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Archive for the ‘Privacy’ Category

The GOP just voted for a law that allows your Internet service provider to sell your browsing history to anyone willing to pay for it. What on earth are they thinking? What’s the point of this?

Obviously, companies like Google, AT&T, Verizon, all the huge Internet service providers love this since there is a whole new revenue stream now going to those companies. There is no other reason on earth that would justify this. Obviously, the Internet service providers have paid off some congressmen and senators big time.

And this is the GOP, who always rants to us about privacy:

  • We can’t have a registry of gun owners, since that would be a violation of people’s privacy.
  • They have no problem not keeping a record of White House visitors anymore, citing privacy.
  • They don’t mind that Donald Trump keeps his tax returns private.
  • They want to keep research by the EPA on climate change private.
  • Mega donors to political action funds can stay private.

However, they don’t give a damn about the people’s privacy, if someone gets to make money off it:

  • Publishing our Internet browsing history, so we can be more exploited by targeted advertising is fine.
  • Publishing our emails and chat logs.
  • Publishing our health history.

Make no mistake about it. Anyone with access to your browsing history can exploit all these areas of your private lives. And now it’s for sale. And the GOP is enabling it.

I think they forgot that they are people, too. You see, for their health plan, Congress has its own and it does not have to live with the same plan the rest of us have to put up with. So they can repeal and replace all they want, and they are not affected. However, on the Internet, we’re all the same, and so are they.

There are already net-neutrality advocates who are crowd-funding initiatives to buy the browsing history of all congressmen and senators and publish it on the Internet. But that won’t quite work.

The problem is that the law will still prevent Internet service providers from selling data that can be connected to specific individuals. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits the sharing of “individually identifiable” information. However, aggregate customer information can be sold. And that’s where the rub is: There are companies whose specific business it is to match consumer tracking information with identifying details we all publish on Twitter and Facebook, and through this process it is possible to match our personal identity with our browser data.

Now the genius currently occupying the White House is signaling that Obama era regulation is overreach and he wants to tackle this. Oh boy, oh boy.

It won’t be done much legally, but you can bet that the crooks on the Internet will be doing it, and that’s where it’s going to hurt. Do I need to say “Russian bots” to get your attention?

This shows you that our government, the GOP, and Trump, just don’t know what they are doing. Yet, we gave them the keys to our lives.

 

 

 

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Last week I couldn’t help it anymore and I published a post about emails, and email security. Today I realize that I left out an important part: Watch out for emails you RECEIVE.

The recent FBI announcement about Clinton emails is – and this is hard to believe – about emails that Clinton received.

Yes, RECEIVED.

So to add to the advice I previously gave: Be careful about the emails you receive. They too can get you into trouble one day.

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Recently there were headlines that there were more mass shootings in 2015 than days in the year. Senator Chris Murphy is one of the most outspoken politicians against gun violence, and I found this vilifying post in a website called Truth and Action, which basically claims that there were not 372 mass shootings in 2015, as “the liberals” claim, but really only four – yes – four!

When I read this article I could not help seeing some of the comments below:

Comments about Mass Shootings

Marlin W White needs some lessons in sentence structure and punctuation, but I get his point. He is a Trump supporter: “This dem is really stupid do your research before making claims vote Trump.” This really speaks volumes to me.

Mary Crum says that Obama did those shootings to give a basis for his gun grab? What gun has Obama grabbed yet?

Raymond Bramhall argued that a murder suicide is not a mass shooting. Ok. Let’s take out all the murder suicides, and we’re left with four? Really?

Joe Vasquez asks if liberals are narcissistic morons. There is narcissism, meaning loving oneself. What does that have to do with liberalism? Morons are supposed to be stupid. What does that have to do with narcissism? Joe Vasquez’ comment makes absolutely no sense to me.

Do you have to be liberal to be concerned about this amount of people shooting others – or themselves? Can you not be conservative like I am – in many regards – and still not like this amount of shooting?

Clearly, most of these comments are emotional outcries and most don’t make sense. To me, these sentiments are batshit scary.

To get some real data, not Facebook meme hype, I did a little searching and came up with this website that collects data about mass shootings. This may be an evil liberal site that is self serving, but in the end, it shows by date, by incident, by state, by city, by exact address, how many people were killed and how many wounded. You can call it what you want, but in the end, more than one person got killed or wounded at every one of these incidents, and some of them were probably murder suicides.

I tallied them up and there were 330 incidents, with 367 people killed and 1317 wounded. That seems like a lot. Definitely more than four, as the Truth and Action site states.

