Die AAA-Bürger

“So wie Alibaba und Amazon wissen, wofür sich ihre Nutzer interessieren und was sie als Nächstes kaufen könnten, will der chinesische Staat aus den Datenspuren seiner Bürger ableiten, wie sie sich in der Vergangenheit verhalten haben und in der Zukunft verhalten könnten und sie nach einem Punktesystem entsprechend bewerten. Wer zum Beispiel über das Internet gesunde Babynahrung bestellt, soll Pluspunkte erhalten. Wer sich hingegen Pornos ansieht oder zu viel Zeit mit Computerspielen verbringt, muss mit Abzügen rechnen.” Da trifft es sich gut, daß Felix Lee nichts zu verbergen hat und ein solcher Umgang mit Nutzerdaten überhaupt nur in China in Erwägung gezogen wird…
www.zeit.de

With thanks to Michael August

Wie, Du bist nicht bei Whatsapp?

“Wer Whatsapp liebt, sollte besser nicht weiterlesen, oder vielleicht gerade dann, denn Liebe macht ja bekanntlich oft blind.” Boris Pohler, selbst Lehrer und Vater von zwei Kindern, bennent den Preis für die Verwendung des weit verbreiteten Dienstes und erklärt, warum jeder Nutzer gegen deutsches Recht verstößt.
blog.pohlers-web.de

You are the product

“What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does—‘connect’, ‘build communities’—and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.” John Lanchester does not know what will happen should this $450 billion penny ever drop.
www.lrb.co.uk

How not to get phished

“Most humans can tell the difference most of the time, but if they are tired, or stressed, or in a rush, or have any number of other common obstacles to computer use, there’s a good chance they won’t notice the difference, will type their password into the wrong site, and will have their account taken over by bad guys.” Jacob Hoffman-Andrews identifies password managers as the average human’s best defence against phishing attacks.
jacob.hoffman-andrews.com

Conversations

“Welcome to this introduction to Conversations. It is gonna be a great introduction. It’s gonna be fabulous. Other instant messengers have fought Conversations for many years, but they couldn’t beat it. Just couldn’t do it. Total loosers. They’re all dead now. All the other messengers have failed. Forget WhatsApp, okay? Signal …total disaster. Threema is so bad, it’s not even a real messenger. It’s fake. Threema is a fake messenger. Converstations has got to be the best messenger in the world. It’s huge. OMEMO. You’ll love it. Best protocol. Tremendous. Absolutely fantastic. Nobody has messengers better than Conversations. This messenger is so big, you can even see it from the moon. And I am going to make you pay for it. It’s true. Important people tell me that Conversations is so great, it’s unbelievable. So great, it’s beautiful. Conversations is the best instant messenger that God ever created.”
conversations.im

The swedish kings of cyberwar

“Among the many questions posed by Scandinavia’s embrace of mass surveillance is one that has lingered at the margins throughout the Snowden debate: Are advanced democracies any different than their authoritarian counterparts in seeking to gain broad access into the private lives of citizens?” Hugh Eakin shines a light on the underreported activities of Sweden’s FRA in spying on people everywhere.
www.nybooks.com

With thanks to Michael August

WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages

​“(Tobias) Boelter reported the backdoor vulnerability to Facebook in April 2016, but was told that Facebook was aware of the issue, that it was ‘expected behaviour’ and wasn’t being actively worked on.”
www.theguardian.com

Earlier, I posted two messages for my friends on Facebook. One with my Threema address, the other with the above quote and link to the article critical of Facebook’s conduct. Within hours, the latter had mysteriously disappeared from view. I don’t routinely use Facebook and now I know why: on this evidence, nobody gets to see much of what I post there, anyway…

Corporate censorship is the process by which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to disrupt the publishing of information that portrays their business or business partners in a negative light.”
wikipedia.org

The human factor

​“The episode should have been a non-event, and one that would not last long. The airplane was in the control of the pilots, and if they had done nothing, they would have done all they needed to do.” William Langewiesche examines the reasons behind the crash of Air France Flight 447, one of the “most perplexing and significant airline accidents of modern times”.
www.vanityfair.com

How surveillance stifles dissent on the Internet

“People who said they had ‘nothing to hide’ were in fact more likely to censor themselves.” Kaveh Waddell reports on resarch by Elizabeth Stoycheff that, given current practices of government and comercial entities around the world, rules out the Internet as a tool to promote democracy.
www.theatlantic.com

“This structure of surveillance will stop us doing things which are right, that we know we should be doing.”
Anthony Barnett speaking in October 2013

What’s your favourite desktop and why?

