How Free is Speech Now?

As always, do your research:

Big Tech Has Performed the “Greatest Bait-and-Switch in American History” As It Now Turns On Free Speech

Big tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube have performed “perhaps the greatest bait-and-switch in American history” as they now have committed to an about-face to the American value of free speech.

That is the assessment of Breitbart New‘s Allum Bokhari who exclusively presented a leaked Google internal briefing titled “The Good Censor” to the public on October 9th, exposing the world once again to major tech companies’ attitude towards the bedrock of traditional American attitude.

“The Good Censor” is an 85-page briefing that openly admits that Google and other tech platforms are undertaking a “shift towards censorship” in response to unwelcome political events around the world. Unsurprisingly – especially after leaked video showed google employees in an emotional meltdown after the election victory of Donald J. Trump – The Good Censor cites the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the rise of the populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party in Germany as unwelcomed events.

While admitting the shift away from free speech it is also simultaneously admitted that those select few giants “control the majority of online conversations.”

The briefing goes into how Google, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are stuck in a position of going along with the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” (free speech and free markets) vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility” (censorship). These two directions are also described as the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility” and the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The internal pages claim that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.

Perhaps the most significant part of the brief, as Breitbart’s Bokhari reports, is when it associates Google’s new role as the guarantor of “civility” with the categories of “editor” and “publisher.”

This is significant, given that Google, YouTube, and other tech giants publicly claim they are not publishers but rather neutral platforms — a categorization that grants them special legal immunities under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Elsewhere in the document, Google admits that Section 230 was designed to ensure they can remain neutral platforms for free expression.

Bokhari wrote on Wednesday:

What ordinary Americans long suspected, The Good Censor has proven beyond doubt. According to Google’s own analysis, tech companies have performed perhaps the greatest bait-and-switch in American history, promising their users free speech while they were taking over the market, only to go back on their word once they came to “control the majority of online conversations.”

What better example to prove this bait-and-switch than the statement given by Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s vice president for public policy and communications in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa who told British politicians at the end of last year that it’s “no longer possible to stand up for all speech.”

Just 5 years prior, Twitter’s first executive in the UK, Tony Wang, described the company as “the free-speech wing of the free-speech party.”

The once acceptance and defense of free speech by these big tech players is discussed in The Good Censor, as the document reads: “This free speech ideal was instilled in the DNA of the Silicon Valley startups that now control the majority of our online conversations.”

And while Google hubrisly boasts that its free speech bait-and-switch has placed them and a few other giants as controllers of “the majority of online conversations” (aka the majority of all conversation happening on earth) the company has come out and finally admitted directly that it has a censored Chinese search engine project in the works. What better guarantor of “civility”, “publisher, “editor” could the masses of internet users wish to oversee the majority of online conversation?

See more at PlanetFreeWill.com.

For more on this from Mke Adams, see text from:   https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-10-17-tech-giants-pull-off-epic-bait-and-switch-in-turning-against-free-speech.html

Accessing Patient Data

Google could soon get access to hundreds of thousands of patients’ genetic data: An expert explains why we should be concerned

  • Google’s DeepMind has already worked with the NHS in monitoring technology
  • A new study suggests Google could soon work with Genomic England
  • This would give the firm access to hundreds of thousands of patient data
  • In an article for The Conversation, a researcher explains the risks of letting a private company gain access to genetic data

Artificial intelligence is already being put to use in the NHS, with Google’s AI firm DeepMind providing technology to help monitor patients. 

And a new study suggests that Google could soon be meeting with Genomic England – a company set up by the Department of Health to sequence 100,000 genomes  – to discuss whether DeepMind could get involved.

In an article for The Conversation, Edward Hockings a researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, explains the risks of letting a private company gain access to sensitive genetic data.

In Google‘s case, he says, it could allow them to target users with personalised advertising based on their preferences and health risks. 

It could also create profiles of people based on their DNA data, which may provide details such as their risk of becoming a criminal.

