Windows 10 for free? New Zetatalk on Gigantic Snooping Operation and how to protect yourself from snooping even if using the soon to be released Windows 10

NB: the following is advice on how to help cut down on any snooping by Microsoft if you already have or plan to upgrade to Windows 10 - the firm advice of this Ning is to avoid upgrading to Windows 10 at all!

There is no guarantee that the methods listed below will ensure that you are not being snooped on, nor will they guarantee that you will avoid any other negative consequences of upgrading to Windows 10.

The tips below apply to any operating system should you wish to take steps to protect your privacy


In light of the new Zetatalk regarding the new Windows 10 set to arrive for free to users, I'm posting this information for people to help evade or "get around" any snooping activity by Microsoft and others if they end up using Windows 10 or any Windows for that matter.  Hackers and crackers have been getting around spying and snooping activities for years now so that should tell you that no matter what, where there is a will there is a way to protect yourself on the internet from spying- especially with the Internet being fairly uncontrollable for many reasons that the Zetas have already explained.  Using Windows 8.1 or even the new 10, there are many things people can do to protect their online activity from snooping regardless of any secret backdoor access built into Windows 10.  

With the copyright infringement legal mess stemming from a lot of greed from corporations and the government spying activities detailed by Snowden, many people over the last couple of years have turned to what is called a VPN service for some degree of privacy while surfing the internet.  There are now many VPN providers available, some free, others charge.  A VPN is a Virtual Private Network.  Essentially it creates a new IP address identity that all of your internet activity is filtered through so that your real IP address and location are hidden.  Many VPN services even offer even stealthier protection in the form of a fully encrypted VPN connection.  This is just one way to help protect your privacy.  

Another way, and one that can be combined with a VPN, is by utilizing Virtual PC created on top of your original OS (Windows).  It essentially creates an operating system of your choosing built into utilizing Virtualized Hardware technology - like a PC within or on top of your primary PC OS that you can boot up many different types of Operating systems including many Linux Operating systems and older versions of Windows even.  Personally I like using Ubuntu due to its ease of use but there are a ton of Linux OS's out there that are very secure due to the fact that hackers typically do not target them as much as there are not a lot of people using them... kind of how Apple's OSX is more secure in that it is less of a target as well.  So a virtual machine created with Linux is kind of like a separate sandbox where you increase some levels of privacy for yourselves by running an operating system on top of and within Windows 10 as it is separated virtually from the Host OS.  

Now if using Windows 10 you can combine some of these options to become a lot more private even while using Windows 10.  A VPN is good, but if not an option, another one is to use what is called the Tor Browser Network - an anonymizing network and browser that uses anonymous proxy connections while you are surfing the web.  

So in theory and likely in practice, an ultra secure way to browse and work on your Windows PC would be using a virtual machine OS such as Ubuntu or Redhat Linux or many other flavors of Linux distros, a VPN of some kind, and surfing the web with the Tor browser network all at the same time.  

These are just suggestions that will help privatize your activities, but to what degree they work against the power snoopers out there, I don't know for certain as I do not know the full capabilities of what the NSA has access to, but... I do know that in general and in theory all of these options will add to your overall level of privacy on any Windows OS.  If you would like to know more, do some googling on these things and find out how exactly they work.  The links below can help you get started in protecting your privacy regardless of what version of Windows used.  While there may not be a 100% anonymous privacy solution for people, I hope these suggestions help. From what I understand, they do.  To what degree, that is hard to determine with the NSA's secrecy on tactics and operations.  I utilize many of these solutions myself from time to time and find them to, at the very least, ease my mind a little and know for a fact that it raises the bar of privacy on any PC.  There are certainly different levels of internet as the Zetas have described.  The "official" levels and then other parts that are much more hidden.. like the Deep Web, of which the creator of it, was recently thrown in prison for life for creating it.  One thing to Add here is... IMHO; you simply cannot trust the cloud for securing your personal data and information. Just look at what happened when Apple's cloud servers got hacked... lots of private information and notorious personal photos got stolen.  Practice KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Don't store your personal information ONLINE!  Store it offline on a personal encrypted storage device- AND KEEP IT OFFLINE :)

Popular Virtual Machine Software: 

Note: Many older PC's, a decade or more older, may not have the built in hardware technology to support creating and using a virtual machine.  In this case, a good alternative is dual-booting your PC between one OS and another.  Multi-booting NOTE:  Virtual Machine Software like VMWARE Workstation can also run on LINUX!  This means you can create a virtual machine sandbox to run Any version of Windows (XP, 7, 8, etc.) right from within your booted up main LINUX OS!  There is EVEN A WAY TO RUN MAC OSX on a PC!  Google HACKINTOSH - VPN's can be used on the main host OS and/or within the Virtual Machine Sandbox you are running.  So if you are running a version of Linux on your PC but need Windows XP or 7 to run say Adobe Photoshop, you can create a Virtual Machine VM to boot up Windows from within your Linux OS and from there install Photoshop on Windows.  When done using Photoshop, you simply shut down the Virtual PC of Windows and go back to using your primary Linux OS!  So many options today if you know where to look.  To learn, one has a vast knowledge base at their fingertips that IS the INTERNET :)  However, as is often stated in this BLOG, a TRUE Hacker believes that anything is hackable given time and energy to hack it whether it truly is or not.  A great new TV show on the USA network called "MR ROBOT about a team of hackers similar to ANONYMOUS is really good.. it doesn't go into a lot of details, but you can get the idea of how easy information can be accessed by someone that knows how to get it.  So with that mentality, you can never be too safe in trying to protect your privacy, personal information, and identity! 


A Windows PC with nearly all of the best and highest rated Linux Operating Systems installed and running great.  Any of them can be booted up at will and used with ease.  Most of these Linux OS's also install and run great natively on many PC's out there.

UBUNTU (A classic favorite for many with distributions based on Debian and also a GNOME based version)

LINUX MINT:  For People needing something to transition from Windows.  Similar interface and built in Windows emulation by installing WINE emulation app for running many Windows programs natively. 




KALI Linux:

VPN services: 

  1. PCMAG - The Best VPN Services for 2015
  2. PCMAG PIA VPN review
  3. Private Internet Access VPN
  4. VPN HARDWARE ROUTERS: Hardware Firewall routers to be used with a VPN Service For the Ultimate Protection including the best known connection encryptions available to the public.


The TOR Browser network:

As always a good Antivirus program, Firewall, AND and Anti-Malware program, can help from catching trackers and bugs out on the internet.  The other good thing about using a virtual machine on top of your main Operating system, is that any infections will likely never be able to escape the "sandbox" virtual machine and infect your main operating system.  So infections can be kept safely away from your main (host Operating System) entirely.  

