Just another ghost in the machine.

This tumblr is science, world affairs, video games, technology, cinema, electronic & rock music, art, nature, writing, language, and introspection. Summary: the profound to the absurd.

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Kredu tiujn, kiuj serĉas la veron. Dubu tiujn, kiuj trovas ĝin. -André Gide

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You’ve got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old. They’ve suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records. In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense. For example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising position. But they’re extremely attractive. So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker. The co-worker says: ‘Hey that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ And then Bill sends it to George and George sends it to Tom. And sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by all of these other people. It’s never reported. Nobody ever knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak. The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communications stream from the intended recipient and given to the government, without any specific authorization, without any specific need is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in a government database? …These are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions
When the story of this period comes to be written, one thing that will astonish historians is the complaisant ease with which billions of apparently sane people allowed themselves to be monitored and manipulated by government security agencies and giant corporations

staff:

Here’s a simple proposition: no one should be able to spy on your internet activity. Not criminals, not jealous lovers, not the government of the United States. That’s what Reset the Net is asking for. It’s an effort to educate people about their online privacy, and to push websites and apps to put proper security measures into place.

What are we doing here at Tumblr? Well, for a while now you’ve been able to add an extra layer of security to your dashboard by going to your Account Settings and turning on SSL. This encrypts any communication between your computer and our servers, and we’ll be making it the default setting by the end of the year. SSL changes literally nothing about your actual experience on Tumblr. It’s the same thing, just more secure. 

That’s how security should be: completely expected and kind of boring. That’s the promise we’re making you. If you want the whole internet to be as uneventfully safe as Tumblr, sign the pledge.

Edward Snowden’s statement in support of Reset the Net

resetthenet:

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Edward Snowden issued this statement via his attorney in support of Reset the Net:

"One year ago, we learned that the internet is under surveillance, and our activities are being monitored to create permanent records of our private lives — no matter how innocent or ordinary those lives might be.

Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same. That’s why I’m asking you to join me on June 5th for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws of nature rather than the laws of nations.

We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That’s why I am excited for Reset the Net — it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale.

Join us on June 5th, and don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back.”

-Edward Snowden

British spies confronted by ‘surprising’ amount of porn as they secretly monitored webchats →

British spies found themselves in a bizarre porn dilemma as they secretly monitored millions of Yahoo webchats.

Spies at the British surveillance agency GCHQ were startled to discover quite a lot of people were using the webchats for pornographic purposes.

“Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person,” says an internal document from GCHQ seen by Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”

Indiscriminately spying on millions of peoples’ Yahoo webcam sessions? Yeah, totally acceptable…

Snowden I believe mentioned way back in the beginning that the GCHQ were worse than the NSA w/r/t mass surveillance. I’m starting to see what he meant, given this and the latest revelations.

The Day We Fought Back - By The Numbers →

I think it would be interesting and important if more privacy-oriented/privacy-first social networks started popping up in the aftermath of the NSA mass surveillance revelations. Maybe more things like the semi-anonymous service/network of Secret. Anyway, I was recently reading about how Facebook uses human-provided semantic info (tagging of photos) in combination with AI to do facial recognition on images - in service of making it easier to tag new photos. Who knows what else they use it or plan to use that for, or what the potential for government access and querying is. Just think of the billions of photos on Facebook, with multiple photos of varying angles linked to individuals, and the ramifications of that.

Read More

jeepermtj:

The day we fight back - Don’t forget
Thedaywefightback.org

jeepermtj:

The day we fight back - Don’t forget

Thedaywefightback.org

theatlantic:

Independent Federal Agency: The Phone Dragnet is Illegal, Shut It Down

The National Security Agency’s practice of collecting and storing data on all phone calls is illegal and should be shut down—that’s the conclusion of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent executive-branch agency. Its board members are empowered to investigate and analyze classified material. They’re the latest independent voice to cast doubt on various NSA claims.
Read more. [Image: Julian Carvajal/Flickr]

theatlantic:

Independent Federal Agency: The Phone Dragnet is Illegal, Shut It Down

The National Security Agency’s practice of collecting and storing data on all phone calls is illegal and should be shut down—that’s the conclusion of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent executive-branch agency. Its board members are empowered to investigate and analyze classified material. They’re the latest independent voice to cast doubt on various NSA claims.