Moronic? Narcissistic? Stupid? Lie? Hidden Agenda? — Really? I see 367 dead and 1317 wounded in shootings where more than one was hurt at a time. Pretty basic.

I then checked how many of those shootings were by Muslim terrorists, and found two. Yes – two.

We have focused on those two in the national spotlight more than we have on the other 328 combined. Yes, 16 of the deaths and 19 of the wounded were in San Bernardino alone. It was the largest in 2015. The second largest was the biker shootout in Waco, Texas on May 17, 2015.

Our focus on the Muslim jihad crime far outweighs the attention on all the other crimes listed. We’re willing to give up our freedom and liberties to try to stop some of those jihadist crimes. But we’re not willing to seriously deal with the source of the 328 others.

Furthermore, the famed iPhone of the killer has recently drawn national attention by actions of the FBI against Apple. The government wants to force Apple to adulterate its operating system, opening it up to backdoor access, and making all 700 million iPhones worldwide vulnerable to hackers – all because there “might be” intelligence information about jihadists in the United States on that phone – all after the FBI botched the one chance it had to recover the data before it called Apple for help.

I also find it very interesting that one Muslim hate shooting has our government hold nothing back, going after the largest tech company in the world, willing to go to the Supreme Court – just to modify and regulate the iPhone, a computer. This all happened within just a couple of months of the incident.

On the other side, millions of concerned Americans have been trying to go after the killing devices (the guns) themselves for decades, yet the government does not even take action. Is this backwards?

Everyone seems to be all focused on the Founding Fathers’ intention when they crafted the Second Amendment. It states this:

  1. a practical purpose, to protect people from thieves, bandits, Native Americans, and slave uprisings
  2. a political purpose, to remind the rest of the world that the United States is well-armed

I think both bases are well covered. The second one is no longer important. I don’t think we’ll have any more British or Spanish gunships pulling into New York or Boston harbor. The first one is well covered. There haven’t been any slaves in some time, Native American’s haven’t been scalping too many of us, and I am not worried about thieves and bandits when I travel the highways – unless I go through Waco, Texas.

After all this, I am not about to call to “trample on the Constitution.”

I am proposing a 28th Amendment: to make it illegal for government to strongarm technology companies into adulterating their products by disallowing strong encryption or by dictating backdoors into computers. We really need the 28th Amendment.

Enough trampling for a day.

 

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Regarding Facebook and Twitter, there is a side to those communities that people don’t know exist. Did you know that there are products that anyone can buy, including social services agencies and law enforcement, that can monitor Facebook and Twitter activity (and other sites) on an ongoing basis. Let me give you some examples:

Example 1: A low-income mother may go to her County Department of Social Services for welfare assistance because her husband left her and her income is now below a certain threshold to support herself and her two children. She must document her income, her need and that her husband is gone, and in many states she will be eligible for some type of assistance. However, the case worker may be checking her Facebook page and see if there are pictures of her and the children at little league games with the supposedly absent husband happy and engaged in the family life.

Example 2: A couple is in divorce proceedings and things are contested. The estranged husband could put a trace on the wife’s Facebook account to collect all posts in an effort to get evidence against her. The trace will do just that. Even if the wife posts something, leaves it there for half an hour and then deletes it, the trace will have picked it up for the permanent record. Even if it was there just for a short time and deleted right away, the husband has it recorded.

Example 3: Law enforcement trying to locate somebody when they enter a certain geographic area can put a trace on Facebook, Twitter and many other location-sensitive programs that trigger when a certain person posts something. They can identify a few city blocks and trigger for posts about keywords they are looking for. In the case of a restraining order, the presence of the restrained person in the vicinity can be triggered and an alert can be generated.

The three examples should be enough to scare you – and they are real. We’re not talking NSA stuff here. You and I can buy these products and go to town with them. Of course, most ordinary people like you and I have better things to do. But predators love this stuff.

So next time you tweet that you’re going to Hawaii for a week and then your Facebook account is filling up with pictures of the cocktails you’re sipping at Cheeseburger in Paradise, think about those predators.

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Donald Sterling made racist remarks to his girlfriend in his own home. Critics of the media suggest that he has a right to privacy. He does. We all do.

But he should know that in today’s world, there is no privacy. Our phone calls are monitored and recorded by NSA goobers in cubicles in Virginia. We are constantly being photographed and video recorded. Recall the plethora of pictures showing the Boston Marathon bombers. The people we think are our friends may not really be our friends. Ask Mayor Ford of Toronto about that. And then, of course, there is the privacy bomb of all time: Remember Mitt Romney’s speech in Florida about the 47 percent? That one might have killed a presidential candidacy and changed history.

