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Privacy is Dead – Get Over It

Mass surveillance is equal to totalitarism with classic slogan of Third Reich
"if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear"

News Social Sites as intelligence collection tools Recommended Links

National Security State / Surveillance State: Review of Literature

Big Uncle is Watching You Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State
Big Brother is Watching You Search engines privacy Email Privacy Blocking Facebook Many faces of Facebook Facebook as Giant Database about Users
Nephophobia: avoiding cloud to reclaim bits of your privacy What Surveillance Valley knows about you Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Nineteen Eighty-Four Interception of "in-transit" traffic as violation of human rights Government security paranoia
Cyberstalking Total control: keywords in your posts that might trigger surveillance The Real War on Reality How to collect and analyse your own metadata Humor Etc

"None are more enslaved than those who
falsely believe they are free."

- Goethe

It’s not so disturbing that the aggregation occurs, it’s disturbing
that people don’t seem to understand just how “public” the Internet really is.
Steve Rambam
at The Last Hope conference, 2008

"One thing I find amusing is the absolute terror of Big Brother,
when we’ve all already gone and said, ‘Cuff me,’ to Little Brother,”

-- John Arquilla, an intelligence expert
at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.


Introduction

It is important to understand that any networked computer is an insecure computer and it should be treated as such. It’s not so disturbing that that social sites, government, insurance companies, etc collect our data; it’s disturbing that people don’t seem to understand just how “public” the Internet really is and how much their personal information they volunteer. Anybody who answered honestly question about their annual income and other confidential information while registering product (Logitech like to ask this information ;-) or enrolling into some stupid social site like Facebook, is an idiot, plain and simple. And he/'she gets what they deserve. Also if after reading this individual does not suspend his/her Facebook account for at least a month to see whether he/she need it or not, he/she does not care about his privacy one bit. For anybody with IQ above 100 it is clear that Facebook does not serve any useful purpose, other then collecting information about you and reselling it to the higher bidder. That's their business model.

After revelation of Prism program, an excessive usage of cloud services from a fashionable trend instantly became an indication of a person stupidity.

The current situation can be described as following:

  1. Federal, state, and local law enforcement have your current location at all times.
  2. Federal, state, and local law enforcement have a key to your home at all times.
  3. Federal law enforcement has the access to your mailbox and address book as well as the list of phone called with other party phone, name and duration.
  4. Federal law enforcement has the list of purchases you made with the credit cards at all times for all of your adult life.
  5. Federal government and private companies have  all data about drags you are taking and illnesses you are suffering from
  6. Federal government and private corporation have the access to the list of all your Internet searches (probably for your lifetime)
  7. You might be included in some "for sale" databases as a member of specific category (for example "People getting Social Security, people suffering from asthma, etc). It is easy to deduct some of those list by calls that you get on your home phone if you still have a home phone number.

In other  words from the point of view of the completeness  of the dossier the  government has on you, STASI was an rank amateur. There is no escape form this reality. But you can  follow some simple common sense rules to minimize your "footprint", although they do not protect you from "excessive" Internet/communications surveillance:

  1. Minimize. "If you want to be truly secure, I suggest the bromide of a 19th century Boston politician, Martin Lomasney: "Never write if you [can] speak; never speak if you can nod; and never nod if you can wink..." A very tough system to break even with today's advance technology." (quote for discussion at  Schneier on Security )

  2. Do not succumb to Internet addition. There are  many things in life more pleasurable and even useful than spending hours browsing the Web.

  3. Do not leave your computers up for the night unless they are servers. Switched off computer is pretty safe if "wake-on-LAN" setting in BIOS is disabled.  The same is true with smartphones. Putting them into metal box or metal mesh box for the night like some recommend while cuts possibility for them to get a signal from the tower is probably an overkill. For laptops it's really easy to shut them for the night if you associate shut down computer with closing the lid when your laptop is connected to the power source (this is more tricky if you have a dock; then you might need to change it to "not connected to power source" and remove laptop from the dock for the night). 

  4. Always disable "wake-on-LAN" setting on your PCs. That's trivial thing but that's important. 

  5. Things that should be be discussed by phone, should never be discussed by phone. 

  6. Dilute your Internet purchase history. Use single Amazon account for the whole family or share it with a friends (that allow you to cut  the price of prime in half but exposé you to risks if you "misunderestimated" your friend or part the ways ;-).  It also enforce some discipline on your buying as you know that other people have access to the list of your purchases. In this case it is more difficult to profile single member of household as you need to make some assumption. 

  7. Filler browsing and the use of VPN. If you are concerned the your internet browsing can get you in the  "unload citizens" category of some sort  you might try to use "filler" browsing to dilute the stream of pages you requested and/or use VPN (but you can't use any exotic browser, unless you change the proser identification string, but even this is not enough). Dilution is a trick that is often used in office environment by those who like to play on the edge with enterprise security team (especially if you have nothing to do at night shift).  Using single proxy for the whole family also helps to mask your identity (actually router mask all your Web pages requests presenting them as coming from a single Internet address, not from individual (and local) addresses of computers in your household. But if different computers use different browsers (or different version of browsers) pages access can be differentiated by browser type. In any case proxy gives you much finer control and is not that difficult to install and use. Programmable  keyboard and some skills in programming in LUA makes injecting "politically correct searches" easy. You can randomize the  set of pages too.  

  8. Don't succumb to paranoia. Installing spyware on your smartphone is an expensive operation and you generally have much higher changes to get malware from regular criminals than from the government. Especially if you install "free" applications on your smartphone. More often than not, they are not completely free and like is case of using  Facebook you trade your privacy for the access to them  ;-). Switched off cellphones or computer (with wake-up-LAN disabled) are switched off cell phones,  or computer.  There is probably not that much value in removing the battery and other "drastic" measures like putting them into Faraday case (BTW plastic bags for electronic parts have metallic coating and might serve serve as a Faraday cage)

  9. If you do not want particular travel to be recorded in tiny details do not use cellphones and pay cash for gas, food, etc.  But please understand that when you cross toll bridges your number plate is recorded. And probably not only bridges. So for the government there are many ways to skin the cat, even if the cat is trying to hide. 

  10. Regular simple/basic flip phone like  Samsung Gusto 3 B311 No Contract Phone (Verizon Wireless)  or ZTE Z222 Go Phone (AT&T)   is safer than smartphone as there not much memory in each od such phone to allow any hacking (typically 50 MB or less) . This improves your protection, if you are really paranoid at the cost of Internet access from the smarphone.  People like myself, who do not really need internet on the phone as they have tablet with G3/G4 for this purpose can also use this approach as such phone usually has chaper plans then smartphones.  In any case your call metadata will be recorded anyway. And as Us experience with Iraq insurgetnt had shown, they are probably as revealing as the content of your phone calls.

  11. Never use Gmail/hotmail/yahoo mail for anything of the registrations and spam folder.  Get and account at one of ISPs. It will cost you around $5 a month or less.  You might also wish to obtain you won domain name. They come with email accounts and web page creation capabilities (might also be  useful if you can avoid excessive exhibitionism and limit it to quotes from sources that you like and similar things )

  12. Never store your financial information and other sensitive  files on the same computer you browse Internet. Buy additional laptop and use exclusively it for browsing  financial sites and creating your tax return (if you do it yourself). That also helps against nasty malware.  At least never use the same account -- create and strictly follow the discipline of using different accounts for you regular browsing and for your finances. That's really important.

  13. Periodically change your nicknames if you participate in some "supposedly watched by authorities" forums. Periodically change  DHCP address on your provider using  ipconfig /release or similar methods.  Nicknames that can't be easily found by Internet searches (common words, such as "high speed", "Networker", "not a new Yorker", "Symposium"  ) are better than unique one. Look at Guardian forums for inspiration ;-). You can also use VPN to mask your IP but generally your mileage can vary, as the government has tools to void this protection.

  14. Get PGP key and learn to use PGP. This is useful for separating your regular files from your "confidential" files.  If something is really confidential never store it on a networked computer.  Use paper and non-networked computer for printing it.  Some people install DOS for such purpose, but while fun to do, that's probably an overkill, unless are are into retro-computing. Non-networked means does not have any network card, or WiFi; which means old desktop computer). You will not be alone. There was a story  published in 2013 by major news agencies (see BBC version ) that Russian government bought some number  of electric typewriters for such a switch. See also discussion Soviet Spying on US Selectric Typewriters - Schneier on Security.  It might well be that on a governmental level anything secret shouldn't be prepared or communicated on electronic devices.

  15. Switch off you laptp or smartphone  if you do not use them and do not want to take any calls. There is no any reason to keep smartphone up when you are travelling  in the  car. You can use Airplane mode for that too. That suppresses geolocation, but it leaves phone  up and thus theoretically still enables voice recording using microphone, although if you smartphone is in the pocket, the quality of such recording will be so dismal that it is virtually useless, unless you want to spend large amount of many on filtering off the noise.

If you join Google, Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo and use webmail you should have no expectations of privacy

"Always remember that Google Gmail is "free"
 because you are not the customer, you are the product."

In Australia any expectations of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once people voluntarily offered data to the third party. A this is a very reasonable policy. 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.

In a very profound way Facebook was never a "social site". It was always anti-social site. Facebook exploits people's own sense of vanity and desire to invade other people's privacy. There is no requirement to plaster your life all over the internet.

In a very profound way Facebook was never a "social site". It was always anti-social site. Facebook exploits and tries to play on people's own sense of vanity and desire to invade other people's privacy. This Facebook induced  US epidemic  of exhibitionism is really unhealthy. There is no requirement to plaster your life all over the internet.

Facebook has been a personal information sucking device since its inception. It is a toxic, faceless suburban wasteland which actually makes people more lonely (Suburbanization of Friendships and Solitude)

April 18, 2012

Facebook may be making us lonely, giving users the information age equivalent of a faceless suburban wasteland, claims the fantastic cover story of The Atlantic. Key excerpts:

We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information.

At the forefront of all this unexpectedly lonely interactivity is Facebook.

Facebook makes real relationships harder:

That one little phrase, Your real friends—so quaint, so charmingly mothering—perfectly encapsulates the anxieties that social media have produced: the fears that Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer.

Here’s why:

Our omnipresent new technologies lure us toward increasingly superficial connections at exactly the same moment that they make avoiding the mess of human interaction easy. The beauty of Facebook, the source of its power, is that it enables us to be social while sparing us the embarrassing reality of society—the accidental revelations we make at parties, the awkward pauses, the farting and the spilled drinks and the general gaucherie of face-to-face contact. Instead, we have the lovely smoothness of a seemingly social machine. Everything’s so simple: status updates, pictures, your wall.

Finally, FB fosters a retreat into narcissism:

Self-presentation on Facebook is continuous, intensely mediated, and possessed of a phony nonchalance that eliminates even the potential for spontaneity. (“Look how casually I threw up these three photos from the party at which I took 300 photos!”) Curating the exhibition of the self has become a 24/7 occupation.

Facebook users retreat from “messy” human interaction and spend too much of their time curating fantasy avatars of themselves to actually to out and meet real people:

The relentlessness is what is so new, so potentially transformative. Facebook never takes a break. We never take a break. Human beings have always created elaborate acts of self-presentation. But not all the time, not every morning, before we even pour a cup of coffee.

The always-on effects are profound:

What Facebook has revealed about human nature—and this is not a minor revelation—is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity. Solitude used to be good for self-reflection and self-reinvention. But now we are left thinking about who we are all the time, without ever really thinking about who we are. Facebook denies us a pleasure whose profundity we had underestimated: the chance to forget about ourselves for a while, the chance to disconnect.

One of the deepest and best researched meditations on FB 2012.

To avoid stupid breaches  always use two factor authentication

Many sites allow now two factor authentication. If you bank and broker do not have two factor authentication, think about changing them to the one that is similar but has  one.

Use special laptop for financial transactions (or at least virtual machine)

As a minimum use  different account and non-privileged account on the same laptop for browsing and for financial transtaction

To avoid pilfering of your financial infomation by malware it makes sense to use a special laptop for access to financial sites and preparing tax information. It is easy to configure your workplace at home with two laptops: one for browsing and other similar "non-secure" activate and the other for financial activities. You can switch monitors using a good KVM switch.  Generally USB switch such  as UGREEN USB Switch Selector is enough. You do not need to switch monitors as there is enough space for two or even for monitor (if you use 4 monitor stand) on most desks.

Never use for such operation a laptop or desktop you children have access to.  Good used Dell laptop is only $300 and  you losses can be measured in  tens thousand of dollars. 

This is inverted totalitarism, my friend

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

NSA document, cited from Soviet Spying on US Selectric Typewriters - Schneier on Security
 

In any case we should be aware that your Internet communications are under total surveillance. And that does not mean that people in hard boots will come and take you. Just realization of that this under surveillance is enough to change people behaviour. See Inverted Totalitarism:

The key ingredient of classical totalitarism is violence toward opponents. Also in all classic totalitarian states such as Nazi Germany and the USSR, the citizenry were kept mobilized to support the state. Sometimes wipe up to the state of frenzy by ideological purity campaigns or purges. Opponents were sent to concentration camps or exiled. Here the idea different: a passive but thoroughly monitored and thoroughly brainwashed populace is the goal that can be achieve with just two of three component of traditional totalitarism (ideology, propaganda and violence). Ideology and propaganda components are enough. That why the name "inverted totalitarism".

The term "liberal fascism" is also used and is a synonym, but it has "politically incorrect" flavor. The term "managed democracy" is also used, but more rarely.

It goes without saying that inverted totalitarism is much better then classic variants as close acquaintance with Gestapo or KGB is harmful for one's health. And that's what opponents of the regime faced. Here they just ignore the opponents and cut oxygen, in indirect way. Voice of opponents of the regime is just drown in the see of official propaganda and they are never invited to TV programs with significant popularity and influence on public opinion. As Orwell aptly noted "ignorance is strength" ;-). Also people who failed "loyalty test" might be simply remove from position where they can make a difference. Without too much noise. Net result is very similar, but for dissidents in case of inverted totalitarism teeth remain in place.

This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites (Web logs). That does not mean that those data are abused, but they are definitely recorded and some of them are stored for several years. In the article Edward Snowden Is Completely Wrong by Michael Hirsh and Sara Sorcher (Jun 15, 2013, NationalJournal.com) the authors warn:

Another problem for the alarmists: No evidence suggests that the worst fears of people like Snowden have ever been realized. In his interview with The Guardian, which broke the story along with The Washington Post, Snowden warned that the NSA’s accumulation of personal data

"increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody.”

In a state with no checks and balances, that is a possibility. But even the American Civil Liberties Union, which has called NSA surveillance “a stone’s throw away from an Orwellian state,” admits it knows of no cases where anything even remotely Orwellian has happened. Nor can any opponent of NSA surveillance point to a Kafkaesque Joseph K. who has appeared in an American courtroom on mysterious charges trumped up from government surveillance. Several civil-liberties advocates, asked to cite a single case of abuse of information, all paused for long seconds and could not cite any.

There is also great misunderstanding about how the NSA system works and whether such abuse could even happen in the future. It’s unclear if the government will be capable of accessing and misusing the vast array of personal data it is accumulating, as Snowden predicts. The NSA appears primarily to use computer algorithms to sift through its database for patterns that may be possible clues to terrorist plots. The government says it is not eavesdropping on our phone calls or voyeuristically reading our e-mails. Instead, it tracks the “metadata” of phone calls—whom we call and when, the duration of those conversations—and uses computer algorithms to trawl its databases for phone patterns or e-mail and search keywords that may be clues to terrorist plots. It can also map networks by linking known operatives with potential new suspects. If something stands out as suspicious, agents are still required by law to obtain a court order to look into the data they have in their storehouses. Officials must show “probable cause” and adhere to the principle of “minimization,” by which the government commits to reducing as much as possible the inadvertent vacuuming up of information on citizens instead of foreigners—the real target of the NSA’s PRISM program. The program, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, has had success. He told NBC that tracking a suspicious communication from Pakistan to a person in Colorado allowed officials to identify a terrorist cell in New York City that wanted to bomb its subway system in the fall of 2009.

Replace the word "terrorist" by the word "dissident" and you will get truer meaning of the collection and mining of metadata by three letter agencies. Here is an insightful post by Chris On February 16, 2010 ( christopherkois.com):

Today, there was an Ask Slashdot Story called: “Did We Lose the Privacy War?” In the story, the user was trying to do things like use NoScript and block Google Analytics, disabling third party cookies, and encrypting IM “to keep data-miners at bay”.

While I think some of these things are a good idea and individually protect against potential threats that may reside on the Internet, in the grand scheme of things, they do not help to protect your privacy on the Internet. The story and the comments on Slashdot that followed remind me of a great talk that was presented by Steve Rambam at the The Last Hope conference in 2008.