He says genomic data is ‘the oil of the digital era’ and there is nothing stopping it from be captured, bought and sold in the future. 

Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them (stock image)

Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them (stock image)

HOW COULD GENOMIC DATA BE USED?

Privacy campaigners are concerned that governments and private organisations have too much access to our personal details.

This could help them carry out mass surveillance.

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening, says Edward Hockings.

For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality.

Scientists say 40 per cent of sexual offending risk is down to genetic factors.

A ‘single national knowledge base’ as the one the UK government is aiming to create might therefore be used for broad genetic profiling.

Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them.

The 100,000 Genomes Project was set up by the government to sequence genomes of 100,000 people.

And it won’t stop there.

A new report from the UK’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, is calling for an expansion of the project.

However, a statement by the Department of Health in response to a freedom of information (FoI) request I made in February reveals this decision has already been made.

The department said in this response that the project will be integrated into a single national genomic database.

The purpose of this will be to support ‘care and research, and the acceleration of industrial usage’.

Though it will ‘inevitably exceed the original 100,000 genomes, we do not anticipate that there will be a set target for how many genomes it should contain,’ the statement reads.

The costs of sequencing the genome on a national scale are prohibitive. The first human genome was sequenced at a cost of £2.3 billion ($3 billion).

However, almost two decades later, Illumina, who is responsible for the sequencing side of the 100,000 Genomes Project, produced the first ‘$1,000 (£770) genome’ – a staggering reduction in cost.

Applying machine learning to genomics – that is, general artificial intelligence – has the potential to significantly reduce the costs further.

By building a neural network, Google's algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack (stock image)

By building a neural network, Google’s algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack (stock image)

WHAT IS GOOGLE DEEPMIND?

Google DeepMind is an artificial intelligence lab within Google,

It was created after Google bought University College London spinout, DeepMind, for £400 million in 2014.

Its goal is to solve general intelligence and make machines capable of learning for themselves.

It wants to do this by creating a set of powerful general-purpose learning algorithms that can be combined to make an AI system.

Google wants its DeepMind algorithms to make many of its products and services smarter and more responsive.

By building a neural network, these algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack.

DeepMind is already working with the NHS.

As part of a partnership with several NHS trusts, the company has built various platforms, an app and a machine learning system to monitor patients in various ways, alerting clinical teams when they are at risk.

But it’s been controversial.

The company announced the first of these collaborations in February 2016, saying it was building an app to help hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.

However, it later emerged that the agreement went far beyond this, giving DeepMind Health access to vast amounts of patient data – including, in one instance, 1.6m patient records.

The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled recently that the way patient data was shared by the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust violated UK privacy law.

The company asserts that patient data ‘will never be linked to Google products or services or commercialised’.

Google’s ambitions to digitise healthcare continue.

I received a response to an FoI request in May which reveals that Google and Genomics England have met to discuss ‘using Google’s DeepMind among other subjects’ to analyse genomic data.

Davies insists that data could be anonymised.

The Royal Free NHS Trust did not comply with the Data Protection Act when it passed on personal information of around 1.6 million patients to Google's DeepMind. Pictured is the Royal Free Hospital in London, one of several hospitals the Royal Free Trust is responsible for

The Royal Free NHS Trust did not comply with the Data Protection Act when it passed on personal information of around 1.6 million patients to Google’s DeepMind. Pictured is the Royal Free Hospital in London, one of several hospitals the Royal Free Trust is responsible for

The Department of Health always promise that medical data used in such initiatives will be anonymised, yet one of the reasons that Care.data (an initiative to store all patient data on a single database) was abandoned is that this was shown to be untrue.

I have also shown that the department has misinformed the public about the level of access granted to commercial actors in the 100,000 Genome Project.

In particular it said the data would be ‘pseudonymised’ rather than anonymised, meaning there would still be information available such as age or geographical location.