Good luck and be safe out there.  Couple other small tips:  

  1. Browse in private (incognito mode) Google Chrome,  
  2. Private Browsing - Use Firefox without saving history

And if anyone else has any tips, suggestions, methods to keep safe on the Internet, Please feel free to post anything.  



They are giving the upgrade away for free to all Windows 7 and 8 users, which means 70% of all desktops in the world. This should in and of itself should start alarm bells ringing when you consider that the cost of developing an MS operating system will be many billions of dollars;  why for free - this has never been done before - and at a time when we are expecting the announcement any moment?  Then, if you read the system requirements, you see that you need an internet connection and a Microsoft account to use the OS and you will not be able to stop it from updating itself with anything that Microsoft pushes out - no option to choose which updates to install for yourself any more. It would seem that anyone upgrading would be handing complete power of their computer usage to Microsoft, who can decide remotely whether to delete your accounts and stop you using your PC if you start causing trouble, ie. after the announcement, and install nefarious software without your knowledge, yet I have been unable to find anyone on the internet sounding a warning over this.
[and from another]
[and from another]
Yes, free! This upgrade offer is for a full version of Windows 10, not a trial. 3GB download required; standard data rates apply. To take advantage of this free offer, you must upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of availability. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.

We have repeatedly been asked if the Internet will survive and continue to be open, and our response has from the start of ZetaTalk been that we anticipate that the establishment will NOT be able to shut it down. The reason is that commerce and industry, government business as well as private, use the Internet extensively and to simply shut it down would create too much havoc for those in power. Their approach has instead been to try to get the populace to use VERSIONS of the Internet, connecting to floating platforms like the Outernet or Project Loon.
These provide information to the populace but don’t allow updates or email from the populace, but an Internet that is no more than an interactive TV did not generate interest from the public. 

The Internet was designed to be able to function despite blockages, flowing like water
around them. Even if the media, TV and radio, were tightly controlled, the Internet allows the public to provide information to others and learn what is happening around the world. If this cannot be stopped, how can the elite control this? Disinformation is designed to COUNTER the facts, but is most effective when used early so it does not look like a reaction. The facts themselves then are cloaked like a reaction, as they arrive second. To achieve this, Windows 10 will be a gigantic snooping operation, given away free with lots of goodies so hopefully installed on a massive number of personal computers and mobile devices. 


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Comment by SongStar101 on May 12, 2019 at 12:28pm

Here's How To Review All The Recordings Alexa Has Of You

Guess who wrote the following text:

When Alexa runs your home, Amazon tracks you in more ways than you might want

Would you let a stranger eavesdrop in your home and keep the recordings? For most people, the answer is, “Are you crazy?”

Yet that’s essentially what Amazon has been doing to millions of us with its assistant Alexa in microphone-equipped Echo speakers. And it’s hardly alone: Bugging our homes is Silicon Valley’s next frontier.

If you did not say the Washington Post, arguably the most influential political newspaper which for the past few years has been owned by the world's richest man, Amazon founder and Donald Trump nemesis, Jeff Bezos, you could be forgiven: after all, the last thing your newspaper should be publishing is an in depth analysis into how you are spying on virtually every person who was gullible enough to buy your products which turned out to be nothing but a massive espionage operation that would make the NKVD blush.

But lest the point of the article is lost a quick glance at the title should help: Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time.

What we find strange, however, is that even though it has now been fully documented and thoroughly disclosed that Alexa is a not so hidden microphone allowing Bezos and his minions, potentially including journalists from the WaPo, to listen in on every single word that is said in Alexa's vicinity, Americans not only have not boycotted the product but continued to buy it: yes, they are paying to be spied upon!

That said, one can always hope that a casual glimpse into just how much information Alexa has collected on each and every American, will finally stop this ludicrous behavior. Luckily, there's a website for that.

Following the recent pieces from Bloomberg and others exposing Alexa's mass surveillance operation, everyone can listen in to their own Alexa archive at the following address, by clicking on "Review Voice History."

But wait it gets better: as the WaPo writes," Amazon says it keeps our recordings to improve products, not to sell them. (That’s also a Facebook line.) But anytime personal data sticks around, it’s at risk. Remember the family that had Alexa accidentally send a recording of a conversation to a random contact? We’ve also seen judges issue warrants for Alexa recordings. "

And it's not just Alexa: Inspired by what the WaPo's tech columnist Geoffrey Folwer found in his Alexa voice archive, he wondered: What other activities in my smart home are tech companies recording? His answer:

I found enough personal data to make even the East German secret police blush.

When I’m up for a midnight snack, Google knows. My Nest thermostat, made by Google, reports back to its servers’ data in 15-minute increments about not only the climate in my house but also whether there’s anyone moving around (as determined by a presence sensor used to trigger the heat). You can delete your account, but otherwise Nest saves it indefinitely.

Then there are lights, which can reveal what time you go to bed and do almost anything else. My Philips Hue-connected lights track every time they’re switched on and off — data the company keeps forever if you connect to its cloud service (which is required to operate them with Alexa or Assistant).

Every kind of appliance now is becoming a data-collection device. My Chamberlain MyQ garage opener lets the company keep — again, indefinitely — a record of every time my door opens or closes. My Sonos speakers, by default, track what albums, playlists or stations I’ve listened to, and when I press play, pause, skip or pump up the volume. At least they hold on to my sonic history for only six months.

And now the craziest part: After quizzing these companies about data practices, I learned that most are sharing what’s happening in my home with Amazon, too. Our data is the price of entry for devices that want to integrate with Alexa. Amazon’s not only eavesdropping — it’s tracking everything happening in your home.

So for all those addicts who still need to feel at the forefront of the technological revolution and just can't part ways with their in home eavesdropping devices carefully disguised as products meant to make your life easier, we have just one piece of advice:

For everyone else, well, we hope you enjoy having your most intimate secrets and details of your life be the talk of the town in some secretive Amazon office half way around the world.

Comment by SongStar101 on July 12, 2018 at 7:39pm

UK data watchdog hits Facebook with maximum fine over Brexit breaches

‘Trust in the integrity of our democratic processes risks being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes’

London — Britain’s data regulator will fine Facebook £500,000 for failing to protect users’ data, in an inquiry into whether personal information was misused by campaigns on both sides of Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has focused on the social media giant since earlier this year, when evidence emerged that an app had been used to harvest the data of tens of millions of Facebook users worldwide.

In a progress report early on Wednesday the watchdog said it plans to issue Facebook with the maximum fine available to it for breaches of the Data Protection Act.

"The ICO’s investigation concluded that Facebook contravened the law by failing to safeguard people’s information," it said. The company "failed to be transparent about how people’s data was harvested by others", it said.