Steve Rambam is the Founder and CEO of Pallorium, Inc. Pallorium is a licensed Investigative Agency with offices and affiliates worldwide. In 2008, at The Last Hope conference, Steve Rambam gave a talk called “Privacy is Dead – Get Over It”. I originally heard this talk in 2008, as a podcast that is distributed on The Last Hope website.

This talk is by far one of the best talks I’ve ever heard on the topic of privacy on the Internet. The talk contains information about how an individual person’s information is retrieved, gathered, and correlated to obtain everything about an individual. Even more of a disturbing trend, the aggregation of social networking sites with other data stored by government and other private entities. It’s not so disturbing that the aggregation occurs, it’s disturbing that people don’t seem to understand just how “public” the Internet really is. The amount of information given away on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. is absolutely amazing. To top it off, an individual has no recourse against an entity collecting information about them. To quote the talk, “the genie is out of the bottle and you can’t stuff it back in.” The talk aims to spread awareness of data gathering on the Internet and how it is used in the past, present, and future.

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”. It’s not just private investigators that use this information, it’s also corporate entities that profit from your information. Take Amazon.com for example, from the talk:

“think for a second what Amazon knows about you: they know where you live, where you work, they know about your finances, they know what you like to read, what music you like to listen to, they know every interest of yours, every like, every dislike… all of things that make you, you. Essentially, they’ve got a database of everyone in America’s soul.”

Rambam points out that EBay, Paypal, and Skype (which is all one company now) have a very similar database of information. Satellite TV/Cable TV/DVR/Tivo all know what you watch on TV, and Tivo is actually selling elements of your data. Furthermore, you don’t know what they have and there is NOTHING that you can do about it.

From the talk:

“What you need to know is that these are “private” companies. Freedom of information does NOT apply. And you’re screwed 2 ways. You go to Choicepoint and you say ‘What’s in your files about me?’. ‘None of your business. It’s our business records. Tough.’ You go to the government and you say ‘This is my Freedom of Information Act request. I know you pulled a Choicepoint report on me. I want to know what was in that report.’ ‘Sorry, we can’t give it to you. It’s a private business record.’ FOIA is dead, buried. It tried to come back to life. Choicepoint hammered a big stake in it’s heart and now it’s gone…”

So, what does this all mean? This isn’t just about people or entities knowing everything there is to know about you: what you do, what you like, where you go, who you talk to, what you buy, what you are interested in buying, interests that you have, etc., etc., etc… It’s how those entities are using the data that they gather. You don’t have to be paranoid to be interested in this. Companies are profiting from the data that they are collecting on you, and you pay them for it. You are paying for their services, but they are still collecting the information and selling it to someone else. In essence, they are “double-dipping” into the profits from selling consumers a product or a service and then, aggregating the data and selling it to advertisers behind the scenes. The advertisers selling you information know more about you then you could ever imagine.

From the talk:

“If you don’t take anything else from my talk today, here’s what I need you to take away. Google is a private company that you have no control over. You have no right and no ability to influence what they gather about you and what they do with that information. And the truth is, most people when they think of Google, they think of a great utility that solved all the problems of finding things on the Internet a few years ago. … Google is photos, blogs, media … Gmail, how many people here use Gmail? … Do you know that your email is searched by bots? … How many of you know that your email is searched, indexed, and categorized? … How many of you care? None of you!

Now the same people, how many would be running out and hiring a lawyer if somebody was opening the mail at your mailbox, reading it, pasting it back shut, and putting it back in the box? Every single one of you. Much worse, but you don’t get it or you don’t care.”

One last quote from the talk that I feel really sums up all of the data collection, mining, and aggregation that many of the Internet Web Services companies do on a daily basis: This quote comes from the EFF, but is referenced in the talk: “This is analogous to AT&T listening to your phone calls all day in order to figure out what to sell you at dinner.”

Steve Rambam does a great job in conveying the current state of affairs. He states the case as to why much of this information can be used in a good way by law enforcement and private investigators to do their job efficiently, but also how the information obtained can and is being abused. The aim of the talk is to make people aware of what data is gathered, what you can do about it (which is not much), and what those entities that are gathering the information are doing with it.

The talk is just over 3 hours. The video is nice so you can see the slides, but you can always download the audio and listen to it on your portable music player.

The giant sucking sound

In his article What Surveillance Valley knows about you (Crooks and Liars) Yasha Levine noted:

Google is very secretive about the exact nature of its for-profit intel operation and how it uses the petabytes of data it collects on us every single day for financial gain. Fortunately, though, we can get a sense of the kind of info that Google and other Surveillance Valley megacorps compile on us, and the ways in which that intel might be used and abused, by looking at the business practices of the “data broker” industry.

Thanks to a series of Senate hearings, the business of data brokerage is finally being understood by consumers, but the industry got its start back in the 1970s as a direct outgrowth of the failure of telemarketing. In its early days, telemarketing had an abysmal success rate: only 2 percent of people contacted would become customers. In his book, “The Digital Perso,” Daniel J. Solove explains what happened next:

To increase the low response rate, marketers sought to sharpen their targeting techniques, which required more consumer research and an effective way to collect, store, and analyze information about consumers. The advent of the computer database gave marketers this long sought-after ability — and it launched a revolution in targeting technology.

Data brokers rushed in to fill the void. These operations pulled in information from any source they could get their hands on — voter registration, credit card transactions, product warranty information, donations to political campaigns and non-profits, court records — storing it in master databases and then analyzing it in all sorts of ways that could be useful to direct-mailing and telemarketing outfits. It wasn’t long before data brokers realized that this information could be used beyond telemarketing, and quickly evolved into a global for-profit intelligence business that serves every conceivable data and intelligence need.

Today, the industry churns somewhere around $200 billion in revenue annually. There are up to 4,000 data broker companies — some of the biggest are publicly traded — and together, they have detailed information on just about every adult in the western world.

No source of information is sacred: transaction records are bought in bulk from stores, retailers and merchants; magazine subscriptions are recorded; food and restaurant preferences are noted; public records and social networks are scoured and scraped. What kind of prescription drugs did you buy? What kind of books are you interested in? Are you a registered voter? To what non-profits do you donate? What movies do you watch? Political documentaries? Hunting reality TV shows?

That info is combined and kept up to date with address, payroll information, phone numbers, email accounts, social security numbers, vehicle registration and financial history. And all that is sliced, isolated, analyzed and mined for data about you and your habits in a million different ways.

The dossiers are not restricted to generic market segmenting categories like “Young Literati” or “Shotguns and Pickups” or “Kids & Cul-de-Sacs,” but often contain the most private and intimate details about a person’s life, all of it packaged and sold over and over again to anyone willing to pay.

Take MEDbase200, a boutique for-profit intel outfit that specializes in selling health-related consumer data. Well, until last week, the company offered its clients a list of rape victims (or “rape sufferers,” as the company calls them) at the low price of $79.00 per thousand. The company claims to have segmented this data set into hundreds of different categories, including stuff like the ailments they suffer, prescription drugs they take and their ethnicity:

These rape sufferers are family members who have reported, or have been identified as individuals affected by specific illnesses, conditions or ailments relating to rape. Medbase200 is the owner of this list. Select from families affected by over 500 different ailments, and/or who are consumers of over 200 different Rx medications. Lists can be further selected on the basis of lifestyle, ethnicity, geo, gender, and much more. Inquire today for more information.

MEDbase promptly took its “rape sufferers” list off line last week after its existence was revealed in a Senate investigation into the activities of the data-broker industry. The company pretended like the list was a huge mistake. A MEDbase rep tried convincing a Wall Street Journal reporter that its rape dossiers were just a “hypothetical list of health conditions/ailments.” The rep promised it was never sold to anyone. Yep, it was a big mistake. We can all rest easy now. Thankfully, MEDbase has hundreds of other similar dossier collections, hawking the most private and sensitive medical information.

For instance, if lists of rape victims aren’t your thing, MEDbase can sell dossiers on people suffering from anorexia, substance abuse, AIDS and HIV, Alzheimer’s Disease, Asperger Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bedwetting (Enuresis), Binge Eating Disorder, Depression, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, Homelessness, Infertility, Syphilis… the list goes on and on and on and on.

Normally, such detailed health information would fall under federal law and could not be disclosed or sold without consent. But because these data harvesters rely on indirect sources of information instead of medical records, they’re able to sidestep regulations put in place to protect the privacy of people’s health data.

MEBbase isn’t the only company exploiting these loopholes. By the industry’s own estimates, there are something like 4,000 for-profit intel companies operating in the United States. Many of them sell information that would normally be restricted under federal law. They offer all sorts of targeted dossier collections on every population segments of our society, from the affluent to the extremely vulnerable:

  • people with drug addictions
  • detailed personal info on police officers and other government employees
  • people with bad credit/bankruptcies
  • minorities who’ve used payday loan services
  • domestic violence shelter locations (normally these addresses would be shielded by law)
  • elderly gamblers

If you want to see how this kind of profile data can be used to scam unsuspecting individuals, look no further than a Richard Guthrie, an Iowa retiree who had his life savings siphoned out of his bank account. Their weapon of choice: databases bought from large for-profit data brokers listing retirees who entered sweepstakes and bought lottery tickets.

Here’s a 2007 New York Times story describing the racket:

Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

Data brokers argue that cases like Guthrie are an anomaly — a once-in-a-blue-moon tragedy in an industry that takes privacy and legal conduct seriously. But cases of identity thieves and sophistical con-rings obtaining data from for-profit intel businesses abound. Scammers are a lucrative source of revenue. Their money is just as good as anyone else’s. And some of the profile “products” offered by the industry seem tailored specifically to fraud use.

As Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Yves Leblanc told the New York Times: “Only one kind of customer wants to buy lists of seniors interested in lotteries and sweepstakes: criminals. If someone advertises a list by saying it contains gullible or elderly people, it’s like putting out a sign saying ‘Thieves welcome here.’”

So what is InfoUSA, exactly? What kind of company would create and sell lists customized for use by scammers and cons?

As it turns out, InfoUSA is not some fringe or shady outfit, but a hugely profitable politically connected company. InfoUSA was started by Vin Gupta in the 1970s as a basement operation hawking detailed lists of RV and mobile home dealers. The company quickly expanded into other areas and began providing business intel services to thousands of businesses. By 2000, the company raised more than $30 million in venture capital funding from major Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

By then, InfoUSA boasted of having information on 230 million consumers. A few years later, InfoUSA counted the biggest Valley companies as its clients, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL. It got involved not only in raw data and dossiers, but moved into payroll and financial, conducted polling and opinion research, partnered with CNN, vetted employees and provided customized services for law enforcement and all sorts of federal and government agencies: processing government payments, helping states locate tax cheats and even administrating President Bill Clinton “Welfare to Work” program. Which is not surprising, as Vin Gupta is a major and close political supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In 2008, Gupta was sued by InfoUSA shareholders for inappropriately using corporate funds. Shareholders accused of Gupta of illegally funneling corporate money to fund an extravagant lifestyle and curry political favor. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit questioned why Gupta used private corporate jets to fly the Clintons on personal and campaign trips, and why Gupta awarded Bill Clinton a $3.3 million consulting gig.

As a result of the scandal, InfoUSA was threatened with delisting from Nasdaq, Gupta was forced out and the company was snapped up for half a billion dollars by CCMP Capital Advisors, a major private equity firm spun off from JP Morgan in 2006. Today, InfoUSA continues to do business under the name Infogroup, and has nearly 4,000 employees working in nine countries.

As big as Infogroup is, there are dozens of other for-profit intelligence businesses that are even bigger: massive multi-national intel conglomerates with revenues in the billions of dollars. Some of them, like Lexis-Nexis and Experian, are well known, but mostly these are outfits that few Americans have heard of, with names like Epsilon, Altegrity and Acxiom.

These for-profit intel behemoths are involved in everything from debt collection to credit reports to consumer tracking to healthcare analysis, and provide all manner of tailored services to government and law enforcement around the world. For instance, Acxiom has done business with most major corporations, and boasts of intel on “500 million active consumers worldwide, with about 1,500 data points per person. That includes a majority of adults in the United States,” according to the New York Times.

This data is analyzed and sliced in increasingly sophisticated and intrusive ways to profile and predict behavior. Merchants are using it customize shopping experience— Target launched a program to figure out if a woman shopper was pregnant and when the baby would be born, “even if she didn’t want us to know.” Life insurance companies are experimenting with predictive consumer intel to estimate life expectancy and determine eligibility for life insurance policies. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are raking over this data in order to deny and challenge the medical claims of their policyholders.

Even more alarming, large employers are turning to for-profit intelligence to mine and monitor the lifestyles and habits of their workers outside the workplace. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal described how employers have partnered with health insurance companies to monitor workers for “health-adverse” behavior that could lead to higher medical expenses down the line:

Your company already knows whether you have been taking your meds, getting your teeth cleaned and going for regular medical checkups. Now some employers or their insurance companies are tracking what staffers eat, where they shop and how much weight they are putting on — and taking action to keep them in line.

But companies also have started scrutinizing employees’ other behavior more discreetly. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina recently began buying spending data on more than 3 million people in its employer group plans. If someone, say, purchases plus-size clothing, the health plan could flag him for potential obesity — and then call or send mailings offering weight-loss solutions.

…”Everybody is using these databases to sell you stuff,” says Daryl Wansink, director of health economics for the Blue Cross unit. “We happen to be trying to sell you something that can get you healthier.”

“As an employer, I want you on that medication that you need to be on,” says Julie Stone, a HR expert at Towers Watson told the Wall Street Journal.

Companies might try to frame it as a health issue. I mean, what kind of asshole could be ag caring about the wellbeing of their workers? But their ultimate concern has nothing to do with the employee health. It’s all about the brutal bottom line: keeping costs down.

An employer monitoring and controlling your activity outside of work? You don’t have to be union agitator to see the problems with this kind of mindset and where it could lead. Because there are lots of things that some employers might want to know about your personal life, and not only to “keep costs down.” It could be anything: to weed out people based on undesirable habits or discriminate against workers based on sexual orientation, regulation and political beliefs.

It’s not difficult to imagine that a large corporation facing a labor unrest or a unionization drive would be interested in proactively flagging potential troublemakers by pinpointing employees that might be sympathetic to the cause. But the technology and data is already here for wide and easy application: did a worker watch certain political documentaries, donate to environmental non-profits, join an animal rights Facebook group, tweet out support for Occupy Wall Street, subscribe to the Nation or Jacobin, buy Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”? Or maybe the worker simply rented one of Michael Moore’s films? Run your payroll through one of the massive consumer intel databases and look if there is any matchup. Bound to be plenty of unpleasant surprises for HR!

This has happened in the past, although in a cruder and more limited way. In the 1950s, for instance, some lefty intellectuals had their lefty newspapers and mags delivered to P.O. boxes instead of their home address, worrying that otherwise they’d get tagged as Commie symps. That might have worked in the past. But with the power of private intel companies, today there’s nowhere to hide.

FTC Commissioner Julie Brill has repeatedly voiced concern that unregulated data being amassed by for-profit intel companies would be used to discriminate and deny employment, and to determine consumer access to everything from credit to insurance to housing. “As Big Data algorithms become more accurate and powerful, consumers need to know a lot more about the ways in which their data is used,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

Pam Dixon, executive director of the Privacy World Forum, agrees. Dixon frequently testifies on Capitol Hill to warn about the growing danger to privacy and civil liberties posed by big data and for-profit intelligence. In Congressional testimony back in 2009, Dixon called this growing mountain of data the “modern permanent record” and explained that users of these new intel capabilities will inevitably expand to include not just marketers and law enforcement, but insurance companies, employers, landlords, schools, parents, scammers and stalkers. “The information – like credit reports – will be used to make basic decisions about the ability of individual to travel, participate in the economy, find opportunities, find places to live, purchase goods and services, and make judgments about the importance, worthiness, and interests of individuals.”