The danger of personalisation

What could genomic information add to Google’s already far-reaching database of individual information?

NHS KIDNEY APP

Google announced the first of its NHS collaborations in February 2016, saying it was building an app to help hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.

The data was provided in a medical trial that began in 2015.

The trial integrated information from existing systems used by the Royal Free.

The systems used technology to track patients’ symptoms and alerted clinicians when signs of deterioration in a patient with Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) were found.

AKI affects up to 18 per cent of those admitted to hospital.

The investigation found that many patients did not know their data was being used as part of a test.

As part of the deal between the Trust and Google, DeepMind gained access to sensitive patient information such as HIV status, mental health history and abortions.

A hint lies in its self-confessed aspiration to organise our lives for us.

The algorithms ‘will get better, and we will get better at personalisation’, according to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

This will ‘enable Google users to ask the question, ‘what shall I do tomorrow?’, or ‘what job shall I take?’.

With personalisation as their ultimate ‘goal’, Google intend to use the machine learning algorithms which track our digital footprint and target users with personalised advertising based on their preferences.

They also want to analyse health and genomic data to make predictions such as when a person might develop bipolar disorder or tell us what we should do with our lives.

Let us not forget that data, genomic or otherwise, is the oil of the digital era.

What is stopping genomic information from being captured, bought and sold?

We cannot assume that people will make life choices based upon their ‘genetic profile’ without undue pressure – commercial or governmental.

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality (stock image)

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality (stock image)

As for how genomic data might be used and what decisions will be taken about us, the mass surveillance by government agencies of their own citizens is a chilling reminder of the way information technology can be used.

There is something unpalatable about everything being connected and everything being known.

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality.

We know that 40 per cent of sexual offending risk is down to genetic factors.

A ‘single national knowledge base’ as the one the UK government is aiming to create might therefore be used for broad genetic profiling.

Although early intervention programmes that buy into genetically deterministic notions of ‘crime genes’ are reductive, serious debate about policies involving genetic information will no doubt happen soon.

We can already see the beginnings of this in the United States.

The bill Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act – which has received strong backing from Republicans and business groups – would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing.

The results would be seen by employers, and should employees refuse to participate they would face significantly higher insurance costs.

Too much personalisation is likely to be intrusive. The challenge, then, will be to harness the potential of genomics while introducing measures to keep government and big business in check.

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry on genomics and genome editing was cut short (due to the recent snap general election).

Its recommendations for further lines of enquiry include creating a quasi-independent body, which could be more attuned to broader, social and ethical concerns.

This might introduce more balance at a pivotal time for the future of human genetic technologies.

New FBI Hacking Powers

It Just Got Much Easier for the FBI to Hack Your Computer
Just in time for the Trump administration.

Just in time for the Trump administration, the FBI has gotten what critics characterize as broad new hacking powers. As of Thursday, government agents can now use warrants obtained from a single judge to hack computers in multiple jurisdictions, rather than having to get warrants from judges in each distinct jurisdiction, as required under the old rule. The rule went into effect despite the last-ditch efforts by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and others to either kill or delay it in order to give Congress time to study its implications.

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Wyden said the change to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure was especially troubling given the imminent presidency of Donald Trump, who has “openly said he wants the power to hack his political opponents the same way Russia does.”

“By sitting here and doing nothing, the Senate has given consent to this expansion of government hacking and surveillance.”

The changes were approved by the US Supreme Court in a private vote at the end of April, after several years of discussion within the federal judiciary. They were never debated by Congress. The US Department of Justice says the news rules are necessary, particularly in cases where criminals use anonymizing software to conceal their location while committing crimes such as peddling child pornography. Another concern is the weaponizing of hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices into “botnets” that are then used to flood websites with traffic to shut them down, or for criminal activities that, in the words of Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, “siphon wealth and invade privacy on a massive scale.”