Facebook has admitted that up to 87-million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, which was working for US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Cambridge Analytica, which denies the accusations, has since filed for voluntary bankruptcy in the US and Britain.

"We are at a crossroads. Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes," information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in the statement.

"New technologies that use data analytics to micro-target people give campaign groups the ability to connect with individual voters. But this cannot be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law."

In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised to the European Parliament for the "harm" caused by a huge breach of users’ data and by a failure to crack down on fake news.

The EU in May launched strict new data-protection laws allowing regulators to fine companies up to €20m or 4% of annual global turnover.

But the IOC said because of the timing of the incidents involved in its inquiry, the penalties were limited to those available under previous legislation.

The next phase of the ICO’s work is expected to be concluded by the end of October.

Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, said: "As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015.

"We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the US and other countries. We’re reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon."

The British fine comes as Facebook faces a potential hefty compensation bill in Australia, where litigation funder IMF Bentham said it had lodged a complaint with regulators over the Cambridge Analytica breech — thought to have affected about 300,000 users in Australia.

IMF investment manager Nathan Landis told The Australian newspaper most awards for privacy breaches ranged between A$1,000 and A$10,000 (US$750-$7,500).

This implies a potential compensation bill of between A$300m and A$3bn.

Comment by SongStar101 on May 16, 2018 at 7:40am

With Net Neutrality being voted on the Senate Floor tomorrow, how is your opinion on this too?....

How to download a copy of everything Google knows about you

  • Google allows its users to download a copy of everything they have stored on the company's services, including Drive, Calendar, Gmail and Hangouts.
  • You can download your own archive of this information from Google if you want to create a backup before deleting your Google account and moving to another service.

If you use Google services, there's a really easy way to download everything you have stored on the company's servers.

This is particularly important if you ever decide to quit Google and delete your account entirely, but still want a record of your Google Calendar, an archive of the pictures in Google Photos or a copy of everything in Gmail. It's also useful if you want a reminder of everything Google knows about you.

We already showed you how to download a copy of everything Facebook knows about you. Now here's how to download an archive of your footprint on Google.

A reminder: downloading your data doesn't delete it. Think of it as a backup.

What Google Knows

We've already published a pretty extensive guide on how to find out everything Google knows about you.

It knows a lot, particularly if you use its services such as Google Maps or search. I discovered late last year that it knows my name, gender, birthday, personal cell phone numbers, where I work, where I've been over the past several years, the types of hobbies I enjoy and more.

In the archive you're about to download, you'll get a copy of nearly everything Google has stored on its servers, including Gmail contacts, Chrome bookmarks, transactions from various Google services, locations stored in Google Maps, and more.

You'll find all sorts of data, including (in my case, dating back to Nov. 8, 2013):

  • Every single place I've searched in Google Maps.
  • The apps I've opened on Android down to the exact second I opened it.
  • Rewards cards I once used in Google Pay.
  • Everything I've asked Google Assistant.
  • Every comment I've left on YouTube and every video I've watched.
  • Every Android app I've searched for or downloaded.
  • Every news article I've read on Google News.
  • Ads I viewed or visited in any of Google's products.
  • All of my Gmail files including Spam and Trash.

... and more.

How to download your Google archive

You can download your own archive of everything you have stored in Google's services. Here's how:

  • Go to
  • Select the products that you want to back up. I decided to select everything.
  • Click 'Next' at the bottom of the page.
  • Choose the file format - you can pick a .ZIP file and choose a maximum size. I recommend going with the full 50GB file to avoid having your data split into multiple files. If you choose 2GB and have a lot of information on Google, for example, you're going to have a lot of ZIP files. Choose 2GB if you're on an older computer, since ZIP files larger than 2GB require newer operating systems.
  • Choose your delivery method. You can get a link via email or have the archive sent to Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.
  • Tap "Create Archive."
  • Be patient. Google warns the archive may take hours or days to create. It took about 20 hours for me — and I then had about 148GB of content to sort through, which is a lot.

Google will gather all of the information you've stored across its products and will send you an email with an alert including a link or notification that it's now in one of the cloud storage services mentioned above. You'll then be able to open that file to see all of your data, photos, calendar files and more.

Comment by SongStar101 on May 16, 2018 at 6:40am

Tripling Its Collection, NSA Sucked Up Over 530 Million US Phone Records in 2017

"Overall, the numbers show that the scale of warrantless surveillance is growing at a significant rate," says POGO's Jake Laperruque.

The National Security Agency (NSA) collected over 530 million phone records of Americans in 2017—that's three times the amount the spy agency sucked up in 2016.

The figures were released Friday in an annual report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

It shows that the number of "call detail records" the agency collected from telecommunications providers during Trump's first year in office was 534 million, compared to 151 million the year prior.

"The intelligence community's transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection," said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Open Technology Institute.

The content of the calls itself is not collected but so-called "metadata," which, as Gizmodo notes, "is supposedly anonymous, but it can easily be used to identify an individual. The information can also be paired with other publicly available information from social media and other sources to paint a surprisingly detailed picture of a person's life."

The report also revealed that the agency, using its controversial Section 702 authority, increased the number of foreign targets of warrantless surveillance. It was 129,080 in 2017 compared to 106,469 in 2016.

As digital rights group EFF noted earlier this year,

Under Section 702, the NSA collects billions of communications, including those belonging to innocent Americans who are not actually targeted. These communications are then placed in databases that other intelligence and law enforcement agencies can access—for purposes unrelated to national security—without a warrant or any judicial review.

"Overall," Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Project On Government Oversight, said to ZDNet, "the numbers show that the scale of warrantless surveillance is growing at a significant rate, but ODNI still won't tell Americans how much it affects them."


Twitter the latest to be engulfed in Cambridge Analytica scandal

Social media giant Twitter has been accused of selling data access to the Cambridge University academic who also obtained ..., which was later passed to a political consulting firm without the users’ consent.

Aleksandr Kogan, who previously developed a personality quiz on Facebook to harvest information, which was then later used by Cambridge Analytica, established his own commercial enterprise, Global Science Research (GSR).

>See also: What the Cambridge Analytica scandal means for big data

In a statement to Bloomberg, a spokesperson from Twitter said: “In 2015, GSR did have one-time API access to a random sample of public tweets from a five-month period from December 2014 to April 2015.”

Given the current environment of privacy scandals engulfing Facebook, this news has the potential to place Twitter into hot water too, however, distinctions need to be recognised.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not sell private data such as Direct Messages. Speaking to The Register, a spokesperson from Twitter said: “Unlike...

According to The Daily Telegraph, Kogan has also “insisted” that the data he gathered from Twitter ha...

