sake of convenience. Zee Furor is not pleased with your attitude, comrade.

Blue Steel 309 Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:53 Permalink

Vault 7 proves that most digital evidence should be inadmissible in court, yet I don't see anyone publishing articles about this problem.

[Jun 02, 2018] Obama used NSA FBI to spy on Trump veteran CIA officer

Notable quotes:
"... Let me just say this: the President used the word "wiretapping" but I think it was very clear to us that have been in the intelligence business, that this was a synonym for "surveillance". ..."
"... When I was in senior position in CIA's counterterrorism center, I had a deputy who was an FBI officer. An office in FBI HQ down in Washington had an FBI lead with a CIA deputy. There's a lot more cooperation than one would think. There are individuals that do assignments in each other's organisations to help foster levels of cooperation. I had members of NSA in my staff when I was at CIA, members of diplomatic security, members of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and it was run like a task force, so, there's a lot more cooperation than the media presents, they always think that there are these huge major battles between the organisations and that's rarely true. ..."
"... John Brennan is acting more like a political operative than a former director of CIA. ..."
Mar 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com

The mighty CIA has fallen victim to a major breach, with WikiLeaks revealing the true scope of the Agency's ability for cyber-espionage. Its tools seem to be aimed at ordinary citizens – your phone, your car, your TV, even your fridge can become an instrument of surveillance in the hands of the CIA. How does the CIA use these tools, and why do they need them in the first place?

And as WikiLeaks promises even more revelations, how is all of this going to shape the already tense relationship between new president and the intelligence community?

A man who has spent over two decades in the CIA's clandestine service – Gary Berntsen is on SophieCo.

Follow @SophieCo_RT

FULL TRANSCRIPT: https://www.rt.com/shows/sophieco/381...

Sophie Shevardnadze: Gary Berntsen, former CIA official, welcome to the show, great to have you with us. Now, Vault 7, a major batch of CIA docs revealed by Wikileaks uncovers the agency's cyber tools. We're talking about world's most powerful intelligence agency - how exactly did the CIA lose control of its arsenal of hacking weapons?

Gary Berntsen: First off, I'd like to say that the world has changed a lot in the last several decades, and people are communicating in many different ways and intelligence services, whether they be American or Russian, are covering these communications and their coverage of those communications has evolved. Without commenting on the specific validity of those tools, it was clear that the CIA was surely using contractors to be involved in this process, not just staff officers, and that individuals decided that they had problems with U.S. policy, and have leaked these things to Wikileaks. This is a large problem, for the U.S. community, but just as the U.S. is having problems, the Russia face similar problems. Just this week you had multiple members of the FSB charged with hacking as well, and they have been charged by the U.S. government. So both services who are competitors, face challenges as we've entered a new era of mass communications.

SS: So like you're saying, the leaker or leakers of the CIA docs is presumably a CIA contractor - should the agency be spending more effort on vetting its own officers? Is the process rigorous enough?

GB: Clearly. Look There have been individuals since the dawn of history. Espionage is the second oldest occupation, have conducted spying and espionage operations, and there have been people who have turned against their own side and worked for competitors and worked for those opposing the country or the group that they're working with. It's been a problem from the beginning, and it continues to be a problem, and the U.S. clearly is going to have to do a much better job at vetting those individuals who are given security clearances, without a doubt.

SS: The CIA studied the flaws in the software of devices like iPhones, Androids, Smart TVs, apps like Whatsapp that left them exposed to hacking, but didn't care about patching those up - so, in essence the agency chose to leave Americans vulnerable to cyberattacks, rather than protect them?

GB: I think you have to understand, in this world that we're operating and the number one target of our intelligence community are terrorists. Since the attacks of 9\11, 16 years ago, the obsession of the American intelligence community is to identify those planning terrorist attacks, collecting information on them and being able to defeat them. These individuals are using all these means of communication. I have spoken with many security services around the world, since my retirement back in 2005-2006, a lot of them have had problems covering the communications of somebody's very devices and programs that you've talked about - whether they be narcotraffickers or salafist jihadists, they are all piggybacking off of commercial communications. Therefore the need for modern intelligence services to sort of provide coverage of all means of communications. And there's a price that you pay for that.

SS: One of the most disturbing parts of the leaks is the "Weeping Angel" program - CIA hacking into Samsung Smart TVs to record what's going on even when the TV appears to be turned off. Why are the CIA's tools designed to penetrate devices used by ordinary Western citizens at home?