In response to Voice of the Masses

My favourite Desktop is Unity because it is not MATE. This has been bugging me for quite some time.
Like almost everyone else on the planet, I was unhappy when in 2011 Canonical declared Unity Ubuntu’s new default desktop. After years of using GNOME 2, I just thought that Unity felt a bit awkward. But I stuck with it, mainly for a perceived lack of alternatives and my wish to avoid PPAs if at all possible.
Fast-forward a few years and, thanks to the excellent Martin Wimpress, I hear of MATE Desktop Environment almost every other podcast I listen to. With the release of Ubuntu 15.10, MATE is finally elevated to official flavour status and I was sure to be making the switch away from Unity.
I ended up using MATE for about one day before going back to Unity. It was quite an uncomfortable thing to have to admit, but there was a problem: After years of using Unity, I just thought that MATE felt a bit awkward…
ubuntu-mate.org

The most wanted man in the world

“The question for us is not what new story will come out next. The question is, what are we going to do about it?” James Bamford interviews Edward Snowden, who regards the use of strong encryption in your everyday communication as a viable means to end mass surveillance.
www.wired.com

Also watch United States of Secrets, a two-part series detailing how the US government came to monitor and collect the communications of millions around the world.

Now then

“What Amazon and many other companies began to do in the late 1990s was build up a giant world of the past on their computer servers. A historical universe that is constantly mined to find new ways of giving back to you today what you liked yesterday—with variations.” Adam Curtis highlights the mechanisms that help to narrow and simplify our experiences to the point that we are in danger of getting stuck in a static, ever-narrowing version of ourselves, locked into place, “perpetually repeating the past and terrified of change and the future”.
www.bbc.co.uk

Wenn die Maschinenstürmer doch recht behalten

“Einerseits steige die Verfügbarkeit von digitalisierbaren Dingen und Diensten dramatisch, bei immer weiter sinkenden Preisen. Andererseits kämen die Erträge der neuen Produktionsweisen nur wenigen zugute, was in einer potenziell extremen Polarisierung von Einkommen und Entfaltungschancen resultiere.” Henrik Müller sieht uns einem verarmenden Produktivitätswachstum ausgeliefert.
www.spiegel.de

OS X Mavericks forces iOS calendar, contact syncing into iCloud

“Basically, iCloud is appallingly insecure, and Apple has just dramatically increased the volume of information that’s about to start flowing through it—names, email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers in droves, not to mention your doctor’s visits.” Molly Wood does not regard Apple’s iCloud a safe place for her data.
themolly.com

How the NSA betrayed the world’s trust—time to act

“And whoever tells you that they have nothing to hide simply haven’t thought about this long enough. ‘Cause we have this thing called privacy. And if you really think that you have nothing to hide, please make sure that’s the first thing you tell me because then I know, that I should not trust you with any secrets because obviously, you can’t keep a secret [sic]”
Mikko Hypponen
www.ted.com

The danger of fetishizing BlackBerry Messenger security

“I would suggest that it is more useful to take a holistic democratic accounting of lawful access laws and their implications. Where such laws are prospectively damaging to the fabric of the democracy, perhaps by threatening rights of free speech, association, and limitations of governmental search powers, then those are the areas that we as citizens, journalists, and commentators must focus our attention. Such democratic narrative can be supported by technological and legal facts and opinions, but critically the basic narrative is not on corporate products, whiz-bang technologies, nor legal minutia, but the very principles of a democracy.” Christopher Parsons in 2012, more than one year before Edward Snowden, is right on the money pinpointing the implications of unrestrained government surveillance.
www.christopher-parsons.com

This structure of surveillance will stop us doing things which are right

“We now face the greatest threat to our liberties since the second world war. We are sleepwalking into despotism. Because of the amount of material that is being collected, because these databases, which are not about tiny items of information, will be used and not just by governments. Snowden was working for a corporation. They will be accessed by others in government and because, that’s most important of all, people will start to self-censor. We will find that the very fact of the total surveillance of our activities means that we are going to sort of … it’s not a question, as the foreign minister said, of ‘if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to fear’. [sic] This structure of surveillance will stop us doing things which are right, that we know we should be doing.” Anthony Barnett appearing on yesterday’s Newsnight programme.
youtube.com

How to remain secure against NSA surveillance

“The NSA has turned the fabric of the internet into a vast surveillance platform, but they are not magical. They’re limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.” Bruce Schneier works on the assumption that the NSA is able to decrypt most of the Internet.
www.theguardian.com

On the same subject, David Meyer felt moved to pen an open letter titled ‘Dear stupid, stupid NSA’.