>See also: GDPR will be a turning point for the data economy

Twitter openly sells public data access to organisations through its application programming interface (APIs). This data is typically used for the likes of market research, customer service and analysing events.

However, as speculation grows, some have pointed out that Kogan may have had the potential to correlate Facebook data with Twitter data.

This is not the first time Twitter has been criticised for its failure to prevent abuse of its platform. During the 2016 election, Twitter faced backlash over its failure t...

In response, 142,000 apps, accounting for 130 million tweets, had their API acce.... Twitter also limited the ability of users to perform coordinated actions across ...

See also: Digital uprising: Delete Facebook movement gains traction in UK

As we await further details about how this data from Twitter was used, debate about the responsibilities of social media organisations continue. Recently, the topic of regulation has heightened while the EU poise themselves to enforce the General Data Protection Regulati..., the most significant overhaul of data protection rules in years.

Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of web security company, High-Tech Bridge argued: “Some experts are concerned about potential over-regulation with the upcoming enforcement of GDPR. However, exactly such incidents may well justify severe regulation of the personal data market. Twitter, for example, has already adjusted its Terms of Service and Privacy to comply with the new European regulations.

“On the other side, users of all free services should clearly understand that social networks are not charities, and have to pay millions per day for their operations. Thus, they will predictably use all available avenues to generate revenue. Therefore, keep in mind that all you share or write online can be used against you one day or become public.”

Comment by SongStar101 on May 16, 2018 at 2:12am

Facebook’s ‘Secret’ File on You Is Bigger Than You Think — Here’s How to View It (Video)

Facebook’s user data gathering prowess has been common knowledge for some time now, but one journalist’s impromptu experiment suggests it is even more ubiquitous and pervasive than previously believed. Nick Whigham, a reporter for the New Zealand Herald, decided to test out a feature on Facebook that allows users to download a ‘secret’ file showing how much personal history the company has gathered about them. What he discovered is that Facebook not only has disturbingly vast consumer profiles on all 1.4 billion daily users but also tracks the internet movement and personalities of people who don’t even log into the website.

A large part of Facebook’s business model is selling the information it collects about users to advertisers. It’s free to us because we’re the product. Its algorithms track your posts, likes, shares, and preferences, of course, but they also track your overall Internet activity — the websites you go to, your operating system, your IP address, and comments you happen to leave on random forums — via social media plugins and cookies on third-party websites. Even if you’re not logged into Facebook, your browsing behavior is tracked by secret trackers called Pixels, which are embedded on over 10,000 websites. Sorry, social media Luddites — even if you’ve never used Facebook, your online activity is tracked everytime you merely visit a website that contains Facebook ads and trackers.

Whigham downloaded his Facebook files and was stunned by the specificity of the information. The 500MB zip files contained 105 biometric facial recognition files, photo metadata that includes where and when the photo was taken, his entire iPhone contact list with names and numbers, old tenancy agreements, photo scans of broadband bills, bank transfer screenshots, and, naturally, the entire archive of his Messenger chat logs.

Whigham urges people to download their file so they can see the extent to which their privacy is being violated by what he calls “surveillance capitalism.”

How do its algorithms aggregate so much personal information? There are 98 data points Facebook uses to size you up, and some of them may stun you. They range from the square footage of your home to whether or not you’re an early adopter of technology. They also look for “users who are interested in the Olympics, fall football, cricket, or Ramadan.”

While much of the public seems to have become somewhat anesthetized to predatory data mining and privacy violations, legitimate legal challenges have finally begun to surface, and Facebook is finally facing some heat. Last month, a Belgian court ruled that the firm could not collect data on Internet users who do not have a Facebook account. Elsewhere, a federal judge recently dismissed Facebook’s motion to dismiss an Illinois class action lawsuit charging the company with violating constitutional privacy rights.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rodd Sims, whose organization is running a separate investigation into the privacy violations of multiple tech giants, including Facebook and Google, thinks it’s time for people to really consider the full ramifications of opting into services that harvest their personal information.

“Some people have asserted that consumers know what’s going on and don’t care,” Mr. Sims stated.

“I think it’s absolutely crucial we find out what consumers do know and then let’s see whether they care. My suspicion is Facebook and Google have much more personal information about people than people realise.”

To download your ‘secret’ Facebook file, click at the top right of Facebook’s navigation bar and select Settings. Then click “Download a copy of your Facebook data” beneath General Account Settings and click the green button. Then wait ten minutes and you should receive an email letting you know that “surveillance capitalism” is alive and well.

Happy hunting!


10 Social Media Networks to Use Instead of Facebook


Facebook’s Surveillance Machine

In 2014, Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling company that would later provide services for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, reached out with a request on Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” platform, an online marketplace where people around the world contract with others to perform various tasks. Cambridge Analytica was looking for people who were American Facebook users. It offered to pay them to download and use a personality quiz app on Facebook called thisisyourdigitallife.

About 270,000 people installed the app in return for $1 to $2 per download. The app “scraped” information from their Facebook profiles as well as detailed information from their friends’ profiles. Facebook then provided all this data to the makers of the app, who in turn turned it over to Cambridge Analytica.

A few hundred thousand people may not seem like a lot, but because Facebook users have a few hundred friends each on average, the number of people whose data was harvested reached about 50 million. Most of those people had no idea that their data had been siphoned off (after all, they hadn’t installed the app themselves), let alone that the data would be used to shape voter targeting and messaging for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

This weekend, after this was all exposed by The New York Times and The Observer of London, Facebook hastily made a public announcement that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica (well over a year after the election) and vehemently denied that this was a “data breach.” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, wrote that “the claim that this is a data breach is completely false.” He contended that Facebook users “knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.” He also said that “everyone involved gave their consent.”

Mr. Grewal is right: This wasn’t a breach in the technical sense. It is something even more troubling: an all-too-natural consequence of Facebook’s business model, which involves having people go to the site for social interaction, only to be quietly subjected to an enormous level of surveillance. The results of that surveillance are used to fuel a sophisticated and opaque system for narrowly targeting advertisements and other wares to Facebook’s users.

Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.

Facebook doesn’t just record every click and “like” on the site. It also collects browsing histories. It also purchases “external” data like financial information about users (though European nations have some regulations that block some of this). Facebook recently announced its intent to merge “offline” data — things you do in the physical world, such as making purchases in a brick-and-mortar store — with its vast online databases.

Facebook even creates “shadow profiles” of nonusers. That is, even if you are not on Facebook, the company may well have compiled a profile of you, inferred from data provided by your friends or from other data. This is an involuntary dossier from which you cannot opt out in the United States.