Wyden isn’t convinced that the changes are urgent. Along with Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), he tried on Wednesday to get the Senate to approve legislation that would have either blocked or delayed the implementation of the new powers.

Those efforts failed.

“By sitting here and doing nothing, the Senate has given consent to this expansion of government hacking and surveillance,” Wyden said in a statement. “Law-abiding Americans are going to ask, ‘What were you guys thinking?’ when the FBI starts hacking victims of a botnet hack. Or when a mass hack goes awry and breaks their device or an entire hospital system and puts lives at risk.”

Caldwell argued the rules had already been debated and vetted. In a November 28 blog post, she wrote the federal judiciary deliberated on the changes for three years, using the same process used to modify other rules of criminal procedure. The current rule change deals specifically with venue issues—removing traditional jurisdictional constraints—and not what investigators can actually do as part of the search, she wrote. Further, investigators already had the power to search multiple computers at the same time, she noted, and it was already legal for investigators to hack victim computers to understand the scope of the criminal hack.

“It would be strange if the law forbade searching the scene of a crime,” she wrote.

Caldwell also wrote that the rule modification doesn’t change what is and isn’t permissible under the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. “The Constitution already forbids mass, indiscriminate rummaging through victims’ computers, and it will continue to do so,” she wrote. “By contrast, blocking the [rule change] would make it more difficult for law enforcement to combat mass hacking by actual criminals.”

But those reassurances likely will not satisfy privacy advocates. In June, tech writer Mike Masnick noted that the DOJ’s justification for the rule change “skirt[ed] the truth, at best.” The new rule, Masnick wrote, “effectively wipe[s] out the requirement to give a copy of the warrant to the person whose computers are being hacked,” which “pretty much guarantees that some of the people who are hacked following this won’t even know about it.” He suggested that the DOJ’s use of the threat of child exploitation as a way to legitimize the rule change in effect derailed the necessary review of serious modifications to the government’s powers that should be debated and approved by Congress. “The FBI has a rather long history of abusing its surveillance powers, and especially seeking to avoid strict oversight,” Masnick wrote. “Approving such a change just because the DOJ is insisting it’s ‘FOR THE CHILDREN, WON’T YOU PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!’ isn’t a particularly good reason.”

That’s probably why big tech companies like Google and a host of civil rights organizations have opposed the change for years.

“Google has a significant interest in protecting its users and securing its infrastructure,” wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, in a February 2015 letter submitted to the Judicial Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules. “The proposed amendment substantively expands the government’s current authority under Rule 41 and raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns.”

from:    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/fbi-computer-hacking-supreme-court

You ARE Being Watched!

Do You Know Who is Watching Your Private Life?

Waking Times

Infographic – Lack of privacy on the Internet and in the real world continues to grow. Many people are becoming aware that what they share on their social networks can find its way to the furthest reaches of the Web. But did you realize that your private life at home could also become public, without your knowledge or consent? Here’s how technologies such as Google Street View and government monitoring initiatives are starting to intrude on people’s personal lives.

whoswatchingyou

from:    http://www.wakingtimes.com/2015/09/07/do-you-know-who-is-watching-your-private-life/

 

Information Control, Google, & Alternatives

Who’s Afraid Of The Internet? Elites Panic As Information Control Flounders

Who’s Afraid Of The Internet Elites Panic As Information Control Flounders

1st June 2015

By James Corbett

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Do you want the good news first or the bad news?

Alright, here’s the bad news: Google is about to start ranking sites according to their conformity with mainstream opinion. Or at least that’s what the headlines would have you believe.

The usual sources in the controlled corporate media are telling you that this is a good thing and that only “Anti-science advocates are freaking out about Google truth rankings”. But if that already seems like a remarkably blasé attitude to take when facing the prospect of a 1984-like reality where the modern-age Ministry of Truth (Google) is going to determine the “truth” of controversial subjects and rank search results accordingly, then keep in mind that such articles are written by the likes of Joanna Rothkopf, daughter of mini-Kissinger, and David Rothkopf, author of “Superclass”.