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Old News ;-)

[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

  • (00:00:00 – 00:01:12) Google co-founder Sergey Brin states that the weekly meeting is "probably not the most joyous we've had" and that "most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad."
  • (00:00:24) Brin contrasts the disappointment of Trump's election with his excitement at the legalization of cannabis in California, triggering laughs and applause from the audience of Google employees.
  • (00:01:12) Returning to seriousness, Brin says he is "deeply offen[ded]" by the election of Trump, and that the election "conflicts with many of [Google's] values."
  • (00:09:10) Trying to explain the motivations of Trump supporters, Senior VP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker concludes: "fear, not just in the United States, but around the world is fueling concerns, xenophobia, hatred, and a desire for answers that may or may not be there."
  • (00:09:35) Walker goes on to describe the Trump phenomenon as a sign of "tribalism that's self-destructive [in] the long-term."
  • (00:09:55) Striking an optimistic tone, Walker assures Google employees that despite the election, "history is on our side" and that the "moral arc of history bends towards progress."
  • (00:10:45) Walker approvingly quotes former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's comparison between "the world of the wall" with its "isolation and defensiveness" and the "world of the square, the piazza, the marketplace, where people come together into a community and enrich each other's lives."
  • (00:13:10) CFO Ruth Porat appears to break down in tears when discussing the election result.
  • (00:15:20) Porat promises that Google will "use the great strength and resources and reach we have to continue to advance really important values."
  • (00:16:50) Stating "we all need a hug," she then instructs the audience of Google employees to hug the person closest to them.
  • (00:20:24) Eileen Noughton, VP of People Operations, promises that Google's policy team in DC is "all over" the immigration issue and that the company will "keep a close watch on it."
  • (00:21:26) Noughton jokes about Google employees asking, ' Can I move to Canada? ' after the election. She goes on to seriously discuss the options available to Google employees who wish to leave the country.
  • (00:23:12) Noughton does acknowledge "diversity of opinion and political persuasion" and notes that s he has heard from conservative Google employees who say they "haven't felt entirely comfortable revealing who [they] are." and urged "tolerance." (Several months later, the company would fire James Damore allegedly for disagreeing with progressive narratives.)
  • (00:27:00) Responding to a question about "filter bubbles," Sundar Pichai promises to work towards "correcting" Google's role in them
  • (00:27:30) Sergey Brin praises an audience member's suggestion of increasing matched Google employee donations to progressive groups.
  • (00:34:40) Brin compares Trump voters to "extremists," arguing for a correlation between the economic background of Trump supporters and the kinds of voters who back extremist movements. Brin says that "voting is not a rational act" and that not all of Trump's support can be attributed to "income disparity." He suggests that Trump voters might have been motivated by boredom rather than legitimate concerns.
  • (00:49:10) An employee asks if Google is willing to "invest in grassroots, hyper-local efforts to bring tools and services and understanding of Google products and knowledge" so that people can "make informed decisions that are best for themselves." Pichai's response: Google will ensure its "educational products" reach "segments of the population [they] are not [currently] fully reaching."
  • (00:54:33) An employee asks what Google is going to do about "misinformation" and "fake news" shared by "low-information voters." Pichai responds by stating that "investments in machine learning and AI" are a "big opportunity" to fix the problem.
  • (00:56:12) Responding to an audience member, Walker says Google must ensure the rise of populism doesn't turn into "a world war or something catastrophic and instead is a blip, a hiccup."
  • (00:58:22) Brin compares Trump voters to supporters of fascism and communism, linking the former movement to "boredom," which Brin previously linked to Trump voters. "It sort of sneaks up sometimes, really bad things" says Brin.
  • (01:01:15) A Google employee states: "speaking to white men, there's an opportunity for you right now to understand your privilege" and urges employees to "go through the bias-busting training, read about privilege, read about the real history of oppression in our country." He urges employees to "discuss the issues you are passionate about during Thanksgiving dinner and don't back down and laugh it off when you hear the voice of oppression speak through metaphors." Every executive on stage – the CEO, CFO, two VPs and the two Co-founders – applaud the employee.
  • (01:01:57) An audience member asks if the executives see "anything positive from this election result." The audience of Google employees, and the executives on stage, burst into laughter. "Boy, that's a really tough one right now" says Brin.

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:

  • Stop selling facial recognition services to law enforcement
  • Stop providing infrastructure to Palantir and any other Amazon partners who enable ICE.
  • Implement strong transparency and accountability measures, that include enumerating which law enforcement agencies and companies supporting law enforcement agencies are using Amazon services, and how.

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there.

Amazon also contracts with the CIA, bringing in at least $600 million per year . They provide web services for high-security state secrets to the CIA and other U.S. spy agencies. Plus, Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. So the CIA pays Amazon $600 million per year. Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon. And Jeff Bezos is the sole owner of the Washington Post. Does that sound like a conflict of interest to you?

It is also interesting to note that the Washington Post has long been associated with the CIA . Project Mockingbird was a CIA operation which paid American journalists to publish certain information and bury other facts, depending on the interests of the CIA.

After creation of the CIA in 1947, it enjoyed direct collaboration with many U.S. news organizations. But the agency faced a major challenge in October 1977, when -- soon after leaving the Washington Post -- famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein provided an extensive expose in Rolling Stone.

Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years "more than 400 American journalists have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency." He added: "The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception."

Amazon and Jeff Bezos should be held accountable for providing oppressive tools to the government.

But they should not be criticized and punished for success, as Bernie Sanders' Stop BEZOS Act would do.

Then again if Bezos wants to make money from government contracts, maybe taking care of his employees from cradle to grave just comes with the territory. That money came from taxes. And taxes are are markedly different than free market revenue. "Customers" do not have direct control over how their tax dollars are spent. But apart from the government contracts, I could otherwise entirely remove my funding of Amazon in an instant by refusing to do business with it.

With government sources of funding, Amazon gift cards resembling a currency, and delivery "patrols" in your area , Amazon is looking more and more like a government

But that is a subject we will tackle next week. You don't have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

... ... ...


Adolfsteinbergovitch ,

Amazon has always been and will always remain a front for the deep state shenanigans. This company makes no money, and yet has one of the biggest market caps in the world. As to this that the Washington compost, traditional CIA media, has been purchased by no other than bezos himself, and that leaving any doubt aside, the same CIA just awarded him $600Mio per year to give them some disposable computing power. And then suddenly you hear all these stories about government agencies willing to make the same move...

It looks like Bezos is a CIA asset.

Reptil ,

No, calling out Bernie Sanders, that's a straw man tactic. And it's not accurate. Bernie attacked Jeff Bezos (and people like him) for NOT PAYING PROPER WAGES TO EMPLOYEES. And then that the taxpayers have to pay the extra to keep the employees from starving or becoming homeless. Which is something that can be prevented by..... proper wages.

How is that even possible? Well... it's a monopoly. Not a free market. So don't pretend it is (capitalism). It is not !!!!!!!!!!

And then it's not about something STUPID like "it's the poor attacking the rich." That's childish scaremongering, to hide the truth.

That it's about modern slavery, in a runup to the 4th industrial revolution. (in which these workers will be fired)

Yes, it's about the oligarchy trying to enslave the american people, with the PISSPOOR EXCUSE that for some reason, it's capitalism to not pay proper wages.

Ah yes and Jeff Bezos of course made a deal with the treacherous CIA, that part is true. That's fascism and high treason. But who's going to enforce that? Other oligarchs? Trump? The FBI? hahaha

William Binney had a great idea. To have the states secede from the Federation. Then form inter-state relationships. This way Washington DC will be bypassed.

But expect a fight. A tough one.

Let it Go ,

I'm particularly troubled by Jeff Bezos and his connections with the CIA and deep state. The CEO of Amazon did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he expected newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. He purchased the long-trusted U.S. newspaper for the power it would ensure him in Washington and because it could be wielded as a propaganda mouthpiece to extend his ability to both shape and control public opinion.

The article below supports the opinion that since buying the Post Bezos has used it to gain wealth and power and that Amazon is a job killing exploiter monster that needs to be stopped. http://Trump And Bezos Face Off Clash Of The Titans.html

Let it Go ,

It must be noted that retailers are closing stores all across America and the impact will be huge. Online retailer Amazon is by far the chief offender causing such grief. Over the last few years, stores such as Target and Macy's have even had to face a slew of dishonest shoppers trying to sneak defectives products purchased online back as exchanges and trading them for a fresh unbroken product. I have seen this costly abuse recommended by several online shoppers that see this as an "easy fix" while simply brushing aside the ethical issues it creates.

As stores close much of this space located in the large shopping malls that once flourished in commercial zones of suburbia will grow empty and abandoned. The article below is the second of a part-two series about the retail closings that are occurring across the country and contains a suggestion as to how we can blunt the damage it will create.

http://Online Transaction Fee Could Blunt Amazon's Edge html

MrBoompi ,

The American taxpayer should not have to pay for Amazon's or WalMarts shitty wages and refusal to provide more full time jobs with benefits. This has nothing to do with punishing success. And because the CIA and Bezos are partners I wouldn't hold your breath for any changes. We now have a form of government subsidized neo-slavery.

Scipio Africanuz ,

Now, before responding to this article, I find some folks who make asinine comments are preventing responses to their comments from being seen. That's fine, they can hide but they can't evade. I'll find out soon whether zerohedge is shadow banning comments, I'll call out asinine comments directly, I'll not respond to anyone anymore, until I understand what's really going on..

Back to the article, TDB makes a robust defense of capitalist "success" and that's fine. Bezos achieved his "success" on the back of the American tax payer. The rules of the game as structured, requires that he, and his oligarch buddies pay tax, just like mom and pop, no more, no less!

I believe in free exchange, and regulated markets. This means trade should be voluntary, and markets should run on honest weights and measures. I don't believe for a nanosecond, that markets should be unregulated, that breeds fraud, theft, and manipulation.

There can be no "free unregulated market", it's the utopia of the right, just as government dominated commerce, is the utopia of the left.

Now, Bezos is an ungrateful cronyist, and I say that without apology. He ought to learn a thing or two, from Henry Ford, and the Japanese thus - take care of your profit generators (employees), and your enabling environment (society), because they're your customers!

Exceptionalist economics have given capitalism a terrible reputation.

Folks often forget that man, by inherent nature, is a communist employing capitalism to create a compassionate society (socialism). The misunderstanding has cost millions of lives in the attempt to destroy capitalism, the very principle they ought to protect. The attempts are akin to closing the nasal and oral passage ways, and yet, hope to consume oxygen.

It'd be hilarious were it not so tragic...

pitz ,

Where's Amazon's profit though? Outside of AWS, they don't make any. Usually robber baron sort of companies are outrageously profitable. Amazon actually delivers their service at a loss, and subsidizes it through their only highly successful business, AWS, which is basically a glorified bank/subprime lender.

The Amazon P/E ratio is extremely irrational, but can the government be blamed for that?

Scipio Africanuz ,

Well, Amazon is not a business, it's a surveillance agency masquerading as a business. It doesn't have to make money as it's directly subsidised by the government, and boosted by the propaganda wing of the establishment, the MSM. Once you understand this, everything becomes clear, cheers...

[Sep 10, 2018] >Trump and Bernie: A Match Made in Tech Hell by Generally Risk

Sep 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Remember a few editions ago when I wrote in celebration of the cross-aisle cooperation between Senator Elizabeth Warren and President Donald Trump with respect to the re-engineering of the equity complex? After all, it was only a month ago. However, for those who fail this recall test, the gist of it was as follows. Senator Warren introduced a bill to regulate large corporations in a manner that de-emphasizes profits as a corporate objective, and the President sought to soften the blow by suggesting a reduction in the frequency at which company chieftains would be required to announce the certain-to-be bad news to the investing public.

At the time, I was deeply touched by the prospect of narrowing the gap between two schools of economic thought -- so deeply at odds with one another, to such deep annoyance and detriment to the well-being of the masses. However, I feared it was a "one-off".

So it brings me great pleasure to report upon the happy news that the divide continues to close. As my readers are probably aware, everyone's favorite Socialist Senior Citizen Senator: Bernie Sanders, took to the airwaves this past week to denounce the evils of what by many accounts is everyone's favorite publicly traded corporation. In live television interviews, and, of course, on Twitter, Bro Bernie entered into a full-throated denouncement of Amazon, going so far as to include a series of ad-hominem attacks on its fabulously infallible founder: one Jeff Bezos.

In doing so, Sen. Sanders joins a critical chorus led by the President, who for months has been throwing shade at the erstwhile bookseller that would take over the world. Bernie is passionately (if questionably) upset about the unfair treatment of Amazon workers. Trump is presumably most peeved at the temerity of Bezos at having taken ownership/control over the Washington Post. But both agree on one thing: the great unwashed are getting a raw deal with respect to the business arrangement between the Company and the

U.S. Postal Service.

I've looked into these matters, and objectively as I can determine, this is not an open and shut case against Amazon. Yes, they're getting a government (and therefore a taxpayer) subsidy, but they are arguably performing services that would be difficult and more expensive for the post office to undertake without them – rain, sleet, snow and gloom of night notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, to their everlasting credit, both Amazon and its shareholders reacted to the rhetorical pummeling with characteristic equanimity:


It's not as though they didn't feel the sting a bit, and here, the sentimental can be forgiven if they lament the timing. Sharp-eyed observers will note a slight down-tick in the price at the more immediate, right end portion of the graph. This reversal is all the more unfortunate because on Tuesday, the day after our traditional holiday celebrating the working class, the Company's valuation joined that of Apple's as the only business enterprise ever to surpass the lofty and heretofore unimaginable $1T threshold.

But that was then; as of Friday's close, Amazon's market capitalization fell to the beggarly-by- comparison level of $952B.

It says here that Amzonians of every stripe should keep that stiff upper lip demeanor at the ready, as I suspect they may face a string of challenges before the inevitable happens, and the Company achieves full global hegemony.

Because, while the following edict did not make the cut on my "10 Commandments of Risk Management", it probably should have: any enterprise that has found itself in the cross-hairs of both Trump and Bernie has reason to worry.

And if Amazon is staring into the face of a political spit storm, so, too, perhaps, are those other lovable Tech Titans whose stock performance have so deeply enriched us in the post-crash era. Consider, if you will, the recent pricing action of a couple of other tech darlings: Facebook and Twitter, linked not only by the social media stranglehold they collectively command, but also by the fact that each company sent one of their gods down from their heavenly Silicon Valley Olympus, to earthly Washington, where each faced full-on Capitol Hill roasting:

Facebook Defacing:

Twitter De-Tweeting:

Now, this is a Dickensian Tale of Two Stocks if ever there was one. With Zuck presumably hiding under his desk, Sheryl Sandberg taking the Congressional heat this round. In the wake of all that, Facebook managed to breach the lows registered after its historic July tanking of earnings, and is knocking on the door of breaking the bottoms recorded when Zuck had to explain away to hostile legislatures the pimping out of user data to sketchy organizations like Cambridge Analytica. By contrast, the long-besieged Twitter, which had been on an improbable profit upswing of late, managed to give back all and then-some in the wake of Jack Dorsey's Capitol Hill Star Chamber Inquisition.

Anybody notice a pattern here? Well, for me, what we're witnessing is the early innings of what I expect to be a slowly unfolding, populist/political undermining of the flower of the American Tech industry. Now, I don't expect anything overly nasty to transpire in the short term; more likely than not, the garroting of Silicon Valley high-flyers will be a multi-year proposition. Rather, I suspect that the TMT/big dogs of the NDX will more than likely reach new highs – perhaps material ones – before they face the prospect of careening, Icarus-like, to terra firma.

But if the prevailing tone – taking place as it is under a presumably business-friendly political paradigm -- is any indication, I shudder to think about what happens when the progressive elements re-assert their mojo and take hold of the control panel. And trust me, they will: if not immediately then eventually.

Of course, one cannot help but admire the way that West Coast Tech monsters – from San Diego to Seattle – have anticipated this, and attempted, and with some success, to brand themselves as torch carriers for the progressive mindset. I believe is that this will work for a while, but not into perpetuity. Eventually, they will be unmasked and vilified as the filthy, profit-seeking capitalists that they are.

And here, perhaps, is the main (if most obvious) point: as Tech goes, so goes the stock market. I don't have the exact figures handy, but I can assure you that if you review index gains over the last, say, five years, and remove the contribution of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google from the equation, you're looking at a chart that, best case, is flat as a pancake. As such, I don't think that the unfolding Madam Defarge (villainess of Tale of Two Cities, known most prominently for knitting at the guillotine) dynamic that I fear may be emerging in Tech-land is much cause for celebration.

The shortened week brought a small taste of the look and feel of the new-age vibe that awaits us. Equity indices retreated, but only modestly, and in manner that failed to capture the carnage that lies beneath. I may be connecting dots too far flung to merit they're linkage, but it is not lost on me that all of the above transpired against the backdrop of a deteriorating geopolitical sneaker fire (Nike?). I won't waste much space here, but between the editorial stylings of Anonymous, the absolute (if unsuccessful) effort to turn the Kavanaugh hearings into a pig circus, the breathless anticipation of another Bob Woodward political workover, and the unfortunate ramping up of trade skirmishes, it's hard not to look at the world with a glaze in one's eyes and a growing pit in one's stomach.

But of course and as always the news by no means all bad. The Jobs Report pretty much checks every bling box, so much so that slumbering holders of longer-term U.S. debt, and sold down some of their holdings. Factset is projecting another boffo quarter at about ~+20%.