Despite Facebook’s claims to the contrary, everyone involved in the Cambridge Analytica data-siphoning incident did not give his or her “consent” — at least not in any meaningful sense of the word. It is true that if you found and read all the fine print on the site, you might have noticed that in 2014, your Facebook friends had the right to turn over all your data through such apps. (Facebook has since turned off this feature.) If you had managed to make your way through a bewildering array of options, you might have even discovered how to turn the feature off.

This wasn’t informed consent. This was the exploitation of user data and user trust.

Read more here:


Facebook's surveillance is nothing compared with Comcast, AT&T and Verizon

Comcast, AT&T and Verizon pose a greater surveillance risk than Facebook – but their surveillance is much harder to avoid

If you think Facebook’s “Cambridge Analytica problem” is bad, just wait until Comcast and Verizon are able to do the same thing.

In response to the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Facebook took out full-page apology ads in several prominent British and US newspapers. While the company acknowledged a “breach of trust”, it also pointed out that third-party developers like Cambridge Analytica no longer get access to as much information about users under Facebook’s current terms of service.

But contractual tweaking does little to change the privacy risks that techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci calls “an all too natural consequence of Facebook’s business model, which involves having people go to the site for social interaction, only to be quietly subjected to an enormous level of surveillance”.

The thing is, Facebook isn’t the only company that amasses troves of data about people and leaves it vulnerable to exploitation and misuse. As of last year, Congress extended the same data-gathering practices of tech companies like Google and Facebook to internet providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

Because service providers serve as gatekeepers to the entire internet, they can collect far more information about us, and leave us with far less power to opt out of that process. This means that the risks of allowing our internet providers to collect and monetise the same type of user data that Facebook collects – and the potential that such data will therefore be misused – are much, much worse.

Your internet provider doesn’t just know what you do on Facebook – it sees all the sites you visit and how much time you spend there. Your provider can see where you shop, what you watch on TV, where you choose to eat dinner, what medical symptoms you search, where you apply for work, school, a mortgage. Everything that is unencrypted is fair game.

But internet providers don’t just pose a greater surveillance risk than Facebook –their surveillance is also far harder to avoid. “Choosing” not to use an internet provider to avoid surveillance is not really a choice at all. As of 2016, only about half of Americans have more than one option for broadband internet. In rural areas, this number drops to just 13%.

For these Americans, access to the internet means being subjected to whatever forms of surveillance their provider adopts. Even in places where users have more than one option, the decision to switch providers is much more costly and time-intensive than deleting an app. Many – though by no means all – of us are privileged enough to #DeleteFacebook, or at least reduce the time we spend there. But at a time when the internet is essential to completing schoolwork, finding and applying to jobs, running a business and maintaining community, very few of us are privileged enough to #DeleteTheInternet.

Among the Obama administration’s last major policy reforms was implementing Federal Communications Commission rules limiting how internet providers use and sell customer data, and giving customers more control over how personal information like browsing habits, app usage history, location data and social security numbers may be used by service providers. These rules would have prevented ISPs from carelessly exposing data to third parties, as Facebook did with Cambridge Analytica.

Last March, Republicans and President Trump overturned these rules, allowing providers like Verizon and Comcast to monitor their customers’ behaviour online and, without their permission, sell that data for targeted ads. In other words, instead of restricting the dangerous and exploitative market of consumer data, Congress has expanded that market to include internet service providers.

Several states, including Massachusetts, have introduced legislation to reinstate – and in some cases, extend – the Obama-era privacy protections. And, unlike in the case of state efforts to restore net neutrality, privacy protections like Massachusetts’ senate bill 2062 are far more likely to withstand federal preemption challenges and provide enforceable state protections for internet users’ data.

The past few weeks have shown us that the stakes for establishing meaningful limits to corporate surveillance couldn’t be higher. By encouraging state lawmakers to step in to protect internet privacy and limit the use of our data by service providers, we can take a first step toward an internet where users aren’t forced to choose between data exploitation and the ability to live their digital lives.


How To Uncover The Apps Tracking You On Facebook (And Block Them)

Following a lengthy silence in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where it was revealed that a data firm was able to obtain personal information from over 50 million Facebook accounts, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally spoke out last week.

Facebook’s top dog then embarked on a small media tour, addressing several of the major concerns highlighted by the unsavory affair. While speaking with the Wall Street Journal, for instance, Zuckerberg said his company has launched an investigation into third-party developers who are “doing bad things” with users’ personal data on the Facebook platform.

But he also admitted that “like any security precaution, it’s not that this is a bulletproof solve” and that no mechanism “by itself is ever going to find every single thing.”

While it’s great that the company is taking a proactive step, the effort is not likely to comfort those users who feel their privacy has already been violated. What’s more, Zuckerberg conceded in the interview that the investigation may take months or more to complete.

In the meantime, options are available to those who refuse to simply wait around while Facebook gets its collective act together.

For starters, stop using the “log in with Facebook” option after downloading an app. It may take a bit longer to create a new account, but the app won’t get instant access to private information from your Facebook profile, which the company itself admits is what happens.

For the apps you’re already using, there’s a fairly simple process for managing the types of data they can access. Or, if you prefer, the same process always you to delete the app entirely.

See Link for how to:

Comment by SongStar101 on May 16, 2018 at 1:57am

Edward Snowden: Facebook Is A Surveillance Company Rebranded As "Social Media"


NSA whistleblower and former CIA employee Edward Snowden slammed Facebook in a Saturday tweet following the suspension of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, over what Facebook says was imporoper use of collected data. 

In a nutshell, in 2015 Cambridge Analytica bought data from a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, who had developed an app called "thisisyourdigitallife" that vacuumed up loads of information on users and their contacts. After making Kogan and Cambridge Analytica promise to delete the data the app had gathered, Facebook received reports (from sources they would not identify) which claimed that not all the data had been deleted - which led the social media giant to delete Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL's accounts. 

“By passing information on to a third party, including SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, he violated our platform policies. When we learned of this violation in 2015, we removed his app from Facebook and demanded certifications from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie all certified to us that they destroyed the data.” -Facebook

Of note, Cambridge Analytica worked for Ted Cruz and Ben Carson during the 2016 election before contracting with the Trump campaign. Cruz stopped using CA after their data modeling failed to identify likely supporters. 

Cambridge Analytica has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in a statement. 

In response to the ban, Edward Snowden fired off two tweets on Saturday criticizing Facebook, and claimed social media companies were simply "surveillance companies" who engaged in a "successful deception" by rebranding themselves.

Snowden isn't the first big name to call out Silicon Valley companies over their data collection and monitoring practices, or their notorious intersection with the U.S. Government. 