New Scientist – the website that broke the story with their article “Google wants to rank websites based on facts not links” – also framed the story, predictably enough, as “science” versus “anti-science”, starting their article by lamenting the fact that “Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free ‘news’ stories spread like wildfire.” The article rejoices in the fact that the good chaps at Google have come up with a bulletproof answer to this mess: “rank websites according to their truthfulness.”

The slightly good news is that, ironically enough, the New Scientist article seems to be a perfect example of a fact-free story spreading around the internet like wildfire. While the story does link to a research paper from a Google research team that outlines a “novel multi-layer probabilistic model” for assigning a “trustworthiness score” to web pages, it neglects to mention that the idea is still very much a theoretical work-in-progress at the moment and is nowhere near ready to be launched. If you have a fetish for multivariate equations, dynamically selected granularity, and line graphs comparing calibration curves for various data analysis methods, have at it!

Who’s Afraid Of The Internet - Elites Panic As Information Control Flounders - Search Engine Algorithm

For the rest of us who are not fluent in boffin-speak, the gist of it is this:

First, a page is harvested for its “knowledge triples.” These are connected triplets of information consisting of a subject, predicate and object. The paper itself helpfully provides the example: Obama – Nationality – USA. A “false value” (again according to the paper itself) would be Obama – Nationality – Kenya. These knowledge triples are assessed for their (Google-determined) accuracy and the page is assigned a KBT (Knowledge-Based Trust) score, which Google could use in place of (or perhaps in some combination with) the traditional PageRank score to determine how high in the search results the web page should place.

The paper uses a list of 15 gossip websites to demonstrate that using this method, sites with disputed and often incorrect information (gossip sites) might rank high in traditional search results, which are weighted toward popularity, but low in the KBT results. But even the paper itself admits there’s a long way to go before this KBT method would be usable by Google to rank billions of web pages.

This is good news for those alt media websites (and their readers) who realize that they are the ones directly in the crosshairs of this technology. Given that Google is nothing other than an American intelligence adjunct (and has been since its inception), would we expect anything resembling a fair assessment of the “truthfulness” surrounding the most politically controversial subjects of our time?

Who’s Afraid Of The Internet - Elites Panic As Information Control Flounders - Google BouncersThe Federal Reserve is a private cartel created by the banksters for the express purpose of manipulating the money supply and controlling the economy? CONSPIRACY THEORY! No Google for you!

Always and throughout history, Governments have used false flag terrorism in order to justify their wars of aggression? SLANDER! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to the bottom of the search results!

Google and every other major Silicon Valley firm is in bed with the DOD and/or the CIA and/or the NSA? BLASPHEMY! You have been excommunicated from the church of Google.

You get the idea.

But here’s the really good news: even if Google does launch such a system, it is doomed to failure. The internet is one of the last, best bastions of the free market in action that we have in our stultified, regulated, controlled, manipulated economy. Google’s popularity did not come about because government goons pointed a gun at everyone’s head and forced them to use it. They didn’t even create a licensing system for operating search engines, a favorite government trick for keeping genuine competition out of the market. It became popular because it was a million times more useful than AskJeeves or Yahoo! or any of the other outdated, clunky, dysfunctional search “portals” that dominated the web in the late 1990s. Granted, the power of Google’s PageRank may have come directly from the NSA’s own engineers, as some have speculated, but the fact remains: people use it because they can find what they want quickly and easily with minimal fuss.

At that point at which Google stops being useful for its intended purpose (helping people to look for information), people will start to look for alternatives. And alternatives do exist.

Ixquick.com is a privacy-protecting search engine that returns results drawn from a wide range of other search engines.

DuckDuckGo is another popular alternative search engine focusing on privacy protection that uses a number of innovative tools to make searching quicker and easier.

SigTruth is an “Alternative Media Search Engine for Liberty Minded People” that uses Google’s own custom search abilities against itself by returning only alt media website results on various topics.