But it does not really matter. I have now heard what Donald Sterling thinks and how he feels about his team. I cannot “unhear” that.

He thinks of his team of basketball players no different from what a Polo rider thinks of his horses. They are animals that are making him money. He said himself that he pays them, so he feeds them, buys them clothes, cars, houses. Just like the Polo player has to stable and transport his horses, feed them, groom them, vaccinate them, and exercise and train them.

To Donald Sterling, those who have less money than he are simply accessories. That’s how the man thinks.

If I were a stallion in his stable, white or black, I would get out fast.

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The cloud has gotten much smarter lately. I see Google being much more pervasive in people’s lives. I see Facebook getting in my face more often. For instance, the day after I posted this about Sochi, showing a toilet on my blog, I get this spam post in Facebook, smack on the front of my wall:

Homejoy

It has the gall to show me a Like button, like I am going to Share this with all my followers? Really? No, I am actually writing a blog post about it, publishing it to the world – much worse.

I don’t like this, I don’t like this one bit.

Of course, now that my blog is going down the toilet, and since I am in toilet humor territory, I will just have to write more toilet posts. Stay tuned!

Anybody have a good deal on nitroglycerin. [<– just to mess with the NSA]

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Here is an article in Der Spiegel which describes a hereto unheard about level of infiltration into our computer systems through backdoors and malware at an unimaginable level. If only one tenth of the allegation of Der Spiegel are true, the situation is still a disaster and has extremely damaging consequences on the tech sector worldwide.

It’s not just terrorists who are driven off the grid. It’s people like you and I, who do not want our privacy invaded to this degree.

Obviously, if the thing has an on and off switch, if it consumes power or it needs to be recharged, it may be an open book to government spies. This is not an infiltration, it’s an infestation.

Somebody stop this nonsense! The job of my government is to protect me, not to abuse me.

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I am starting to think that the ruling elite is actually tacitly grateful to terrorists for existing. They provide a perfect the excuse for the surveillance program currently being exposed.

The NSA has now been accused of capturing up to 70% of all email traffic, and not just metadata, like to and from addresses, time and date stamp, and the subject line, but rather the entire content of the emails.

At the same time, the NSA now admits that it does not know what Snowden actually “stole.”

That fact has me more frightened and outraged than the initial revelation that the surveillance program existed in the first place.

The NSA is not just some evil person, some entity, that does things we don’t like. It’s an entire hierarchy of people and a lot of very sharp techies, people like those that work for the company that I work for. But rather than a few dozen of us, there are thousands of them.

Imagine thousands of smart, young and not so young Snowden-type guys, sitting in large rooms with headphones on and lots of monitors on their desks, with the ability to target any of us, anyone at all, at will, and read the emails that we write to our moms, the text messages we send to our partners about bringing home some milk on the way from work, and the types of things Anthony Weiner is known to send around.

The “NSA” is the collective body of those “guys” that get to do that for a living and get paid for it. Do I really trust them? Does the NSA itself know what they are doing? What they have access to? What criminal activities they may be conducting with the knowledge that they have?

Clearly, the NSA does not know what Snowden took. How could they? Before he blew the whistle, he was just one of thousands of goobers in dark rooms writing queries, collecting data and chasing down “bad guys.” He could have taken anything, just like all the remaining goobers could now take anything they want – that you own.

Before 1995, when I wrote to my mom, I wrote a letter, and nobody had the permission to open that letter. It’s actually still a felony today to take somebody else’s mail.

But now, when I write an email, anybody working for the NSA can read that mail with no consequence.

The possible outcome of this immense power that the government is collecting is utterly frightening. Our gun lobby claims that the American public should be armed so if the government suddenly turned rogue, the public could defend itself. I think the military and gun-based threat is the least of our worries.

If the government ever turned rogue, it could come to doors being kicked down in your house at 4:00am, soldiers hauling you away into some interrogation room, and planting in front of you a stack of tractor-feed paper yards high with all the emails you ever wrote, all the texts you ever sent, all the websites you ever visited.

You say governments don’t turn rogue? That’s what they said in Germany before Hitler did just that. That’s what they said in Russia when they concocted the revolution. That’s what they did in East Germany after the war, not that long ago at all.

Remember, this is our American government, which sends flying robot killing machines into foreign countries to take out suspects, including American citizens, without much regard to the collateral damage of injuring or killing children nearby. Our government is doing that today – with our permission, in our name.

So when you say that governments don’t turn rogue, think again.

Forget the terrorists.

The invasion of our privacy is the real threat.

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