Equities, though, remain a quandary nonetheless (as do Commodities), but my hunch is that the indices will gather themselves a bit over the next few sessions, before breaking everyone's heart – yet again -- later in the month. Moreover, if the months-long pattern holds (Trump offsetting domestic political bludgeons with accretive policy actions), I would expect some happy noise from the front of the trade wars over the next several days. There'd better be, because the long knives are out against the current administration, and the only defensive weapon at their disposal is one that involves playing offense on the economy.

I'm more than willing to do my share, so, as I sign off, know that I'm logging into my Amazon Prime account to purchase a holy document called "The Art of the Deal", along with "Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In", written by one Bernie Sanders, and released on November 15, 2016, exactly one week after the author of the former book, against all odds, won the presidential election.

Who knows? Maybe Donnie and Bernie have more common ground than they realize, and if I find anything of this sort, I'll be sure to pass it along – to them, and, of course, to you.

TIMSHEL

This post is brought to you by General Risk Advisors, a full service risk solutions group. For more information, visit genriskadvisors.com .

[Sep 07, 2018] Email Security Systems Miss Thousands of Malicious Links

Sep 07, 2018 | it.slashdot.org

(betanews.com) 45 Mimecast examined more than 142 million emails that had passed through organizations' email security vendors. The latest results reveal 203,000 malicious links within 10,072,682 emails were deemed safe by other security systems -- a ratio of one unstopped malicious link for every 50 emails inspected . The report also finds an 80 percent increase impersonation attacks in comparison to last quarters' figures. Additionally, 19,086,877 pieces of spam, 13,176 emails containing dangerous file types, and 15,656 malware attachments were all missed by these incumbent security providers and delivered to users' inboxes.

[Sep 07, 2018] Yahoo, Bucking Industry, Scans Emails for Data To Sell Advertisers

Sep 07, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

(wsj.com) 88 Yahoo still sees the practice as a potential gold mine . From a report: Yahoo's owner, the Oath unit of Verizon Communications has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain, searching for clues about what products those users might buy, said people who have attended Oath's presentations as well as current and former employees of the company. Oath said the practice extends to AOL Mail, which it also owns. Together, they constitute the only major U.S. email provider that scans user inboxes for marketing purposes.

[Sep 07, 2018] Google's $50 Titan Security Keys Are Now Available in the US

Sep 07, 2018 | it.slashdot.org

(engadget.com) 125 Google introduced its Titan Key -- a physical security key used for two-factor authentication -- and now it's widely available for purchase in the US through company's Google Store . Almost any modern browser and mobile device, as well as services such as Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce, Stripe support the Titan Key. It's Google's take on a Fast Identity Online key, a physical device used to authenticate logins over Bluetooth. From a report: For $50, you'll get a USB security key and a Bluetooth security key as well as a USB-C to USB-A adapter and a USB-C to USB-A connecting cable. What happens if you lose them? From a report: A downside of physical keys is that if lose them, you're toast. That's why you have two keys -- one is meant to be a backup. Google says it can help you gain access to your account again but the recovery process can take days. VentureBeat adds : It's not meant to compete with other FIDO keys on the market, stressed Sam Srinivas, product management director for information security at Google, during a press pre-briefing. Rather, it's "for customers who want security keys and trust Google," he said. Further reading: None of Google's 85,000 Employees Have Been Phished in More Than a Year After Company Required Them to Use Physical Security Keys For 2FA .

[Sep 04, 2018] The USA intelligence agencies push for elimination of Microsoft software in Russia and China

As soon as some idiot declare intention to prevail in cyberwarefare, the chances for Microsoft to survive in Rusia drop. the same is true about level of usage of Google, Facebook and other social sites controlled by the USA.
Sep 04, 2018 | nationalinterest.org
Prevailing in Today's Cyber Battlefield Requires Strategic Consensus

Eisenhower's Solarium Commission on the Soviet threat provides the best model to follow today.

by Annie Fixler Follow @afixler on Twitter L Tyler Stapleton Follow @Ty_D_Stapleton on Twitter L ,

In 1953, the United States stood at a precipice. After the death that year of Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin, senior U.S. cabinet officials could not agree on how to contain and confront Soviet expansion and aggression. So President Eisenhower devised an exercise to " analyze competing national strategies " to check the Soviets where possible and roll back their advances where feasible. The White House convened three teams of leading scholars and practitioners to analyze and craft distinct strategies so that the president could review the strongest arguments, reach consensus among his advisors, and determine the direction of U.S. policy. The exercise, Project Solarium , influenced U.S. national security policy for decades.

Sixty-five years later, this project is serving as the template for addressing a new challenge. The President this month signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 which created the Cyberspace Solarium Commission to forge consensus in the face of new and diverse threats in the cyber domain.

[Sep 03, 2018] The US Department of Homeland Security fabricated "intelligence reports" of Russian election hacking

Russiagate can be viewed as a pretty inventive way to justify their own existence for bloated Intelligence services: first CIA hacks something leaving traces of russians or Chinese; then the FBI, CIAand Department of Homeland security all enjoy additional money and people to counter the threat.
The scheme is almost untraceable
Sep 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
BM , Sep 3, 2018 12:54:15 PM | link

The US Department of Homeland Security fabricated "intelligence reports" of Russian election hacking in order to try to get control of the election infrastructure (probebly so that they can hack it more easily to control the election results).

How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

[Sep 03, 2018] Inspired by the Atlantic Council and Ben Nimmo, Facebook deletes Craig Murray's posts since July 2017 - apparently cause he's a 'Russian bot'

Sep 03, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk


Facebook has deleted all of my posts from July 2017 to last week because I am, apparently, a Russian Bot. For a while I could not add any new posts either, but we recently found a way around that, at least for now. To those of you tempted to say "So what?", I would point out that over two thirds of visitors to my website arrive via my posting of the articles to Facebook and Twitter. Social media outlets like this blog, which offer an alternative to MSM propaganda, are hugely at the mercy of these corporate gatekeepers.

Facebook's plunge into censorship is completely open and admitted, as is the fact it is operated for Facebook by the Atlantic Council - the extreme neo-con group part funded by NATO and whose board includes serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Heads Michael Hayden and Michael Morrell, and George Bush's chief of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff , among a whole list of horrors .

The staff are worse than the Board. Their lead expert on Russian bot detection is an obsessed nutter named Ben Nimmo, whose fragile grip on reality has been completely broken by his elevation to be the internet's Witchfinder-General. Nimmo, grandly titled "Senior Fellow for Information Defense at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab", is the go-to man for Establishment rubbishing of citizen journalists, and as with Joseph McCarthy or Matthew Clarke, one day society will sufficiently recover its balance for it to be generally acknowledged that this kind of witch-hunt nonsense was not just an aberration, but a manifestation of the evil it claimed to fight.

There is no Establishment cause Nimmo will not aid by labeling its opponents as Bots. This from the Herald newspaper two days ago, where Nimmo uncovers the secret web of Scottish Nationalist bots that dominate the internet, and had the temerity to question the stitch-up of Alex Salmond.

Nimmo's proof? 2,000 people had used the hashtag #Dissolvetheunion on a total of 10,000 tweets in a week. That's five tweets per person on average. In a week. Obviously a massive bot-plot, eh?

When Ben's great expose for the Herald was met with widespread ridicule , he doubled down on it by producing his evidence - a list of the top ten bots he had uncovered in this research. Except that they are almost all, to my certain knowledge, not bots but people . But do not decry Ben's fantastic forensic skills, for which NATO and the CIA fund the Atlantic Council. Ben's number one suspect was definitely a bot. He had got the evil kingpin. He had seen through its identity despite its cunning disguise. That disguise included its name, IsthisAB0T, and its profile, where it called itself a bot for retweets on Independence. Thank goodness for Ben Nimmo, or nobody would ever have seen through that evil, presumably Kremlin-hatched, plan.

No wonder the Atlantic Council advertise Nimmo and his team as " Digital Sherlocks ".

[Aug 29, 2018] How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

Notable quotes:
"... Special to Consortium News ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Washington Post. ..."
"... Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare ..."
"... If you valued this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one. ..."
Aug 29, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

August 28, 2018 • 9 Comments

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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 .

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David G , August 29, 2018 at 2:42 am

From yesterday's (8/28) NY Times, p. A19, Corrections:

"An article on Thursday [print edition; Wednesday web] about a suspected hacking of the Democratic National Committee misstated what cybersecurity officials said about hackers' efforts to gain access to the organization's voter database. The officials said the hackers *may* have sent so-called spearphishing emails to D.N.C. officials, not that they *did* send such emails."
[*emphasis added*]

Charming. But wait, there's more!

Unmentioned in this correction is that the entire original article was rendered nugatory the next day (i.e. last Thursday), when the Times reported that (oops), "[t]he suspected hacking attempt of the Democratic National Committee's voter database this week was a false alarm, and the unusual activity that raised concern was merely a test, party officials said on Thursday."

But while the original article – which had "Russia" sprinkled liberally throughout, despite no claim of a Russian connection to the alleged attempted hack being reported – appeared in the print edition (8/23), the follow-up saying the whole thing was just a mistake and never-mind was web-only. (This puts the Times's motto "All the news that's fit to print", if taken literally, in a curious new light.)

And (to repeat) the correction in yesterday's paper referred only to the original article on an alleged hacking attempt, not to the followup article saying it never happened.

And so it goes.

Craig , August 29, 2018 at 1:40 am

I had impression that they said that there was not found that voter sites had been hacked.
Has it not been great propaganda campaign?

Gen Dao , August 29, 2018 at 12:22 am

Another great report by Gareth Porter. It should be top news at NYT, WaPo, CNN, and MSNBC, but unfortunately it won't be, because all four have degenerated into military industrial surveillance state propaganda outlets. Russiagate is the biggest hoax since Iraqi WMDs and Remember the Maine! If we didn't have outstanding real journalists like Porter, we would probably be at war with Russia right now. What this article shows very clearly is that our electoral system is under constant assault from criminal elements and political cheaters. We need to be having a national conversation right now on eliminating all digital voting machines and switching to paper ballots, but any questioning of the present system would upset the present advanced state of voter electoral fraud in the US and those who profit from it. Blaming electoral corruption and cheating in the US on a foreign boogeyman such as Russia (soon it will probably be China) is pretty obviously a method of hiding the real, domestic sources of various kinds of US electoral wrongdoing and of ensuring that those sources, including the so-called deep state, will continue to be able to operate effectively. The Clinton wing of the Dem Party is not the only group that regards election rigging as a justifiable means to a "good" end. I look forward to Mr. Porter's further research.

Gary Weglarz , August 28, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Events in the physical world now are simply unimportant sidelights since – "reality" – as it is reported in media – is completely fabricated and concocted out of thin air within the very mediocre brains of the numbskulls fronting for this dying empire. Corruption is as corruption does – I think Forrest Gump's mother said that.

KiwiAntz , August 29, 2018 at 1:27 am

Forest Gump's Mama said " Stupid is, as stupid does"! Sounds like the perfect logo to describe the American Nation State? A stupid Nation run by stupider people!

Jeff Harrison , August 28, 2018 at 6:15 pm

Lies, Damned Lies, and Government press releases. The real question is how long it will take before the American people really refuse to take the government at its word and demand proof. One of the worst things that the regime in Washington can do is to make American citizens mistrustful of the government.

KiwiAntz , August 29, 2018 at 1:20 am

The American people are completely gaslighted beyond belief & "captured" by their corrupt Govt & Leaders, to such an extent, that they will not question or dispute their Govt's narratives? Never has a Nation's citizens been so successfully brainwashed, in all of human history, as the American people have been & the only comparison that can be found is how Hitler & the Nazi's successfully hoodwinked the german people! The exception here is the American citizens, who frequent this website & are awake to their Govt's gross corruption & immoral actions around the globe! The rest of the US populace is asleep & want to stay that way?

john wilson , August 29, 2018 at 2:20 am

Well, KiwiAntz, you're probably right, but I think the accolade for stupidity, idiocy and acquiesce goes to we British people. Sheep are one of the worlds most common agricultural animals and we've got lots of them over here in the UK.

Dr. Ip , August 29, 2018 at 2:57 am

Since when have American citizens NOT been mistrustful of the government?

[Aug 28, 2018] Goodbye to All That by Judith Coburn

Notable quotes:
"... After 40 years as a journalist for a variety of media outlets, none of them fake, ..."
"... Judith Coburn became a private eye, specializing in death-penalty cases and searches for people whom filmmakers and writers want to find for their movies and books. ..."
Aug 28, 2018 | www.unz.com

Now that we know we are surveilled 24/7 by the National Security Agency , the FBI, local police, Facebook , LinkedIn , Google, hackers, the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, data brokers, private spyware groups like Black Cube , and companies from which we've ordered swag on the Internet, is there still any "right to be forgotten," as the Europeans call it? Is there any privacy left, let alone a right to privacy ?

In a world in which most people reveal their intimate secrets voluntarily, posting them on social media and ignoring the pleas of security experts to protect their data with strong passwords -- don't use your birth date, your telephone number, or your dog's name -- shouldn't a private investigator, or PI, like me be as happy as a pig in shit? Certainly, the totalitarian rulers of the twentieth century would have been, if such feckless openness had been theirs to abuse.

As it happens, tech -- or surveillance capitalism -- has disrupted the private investigation business as much as it's ripped through journalism, the taxi business , war making, and so many other private and public parts of our world. And it's not only celebrities and presidential candidates whose privacy hackers have burned through. Israeli spyware can steal the contacts off your phone just as LinkedIn did to market itself to your friends. Google, the Associated Press reported recently , archives your location even when you've turned off your phone. Huge online database brokers like Tracers , TLO , and IRBsearch that law enforcement and private eyes like me use can trace your address, phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts, family members, neighbors, credit reports, the property you own, foreclosures or bankruptcies you've experienced, court judgments or liens against you, and criminal records you may have rolled up over the years.

Ten years ago, to subscribe to one of these databases, I had to show proof that I was indeed a licensed investigator and pass an on-site investigation to ensure that any data I downloaded would be protected. I was required to have a surveillance camera and burglar alarm on the building where my office was located, as well as a dead bolt on my office door, a locked filing cabinet, and double passwords to get into my computer. Now, most database brokers just require a PI or attorney license and you can sign right up online. Government records -- federal and state, civil and criminal -- are also increasingly online for anyone to access.

The authoritarian snoops of the last century would have drooled over the surveillance uses of the smartphones that most of us now carry. Smartphones have, in fact, become one of the primo law enforcement tools other than the Internet. "Find my iPhone" can even find a dead body -- if, that is, the victim left her iPhone on while being murdered. And don't get me started on the proliferation of surveillance cameras in our world.

Take me. I had a classic case that shows just how traceable we all now are. There was a dead body, a possible murder victim, but no direct evidence: no witnesses, no DNA, no fingerprints, and no murder weapon found. In San Francisco's East Bay, however, as in most big American cities, there are so many surveillance cameras mounted on mom-and-pop stores, people's houses, bars, cafes, hospitals, toll bridges, tunnels, even in parks, that the police can collect enough video, block by block, to effectively map a suspect driving around Oakland for hours before hitting the freeway and heading out to dump a body, just as the defendant in my case did.

Once upon a time, cops and dirty private eyes would have had to attach trackers to the undercarriages of cars to follow them electronically. No longer. The particular suspect I have in mind drove his victim's car across a bridge, where cameras videotaped the license plate but couldn't see inside the car; nor, he must have assumed, could anyone record him on the deserted road he finally reached where he was undoubtedly confident that he was safe. What he didn't notice was the CALFIRE video camera placed on that very road to monitor for brush fires. It caught a car's headlights matching his on its way to the site he had chosen to dump the body. There was no direct evidence of the murder he had committed, just circumstantial, tech-based evidence. A jury, however, convicted him in just a few hours.

A World of Tech Junkies

In our world of the unforgotten, tech is seen as a wonder of wonders. Juries love tech. Many jurors think tech is simply science and so beyond disbelief. As a result, they tend to react badly when experts are called as defense witnesses to disabuse them of their belief in tech's magic powers: that, for instance, cellphone calls don't always pinpoint exactly where someone was when he or she made a call. If too many signals are coming in to the closest tower to a cell phone, a suspect's calls may be rerouted to a more distant tower. Similarly, the FBI's computerized fingerprint index often makes mistakes in its matches, as do police labs when it comes to DNA samples. And facial recognition systems, the hottest new tech thing around (and spreading like wildfire across China ), may be the most unreliable of all, although that certainly hasn't stopped Amazon from marketing a surveillance camera with facial recognition abilities.