GB: Look, I wouldn't say it has anything to do with Western homes, because the CIA doesn't do technical operations against American citizens - that's prohibited by the law. If the CIA does anything in the U.S., it does it side-by-side with the FBI, and it does it according to FISA - the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act laws. It's gotta go to the judge to do those things. Those tools are used primarily against the individuals and terrorists that are targeting the U.S. or other foreign entities that we see as a significant threat to the U.S. national security, which is the normal functioning of any intelligence service.

SS: Just like you say, the CIA insists it never uses its investigative tools on American citizens in the US, but, we're wondering, exactly how many terrorist camps in the Middle East have Samsung Smart TVs to watch their favorite shows on? Does it seem like the CIA lost its direction?

GB: Plenty of them.

SS: Plenty?...

GB: I've travelled in the Middle East, Samsungs are sold everywhere. Sophie, Samsung TVs are sold all over the world. I've spent a lot of time in the Middle East, I've seen them in Afghanistan, I've seen them everywhere. So, any kind of devices that you can imagine, people are using everywhere. We're in a global economy now.

SS: The CIA has tools to hack iPhones - but they make up only around 15 % of the world's smartphone market. IPhones are not popular among terrorists, but they are among business and political elites - so are they the real target here?

GB: No. The CIA in relative terms to the size of the world is a small organisation. It is an organisation that has roughly 20 or more thousand people - it's not that large in terms of covering a planet with 7 billion people. We have significant threats to the U.S. and to the Western world. We live in an age of super-terrorism, we live in an age when individuals, small groups of people, can leverage technology at a lethal effect. The greatest threats to this planet are not just nuclear, they are bio. The U.S. needs to have as many tools as possible to defend itself against these threats, as does Russia want to have similar types of tools to defend itself. You too, Russian people have suffered from a number of terrible terrorist acts.

SS: Wikileaks suggest the CIA copied the hacking habits of other nations to create a fake electronic trace - why would the CIA need that?

GB: The CIA, as any intelligence service, would look to conduct coverage in the most unobtrusive fashion as possible. It is going to do its operations so that they can collect and collect again and again against terrorist organisations, where and whenever it can, because sometimes threats are not just static, they are continuous.

SS: You know this better, so enlighten me: does the he CIA have the authorisation to create the surveillance tools it had in the first place? Who gives it such authorisation?

GB: The CIA was created in 1947 by the National Security Act of the U.S. and does two different things - it does FI (foreign intelligence) collection and it does CA - covert action. Its rules for collection of intelligence were enshrined in the law that created it, the CIA Act 110, in 1949, but the covert action part of this, where it does active measures, when it gets involved in things - all of those are covered by law. The Presidential finding had to be written, it had to be presented to the President. The President's signs off on those things. Those things are then briefed to members of Congress, or the House Permanent Subcommittee for Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence. We have a very rigorous process of review of the activities of our intelligence communities in the U.S.

SS: But you're talking about the activities in terms of operations. I'm just asking - does CIA need any authorisation or permission to create the tools it has in its arsenal? Or it can just go ahead

GB: Those tools and the creation of collection tools falls under the same laws that allowed the CIA to be established. And that was the 1949 Intelligence Act. And also, subsequently, the laws in 1975. Yes.

SS: So, the CIA programme names are quite colourful, sometimes wacky - "Weeping Angel", "Swamp Monkey", "Brutal Kangaroo" - is there a point to these, is there any logic, or are they completely random? I always wondered...

GB: There's absolutely no point to that, and it's random.

SS:Okay, so how do you come up with those names? Who like, one says: "Monkey" and another one says: "Kangaroo"?...

GB: I'm sure they are computer-generated.

SS: Trump accused Obama of wiretapping him during the campaign Could the CIA have actually spied on the president? It seems like the agency doesn't have the best relationship with Donald Trump - how far can they go?

GB: Let me just say this: the President used the word "wiretapping" but I think it was very clear to us that have been in the intelligence business, that this was a synonym for "surveillance". Because most people are on cellphones, people aren't using landlines anymore, so there's no "wiretapping", okay. These all fall under the Intelligence Surveillance Act, as I stated earlier, this thing existing in the U.S.. It was clear to President Trump and to those in his campaign, after they were elected, and they did a review back that the Obama Administration sought FISA authorisation to do surveillance of the Trump campaign in July and then in October. They were denied in July, they were given approval in October, and in October they did some types of surveillance of the Trump campaign. This is why the President, of course, tweeted, that he had been "wiretapped" - of course "wiretapping" being a synonym for the surveillance against his campaign, which was never heard of in the U.S. political history that I can remember, I can't recall any way of this being done. It's an outrage, and at the same time, Congressional hearings are going to be held and they are going to review all of these things, and they are going to find out exactly what happened and what was done. It's unclear right now, but all we do know - and it has been broken in the media that there were two efforts, and at the second one, the authorisation was given. That would never have been done by the CIA, because they don't do that sort of coverage in the U.S.. That would either be the FBI or the NSA, with legal authorities and those authorities the problem that the Trump administration had is they believed that the information from these things was distributed incorrectly. Any time an American - and this is according to the U.S. law - any time an American is on the wire in the U.S., their names got to be minimized from this and it clearly wasn't done and the Trump administration was put in a bad light because of this.