In his 2014 book: When Google Met WikiLeaks, Julian Assange describes Google's close relationship with the NSA and the Pentagon.

Around the same time, Google was becoming involved in a program known as the “Enduring Security Framework” (ESF), which entailed the sharing of information between Silicon Valley tech companies and Pentagon-affiliated agencies “at network speed.” Emails obtained in 2014 under Freedom of Information requests show Schmidt and his fellow Googler Sergey Brin corresponding on first-name terms with NSA chief General Keith Alexander about ESF Reportage on the emails focused on the familiarity in the correspondence: “General Keith . . . so great to see you . . . !” Schmidt wrote. But most reports overlooked a crucial detail. “Your insights as a key member of the Defense Industrial Base,” Alexander wrote to Brin, “are valuable to ensure ESF’s efforts have measurable impact.” -Julian Assange

Kim Dotcom has also opined on social media's close ties to the government, tweeting in February "Unfortunately all big US Internet companies are in bed with the deep state. Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. are all providing backdoors to your data."

In 2013, the Washington Post and The Guardian revealed that the NSA has backdoor access to all major Silicon Valley social media firms, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple - all through the notorious PRISM program which began in 2007 under the Protect America Act. PRISM's existence was leaked by Edward Snowden before he entered into ongoing asylum in Moscow. Microsoft was the first company to join the PRISM program.

The NSA has the ability to pull any sort of data it likes from these companies, but it claims that it does not try to collect it all. The PRISM program goes above and beyond the existing laws that state companies must comply with government requests for data, as it gives the NSA direct access to each company's servers — essentially letting the NSA do as it pleases. -The Verge

After PRISM's existence was leaked by Snowden, the Director of National Intelligence issued a statment which stated that the only people targed by the programs are "outside the United States," and that the program "does not allow" the targeting of citizens within US borders. 

In 2006, Wired magazine published evidence from a retired AT&T communications technician, Mark Klein, that revealed a secret room used to "split" internet data at a San Francisco office as part of the NSA's bulk data collection techniques used on millions of Americans.

During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabins were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, he said.

The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, Klein said. -Wired

 "They are collecting everything on everybody," Klein said.

Comment by SongStar101 on December 15, 2017 at 11:33am

The FCC just voted to repeal its net neutrality rules, in a sweeping act of deregulation

Federal regulators voted Thursday to allow Internet providers to speed up service for websites they favor — and block or slow down others — in a decision repealing landmark Obama-era regulations overseeing broadband companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

The move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the telecom and cable industries was a prominent example of the policy shifts taking place in Washington under President Trump and a major setback for consumer groups, tech companies and Democrats who had lobbied heavily against the decision.

The 3-2 vote, which was along party lines, enabled the FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, to follow through on his promise to repeal the government’s 2015 net neutrality rules, which required Internet providers to treat all websites, large and small, equally. The agency also rejected some of its own authority over the broadband industry in a bid to stymie future FCC officials who might seek to reverse the Republican-led ruling.

The result was a redrawing of the FCC's oversight powers, at a time of rapid transformation in the media and technology sectors.

The vote has also cast a spotlight on Pai, once a little-known regulator, who has become one of the faces of deregulation in the Trump era. On the eve of the vote, Pai released a video that featured him dressed as Santa, wielding a lightsaber and clutching a fidget spinner to defend his decision to repeal the net neutrality rules and mock his critics.

"Within a generation, we have gone from email as the killer app to high-definition video streaming," Pai said Thursday, just before the vote. "Entrepreneurs and innovators guided the Internet far better than the heavy hand of government ever could have."

Consumers might not feel the effects of this decision right away. But eventually they could begin to see packages and pricing schemes that would steer them toward some content over others, critics of the FCC’s vote argued.

For example, under the Obama-era rules, Verizon was not allowed to favor Yahoo and AOL, which it owns, by blocking Google or charging the search giant extra fees to connect to customers. Under the new rules, that type of behavior would be legal, as long as Verizon disclosed it.

"You and I and everyone else who uses the Internet for personal use will see some changes in pricing models," wrote Glenn O'Donnell, an industry analyst at the research firm Forrester, in an email. "For most of us, I expect we will pay more. Service bundles (e.g., social media package, streaming video package) will likely be bolted on to basic transport for things like web surfing and email."

Pai’s opponents vowed to wage a fierce campaign. The hacking group Anonymous said it will "make these men realize what a terrible mistake they made," threatening to "come after" Pai and his allies. Opponents of the FCC action, meanwhile, said they would take the agency to court. New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, announced Thursday that he intends to file a multi-state lawsuit "to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality."

A legal challenge would extend the torturous journey of a consequential technology policy that began in 2004 under President George W. Bush and that has been approved by the FCC in multiple incarnations, only to be struck down or reversed later. Both sides have well-heeled companies and sophisticated lobbying operations, with cable and telecom groups opposing restrictions on their activities and high-flying tech giants and start-ups seeking such rules.

"For the last decade, we've been on a regulatory roller coaster," said Jack Nadler, a partner at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs. "We are likely looking at two or three more years of uncertainty. And then there is the 2020 presidential election, which could lead to yet another policy upheaval."

The FCC’s decision eclipses what would have been considered middle-of-the-road conservative positions just a decade ago, said Jeffrey Blumenfeld, co-chair of the antitrust and trade regulation practice at the law firm Lowenstein Sandler.

"What we're seeing now is a dramatic change not just from the Obama administration, but even from the prior Republican administration," said Blumenfeld.

Under President Bush, the FCC outlined a series of guiding principles that would eventually lead to the 2015 net neutrality rules. Then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell, in a 2004 speech, said Internet users should enjoy four fundamental freedoms: The freedom to access any Web content of their choice, so long as it was legal; the freedom to use any online application; the freedom to use their home broadband connections on any device; and the freedom to get subscription information from their own providers.

Internet providers say that the move by the FCC will not lead to the death of the Internet, as some net neutrality activists have claimed.

They argue there is no financial incentive to penalize specific apps or services, that giving some sites the option of faster service could in fact benefit consumers, and that the new rules allow the Federal Trade Commission to sue carriers that act anti-competitively. Consumers' daily Internet experience will not change, according to some industry officials.

"The Internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has," said AT&T in a statement Thursday.

The officials also said the 2015 rules discouraged providers from making broadband faster and more reliable, according to the industry. USTelecom, a trade group representing AT&T, Verizon and others, said that annual broadband infrastructure spending fell from $78.4 billion in 2014, before the rules took effect, to $76 billion in 2016.

Powell, who now leads a top cable industry trade group, said that the repeal of the FCC's net neutrality rules is still consistent with the four freedoms he described nearly 14 years ago.