These days, it's hard to be a PI and not become a tech junkie. Some PIs use tech to probe tech, specializing, for example, in email investigations in big corporate cases in which they pore through thousands of emails. I recently asked a colleague what it was like. "It's great," he said. "You don't have to leave your office and for the first couple of weeks you entertain yourself finding out who's having affairs with whom and who's gunning for whom in the target's office, but after that it's unspeakably tedious and goes on for months, even years."

When I started out, undoubtedly having read too many Raymond Chandler and Sue Grafton novels, I thought that to be a real private eye I had to do the old-fashioned kind of surveillance where you actually follow someone in person. So I agreed to tail a deadbeat mom who claimed to be unemployed and wanted more alimony from her ex. She turned out to be a scofflaw driver, too, a regular runner of red lights. (Being behind her, I was the one who got the tickets, which I tried to bill on my expense report to no avail.) But tailing her turned out to make no difference, except to my bank account. Nor did tech. Court papers had already given us her phone and address but no job information. Finally, I found her moonlighting at a local government office. How? The no-tech way: simply by phoning an office where one of her relatives worked and asking for her. "Not in today," said the receptionist helpfully and I knew what I needed to know. It couldn't have been less dramatic or noir -ish.

These days, tech is so omnipresent and omnivorous that many lawyers think everything can be found on the Internet. Two lawyers working on a death-penalty appeal once came to see me about working on their case. There had been a murder at a gas station in Oakland 10 years earlier. Police reports from the time indicated that there was a notorious "trap house" where crack addicts were squatting across from the gas station. The lawyers wanted me to find and interview some of those addicts to discover whether they'd seen anything that night. It would be a quick job, they assured me. (Translation: they would pay me chump change.) I could just find them on the Internet.

I thought they were kidding. Crack addicts aren't exactly known for their Internet presence. (They may have cell phones, but they tend not to generate phone bills, rental leases, utility bills, school records, mortgages, or any of the other kinds of databases collect that you might normally rely on to find your quarry.) This was, I argued, an old-fashioned shoe-leather-style investigation: go to the gas station and the trap house (if it still existed), knock on doors to see if neighbors knew where the former drug addicts might now be: Dead? Still on that very street? Recovered and long gone?

In a world where high-tech is king, I didn't get the job and I doubt they found their witnesses either.

You'd think that, in a time when tech is the story of the day, month, and year and a presidential assistant is even taping without permission in the White House Situation Room, anything goes. But not for this aging PI. I mean, really, should I rush over to a belly-dancing class in Berkeley to see if some guy's fiancée and the teacher go back to her motel together? (No.) Should I break into an ex-lover's house to steal memos she'd written to get him fired? (Are you kidding?) Should I eavesdrop on a phone call in which a wife is trying to get her husband to admit that he battered her? (Not in California, where the law requires permission from every party in a phone call to be on the line, thereby wiping out such eavesdropping as an investigative tool -- only cops with a warrant being exempt.)

I certainly know PIs who would take such cases and I'm not exactly squeaky clean myself. After all, as a journalist working for Ramparts magazine back in the 1960s, I broke into the basement of the National Student Association (with another reporter) to steal files showing that the group's leaders were working for the CIA and that the agency actually owned the very building they occupied. In a similar fashion, on a marginally legal peep-and-trespass in those same years, another reporter and I crawled through bushes on the grounds of a VA Hospital in Maryland where we had been told that we could find a replica of a Vietnamese village being used to train American assassins in the CIA's Phoenix program . That so-called pacification program would, in the end, kill more than 26,000 Vietnamese civilians. We found the "village," secretly watched some of the training, and filed the first piece about that infamously murderous program for New York's Village Voice .

Those ops were, however, in the service of a higher ideal, much like smartphone videographers today who shoot police violence. But most of surveillance capitalism is really about making sure that no one in our new world can ever be forgotten. PIs chasing perps in divorce cases are a small but tawdry part of just that. But what about, to take an extreme case in which the sleazy meets the new tech world big time, the FBI's pursuit of lovers of kiddy porn, which I learned something about by taking such a case? The FBI emails a link to a fake website that it's created to all the contacts a known child pornographer has on his computer or phone. It has the kind of bland come-on pornographers tend to use. If you click on that link, you get a menu advertising yet more links to photos with titles like "my 4-year-old daughter taking a bath." Click on any of those links and you'll be anything but forgotten. The FBI will be at your door with cuffs within days.

Does someone who devours child porn have a right to be forgotten? Maybe you don't think so, but what about the rest of us? Do we? It's hardly a question anymore.

The Good and Ugly Gotchas of This Era

When all the surveillance techniques on those information databases work, it's like three lemons lining up on a one-armed bandit. Recently, for instance, a California filmmaker called me, desperate. She was producing a movie about the first Nepalese woman to climb Mount Everest. Her team had indeed reached the summit, but were buried in an avalanche on the way down with only one survivor. The filmmaker wanted to find that man.

Could I do so? She didn't have enough money to send me to Nepal. (Rats!) But couldn't I find him on the Internet? His name, she told me, was Pemba Sherpa. What's his family name, I asked? That's when I found out that "sherpa" isn't just a Western term for Nepalese who guide people up mountains; it's the surname of many Nepalese. Great! That's like asking me to find John Smith with no birthdate, social security number, address, or even the Nepalese equivalent of the state where he lives. In my mind's eye, I could instantly see my database search coming up with the always frustrating "your search criteria resulted in too many records found." I also had my doubts that, despite the globalization of our tech world, most Nepalese were on the Internet.

Amazingly, however, checking out "sherpas," I promptly found a single Pemba in my search, unfortunately with -- the bane of a PI's life -- not another piece of information.

Okay, Google, I thought, it's all yours. No Pemba on the first five pages of my search there. (Groan.) But it was late at night and I was feeling obsessive, so I kept going. (Note to home investigators: don't give up on Google after those first few pages.) From earlier research, I had discovered that one of the main Nepalese communities outside that country was in Portland, Oregon, where many mountaineering companies are also based. On maybe my 28th Google page, I suddenly saw a link to a Portland alternative newspaper story from the mid-1990s. (Who was even scanning in such articles back then?)

I clicked on it. The piece was about a Portland Pemba Sherpa who had gone back to his native village to help its inhabitants get electricity. The article went on to say that he had left Nepal "because too many of his friends had died on the mountain." Hmmm. It also reported that he was married to a mathematics teacher at a Portland community college.

We're talking about a more-than-20-year-old article! Still, the next morning I doggedly called the college and yes, his wife was teaching math there. I was patched through to the math department where, yes again, the wife picked up and, yes, her husband was the sole survivor of that climb, and she was sure he'd want to be interviewed for the movie.

Bingo! The actual wonders of the Internet and a heartwarming story about someone who needed to be found. Finding an ancient nanny to invite to the wedding of a guy she had raised -- after they had been out of contact for decades -- proved a similarly happy search. But that's rare. The question, not just for PIs but for all of us, is this: Should everyone be so track down-able, even if they don't wish to be? Some investigators, in the spirit of the moment, think that if there's an unknowable about anyone, it should be uncovered. The journalist who outed novelist Elsa Ferrante really thought he'd done something, but it was just another in an increasing number of mean-spirited gotchas of our era.

Why do people need privacy anyway? The freedom and community that Internet utopians promised us has led instead to the scraping open of our lives by law enforcement, social media, hackers, marketers, and the world's governments. Now we're left largely to our own devices when it comes to what little we can do about it and the global surveillance culture that it's enmeshed all of us in.

Back in the late 1960s, Erwin Knoll, editor of the Progressive magazine, made President Richard Nixon's enemy list. That qualified him to be wiretapped by the FBI, so he asked his wife Doris to call female friends every day and discourse on grisly gynecological matters to disturb the listening agents (mostly male in those days). Erwin wondered if they wouldn't think it was some kind of code.

Alexa ! I just got back from my gynecologist and

After 40 years as a journalist for a variety of media outlets, none of them fake, TomDispatch regular Judith Coburn became a private eye, specializing in death-penalty cases and searches for people whom filmmakers and writers want to find for their movies and books.

[Aug 24, 2018] Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives

Notable quotes:
"... The boundaries for paranoia are moving rapidly. Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives. ..."
"... Inertia, or even misplaced patriotism over US corporations like Facebook, is the road to hell. ..."
"... The Second Amendment make specific provision for the people's right to prevent tyranny by their government in the material world. So far, the Constitution lacks a similar provision preventing government tyranny in cyberspace. This does not mean that defense of this right should be fought for any less vigorously and in the 21st century I'd consider it at least as important. ..."
"... Zuck and his ilk Sandberg are doing CYA and using those who have contacts inside the beltway. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | disqus.com

Barbara Ann 16 hours ago

Is there something wrong with this picture, or am I just being overly suspicious or even paranoid?

No, just "inauthentic".

The boundaries for paranoia are moving rapidly. Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives. I truly fear for SST in this fast-deteriorating environment. If Trump's presidency does nothing else but bring the thought-control swamp to the attention of the masses, he will have done his country a great service.

RaisingMac has the right idea.

Rights waste away unless frequently exercised and 'voting' to switch to less censorious platforms is a vital part of defending the right to free speech. Inertia, or even misplaced patriotism over US corporations like Facebook, is the road to hell.

The Second Amendment make specific provision for the people's right to prevent tyranny by their government in the material world. So far, the Constitution lacks a similar provision preventing government tyranny in cyberspace. This does not mean that defense of this right should be fought for any less vigorously and in the 21st century I'd consider it at least as important.

Pat Lang Mod Barbara Ann 11 hours ago ,

I, too, fear for SST. If there is silence one day it will be a case of "dead key" one way or another.

The Beaver 18 hours ago ,

Harper

Did you see this one also?

FireEye's tip eventually led Facebook to remove 652 fake accounts and pages. And Liberty Front Press, the common thread among much of that sham activity, was linked to state media in Iran, Facebook said on Tuesday.

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Zuck and his ilk Sandberg are doing CYA and using those who have contacts inside the beltway.

[Aug 22, 2018] Facebook Kills "Inauthentic" Foreign News Accounts - US Propaganda Stays Alive

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Internet Research Agency ..."
"... The anti-Russian mania in U.S. politics gives social media companies a welcome excuse to clamp down on promotional schemes for sites like Liberty Front Press by claiming that these are disinformation campaigns run by the U.S. enemy of the day . ..."
"... Moon of Alabama ..."
"... Moon of Alabama ..."
"... Well this surely shows that Facebook/Twitter is run through the help of US/Western intelligence ..."
"... Sorry, but, if you let any opinion on Facebook or Twitter sway your politics, you're an idiot. ..."
"... fireEye, google, yahoo, facebook and so many other tech companies are all in a few miles radius of one another in San Jose area of California ..."
"... In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted -- what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. ..."
"... Blogs today represent yesterday's broadsheets, and by using social media, they can increase their exposure to a wider audience. Thus, social media represents a point-of-control for those trying to shape/frame discourse/content. They may be private companies, but they interact with public discourse and ought to be subjected to Free Speech controls like the USA's 1st Amendment. ..."
"... Very many hi-tech companies in the US are working with the CIA. Such as Oracle that has an office on the east coast of the US that keeps a very low profile inside the company. ..."
"... Robert Bridge provides us with a timely written article dealing with the issue at hand: "And if US intel is in bed with Hollywood you can be damn sure they're spending time in the MSM whorehouse as well." ..."
"... IMHO, it would be foolish to presume that the CIA would simply discontinue and to walk away from (as it claims!) a program like Operation Mockingbird. Government agencies have famously infiltrated the Quakers (ferchrissakes!). Facebook was funded and developed by a CIA front shop. Zuckerburg is a dopey kid and a frontispiece. ..."
"... The danger of course is when people start to conclude that any media site permitted by FB or SM is Sanctioned by the Propaganda department of the Ministry of Truth and ignored. ..."
"... Trump would be hailed a savior if he were to morph into President Taft and Bust the Trusts like BigLie Media, its allied telecoms and social media corps. ..."
"... As to a lack authenticity, what about the tweets from outside Egypt pushing and reporting on the "Arab Spring" protests there. We have other examples of "inauthentic" social messaging on other agendas pushed like Syria. What about "A Gay Girl in Damascus?" ..."
"... who still uses facebook? The only people i know who still are active users are senior citizens. ..."
Aug 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The creation of digital content led to the re-establishment of claqueurs :

By 1830 the claque had become an institution. The manager of a theatre or opera house was able to send an order for any number of claqueurs. These were usually under a chef de claque (leader of applause), who judged where the efforts of the claqueurs were needed and to initiate the demonstration of approval. This could take several forms. There would be commissaires ("officers/commissioner") who learned the piece by heart and called the attention of their neighbors to its good points between the acts. Rieurs (laughers) laughed loudly at the jokes. Pleureurs (criers), generally women, feigned tears, by holding their handkerchiefs to their eyes. Chatouilleurs (ticklers) kept the audience in a good humor, while bisseurs (encore-ers) simply clapped and cried "Bis! Bis!" to request encores.

Today anyone can create content and rent or buy virtual claqueurs in from of "likes" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter to increase its distribution.

An alternative is to create artificial social media personas who then promote ones content. That is what the Internet Research Agency , the Russian "troll factory" from St. Petersburg, did. The fake personas it established on Facebook promoted IRA created clickbait content like puppy picture pages that was then marketed to sell advertisements .

The profit orientated social media giants do not like such third party promotions. They prefer that people pay THEM to promote their content. Selling advertisements is Facebook's business. Promotional accounts on its own platform are competition.

The anti-Russian mania in U.S. politics gives social media companies a welcome excuse to clamp down on promotional schemes for sites like Liberty Front Press by claiming that these are disinformation campaigns run by the U.S. enemy of the day .

Yesterday Facebook announced that it deleted a number of user accounts for "inauthentic behavior":

We've removed 652 Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US. FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, gave us a tip in July about "Liberty Front Press," a network of Facebook Pages as well as accounts on other online services.
...
We are able to link this network to Iranian state media through publicly available website registration information, as well as the use of related IP addresses and Facebook Pages sharing the same admins. For example, one part of the network, "Quest 4 Truth," claims to be an independent Iranian media organization, but is in fact linked to Press TV, an English-language news network affiliated with Iranian state media.
The FireEye report Facebook acted on notes:
FireEye has identified a suspected influence operation that appears to originate from Iran aimed at audiences in the U.S., U.K., Latin America, and the Middle East. This operation is leveraging a network of inauthentic news sites and clusters of associated accounts across multiple social media platforms to promote political narratives in line with Iranian interests. These narratives include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran, such as the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) .
...
Based on an investigation by FireEye Intelligence's Information Operations analysis team, we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors.

The evidence FireEye presents is quite thin. The purpose of its inquest and report is obviously self-promotion.

Moon of Alabama is also promoting anti-Saudi , anti-Israeli , and pro-Palestinian themes. It supports the JCPOA deal. This is, according to FireEye, "in line with Iranian interests". It may well be. But does that make Moon of Alabama a "suspected influence operation"? Is it an "inauthentic news site"?

Is the @MoonofA Twitter account showing "coordinated inauthentic behavior" when it promotes the pieces presented on this site? We, by the way, assess with high confidence that that this activity originates from a German actor. Is that a reason to shut it down?

Who will shut down the tons of "inauthentic" accounts U.S. spies , the British military and Israeli propaganda organisations run?

Here is another high confidence tip for FireEye. There is proof, and even an admission of guilt, that a hostile government financed broadcasting organization is creating inauthentic Facebook accounts to disseminate disinformation. These narratives include anti-Russian, anti-Syrian, and pro-Saudi views, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Israel, such as its financing of the anti-Iranian headscarf campaign .

This year the U.S. government run Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will spend more than $23 million for its Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). OCB administers Radio and Television (TV) Martí programs directed at the Cuban public. In its 2019 budget request to Congress (pdf) the BBG admits that it creates inauthentic Facebook accounts to increase the distribution of its dreck:

In FY 2018, OCB is establishing on island digital teams to create non-branded local Facebook accounts to disseminate information . Native pages increase the chances of appearing on Cuban Facebook users newsfeeds. The same strategy will be replicated on other preferred social media networks.

How is this different from what the PressTV may have done? When will Facebook shut those inauthentic BBG accounts down?


---
h/t to Left I on the News

Comments


jo6pac , Aug 22, 2018 1:31:58 PM | 1

The truth hurts the 1%

Thanks b

librul , Aug 22, 2018 1:48:13 PM | 2

Before most of us had ever heard of "Putin's Chef", the Pentagon was bragging publicly that it was using Facebook click-bait for propaganda.