And even the news that Google might at some point start using its “truthiness” score to downgrade the alt media has spurred others in the alt media (like Natural News founder Mike Adams) to announce the creation of their own search engines.

This is how the free market of ideas is meant to work, and if and when Google starts returning sanitized propaganda, those who are uninterested in sanitized propaganda will vote with their feet/fingertips.

Who’s Afraid Of The Internet - Elites Panic As Information Control Flounders - New World Order - House Of CardsBut here’s the best news of all: what this urge to categorize sites by “truthfulness” (and all of the back-slapping, high-fiving articles about this news from the dying establishment mouthpiece media) really shows is just how desperate the would-be gatekeepers are becoming in their fight to put the alt media genie back in the bottle. And even better yet, this is by no means the first sign that the gatekeepers are losing their war to keep the people in the dark on the topics that matter.

In 2008, arch-globalist Zbigniew Brzezinski started lamenting how, for the first time in human history “all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive.” This, as he stressed in speeches and articles at the time, means that it is no longer possible to dominate people in the same ways that they have been dominated for centuries.

In 2011, Hillary Clinton admitted that the US was losing the information war to alternative media outlets of all stripes.

In 2013, PopularScience.com had to turn off comments on all of their articles because, they said, a “decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics” like catastrophic man-made climate change.

And poll after poll after poll in year after year after year continues to chart the decline of the dinosaur print/radio/tv media and the rise of the internet as a source of daily news and information for the majority of the public.

Yes, there are dark skies and reasons to be concerned about what’s coming in the inevitable digital clampdown. But there are bright spots as well, and these deserve to be noted, highlighted and celebrated. After all, the people have had a taste for real information and now more people than ever before see through the increasingly clumsy propaganda of the establishment. And that makes the propaganda increasingly useless for setting the political agenda.

The internet revolution toothpaste is out of the tube, and it’s going to be one heck of a job getting it back in. And that’s good news.

from:    http://wakeup-world.com/2015/06/01/whos-afraid-of-the-internet-elites-panic-as-information-control-flounders/

To De-Google or Not?

Google

How to avoid Google surveillance and protect your personal data

(NaturalNews) It all seemed rather innocent in the beginning. It certainly seemed convenient, and still is – maybe more so than ever, to be truthful. But if you haven’t noticed, slowly and gradually, during the past 17 years since its inception, Google has evolved from being a company which once merely provided Internet users with a free search engine and email to becoming an all-encompassing entity that monitors nearly everything you do.

And not only does Google snoop on you, it takes the personal information it has collected and sells it to corporations. Google also provides that information to intelligence agencies, such as the NSA.

A recent article penned by Derek Scally of The Irish Times explores the extent of Google’s tentacles into our private lives and offers some very useful advice on how to “de-Google” your life.

And why should you de-Google your life if you have “nothing to hide”?

From Scally’s article, which is titled “De-Google your life: it’s worth the hassle if you value your privacy”:

“For privacy campaigner Glenn Greenwald, the man who revealed Snowden’s mass surveillance claims against the National Security Agency, the most common response he hears on the road is what he calls the ‘I have nothing to hide’ argument. To this he has a simple answer.

‘Whenever I hear someone say “I have nothing to hide,” ‘ said Mr Greenwald in Berlin last year, ‘I always ask that person for their email password so I can read their messages. No one has ever taken me up on the offer.’ “

How to de-Google your life

Look for storage alternatives – Scally recommends not putting “all your digital eggs” in one basket. For example, he urges people to explore alternatives for storing emails, photos and cloud content. European-based services are preferable due to EU laws which protect privacy. German-based mailbox.org is one example of an alternative mail service that does not sell or give your data to corporate interests.

Change the way you search – Whenever you can, use an alternative search engine that doesn’t track your searches, such as DuckDuckGo.com or GoodGopher.com (GoodGopher is a new search engine described as “the world’s first privacy-protecting search engine that bans corporate propaganda and government disinfo”).