SS: If what you're saying is true, how does that fall under foreign intelligence? Is that more of the FBI-NSA expertise?

GB: It was FBI and NSA - it was clearly the FBI and the NSA that were involved, it would never have been the CIA doing that, they don't listen to telephones in the U.S., they read the product of other agencies that would provide those things, but clearly, there were individuals on those phone calls that they believed were foreign and were targeting those with potential communications with the Trump campaign. Let's be clear here - General Clapper, the DNI for President Obama, stated before he left office, that there was no, I repeat, no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. This has been something that has been dragged out again, and again, and again, by the media. This is a continuing drumbeat of the mainstream, left-wing media of the U.S., to paint the President in the poorest light, to attempt to discredit Donald Trump.

SS: With the intelligence agencies bringing down Trump's advisors like Michael Flynn - and you said the people behind that were Obama's loyalists - can we talk about the intelligence agencies being too independent from the White House, playing their own politics?

GB: I think part of the problem that we've seen during the handover of power from President Obama to President Trump was that there was a number of holdovers that went from political appointee to career status that had been placed in the NatSec apparatus and certain parts of the intelligence organisations. It is clear that President Trump and his team are determined to remove those people to make sure that there's a continuity of purpose and people aren't leaking information that would put the Administration into a negative light. That's the goal of the administration, to conduct itself consistent with the goals of securing the country from terrorism and other potential threats - whether they be counter-narcotics, or intelligence agencies trying to breach our you know, the information that we hold secure.

SS: Here's a bit of conspiracy theories - could it be that the domestic surveillance agencies like the NSA or the FBI orchestrated the Vault 7 leaks - to damage CIA, stop it from infringing on their turf?

GB :I really don't think so and that is conspiracy thinking. You have to understand something, in the intelligence communities in the U.S., whether it be the CIA and FBI, we've done a lot of cross-fertilizations. When I was in senior position in CIA's counterterrorism center, I had a deputy who was an FBI officer. An office in FBI HQ down in Washington had an FBI lead with a CIA deputy. There's a lot more cooperation than one would think. There are individuals that do assignments in each other's organisations to help foster levels of cooperation. I had members of NSA in my staff when I was at CIA, members of diplomatic security, members of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and it was run like a task force, so, there's a lot more cooperation than the media presents, they always think that there are these huge major battles between the organisations and that's rarely true.

SS: Generally speaking - is there rivalry between American intel agencies at all? Competition for resources, maybe?

GB: I think, sometimes, between the Bureau and the CIA - the CIA is the dominant agency abroad, and the FBI is the dominant agency in the U.S. What they do abroad, they frequently have to get cleared by us, what we do domestically, we have to get cleared by them, and sometimes there's some friction, but usually, we're able to work this out. It makes for great news, the CIA fighting FBI, but the reality is that there's a lot more cooperation than confrontation. We are all in the business of trying to secure the American homeland and American interests globally.

SS: I'm still thinking a lot about the whole point of having this hacking arsenal for the CIA since you talk on their behalf - the possibility to hack phones, computers, TVs and cars - if the actual terrorist attacks on US soil, like San Bernardino, Orlando are still missed?

GB: Look. There are hundreds of individuals, if not thousands, planning efforts against the U.S. at any time. It can be many-many things. And the U.S. security services, there's the CIA, the FBI, NSA - block many-many of these things, but it is impossible to stop them all. Remember, this is an open society here, in America, with 320 million people, here. We try to foster open economic system, we allow more immigration to America than all countries in the world combined. This is a great political experiment here, but it's also very difficult to police. There are times that the U.S. security services are going to fail. It's inevitable. We just have to try the best we can, do the best job that we can, while protecting the values that attract so many people to the U.S.

SS:The former CIA director John Brennan is saying Trump's order to temporarily ban travel from some Muslim states is not going to help fight terrorism in 'any significant way'. And the countries where the terrorists have previously come from - like Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan, it's true - aren't on the list. So does he maybe have a point?