Read more. [Image: Julian Carvajal/Flickr]

Out in the Open: Ex-Google Ad Man Saves You From Ad Hell →

Stop web companies from tracking your web-browsing activity and selling the data to advertisers. Get the open source browser extension here free (or pay-what-you-want): disconnect.me

theatlantic:

The Supreme Court Logic That Could Destroy Privacy in America

Many Americans reacted with outrage when they learned that the NSA stores details about phone calls made by virtually everyone in the United States. They felt a strong, if vague, notion that the practice must violate their constitutional rights. Couldn’t NSA analysis of telephone metadata reveal sensitive, private details about most anyone in the country, like their network of friends, the identity of their sexual partners, or their contact with medical or mental health professionals? Aren’t mass searches of innocents anathema to the Fourth Amendment?
The legal response from NSA defenders has leaned heavily on the precedent set in Smith v. Maryland, a Supreme Court case decided in 1979, before the era of big data. 
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

theatlantic:

The Supreme Court Logic That Could Destroy Privacy in America

Many Americans reacted with outrage when they learned that the NSA stores details about phone calls made by virtually everyone in the United States. They felt a strong, if vague, notion that the practice must violate their constitutional rights. Couldn’t NSA analysis of telephone metadata reveal sensitive, private details about most anyone in the country, like their network of friends, the identity of their sexual partners, or their contact with medical or mental health professionals? Aren’t mass searches of innocents anathema to the Fourth Amendment?

The legal response from NSA defenders has leaned heavily on the precedent set in Smith v. Maryland, a Supreme Court case decided in 1979, before the era of big data.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Reform Government Surveillance →

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

Well, it looks like Snowden is well on his way to a Nobel Peace Prize. In light of this, maybe those companies should look inwardly and see what they can do to reform their own exploitation of private data.

When Snowden receives the Nobel or is ultimately exonerated, a lot of the same people in government and his critics will turn around and hail him as a hero. It’s a tale as old as time it seems. How many people in the world considered Mandela a terrorist when he was stirring things up, and then conveniently flip-flopped out of political survival and reputation maintenance only when they realized they were losing the narrative/perception battle? (I think some US officials that are still around today did that.) Truth, perennial ideals - they don’t matter to them: only the prevailing, near-sighted, transient narrative they are caught up in does. And that’s why I hate politics, and that’s one reason why everyone should be automatically critical and wary of any authority, interest, stakeholder, or power in the world ever.

kateoplis:

Starting today, your face, name, and personal information could appear in Google ads.
Read more about the new terms here. But most importantly: opt out here. 

Is it just me, or does anyone feel like Google and Facebook are in an arms race to create the most inauthentic climates on the Internet?

To ensure that your recommendations reach the people you care about, Google sometimes displays your reviews, recommendations and other relevant activity throughout its products and services. This sometimes includes shopping contexts, like the Google Play music store, and ads. Your profile name and photo may appear with the recommendation.

The first part of that first sentence (bolded by me) should read “to ensure that we earn ad revenue from you advertising to the people you care about”. Who in their right mind actually wants to work for Google for free without even recognition or prestige? Well, I guess maybe you could theoretically get some unique traffic to your profile and gain exposure that way, if that’s what you want. But that would almost by definition require Google using your stuff outside your network, anyway.
UPDATE: Reminds me, haha. The co-founder of Youtube left his first comment on there after 8 years of dormancy. Here it is, reflecting the stupid stuff that Google is up to these days:

optoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptout

kateoplis:

Starting todayyour face, name, and personal information could appear in Google ads.

Read more about the new terms here. But most importantly: opt out here

Is it just me, or does anyone feel like Google and Facebook are in an arms race to create the most inauthentic climates on the Internet?

To ensure that your recommendations reach the people you care about, Google sometimes displays your reviews, recommendations and other relevant activity throughout its products and services. This sometimes includes shopping contexts, like the Google Play music store, and ads. Your profile name and photo may appear with the recommendation.

The first part of that first sentence (bolded by me) should read “to ensure that we earn ad revenue from you advertising to the people you care about”. Who in their right mind actually wants to work for Google for free without even recognition or prestige? Well, I guess maybe you could theoretically get some unique traffic to your profile and gain exposure that way, if that’s what you want. But that would almost by definition require Google using your stuff outside your network, anyway.

UPDATE: Reminds me, haha. The co-founder of Youtube left his first comment on there after 8 years of dormancy. Here it is, reflecting the stupid stuff that Google is up to these days:

optoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptoutoptout

Right now, as soon as someone is encrypting, he gets flagged…We need to show that this [ubiquitous] surveillance practice is an unsustainable use of government resources…Banning cryptography is not an option, and we will never get the government to stop monitoring. But we can make it really expensive. If everyone is encrypting, then the government has to take more care with who it investigates.