Block cookies – We’re told that cookies “improve the user experience,” but they also track everything you do online. Install a tracking blocker, such as Ghostery or DoNotTrackMe, into your browser. You can also download the privacyfix.com service from AVG, which helps you click the right privacy settings on your computer and the Internet services you currently use.

Find an alternative to Gmail – Scally admits that it’s “difficult” to give up Gmail and its 15GB of “free” storage, but he points out that even though you theoretically retain intellectual property rights to the content stored on Google, you also give the company a: “worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify . . . communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” Better to use a service such as the above-mentioned mailbox.org or Posteo. Another alternative is to encrypt your emails using PGP.

Stop using Google and Apple cloud services – Keeping your calendars and contacts synced on multiple devices without using the Google or Apple cloud services can also be difficult because, as Scally notes: The “big players deliberately tinker with file standards for their calendar and address-book offerings to make migration possible and keep you inside their golden cage.” This “devious and effective practice” is perhaps not easy to sidestep, but it’s probably worth the hassle. And as Scally says, “if you clear this hurdle, you’re home free.”

Smartphone alternatives – It’s possible to wipe your Android phone and install CyanogenMod, which uses the same OS, only without Google’s presence. However, installing it requires some technical skills. Another alternative is to invest in a Jolla smartphone. Jolla is a Finnish-made smartphone that uses an OS with “no corporate tentacles.” A team of Nokia designers left the company to introduce this product, which aside from offering privacy also has some very innovative features.

NSA Monitoring, yep, Just about Everything

Confirmed: NSA has broken into Google, Yahoo data centers and now monitors all web searches, Gmail

Friday, November 01, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes

NaturalNews) If the reports earlier this summer detailing how the National Security Agency monitors all data passing through the nation’s internet service providers and tech companies was a little too much to digest or accept, that’s understandable.

After all, this is America, right? And the NSA isn’t supposed to be spying on Americans.

Only, it does, as a new report proves beyond any doubt.

According to The Washington Post, the NSA has managed to secretly hack into the main communication links that connect Yahoo! and Google data centers to the rest of the world, as per documents obtained from former NSA contractor-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden, as well as interviews with insider officials.

The paper said:

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

MUSCULAR, PRISM data collection programs

A top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, provided details about how the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records daily from Yahoo and Google internal networks to databases located at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.

In the 30 days prior, the report noted, field collectors processed and returned 181,280,466 new records, ranging from “metadata,” which can provide information about who actually sent and received emails and when and content like text, video and audio.

The Post reported:

The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, GCHQ. From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

But apparently, even that access – authorized by the USA Patriot Act – isn’t good enough. Obviously, the NSA wants no oversight of its activities at all.

The Post said the MUSCULAR project looked to be “an unusually aggressive use” of NSA capabilities against American tech companies. To be sure, the NSA is built to conduct high-tech spying, and has a wide range of digital tools at its disposal, but has no previous reputation of using them at will against U.S. firms.

Despite the revelations, no one in government wanted to talk about them on the record. “White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to confirm, deny or explain why the agency infiltrates Google and Yahoo networks overseas,” the Post reported.

Privacy? What privacy?

Google released a statement saying the company was certainly “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”

“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,” the company said.

A spokeswoman from Yahoo added: “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”

According to earlier releases of top secret information by Snowden, the PRISM program is used by the NSA to gather incredible amounts of online communications records through legal means; tech companies, via warrants issued by the secret FISA court, are compelled to turn over data matching the court’s approved search terms.

That program is authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“Intercepting communications overseas has clear advantages for the NSA, with looser restrictions and less oversight. NSA documents about the effort refer directly to ‘full take,’ ‘bulk access’ and ‘high volume’ operations on Yahoo and Google networks,” the Post reported. “Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.”

In today’s online, interconnected world, America, you have no more privacy. That should be crystal clear by now.