GB: John Brennan is acting more like a political operative than a former director of CIA. The countries that Mr. Trump had banned initially, or at least had put a partial, sort of a delay - where states like Somalia, Libya, the Sudan, Iran - places where we couldn't trust local vetting. Remember something, when someone immigrates to the U.S., we have what's called an "immigration packet": they may have to get a chest X-ray to make sure they don't bring any diseases with them, they have to have background check on any place they've ever lived, and in most of these places there are no security forces to do background checks on people that came from Damascus, because parts of Damascus are totally destroyed - there's been warfare. It is actually a very reasonable thing for President Trump to ask for delay in these areas. Look, the Crown-Prince, the Deputy Crown-Prince of Saudi Arabia was just in the United States and met with Donald Trump, and he said he didn't believe it was a "ban on Muslims". This was not a "ban on Muslims", it was an effort to slow down and to create more opportunity to vet those individuals coming from states where there's a preponderance of terrorist organisations operating. A reasonable step by President Trump, something he promised during the campaign, something he's fulfilling. But again, I repeat - America allows more immigration into the U.S., than all countries combined. So, we really don't need to be lectured on who we let in and who we don't let in.

SS: But I still wonder if the Crown-Prince would've had the same comment had Saudi Arabia been on that ban list. Anyways, Michael Hayden, ex-CIA

GB: Wait a second, Sophie - the Saudis have a reasonable form to police their society, and they provide accurate police checks. If they didn't create accurate police checks, we would've given the delay to them as well.

SS: Ok, I got your point. Now, Michael Hayden, ex-CIA and NSA chief, pointed out that the US intelligence enlists agents in the Muslim world with the promise of eventual emigration to America - is Trump's travel ban order going to hurt American intelligence gathering efforts in the Middle East?

GB: No, the question here - there were individuals that worked as translators for us in Afghanistan and Iraq and serving in such roles as translators, they were promised the ability to immigrate to the United States. Unfortunately, some of them were blocked in the first ban that was put down, because individuals who wrote that, didn't consider that. That has been considered in the re-write, that the Trump administration had submitted, which is now being attacked by a judge in Hawaii, and so it was taken into consideration, but the objective here was to help those that helped U.S. forces on the ground, especially those who were translators, in ground combat operations, where they risked their lives alongside American soldiers.

SS: You worked in Afghanistan - you were close to capturing Bin Laden back in 2001 - what kind of spying tools are actually used on the ground by the CIA to catch terrorists?

GB: The CIA as does any intelligence service in the world, is a human business. It's a business where we work with local security forces to strengthen their police and intelligence forces, we attempt to leverage them, we have our own people on the ground that speak the language, we're trying to help build transportation there. There's no "secret sauce" here. There's no super-technology that changes the country's ability to conduct intelligence collections or operations. In Afghanistan the greatest thing that the U.S. has is broad support and assistance to Afghan men and women across the country. We liberated half of the population, and for women were providing education, and when the people see what we were doing: trying to build schools, providing USAID projects - all of these things - this makes the population willing to work with and support the United States. Frequently, members of the insurgence groups will see this and sometimes they do actually cross the lines and cooperate with us. So, it's a full range of American political power, whether it's hard or soft, that is the strength of the American intelligence services - because people in the world actually believe - and correctly so - that American more than generally a force of good in the world.

SS: Gary, thank you so much for this interesting interview and insight into the world of the CIA. We've been talking to Gary Berntsen, former top CIA officer, veteran of the agency, talking about the politics of American intelligence in the Trump era. That's it for this edition of SophieCo, I will see you next time.

GreenPizza:

Just thinking here in the light of how things are unfolding with the CIA I am wondering since Federal crimes are committed can the FBI investigate the CIA acting as America Federal Law Enforcement.

RedBlowDryer -> GreenPin

I think the US intelligent agencies are harming their country more than any enemy of the US.

CyanGrapes

There is a reason why JFK wanted to dismantle the CIA. This guy is lying.

PurpleWieghts

CIA needs hacking tools to make it look like it was carried out by another state simply for plausible deniability.

Carl Zaisser

a "force for good in the world"?...sounds like the American white hat-black hat myth...read Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism". This is a detailed litany of America's various kinds of interventions in multiple countries that cold hardly be described as "a force for good in the world"...a force for "America's values" (read with ironically), perhaps

Carl Zaisser

WHO is responsible for the outbreak of chaotic warfare in Libya and Syria?

Should we trust the Saudi vetting services...think of who the September 11 bombers were? Was there another reason they were not on Trump's banned countries list? Too big to mess with, i.e., oil and weapons sales?

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