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/09/analysts-are-quitting-state-departments-anti-propaganda-team/140936/

At the Defense One Summit last November [2016], former GEC director Michael Lumpkin [GEC, Pentagon propaganda department] described how the Center was using the data it received as a Facebook advertiser to maximize the effectiveness of its own targeted appeals.

"Using Facebook ads, I can go within Facebook, I can go grab an audience, I can pick Country X, I need age group 13 to 34, I need people who have liked -- whether it's Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi or any other set -- I can shoot and hit them directly with messaging," Lumpkin said. He emphasized that with the right data, effective message targeting could be done for "pennies a click."

Chipnik , Aug 22, 2018 1:50:52 PM | 4
Ironically, when I created a FB page hangout for my foreign students to disseminate topical educational materials that were freely available as PDF links, or free 'loss-leader' lessons from for-profits, or Khan Academy free lesson links ... in other words, organizing a docent-guided free education feed for terribly poor 3W students ...

FB informed me that this was an 'illegal' business activity, lol. They shut it down with *zero* warning. One moment it was a beautiful colorful uplifting education resource, the next it was burnt to ashes. 404.

ATM, on an Anony FB page I launched to reconnect with my students, after a couple ill-advised comments to their thread posts, discussing what's *really* going on in the world, FB has blocked any posts that I might want to make. They just never show up when I hit enter. Like training a bad puppy, lol. All FB lets me do is 'like' or emoji or 'wave' to my students, so it's a semaphore that I still exist, even in FB lockup.

But I think I'll stop. It's bread-crumbing them to FBs candy-cane house and the boiling cauldron that awaits. Frog in a Pot!

Ianovskii , Aug 22, 2018 2:16:03 PM | 5
Regarding 4:

Chipnik, Open a VK account and invite your students! No more censorship!

Bart Hansen , Aug 22, 2018 2:30:32 PM | 7
"...we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors." Jeez, can't they at least produce a "highly likely" for us? On the intelligence community's confidence scale, "moderate" has to be just above "wishful" and "doubtful"
fastfreddy , Aug 22, 2018 2:32:46 PM | 8
One of the tricks of corporate propaganda: Often, when exposed to capitalist propaganda, a socialist gets the impression that he can have the best of both worlds! - the perceived benefits of capitalism as he keeps his beloved social benefits.

It isn't until some time after the bmobing has stopped, that he realizes that he has lost ALL his former social benefits and what he has thereafter is hard capitalism and no money.

Zanon , Aug 22, 2018 2:45:53 PM | 9
Well this surely shows that Facebook/Twitter is run through the help of US/Western intelligence. Only way is to fight back or you will eventually have fines and end up in jail for thoughtcrimes.

This site and us here commenting is of course already targeted by these scums, besides, sites like this will certainly be shut down sooner or later.

Remember Facebook also attacked Venezuela recently, "Why Did Facebook Purge TeleSUR English?"

TeleSUR English is a rare voice of dissent to US foreign policy. Is that why Facebook deleted its page?
https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Why-Did-Facebook-Purge-TeleSUR-English-20180816-0016.html
ben , Aug 22, 2018 2:47:13 PM | 10
Sorry, but, if you let any opinion on Facebook or Twitter sway your politics, you're an idiot. At the very least, naive to a fault.

Claqueurs is a new word for me b, thanks for the education.

Zanon , Aug 22, 2018 2:49:46 PM | 11
ben

Its not facebook itself this is about but views, freedom of speech itself - that is what being attacked.

james , Aug 22, 2018 3:20:48 PM | 12
b.. thanks... your first paragraph giving context to how the public was swayed going back close to 200 years ago was very interesting..

The usa gov't has something to sell and something to buy.. fireEye, google, yahoo, facebook and so many other tech companies are all in a few miles radius of one another in San Jose area of California.. If Russia was to bomb somewhere in the usa - that would be one good place to start!

They are all selling to the usa gov't at this point... the usa devotes so much to propaganda and these corps all try to peddle the needed tools to keep the fearmongering going, when they're not snooping of course! hey - they can do both - snoop and sell!!

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 3:31:39 PM | 14
Long ago before the Hydrocarbon Epoch, the Broadsheet was your typical newscast assembled by the local printer who was often reporter and editor, and even in small towns there was competition, with readers of news gathering in coffee shops to discuss their contents. The vociferousness of many publications was extreme, but as Jefferson observed in the 1790s, easily disproved hyperbole was far more desirable than censorship -- people were deemed capable of determining a publication's veracity for themselves and thus their success or failure would be determined by the marketplace of ideas.

In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted -- what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. With the advent of the personal computer and internet, ease of publishing exploded, which presented elites determined to control the overall discourse with a huge problem they are still grappling with. One of the aims of the Independent Media Center on its founding in 1999 was to turn every activist into a reporter and every computer into a printing press with contents published collectively at regional Media Centers. Unfortunately, after a promising first several years, the nascent movement failed and remains in dormancy, being mostly replaced by personal blogs.

Blogs today represent yesterday's broadsheets, and by using social media, they can increase their exposure to a wider audience. Thus, social media represents a point-of-control for those trying to shape/frame discourse/content. They may be private companies, but they interact with public discourse and ought to be subjected to Free Speech controls like the USA's 1st Amendment.

AriusArmenian , Aug 22, 2018 4:30:10 PM | 15
Very many hi-tech companies in the US are working with the CIA. Such as Oracle that has an office on the east coast of the US that keeps a very low profile inside the company. In fact the first contract that launched the company was a contract with the CIA to implement the IBM SQL standard. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone here why the CIA would use a relational database (have to keep all those subversive secret ops in order). Similar connection to CIA for Google, Facebook, Symantec, etc.

If you are using US software (very likely) then assume CIA and NSA back-doors. Some solutions are to use Linux and VPNs, and Yandex for cloud storage. Get away from US software.

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 5:13:35 PM | 17
Robert Bridge provides us with a timely written article dealing with the issue at hand: "And if US intel is in bed with Hollywood you can be damn sure they're spending time in the MSM whorehouse as well."
karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 5:28:53 PM | 18
Sorry, should have included this in 17. As many know, Caitlin Johnstone, a Truth Seeker par excellence, has also been censored, but prior to that wrote this essay on the subject at hand, which is all about manufacturing consent as she sees it:

"This is a setup. Hit the soft target so your oligarch-friendly censorship doesn't look like what it is, then once you've manufactured consent, go on to shut down the rest of dissenting media bit by bit."

This is a US government ordered setup supported by the evidence she presents in her intro, but not by Trump!

fast freddy , Aug 22, 2018 5:53:49 PM | 20
IMHO, it would be foolish to presume that the CIA would simply discontinue and to walk away from (as it claims!) a program like Operation Mockingbird. Government agencies have famously infiltrated the Quakers (ferchrissakes!). Facebook was funded and developed by a CIA front shop. Zuckerburg is a dopey kid and a frontispiece.
Pft , Aug 22, 2018 7:06:53 PM | 22
The danger of course is when people start to conclude that any media site permitted by FB or SM is Sanctioned by the Propaganda department of the Ministry of Truth and ignored. Then these few truthful media sites that are unbanned will need to beg these social media giants to ban them so as to restablish credibility. FB and SM will then need to ban a few controlled MSM sites so people will believe they are credible and read the propaganda

I guess we are not there yet, or are we? I do not use FB or other SM for news or anything else, although I do occasionally click on links to them from a web page, but I guess a lot of people do. Maybe that will change.

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 7:13:05 PM | 23
The battle over Net Neutrality is related to this. Recently, Verizon blackmailed a California fire department engaged in fighting the state's largest ever wildfire by throttling its data feed thus threatening public safety for a Few Dollars More.

Trump would be hailed a savior if he were to morph into President Taft and Bust the Trusts like BigLie Media, its allied telecoms and social media corps.

Curtis , Aug 22, 2018 7:21:01 PM | 24
Claqueurs. One of the earliest versions of the annoying "laugh track" used in television. Like Ben 10, I learned something new today.

As to a lack authenticity, what about the tweets from outside Egypt pushing and reporting on the "Arab Spring" protests there. We have other examples of "inauthentic" social messaging on other agendas pushed like Syria. What about "A Gay Girl in Damascus?"

As usual, thanks for pointing out the hypocrisy of US govt/media.

pB , Aug 22, 2018 8:41:56 PM | 25
who still uses facebook? The only people i know who still are active users are senior citizens.

[Aug 15, 2018] Facebook Taps Militarist Think Tank Atlantic Council to Police its content

Russiagate has deepened the partnership between Washington and Silicon Valley, and leftist websites are among the first casualties.
Notable quotes:
"... America has a real problem here with accomplishing its goals – which it is obviously achieving, the silencing of legitimate dissent and the prioritization of the national-security narrative – while simultaneously advertising itself as the center of what the evildoers hate for its freedoms. ..."
"... Americans, and everyone who uses their services, are increasingly regulated in everything they do and say, extending now to what you are allowed to see and hear. Actual freedom is dwindling away to a pinpoint, and what the government wants every election cycle is more cops, more law and order and more security. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | gravatar.com

Warren , August 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZJUjSBXU5iY?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

TheRealNews
Published on 11 Aug 2018
From Alex Jones to alleged Russian trolls, major internet companies are increasingly policing content on their platforms. Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone Project says the partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council highlights "the merger of the national security state and Silicon Valley."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TFXQFI8KiWA?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

TheRealNews, Published on 11 Aug 2018

Russiagate has deepened the partnership between Washington and Silicon Valley, and leftist websites are among the first casualties. After falsely accusing an anti-white supremacist rally event page of being a fake, Facebook shut down the page of VenezuelaAnalysis.com for several hours without explanation. We speak to VA founder and TRNN host Greg Wilpert, as well as the Grayzone Project's Max Blumenthal

kirill says: August 11, 2018 at 8:59 pm
Western "freedom" of expression in action. I find it interesting how the voices of a few heretics are supposedly some big threat to NATzO. That would indicate that NATzO is not quite the bastion of democracy it paints itself to be. It is unstable because it is based on lies and heretics can initiate the crashing of the facade. But if this is indeed the case, then NATzO is on its way out since no amount of repression of dissidents will change the fundamental inconsistency of its existence.

Mark Chapman says: August 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

America has a real problem here with accomplishing its goals – which it is obviously achieving, the silencing of legitimate dissent and the prioritization of the national-security narrative – while simultaneously advertising itself as the center of what the evildoers hate for its freedoms.

Americans, and everyone who uses their services, are increasingly regulated in everything they do and say, extending now to what you are allowed to see and hear. Actual freedom is dwindling away to a pinpoint, and what the government wants every election cycle is more cops, more law and order and more security.

[Aug 14, 2018] Try track me after that, google.

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Automatic Choke -> johngaltfla Mon, 08/13/2018 - 19:01 Permalink

1) remove the smartphone battery

2) smash the smartphone with a hammer

3) burn the pieces of the smartphone

4) leave the ashes at home when you are out and about

Try and track THAT, google.

[Aug 14, 2018] I am sure the tracking your movements all the time it s just a harmless oversight on the part of Google.

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

spanish inquisition Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:28 Permalink

I am sure it's just a harmless oversight.

Kefeer -> Clock Crasher Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:38 Permalink

Hammer it and remove all EMF's. An old microwave over works as a Faraday cage. Also; if you take a cell phone and wrap it in just a layer or two of aluminum foil; it will not make or receive calls.

beemasters -> Kefeer Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

Or just carry a dummy phone to make yourself look important. In today's world, perception is it.

Giant Meteor -> beemasters Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

Good point. Save alot of shekkels too. Why just the other day I was standing in grocery line having an imaginary conversation with my imaginary broker, on my fake phone! The conversation became quite heated. It was all going swell until I ran into the door on my way out, fell over backwards, spilt the milk carton, and crushed a dozen eggs. No one even noticed ..

cougar_w -> beemasters Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

They don't need GPS to know where you are, cell towers report the same information to good enough accuracy for most uses. When Google is tracking you, that is how they are doing it usually.

JoeTurner Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:30 Permalink

The East German Stasi only wish they could be like Google...

Socratic Dog -> Grandad Grumps Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:13 Permalink

OSMand replaces google maps very nicely, and works perfectly fine completely off line (by GPS). It also doesn't have to allow google to update its maps every 30 days to keep it working, download maps for anywhere in the world and just use them.

Lineage OS is a replacement for Android OS. I've had it in 2 phones so far, quite content with it. Open source, so lots of eyes on it to make sure this sort of shit isn't happening. You can minimize or completely eliminate the google presence, your choice.

Whether some deep-down shit is tracking me, I have no idea. I assume it is, and act accordingly.

Oldguy05 -> Socratic Dog Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

Deep-down, it's all shit!

valjoux7750 -> Socratic Dog Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

Love to try lineage but I'm on Verizon and their phones since the note 5 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:

  • Your apps from the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store
  • Your extensions from the Chrome Web Store
  • The browser settings you've changed in Chrome
  • Email addresses, addresses and phone numbers you've set to autofill in Chrome
  • All the website addresses you've ever entered in the address bar
  • The pages you have bookmarked in Chrome
  • All the passwords you've asked Chrome to save for you
  • A list of sites you've told Chrome not to save passwords for
  • All the Chrome tabs that are open across your devices
  • The number of Gmail conversations you've had
  • How many Google searches you've made this month

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

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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

  • Keith Harbaugh , 4 days ago

    [Hayden] is another legacy of George W. Bush, who appointed this buffoon to the CIA and the NSA.

    Actually, Hayden was initially a Bill Clinton appointee (in 1999), before his reappointment by Bush.
    Further, he was not merely appointed, but appointed out of order. Hayden was the second consecutive USAF DIRNSA.
    Here is the list of DIRNSA's (I have attempted to show some sort of pattern in the appointments):
    USA (Canine), USAF (Samford), USN (Frost),
    USAF (Blake), USA (Carter), USN (Gayler),
    USAF (Phillips), USAF (Allen (Phillips only served 2 years before he got kicked upstairs to run the USAF Systems Command)), USN (Inman),
    USAF (Faurer), USA (Odom),
    USN (Studeman), USN (McConnell),
    USAF (Minihan), USAF (Hayden),
    USA (Alexander), USN (Rogers), USA (Nakasone).

    So the question is: Why did Clinton pick Hayden in 1999, rather than an Army general?
    I read a profile of Hayden in WaPo where he was depicted as doing the cooking in the family.
    Maybe that endeared him to the Clinton administration decision-makers.
    And, if I recall correctly, in his memoir Playing to the Edge , he writes of his work to advance the careers of women.
    No doubt a real plus in some administrations.

    Keith Harbaugh -> Keith Harbaugh , 3 days ago
    As a point of information, WaPo has a pretty extensive profile of Hayden (but not the one I remember) here:
    "Test of Strength"
    by Vernon Loeb (who IMO was a quite good reporter on the IC),
    WaPo , 2001-07-29 (i.e, before 9/11)
    It goes into some detail on why and how Hayden transformed the NSA.
    BTW, back in the 1970s NSA was divided into groups, A, B, G, S, R, T, ....
    Some were mission-specific, some were function-specific.
    Somewhat of a matrix organization.
    Evidently that organization was deemed inadequate.

    Let me bring up another issue here:
    Compartmentation versus information-sharing.
    In those days compartmentation was quite strict.
    People walked around with metal tags attached to their lanyards,
    showing which compartments they had been read into,
    and thus which parts of the building they could enter.

    The 9/11 report faulted such compartmentalization, calling it "stovepipes".
    So now we Snowden, say, having access to a vast area of information.
    I wonder if it was a bad decision to break down the compartments,
    and if the old days of compartmentation should be restored.

    Pat Lang Mod -> Keith Harbaugh , 4 days ago
    Among the array of nasty USAF intelligence generals I dealt with as an SES in DIA I don't remember Haydon at all. They tended to be filled with animus against the Army and determined to take over all joint organizations. Maybe he cooked at backyard parties?
    TTG -> Pat Lang , 4 days ago
    Hayden transformed the NSA when he was there. He moved it from just sucking signals out of the air to vacuuming up all manner of digital information. It was a needed and successful transformation. Of course it also led to the excessive collection of US communications.
    Publius Tacitus -> TTG , 3 days ago
    Right. Just ask Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, Ed Loomis and Thomas Drake about how Hayden "transformed" the NSA. He's a corrupt bastard in my book more keen on playing politics than doing the right thing.

[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.

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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:

  • Tools code named " Marble " can misdirect forensic investigators from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to their agency by inserted code fragments in foreign languages. The tool was in use as recently as 2016. Per the WikiLeaks release:

"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."

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  • iPads / iPhones / Android devices and Smart TV's are all susceptible to hacks and malware. The agency's "Dark Matter" project reveals that the CIA has been bugging "factory fresh" iPhones since at least 2008 through suppliers. Another, " Sonic Screwdriver " allows the CIA to execute code on a Mac laptop or desktop while it's booting up.