Oh, and the NSA’s spying and data storage capability is only going to increase. The agency is building a massive new facility in Utah for just those purposes, among others: http://nsa.gov1.info.

Save Internet Freedom

The Internet on Strike

What happened when major sites went on strike to offer a taste of a censored Internet.
posted Jan 18, 2012

 

Google homepage protests SOPA

Google used its homepage to protest SOPA and PIPA.

Update, Jan. 19: Following the blackout protests, 18 Senators—including 7 former sponsors of the bill—withdrew their support for the Protect IP Act, leaving it without enough votes.


Today, if you tried to find an apartment on Craigslist, Google photos of cute cats, or look up the 14th president on Wikipedia, you surely noticed something strange. These sites, cornerstones of our Internet lives, are blacked out today—and they’re not alone. A massive digital strike is underway, all in protest of what sounds like friendly legislation: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and its peer, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.

So why is the Internet on strike? Because what’s at stake in the bills, opponents say, is a lot bigger than LOLCats. According to the ACLU, the legislation “would not only impact unlawful infringing content, but also a wealth of completely legal content that has nothing to do with online piracy.”

SOPA would allow owners of intellectual property to cripple foreign sites that are using their copyrighted material illegally (for example, by demanding that search engines not index them, or that ad agencies not contract with them). But since this process would be governed by the “good faith belief” that sites are infringing, rather than judicial review, there’s a lot of worry that it would be misused.

Gizmodo explains:

Potential for abuse is rampant. As Public Knowledge points out, Google could easily take it upon itself to delist every viral video site on the internet with a “good faith belief” that they’re hosting copyrighted material. Leaving YouTube as the only major video portal. Comcast (an ISP) owns NBC (a content provider). Think they might have an interest in shuttering some rival domains? Under SOPA, they can do it without even asking for permission. […]

SOPA also includes an “anti-circumvention” clause, which holds that telling people how to work around SOPA is nearly as bad as violating its main provisions. In other words: if your status update links to The Pirate Bay, Facebook would be legally obligated to remove it. Ditto tweets, YouTube videos, Tumblr or WordPress posts, or sites indexed by Google. And if Google, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, etc. let it stand? They face a government “enjoinment.” They could and would be shut down.

The resources it would take to self-police are monumental for established companies, and unattainable for start-ups. SOPA would censor every online social outlet you have, and prevent new ones from emerging.

In fact, SOPA has been having a rough road of late: the Obama administration came out against it, knocking it off course for the time being, and three co-sponsors of the bills withdrew their support as the Internet blackout (which the L.A. Times estimates to include some 10,000 websites) began. But PIPA is still set for mark-up next week.

And so the protest continues. Google, in a petition it’s circulating, states, “There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs.” A group of artists sent an open letter to Congress, explaining that “copyright law exists to promote the arts, but the new penalties in PIPA could be used against the new social media channels we depend on to make a living, and endanger freedom of expression.”

from:    http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/brooke-jarvis/the-internet-on-strike

Internet Searches Affect Memory Patterns

Is Google Messing with Your Mind? Search Alters Memory Patterns

Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 14 July 2011 Time: 02:00 PM ET
computer, internet, google, yahoo, search engine
Search engines are making people more likely to rely on computers to “remember” things for them, computers and online search engines have become a kind of external memory system that can be accessed at will — and that human memory is adapting to it.
CREDIT: Simon Cataudo

Whether the Internet is making us smarter or stupider may be up for debate, but new research shows that search engines are changing the way we learn and remember things.

People are using the Internet as an external “expert” to be accessed at will. This phenomenon, called transactive memory, isn’t new; it’s been around as long as humans have communicated. We’ve always relied on experts within our group (which used to be other humans) and, with the invention of the printing press, stored information in books. In those cases, we had to remember only who or what held the information.

to read more, go to:    http://www.livescience.com/15044-internet-google-influence-learning-memory.html