"Our belief at the time was that the Internet needed to retain a light regulatory environment to get broadband moving," said Powell. "And the companion to those four freedoms was the decision to keep the Internet classified as an information service." ("Information service" providers face fewer obligations under the FCC's regulatory structure than do providers of telecom service, a category that covers landline phone companies.)

Under Democratic FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the net neutrality rules took the extraordinary step of reclassifying Internet providers as telecom providers, giving the FCC broad powers to define new obligations for providers on everything from prices to privacy practices.

Advocates hailed the 2015 decision as a victory for consumer protection and a necessary step in light of how differently the Internet now looks compared to its earlier days, when fewer massive companies dominated the space. Meanwhile, industry groups sought to get the regulations overturned in court. They failed, but have escalated the case to the Supreme Court. The Court has yet to decide whether it will hear the case.

"If the arc of history is long, we are going to bend this toward a more just outcome — in the courts, in Congress, wherever we need to go to ensure that net neutrality stays the law of the land,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, in remarks preceding Thursday's vote.

Rosenworcel also took aim at the public feedback process that led to the decision, alleging major irregularities in the record. Two million comments filed to the FCC on net neutrality were submitted under stolen identities, she said. Half a million came from Russian addresses, and 50,000 net neutrality complaints have gone "inexplicably missing."

The comments have also been the subject of an investigation by Schneiderman and the state of New York, who joined 17 other state attorneys general Wednesday in a letter calling for the FCC to delay its vote. The FCC has repeatedly refused to cooperate with his agency's investigation, Schneiderman has said.

Analysts expect that such complaints could come up again in any litigation over the FCC vote.

Some analysts believe the uncertainty surrounding net neutrality provides an opening for congressional legislation to settle the issue once and for all. Republicans on Capitol Hill are optimistic. But their efforts are likely to stall unless they can court Democratic votes, and many Democrats view litigation against the FCC as the preferable course of action.

The sharp divides on net neutrality show that what began as a bipartisan issue has hardened into two distinct sides.

"Tribal partisanship is dominating our public policy debates," said Marc Martin, a communications lawyer at the firm Perkins Coie. "It wasn’t always this way. First adopted and enforced during the Bush administration, net neutrality began as a noncontroversial policy to protect consumers’ use of online platforms."

Comment by SongStar101 on November 30, 2017 at 11:31am

Over half of public comments to FCC on net neutrality appear fake: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half of the 21.7 million public comments submitted to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission about net neutrality this year used temporary or duplicate email addresses and appeared to include false or misleading information, the Pew Research Center said on Wednesday.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, proposed in April to scrap the 2015 landmark net neutrality rules, moving to give broadband service providers sweeping power over what content consumers can access.

Pai has said the action would remove heavy-handed internet regulations. Critics have said it would let internet service providers give preferential treatment to some sites and apps and allow them to favor their own digital content.

From April 27 to Aug. 30 the public was able to submit comments to the FCC on the topic electronically. Of those, 57 percent used either duplicate email addresses or temporary email addresses, while many individual names appeared thousands of times in the submissions, Pew said.

For example, “Pat M” was listed on 5,910 submissions, and the email address was used in 1,002 comments. TV host John Oliver supported keeping net neutrality earlier this on his HBO talk show.

The flood of purportedly fake comments has made it difficult to interpret the public’s true thinking on net neutrality and has even spurred New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate for the last six months who posted the comments to the FCC website.

Pew did not say how many of the comments supported or opposed the FCC’s proposal. With three Republican and two Democratic commissioners, the FCC is all but certain to approve the repeal.

Pew found that only 6 percent of submitted comments were unique while the rest had been submitted multiple times, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of times.

Thousands of identical comments were also submitted in the same second on at least five occasions. On July 19 at precisely 2:57:15 p.m. ET, 475,482 comments were submitted, Pew said, adding that almost all were in favor of net neutrality.

“In fact, the seven most-submitted comments (six of which argued against net neutrality regulations) comprise 38 percent of all the submissions over the four-month comment period,” the study said.

Pew said its analysis of the submissions “present challenges to anyone hoping to understand the attitudes of the concerned public regarding net neutrality.”

The regulatory agency will vote at a Dec. 14 meeting on Pai’s plan to rescind the rules championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

The rules bar broadband providers from blocking or slowing down access to content or charging consumers more for certain content, and treated internet service providers like public utilities.


Bogus Emails and Bee Movie: Digging Into the FCC's Broken Net Neutrality Comments

Over a third of the nearly 22 million comments that poured into the Federal Communications Com... regarding its plan to repeal net neutrality protections included one of seven identical messages. More than half were associated with duplicate or temporary emails, including some 7,500 affiliated with the address "" Dozens included references to the animated film Bee Movie, a film about a disillusioned worker bee that has become fodder for several popular memes. Roughly one million comments came from email addresses. And more than 7,000 comments were submitted by a gentleman—or woman—named, simply, The Internet.

These bizarre facts and figures come from a newly released Pew Research analysis of every comment submitted to the FCC, which in turn illustrates just how chaotic the comment process has become in the age of automated electronic submissions. Since the FCC comment period opened in April, researchers have documented the apparent existence of bots that use natural language generation technology to masquerade as concerned citizens.

But Pew's report shows that even well-meaning individuals and advocacy groups attempting to flood the system with earnest comments have contributed to the crippling of the process.

"As public opinion researchers, we found it a little bit hard to really make sense of the public’s opinion on this issue," says Aaron Smith, one of the authors of the study.

On June 19, nearly 500,000 comments were submitted in a single second.

Accord to Pew's review, only 6 percent of the comments were actually unique. The rest were submitted multiple times. Some of the most popular among them can be traced back to legitimate organizations that have mobilized their communities either for or against the repeal. In fact, by far the most popular comment—submitted an eye-popping 2.8 million times, accounting for a little more than one in 10 entries—was a pro-net neutrality missive, promoted by television host John Oliver and featured on the website Three of the top 10 most popular comments, meanwhile, were anti-net neutrality messages promoted by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

While both sides of the fight used this form letter technique, the anti-net neutrality side may have had more success. Of the top seven most-repeated messages, six included anti-net neutrality sentiment.

The organizations using these tools to mobilize mass audiences may be driven by good intentions, but the research suggests that neither they nor the FCC had the verification mechanisms in place to ensure that the system wouldn't be abused. The FCC's dataset includes a field indicating whether email addresses had been verified, Smith explains, but for the vast majority of submissions, that field is blank. In fact, only 3 percent are definitively marked as verified. As a result, more than 9,000 emails provided to the FCC didn't even include the @ symbol, which is, of course, required to create an email address. Another 8 million submissions included phony, temporary email addresses purchased online from sites like The researchers detected them by matching the email addresses attached to comments to the set list of domain names provides.