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  • The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell's 1984, but "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB) , which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.
  • The Obama administration promised to disclose all serious vulnerabilities they found to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers. The US Government broke that commitment.

"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.

  • Instant messaging encryption is a joke.

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.

  • The CIA laughs at Anti-Virus / Anti-Malware programs.

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?

GreenPin

Amazing how they justify their destructive behaviour in a way as they are serving America people and doing good around the wold. You can sugar count your crimes against humanity as much as you can, but the reality of today' human misery speaks for itself.

waterbearer

since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence

XXX

interesting, but begs the question "Can we really trust what this guy tells us?" If not, what parts can we trust, and what parts can't we?

XXX

You'd have to deconstruct his talking points and I don't know how that is done. Intelligence probably knows how to do that. I noticed he was becoming more zealous on hegemony and exceptionalism as the interview neared the end.

I agree. Bernsten is almost like-ably energetic, but he is, in the end, an uncompromising warrior of the empire.

XXX

if Trump is to be controlled--they gotta have some dirt--or threat against his family --it's how they operate---

XXX

Mr. Berntsen left out the very important NSC10/2 legislation, which gave the CIA free reign with deniability as the cover. This needs to be repealed. With this legislation, the CIA answers to no one, and goes around the world wrecking havoc with the governments and people where they like. We will never have peace until that legislation is repealed.

XXX

This is why interesting books to read about the history of the CIA.

  • The Dulles brothers,
  • David Talbot: The Devil's Chessboard,
  • Fletcher Prouty: The Secret Team.

XXX

I applaud former CIA and FBI Gary Bernstein for speaking out on the most powerful intelligence networks on the planet regarding their surveillance activities. Every nation needs intelligence to safeguard but if we go beyond the call of duty and get exposed .this leaves Pres Trump and his Adm with no option but to consider corrective measures with a visit to Langley etc.. Here again the failures of Liberalism are coming up in the wash for cleaning up.

XXX

Liberalism has not been running the country for the last 54 years. We have been under a coup government and just got used to it.

[Jun 01, 2018] Google Abandons Pentagon's AI-Drone 'Project Maven' After Employee Revolt Zero Hedge

Jun 01, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Just two weeks after around a dozen Google employees quit and close to 4,000 signed a petition over the company's involvement in a controversial military pilot program known as "Project Maven" - which will use artificial intelligence to speed up analysis of drone footage - Buzzfeed reports that Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene told employees during an internal meeting that the tech company was "not following through" on Maven .

As a reminder, Project Maven was to use machine learning to identify vehicles and other objects from drone footage - with the ultimate goal of enabling the automated detection and identification of objects in up to 38 categories - including the ability to track individuals as they come and go from different locations.

Project Maven's objective, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. "Jack" Shanahan, director for Defense Intelligence for Warfighter Support in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, " is to turn the enormous volume of data available to DoD into actionable intelligence and insights. " - DoD


greenskeeper carl -> vato poco Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:50 Permalink

Well, good for those employees. An computer program figuring out targets to kill? No thanks, I've seen that movie before, several of them.

This does make sense from the pentagon's point of view, though. Drone pilots constantly burning out and having substance abuse problems because of the things they do from the air is bad for business. Just put a computer program in charge, solves that problem. Plus, you don't have to worry about the computer program talking to the media or giving remorseful interviews about the kids they've killed, etc.

toady -> greenskeeper carl Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:50 Permalink

Remember "don't be evil"?

Neither do they.

Rapunzal -> toady Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:57 Permalink

Just a joke, they never quit. It's just a whitewash by the MSM. So we can believe in an honest system.

ClickNLook -> ACP Fri, 06/01/2018 - 19:43 Permalink

How exactly have they "revolted"?

Did they throw their custom coffee drinks on the floor, talked in squeaky voices to each other, raised their hands in anger, made some incoherent threats toward management in their private conversations, scotched a few more Dilbert cartoons on the outer walls of their cubicles? This kind of revolt?

beemasters -> greenskeeper carl Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:50 Permalink

Google employees rock.
I doubt the management will risk it by doing it secretly. But the military might find ways to reverse engineer whatever Google produces. If they get caught and have to pay damages...hey, it's taxpayers' money anyway they use against the people/humanity. They don't care.

ScratInTheHat -> beemasters Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:53 Permalink

Or Google hires third party to finish the project and doesn't tell their open employees what they are working on.

dietrolldietroll Fri, 06/01/2018 - 22:06 Permalink

Correction: Google just created a secret project. Govt money doesn't take "no" for an answer.

[May 29, 2018] Amazon's Relentless Pursuit of Largesse The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi . ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Powerful is the man who, with a short series of tweets, can single-handedly send the bluest of the blue-chip stocks into a headlong tumble. For better or for worse, the current occupant of the Oval Office is one such man, tapping into his power with the following missive that crossed the Twitter transom on the morning of March 29:

I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

Over the next few trading days, with four subsequent tweets peppered in, Amazon's stock dropped by more than $75 a share, losing a market value of nearly $40 billion. Card carrying-members of the Resistance and Never Trump brigade quickly portrayed the president's scorn as the latest evidence of his "soft totalitarianism" and general disdain for the First Amendment and the free press. They noted that Amazon's CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post -- a leading "perpetrator" of what Trump has called the "opposition party" and "fake news."

Concerns of politically motivated impropriety are not without merit. Trump has repeatedly proven himself unworthy of the benefit of the doubt. As presidential candidate and commander in chief, he has demonstrated an eagerness to use his Twitter account as a bully pulpit in his petty brawls with lawmakers, media personalities, and anyone else who might draw his ire.

And yet, ulterior motives though there may be, knee-jerk dismissals of the president's attack are short-sighted. The president's bluster in this instance is rooted in reality.

Indeed, contra the libertarian ethos that Amazon and its leader purport to embody, the company has not emerged as one of history's preeminent corporate juggernauts through thrift and elbow grease alone. Although the company's harshest critics must concede that Amazon is the world's most consistently competent corporation -- replete with innovation and ingenuity -- the company's unprecedented growth would not be possible without two key ingredients: corporate welfare and tax avoidance.

Amazon has long benefitted from the procurement of taxpayer-funded subsidies, emerging in recent years as the leading recipient of corporate welfare. According to Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C., organization dedicated to corporate and government accountability, Amazon has, since 2000, received more than $1.39 billion in state and local tax breaks and subsidies for construction of its vast network of warehouses and data centers.

These private-public "partnership" deals are perhaps best illustrated by the sweepstakes for Amazon's second headquarters. Touted as the economic development opportunity of the century, the chosen destination will reap the benefits of 50,000 "high-paying" jobs and $5 billion in construction spending. The possibility of securing an economic development package of this magnitude elicited proposals from 238 North American cities and regions, fomenting what some have called a "bidding war" between mayors, governors, and county executives desperate for economic invigoration.

After a first round deadline of October 19, the pool of applicants was, in mid-January, whittled down to a list of 20. As expected, each finalist offered incentive packages worth more than a billion dollars, with Montgomery County, Maryland, ($8.5 billion) and Newark, New Jersey, ($7 billion) offering the most eye-popping bundles. Proposals utilized a wide array of state and local economic development programs: property tax discounts, infrastructure subsidies, and, in the case of Chicago's proposal, an incentive known as a "personal income-tax diversion." Worth up to $1.32 billion, Amazon employees would still pay their income taxes in full -- but instead of Illinois receiving the money, the tax payments would be funneled directly into the pockets of Amazon itself.

While critics condemn the ostentatious bids of Maryland and New Jersey and decry the "creative" gimmicks of cities such as Chicago, they are equally worried about the details -- or lack thereof -- of the proposals from the other finalists. Despite demands for transparency from local community leaders and journalists, only a handful of cities have released the details of their bids in full, while six finalists -- Indianapolis, Dallas, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh, North Carolina -- have refused to release any of the details from their first-round bids. Viewing themselves as players in a zero-sum game of high-stakes poker, they claim that there is little to gain, but a lot to lose, in making their proposals public.

Such secrecy has, in the second round of bidding, become the rule more than the exception. Although he owns a newspaper with the slogan "Democracy Dies in Darkness," Bezos has required state and local officials involved in negotiations to sign non-disclosure agreements. With the opportunity to revisit and revise their bids (i.e., increase their dollar value), the transition from public spectacle to backroom dealing introduces yet another cause for concern. If the finalists don't apprise citizens of their bids' details, the citizens can't weigh the costs and benefits and determine whether inviting the company into their midst will be a net positive or net negative.

Amazon's pursuit of public tithes and offerings is matched by its relentless obsession with avoiding taxes. Employing a legion of accountants and lawyers, the company has become a master at navigating the tax code and exploiting every loophole. Illegality is not the issue here but rather a tax system that allows mammoth corporations to operate with huge tax advantages not available to mom-and-pop shops on Main Street.

Of course Amazon isn't unique in its desire to avoid the taxman. It is, however, unrivaled in its ability to do so. Last fall's debate concerning the merits of lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent was, for Amazon, a moot point. In the five years from 2012 to 2016, Amazon paid an effective federal income tax rate of only 11.4 percent.

The company fared even better in 2017. Despite posting a $5.6 billion profit, Amazon didn't pay a single cent in federal taxes, according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. What's more, Amazon projects it will receive an additional $789 million in kickbacks from last year's tax reform bill.

Even by the standards of mammoth corporations, this is impressive. By way of comparison, Walmart -- no stranger to corporate welfare and tax avoidance -- has paid $64 billion in corporate income tax since 2008. Amazon? Just $1.4 billion.

Amazon's tax-avoidance success can be attributed to two things: avoiding the collection of sales taxes and stashing profits in overseas tax havens. The IRS estimates that Amazon has dodged more than $1.5 billion in taxes by funneling the patents of its intellectual property behind the walls of its European headquarters city, Luxembourg -- a widely used corporate tax haven. Again, nothing illegal here, but there's something wrong with a tax system that allows it.

From day one, Amazon's business model involved legally avoiding any obligation to collect sales taxes, and then using the subsequent pricing advantage to gain market share. It did this by first locating its warehouses in very few states, most of which did not have a sales tax. It then shipped its goods to customers that resided in other states that did have sales tax. This game plan allowed Amazon to avoid what is known as "nexus" in sales-tax states, meaning that those states could not compel it to collect the tax -- a two to 10 percent competitive advantage over its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Amazon exploited this tax advantage for years until state legislatures -- realizing how much revenue they were losing -- gradually began passing legislation requiring Internet retailers to collect sales taxes for items purchased by their citizens. In 2012, having already benefited from this competitive advantage for more than a decade and a half, Bezos -- under the pretense of a "level playing field" -- began advocating for federal legislation that would require Internet retailers to collect sales tax. No such legislation has been passed.

And despite Bezos's carefully calculated public relations posturing, Amazon's advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers persists: not only does Amazon not collect city and county sales taxes (where applicable) but it also doesn't, with few exceptions, collect sales tax on items sold by third-party distributors on Amazon Marketplace -- sales that account for more than half of Amazon's sales.

It is difficult to overstate how instrumental tax breaks and tax avoidance have been in Amazon's unprecedented growth. As Bezos made clear in his first letter to shareholders in 1997, Amazon's business plan is predicated on amassing long-term market share in lieu of short-term profits. As a result, the company operates on razor-thin margins in some retail categories, while actually taking losses in others.

Amazon has not squandered these competitive advantages. Half of online retail purchases are made through Amazon, and more than half of American households are enrolled in the Amazon Prime program -- a subscription service that engenders platform loyalty and leads to increases in consumer spending.

In fact, Amazon's ascent and tactics have led an increasing number of public policy experts to call for a renewed enforcement of America's antitrust laws. The concern is that Amazon has used its market power to crush smaller competitors with a swath of anti-competitive practices, including predatory pricing and market power advantages stemming from Amazon Marketplace -- Amazon's vast sales platform for third-party retailers.

Such practices may be a boon for consumers and Amazon stockholders, the reasoning goes, but they are only possible because Amazon uses economic power to squeeze its retail partners on pricing at various points in the production line, which harms the health of many other businesses. In fact, some suggest this bullying tendency calls to mind the actions of John D. Rockefeller in his dealings with railroad companies at the turn of the last century.

These monopolistic practices have squeezed local, state, and federal revenue streams in two ways. Not only do these governments forego the collection of needed tax revenue but Amazon's rise has also knocked out many brick-and-mortar competitors that previously had provided streams of tax revenue. By wooing Amazon with taxpayer-funded subsidies and other giveaways, government leaders are, in a very real sense, funding the destruction of their own tax base. There is little evidence that such taxpayer-funded inducements have resulted in a net positive to the states and localities doling out the subsidies.

By forsaking the tenets of free market orthodoxy, forgoing the collection of much-needed tax revenue, and giving big businesses major competitive advantages, state and local governments have generated increasing controversy and political enmity from both ends of the political spectrum. And yet, though bipartisan accusations of crony capitalism and corporate welfare abound, such opposition does little to dissuade state and local governments from loosening the public purse strings in their efforts to woo big corporations such as Amazon.

Daniel Kishi is associate editor of The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi .

[May 23, 2018] Facebook partners with hawkish Atlantic Council, a NATO lobby group, to "protect Demo

May 23, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

Facebook is hoping that a new alliance with the Atlantic Council -- a leading geopolitical strategy think-tank seen as a de facto PR agency for the U.S. government and NATO military alliance – will not only solve its "fake news" and "disinformation" controversy, but will also help the social media monolith play "a positive role" in ensuring democracy on a global level.
The new partnership will effectively ensure that Atlantic Council will serve as Facebook's "eyes and ears," according to a company press statement. With its leadership comprised of retired military officers, former policymakers, and top figures from the U.S. National Security State and Western business elites, the Atlantic Council's role policing the social network should be viewed as a virtual takeover of Facebook by the imperialist state and the council's extensive list of ultra-wealthy and corporate donors.
The partnership is only the latest in a steady stream of announced plans by the Menlo Park, California-based company to address controversy surrounding its role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The company has been mired in scandal stemming from the allegations of "election interference" carried out through the social network – usually pinned on the Russian government and ranging from the use of independent media to the theft of Facebook user data by political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.
The announcement should sound alarm bells when one considers the Atlantic Council's list of sponsors – including, but not limited to, war-profiteering defense contractors; agencies aligned with Washington and the Pentagon; Gulf Arab tyrants; major transnational corporations; and such well-loved Western philanthropic brands as Carnegie, Koch, Rockefeller, and Soros. Even the name of the group itself is meant to evoke the North Atlantic Council, the highest political decision-making body of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Full report:
https://www.mintpressnews.com/facebook-partners-hawkish-atlantic-council-nato-lobby-group-protect-democracy/242289/

[May 15, 2018] Suspect Identified in C.I.A. Leak Was Charged, but Not for the Breach - The New York Times

May 15, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

... ... ...

[Vault 7] was the largest loss of classified documents in the agency's history and a huge embarrassment for C.I.A. officials.

Now, the prime suspect in the breach has been identified: a 29-year-old former C.I.A. software engineer who had designed malware used to break into the computers of terrorism suspects and other targets, The New York Times has learned.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the Manhattan apartment of the suspect, Joshua A. Schulte, one week after WikiLeaks released the first of the C.I.A. documents in March last year, and then stopped him from flying to Mexico on vacation, taking his passport, according to court records and relatives. The search warrant application said Mr. Schulte was suspected of "distribution of national defense information," and agents told the court they had retrieved "N.S.A. and C.I.A. paperwork" in addition to a computer, tablet, phone and other electronics.

But instead 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."

In September, Mr. Schulte was released on the condition that he not leave New York City, where he lived with a cousin, and keep off computers. He was jailed in December after prosecutors found evidence that he had violated those rules, and he has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan since then. He has posted on Facebook under a pseudonym a series of essays critical of the criminal justice system.

It is unclear why, more than a year after he was arrested, he has not been charged or cleared in connection with Vault 7. Leak investigators have had access to electronic audit trails inside the C.I.A. that may indicate who accessed the files that were stolen, and they have had possession of Mr. Schulte's personal data for many months.

... ... ...

According to his family and his LinkedIn page , Mr. Schulte did an internship at the National Security Agency while working on a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. He worked in the C.I.A.'s Engineering Development Group, which designed the hacking tools used by its Center for Cyber Intelligence. He left the agency in November 2016 and moved to New York to work for Bloomberg L.P. as a software engineer.

Most of the government's cyberespionage is carried out by the N.S.A., but the C.I.A. also employs hackers. The leaked Vault 7 documents came from the agency's Engineering Development Group and included descriptions and instructions for the use of agency hacking tools, but only a small amount of the actual computer code for the tools.