It's unclear whether this was an effort perpetrated by one side or the other, or whether the commenters themselves were fake. "There are any number of legitimate reasons why someone might want to use these types of accounts," Smith cautions. "But in a holistic sense, the use of these temporary emails, taken together with the large share of comments that utilized duplicate email addresses, nonfunctioning email addresses, or who simply left the email field blank, does make it challenging to determine who or what these comments are coming from."

The Pew researchers detected other unusual behavior, like the fact that on June 19, nearly 500,000 comments were submitted in a single second. In that case, nearly all were identical and associated with, suggesting its organizers bulk-uploaded all of the comments to the FCC's site at that time. But on May 24, they found more than 86,000 comments submitted in a single second. They all conveyed the same sentiment, but this time, the language different slightly, following a pattern that other researchers recently told WIRED may have been generated by bots.

Smith and his team stop short of suggesting what the FCC might do about this issue. There's nothing wrong, after all, with advocacy groups giving their supporters a little assistance in making their voices heard in Washington. That's their job. And under the current leadership, it's unclear whether the FCC, so driven to overturn net neutrality protections, has the motivation to do anything about it at all.

Smith says the goal of the research is simply to "show some of the challenges that researchers face as they try to analyze this type of data and highlight the way in which these wide-scale campaigns to influence comment processes are much easier to do at a scale than a few years ago."

Now that that ability is being exploited, the earnest groups and individuals who want to have a say in their government's rules may need to try a new approach to cut through the noise.

Comment by SongStar101 on July 6, 2017 at 7:46am

WikiLeaks Exposes CIA Targeting Linux Users With OutlawCountry Network Traffic Re-Routing Tool

Another day, another government spying exploit rises to the surface courtesy of Wikileaks, this time originating from the CIA. This WikiLeaks data dump specifically lets us know of a CIA-engineered spying tool called OutlawCountry (no space), which, interestingly enough, explicitly targets Linux users. You know, those digital freedom loving passionate penguin peeps that appreciate having great control over their computer? But don't worry, the CIA has targeted Windows users en masse in the past as well; absolutely no one has proven safe and they obviously don't discriminate.

OutlawCountry starts out as a Linux kernel module (nf_table_6_64.ko) that gets loaded into the system and subsequently creates a new entry in the iptables firewall configuration. After the deed is done, the original kernel module is no longer needed, so it's deleted.

At this point, an attacker could run an iptables command to reroute all of the traffic through a designated CIA data mining server, allowing the agency to spy on user activities and communications. The biggest threat here isn't winding up with the attack on a home PC, but more so a web server that could have thousands or even millions of people routing through it.

What's not clear at this point, is how the CIA expected to infect computers with this malware. Access to the machine is required, so it seems another exploit would allow an attacker to get in and then elevate to a privileged account to execute the attack. Falling victim to this particular attack, given its implementation, would pose almost no risk being sent as an email attachment, unless it was packaged as a script and still somehow managed to be run with root access.

OutlawCountry is just one of the many CIA leaks that WikiLeaks has released out as part of its Vault 7 series of data dumps, which have had more than a dozen separate leaks since the first back in March of this year.

Comment by SongStar101 on January 14, 2017 at 6:33am

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch signed the new rules, permitting the N.S.A. to disseminate “raw signals intelligence information,” on Jan. 3, after the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., signed them on Dec. 15, according to a 23-page, largely declassified copy of the procedures.

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.

“This is not expanding the substantive ability of law enforcement to get access to signals intelligence,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel to Mr. Clapper. “It is simply widening the aperture for a larger number of analysts, who will be bound by the existing rules.”

But Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the move an erosion of rules intended to protect the privacy of Americans when their messages are caught by the N.S.A.’s powerful global collection methods. He noted that domestic internet data was often routed or stored abroad, where it may get vacuumed up without court oversight.

“Rather than dramatically expanding government access to so much personal data, we need much stronger rules to protect the privacy of Americans,” Mr. Toomey said. “Seventeen different government agencies shouldn’t be rooting through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant.”

The N.S.A. has been required to apply similar privacy protections to foreigners’ information since early 2014, an unprecedented step that President Obama took after the disclosures of N.S.A. documents by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden. The other intelligence agencies will now have to follow those rules, too.

Under the new system, agencies will ask the N.S.A. for access to specific surveillance feeds, making the case that they contain information relevant and useful to their missions. The N.S.A. will grant requests it deems reasonable after considering factors like whether large amounts of Americans’ private information might be included and, if so, how damaging or embarrassing it would be if that information were “improperly used or disclosed.”

The move is part of a broader trend of tearing down bureaucratic barriers to sharing intelligence between agencies that dates back to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In 2002, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court secretly began permitting the N.S.A., the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. to share raw intercepts gathered domestically under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

After Congress enacted the FISA Amendments Act — which legalized warrantless surveillance on domestic soil so long as the target is a foreigner abroad, even when the target is communicating with an American — the court permitted raw sharing of emails acquired under that program, too.

In July 2008, the same month Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act, President George W. Bush modified Executive Order 12333, which sets rules for surveillance that domestic wiretapping statutes do not address, including techniques that vacuum up vast amounts of content without targeting anybody.

After the revision, Executive Order 12333 said the N.S.A. could share the raw fruits of such surveillance after the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, coordinating with the defense secretary, agreed on procedures. It took another eight years to develop those rules.

The Times first reported the existence of those deliberations in 2014 and later filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for documents about them. It ended that case last February, and Mr. Litt discussed the efforts in an interview at that time, but declined to divulge certain important details because the rules were not yet final or public.

Among the most important questions left unanswered in February was when analysts would be permitted to use Americans’ names, email addresses or other identifying information to search a 12333 database and pull up any messages to, from or about them that had been collected without a warrant.

There is a parallel debate about the FISA Amendments Act’s warrantless surveillance program. National security analysts sometimes search that act’s repository for Americans’ information, as do F.B.I. agents working on ordinary criminal cases. Critics call this the “backdoor search loophole,” and some lawmakers want to require a warrant for such searches.

By contrast, the 12333 sharing procedures allow analysts, including those at the F.B.I., to search the raw data using an American’s identifying information only for the purpose of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence investigations, not for ordinary criminal cases. And they may do so only if one of several other conditions are met, such as a finding that the American is an agent of a foreign power.

However, under the rules, if analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department.

The limits on using Americans’ information gathered under Order 12333 do not apply to metadata: logs showing who contacted whom, but not what they said. Analysts at the intelligence agencies may study social links between people, in search of hidden associates of known suspects, “without regard to the location or nationality of the communicants.”

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