.... ... ...

[Apr 11, 2018] Another step closer to the totalitarian state

Apr 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

Bill Jones , April 10, 2018 at 9:57 pm GMT

Another step closer to the totalitarian state

https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/homeland-security-to-compile-database-of-journalists-and-media-influencers/

The Department of Homeland Security wants to track the comings and goings of journalists, bloggers and other "media influencers" through a database.

[Apr 02, 2018] The Guardian

Notable quotes:
"... every single Google search ..."
"... Dylan Curran is a data consultant and web developer, who does extensive research into spreading technical awareness and improving digital etiquette ..."
Apr 02, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you Dylan Curran The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look

Fri 30 Mar 2018 03.17 EDT First published on Wed 28 Mar 2018 06.00 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email View more sharing options Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Google+ Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Close A slice of the data that Facebook keeps on the author: 'This information has millions of nefarious uses.' Photograph: Dylan Curran W ant to freak yourself out? I'm going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it. Google knows where you've been

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

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/maps/timeline?

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

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'A Google map of every place I've been in Ireland this year.' Photograph: Dylan Curran Google knows everything you've ever searched – and deleted

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

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

ss="rich-link"> Why have we given up our privacy to Facebook and other sites so willingly? Read more Google has an advertisement profile of you

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

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

Google knows all the apps you use

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

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

Google has all of your YouTube history

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

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

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

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

ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">

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

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

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

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

Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ss="rich-link"> Facebook told me it would act swiftly on data misuse – in 2015 | Harry Davies Read more Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google can know your workout routine

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

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And they have years' worth of photos

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

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google has every email you ever sent

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

Facebook Twitter Pinterest And there is more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Apr 02, 2018] Should I Buy A 'Smart' Phone

Apr 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The obvious question came up: Should I buy a smartphone to replace my trusted Ericsson?

I tested several of the current top-of-the-line smartphones - Motorola, Samsung, Apple. They were in the same relative price range as my old Ericsson was at its time. But they lack in usability. They either have a too small screen for their multitude of functions or they are bricks that require an extra pocket.

I do not want to give all my data into the hands of some unaccountable billionaires and unknown third parties. I do not want my privacy destroyed.

So no - I decided not to buy a smartphone as replacement for my trusted Ericsson companion.

Here is my new phone:


bigger

It is a Chinese product sold in Germany under the Olympia brand. It is a GSM quad-band 'dumb' phone with FM radio and a flashlight. The standby time is 140 hours and talk-time is 3+ hours. The battery is a standardized model and future replacements will be easy to find.

Size and weight are nearly the same as the old Ericsson. The keys are much bigger, illuminated and easier to handle, especially in the dark. It is a robust construction and the sound quality is good.

It cost me €22.00 ($26.40).

Posted by b on April 2, 2018 at 03:28 PM | Permalink


Tian , Apr 2, 2018 3:48:53 PM | 2

I'm not convinced the new generation of retro dumb phones aka feature phones do not also have all the same surveillance capabilities as their smart brethren - even though they don't expose those capabilities as features to the end user.
John Zelnicker , Apr 2, 2018 4:05:54 PM | 7
b - I only scanned your post, but my answer is: NO!

Don't buy a "smart" phone (or anything else labeled "smart"). They are nothing more than data collectors, part of the Internet of Things that, IMNSHO, is an existential threat to our civilization.

I just decided to look back at the end of the post. and I see that you took my advice. ;-)

Alan Reid , Apr 2, 2018 4:16:20 PM | 9
Well you have to ask yourself, Do i want to participate in a mass surveillance system for one, Then you have to ask Is their any reason i would accept constant audio recordings being made of my environment, then you have the camera angle to contend... Then your GPS location is a major issue, add the ultrasonic beacon thing and the cell tower triangulation aspect to consider.... the phone you have from 2001 is not anywhere near as proficient at many of these tasks being built well before the 2006 legislation regarding this series of systems... If it were me and i knew all about this stuff, i would pay a hell of a lot more than a new phone is worth to keep the old unit in service for as long as you could... Any new phone is going to do all the above to your privacy and then some the old one is very limited, so how concerned are you with being an open book to who ever has access to your phone from the hidden parts and functions you never get to use? Me? I have seen a ton of serious problems with the uses of the tech being built into the modern smartphones, some models give you lots of functions to use, some give you a basic lite experience, But ALL new devices give the state running the system a HEFTY pack of features you will never know about until it's damage has been done. Take my advice Keep the 2000 model going for as long as you can if you must have a mobile phone. If you WANT to be the target of every nasty thing the state does with this new tech investigator/spy then by all means get one of the smart type, Any new one is just as bad as any other after 2006 legislation changes went into effect. 2001 was a very bad event for this topic... I will not have one after the events that befell me. A high performance radio computer with many types of real world sensors, using a wide spread and near unavoidable network of up link stations is the states most useful weapon. Everyone chooses to have what they have, You can also choose to NOT have, but few choose NOT, many choose the worst option on old values of this sort of choice and never think about the loss they incur to have the NEW gadget for whatever reason they rationalize it.
Whorin Piece , Apr 2, 2018 4:21:54 PM | 12
Smart phones are destroyers of information sovereignty. With a PC one can save a copy of every page you visit whereas with the smart phone all you can practically do is view things. It pisses me off.

Has anyone noticed how shallow the so called world wide web has gotten these days.,? Search terms which would in the psst throw up hundreds if not thousands of webpages on the subject matter now result in sometimes no more than 3 or 4 entries. Google has stolen the internet of us all. The web is dead. Cunts like zuckerberg should be drop kicked into the long grass.

nervos belli , Apr 2, 2018 4:23:24 PM | 13
The main espionage equipment in a smartphone or dumbphone is not the application processor and the programs that run on it. It's the GSM/3G/UMTS/LTE/5G chipset which every single one of them obviously has. "We kill with metadata" is the most important aphorism about phones, no matter which kind, ever.

However, a smartphone gives you lots of convenience which your 22$ chinaphone doesn't give you. A browser when on the road, a book reader, a map device.
You have to take a few precautions, e.g. use LineageOS, install AFWall and XPrivacy. Nothing different from using a PC basically. And you certainly shouldn't shell out 500$ for one. Every dollar/euro above ca. 100 has to be very well justified.

Sure, you can live in the 80s, nothing wrong with that. We lived fine back in those days too, but why not take advantage of some of the improvements since then?

psychohistorian | Apr 2, 2018 4:23:43 PM | 15

Nice post b. Expresses my sentiments exactly.

I had to take my Nokia X2 out of the plastic bag I keep it in so it doesn't get wet to see what model it was....I keep the battery out and pay T Mobile $10/year to have emergency minutes when I need them....I maintain and use a land line for all my calls.

It is not like these devices couldn't be useful but like the desktop OS world, bloatware is a standard now. I have programmed handheld devices since 1985 and my latest was a MS Windoze10/C# inventory management application with barcodes and such.

Prior to the Nokia I have now I was nursing along a Palm 720p until I couldn't get a carrier to support it anymore. So since the Palm I have consciously gone back to a Weekly Minder type of pocket calendar which I had to use before the online capability came along.

If our world were to change like I want it to by making the tools finance a public utility I might learn to trust more of my life to be held by technology than the 5 eyes already know......Everyone has seen the movie SNOWDEN , correct?.....my Mac laptop had tape over the camera as soon as I brought it home.....I have a nice Nikon Coolpix camera with the GPS turned off and the battery out......grin


visitor , Apr 2, 2018 4:41:50 PM | 18

I understand your choice, but you should have looked for a basic phone not just with GSM (2G), but also at least with UMTS (3G).

GSM is being wound down, and the frequencies reallocated to LTE (4G).

Many operators in several countries have already switched off their GSM networks (Australia, USA...) This means that in about 3-4 years, you will have real difficulties using your new mobile phone, at least in developed countries; in the Third World, GSM will probably last a bit longer.

Stephane , Apr 2, 2018 4:49:37 PM | 20
I have a cheapo Nokia 100 for calls and a YotaPhone 2 as a tablet. The Yota is Russian but I don't mind the FSB 😃 Aldo it has two screens, one being a passive black and white for use in full bright sun light.
xor , Apr 2, 2018 4:50:34 PM | 21
I think b made a wise decision. Up till now I've also not needed a smart phone and the continious "connection" or being hooked to the "matrix" would not only eat my valuable time away but would also make me feel more bound.

"Another disadvantage of smartphones is enormous amount of personal data they inevitably steal for uncontrolled use by third parties. The technical consultant Dylan Curran studied this:

As soon as an Android smartphone is switched on Google will collect ALL data on every location change and on anything done on the phone. Apple does likewise with its iPhones."

That's the basic privacy nullification. There is also what can be described as the invasive potential. Certain companies, next to intelligence agencies, have made it their business to switch a victims own smart phone into a full blown active spy device. Obviously the victims are particular persons of interests like Dilma Roussef. Whenever a person is having a conversation, talks to himself out loud, has a meeting or is intimate, all sounds and conversations can be recorded next to video when the phone is positioned well. As we know, most people will not or can't part from their beloved smart phone.

aquadraht , Apr 2, 2018 5:19:24 PM | 25
I can not tell what to do. In fact, when buying a "smartphone", you have to get used that the phone will be discharged during 1 or 1.5 days, you will become dependent to next USB source, or a battery pack (which is somewhat heavy, 1 pound ca. but not too bulky.

Personally, I am using such a device since 5 yrs ca., first a 4.7" HTC one of my daughters gave me. I soon installed Cyanogenmod (now LineageOS) and threw away all the bloat and especially the Google and Facebook dirt and spyware. I do not have an email account on the brick, rather a browser over which I may access the Web representation of my email account, which is NOT gmail or similar. I do not use Google playstore.

The "killer apps" for me are mainly FBReader, a free ebook reader, VLC for audio and video, and OSMand, an OpenStreetMap client. Some simple calendar, picture etc. apps are on as well. My recent phone is a Samsung S4 mini, bought used for 50€.

This is a minimalistic setup, but makes tracking and spying other than by government agencies difficult. LineageOS is updated nearly every week, so fairly safe against Android malware.

With a "regular" smartphone, you will lack updates after a few years, have a lot of bloat on board you cannot get rid of, be forced to have a Google account for access of the software repository Google playstore, which is deeply integrated into Android. If one does not care to be spied and sniffed not only by the FBI and NSA, but by Brin and Zuckerberg in addition, ok.

Greetings, a^2

Jay , Apr 2, 2018 5:59:47 PM | 29
Provided one has access to good public WiFi: It seems to me that Wifi and a tablet, or laptop (with a good battery) + the use of a virtual proxy network, VPN, which are almost always encrypted, is better than a smartphone. (Of course if the tablet is Android don't use the Chrome web browser.)

Then just buy a 25 euro Samsung or LG flip phone for the talking part of phone use. It won't last 17 years, but one can still get batteries for them.

Of course this approach doesn't work if you don't have solid public WiFi where you'd normally use a smartphone in public.

xor , Apr 2, 2018 6:17:31 PM | 30
@mh505 #27 Even with a SIM card not linked to your personal ID card it's fairly easy to automatically tie your smartphone to your person whereby you end up in the drag net you try to escape. Not in the least thanks to your close ones whom probably have you listed with your full name + phone number (thus SIM) in their smartphone. And that's even besides you connecting to all kinds of services offered by Google and the likes that know where you personally hang out because of WIFI access points, GPS location (if enabled), connected IP address where someone else connected to who has GPS enabled etc.

Unfortunately your list of EU countries that don't require personal ID to purchase a SIM card is incorrect.

Piotr Berman , Apr 2, 2018 6:35:20 PM | 32
It depends on the prices in your phone market.

In USA it pays to be stupid. The choice I have is to use a smart phone with a monthly charge ca. 100 dollars or a stupid phone with a monthly charge of 8 dollars (or is it 15? and the phone for 8). And if you are old enough you can bear with hardships like memorizing the map of the area were you live, having to check stuff on your own desktop computer before you leave home etc. And the difference in costs can be spent on cigarettes, beer, donations to OxPham, it is your pick.

Concerning surveilance, a stupid phone is used sparingly, so it definitely provides less tracking info.

Dee Wrench , Apr 2, 2018 9:08:38 PM | 42
I'm a 53 year old dog and try to keep things simple for myself. Being paranoid about being tracked and watched isn't my thing. I use my smart phone as a phone when I need to talk to an asswipe at work or my only friend to schedule a meetup or the wife unit when she calls. I have limited data so I usually wait until I'm home to view porn and news websites on the pc. I don't do any financial tasks on the phone, rarely text anyone, rarely use the camera, have only a few apps for things like weather and writing myself a note to remember to pick up milk or dog food on the way home from work. My life is so boring and my bank account so empty I'm not worth a bother to "them".

[Apr 02, 2018] Is It Time to Delete Facebook? by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... voting is not the same as buying stuff ..."
"... By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Originally published at Alternet . ..."
"... The Hidden Persuaders ..."
Apr 01, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: Readers will notice that Auerback seems to assume that Cambridge Analytica's shenanigans with Facebook data shifted votes in 2016 (as do the links to which he cites)*. His post summarizes the political and analytical state of play, but may be usefully read in conjunction with this 2017 post at NC by Marina Bart, who cautioned :

There is no question that modern social media facilitates highly segmented marketing. There is no question that political campaigns can benefit from this. Figuring out who might be receptive to your candidate and their policies, where they vote, and motivating them to go to the polls is fundamental campaign work. But that is not at all the same thing as manipulating people into voting against their interests, which is presumably what is feared (and possibly secretly hoped for) by the fretful Democrats. There is no evidence Cambridge Analytica did any psychological manipulations for Trump.

I'm not saying it's impossible for Big Data highly segmented psychological manipulation to ever work. But it isn't happening now; there's no evidence it will work in the near future; there are many, many obstacles to overcome; and there are two very basic reasons why it cannot be the secret weapon I suspect the Democrats long for.

The most basic one is that voting is not the same as buying stuff . There is no direct connection between casting a vote and getting anything in return, not even the momentary pleasure of buying a candy bar.

(In other words, the current Cambridge Analytical scare is based on a category error.) Of course, from a Wall Street "beauty contest" perspective, what Facebook can actually do may matter less than what people think it can do. From my own perspective, I don't want Facebook's filthy data-gathering proboscis nuzzling my personal affairs at all , regardless of any effect it may have, and that goes for Google, too. Whether I'm an outlier in my revulsion remains to be seen.

NOTE * Indeed, were evidence for this assumption to exist, one would assume it would already have been produced. If it has been, I've missed it, and I do try to keep track.

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Originally published at Alternet .

Cambridge Analytica's systematic harvesting of Facebook user preferences to create detailed models of voter emotions appears to have played a significant role in the election of Donald Trump and the victory of the "Brexiters" on the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union or not. There is shock and anxiety at the revelations about how a few right-wing ideologues were able to exploit Facebook's database and then use it to justify populist campaigns fronted by publicity hounds of dubious moral and financial principles (Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage immediately spring to mind).

Whether the Facebook fiasco conclusively proves either Russian involvement in the 2016 election (or the UK's Brexit referendum), or simply highlights the violation of campaign finance laws, is yet to be determined. But what is certainly beyond dispute from the apparently unauthorized use of Facebook's database of some 50 million users is that longstanding Madison Avenue advertising techniques worked equally well when applied to majority voting instead of employee practices or consumer spending. One possible outcome is that centralized repositories like Facebook -- or Google, or Amazon -- could become a ripe target for regulation and/or anti-trust action. Another possibility is that the voluntary participation on which Facebook is built will collapse spontaneously via consumer rejection.

That course of action is currently being advocated by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who is spearheading a #DeleteFacebook campaign .

In one sense, there is nothing new in what Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have done. Way back in 1957, author Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders described how :

"Large-scale efforts are being made, often with impressive success, to channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing decisions, and our thought processes by the use of insights gleaned from psychiatry and the social sciences. Typically these efforts take place beneath our level of awareness, so that the appeals which move us are often, in a sense, 'hidden.'"

But in a world in which we have all become reliant on the internet for our information, our searches and declared preferences are constantly recorded. Therefore an uncanny amount about us can be learned in a manner that is far more centralized and prone to manipulation than traditional forms of advertising. A wave of shrinkage in traditional advertising firms has correspondingly occurred as the robotic, targeted advertising has become the new norm, largely because it is both cheaper and more effective.

Facebook in particular is a social media way of harnessing interpersonal linkages through the net. Its model must be using those links and the information they generate to create value for advertisers. Any user of Facebook (or Amazon) can easily see how fast browsers insert ads related to one's most recent searches. So it becomes manifestly clear that these companies are tracking us for common advertising pu