“Net Neutrality will die, so let’s take the profit out of killing it.” – Robert X. Cringely

Lobbyists for Big Business and Big Brother apparently have bought enough Congressmen and other officials that the FCC is about to rescind the Net Neutrality rules. Of course, the big losers in this action will be the consumers. That’s you and me.

Robert X. Cringely is the pen name of both technology journalist Mark Stephens and a string of writers for a column in InfoWorld. Cringely, whoever he is or they are, is generally recognized as one of the computer experts and leading consumer advocates of our time. Obviously, Cringely is strongly against this effort by big media companies and by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to decide for the rest of us which services we can access.

See https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-trump-will-turn-americas-open-internet-into-an-ugly-version-of-chinas for a description of what will undoubtedly happen once the Net Neutrality rules are rescinded.

Cringely writes, “No matter how many protesters merge on their local Verizon store, no matter how many impassioned editorials are written, it’s going to happen. The real question is what can be done in response to take the profit out of killing it? I have a plan.

He also writes:

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When Visiting Political, Religious, Sexual, Drug-Related, or other Controversial Web Sites, Always Use a VPN

This is a bit of a follow-up to the previous article, Trump Administration Demands Data on over a Million Visitors to anti-Trump Site.

The Trump administration is demanding web host provider Dreamhost turn over the logs of over 1.3 million visitors to an anti-Trump website it hosts, the company has revealed. The demand asks for the IP addresses and other information that could be used to identify anyone who visited the site. “The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses — in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people — in an effort to determine who simply visited the website,” the company said in its blog post. The warrant, DreamHost argues, would also require it to hand over any communications that are even tangentially related to the website.

Such a request has a chilling effect on the rights of free speech, the rights of association, and numerous other rights that Americans have enjoyed for more than 200 years.

The request probably is illegal and also displays an appalling ignorance of the technology involved. In short, the politicians apaprently are not aware that anyone who uses a VPN (virtual private network) or Tor networking has a hidden IP address.

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What is the Future of Privacy, Surveillance and Policing Technologies under Trump?

“But Mr. Trump, with the power of the presidency and executive branch as a whole at his fingertips, has said little of how he intends to approach the authority he now wields over the country’s surveillance policies. As developing policing technologies continue to outpace laws restricting their use, and as Mr. Trump and top members of his administration like Attorney General Jeff Sessions take a hard line against illegal immigration, terrorism and crime, experts in constitutional law and civil liberties fear the lack of an accompanying conversation on privacy protections could contribute to the erosion of Fourth Amendment rights.

“The Fourth Amendment guarantees the ‘right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.'”

The full article by Kathryn Watson of CBS News may be found at http://cbsn.ws/2s1g8DB.

Online Security 101: Tips for Protecting Your Privacy from Hackers and Spies

Zack Whittaker has published an article that perhaps should be required reading for everyone before the purchase of their first computers. Whittaker writes:

“Privacy is what sets us apart from the animals. It’s also what sets many countries and citizens apart from dictatorships and despots. People often don’t think about their rights until they need them — whether it’s when they’re arrested at a protest or pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

“Surveillance is also a part of life, and it’s getting progressively more invasive. Government eavesdropping is increasing, carried out in wider secrecy, and it’s becoming far more localized.”

There is a lot more at: http://zd.net/2r78Q1Q.

Europe’s Privacy Shield is Trump-proof According to Julie Brill, Former FTC Commissioner

In an article in her law firm’s blog, Julie Brill notes that the recent executive order (EO) from the Oval Office, which expressly limited privacy rights to US citizens only, does not impact the critical agreement between the European Union and the United States. The article lists three reasons:

  1. The Privacy Act applies only to government databases, whereas the Privacy Shield covers corporate databases.
  2. No presidential Executive Order can override existing laws written by Congress – and Congress has already approved the Judicial Redress Act that grants EU citizens the right to use the US courts in the case of misuse of data.
  3. The other mechanism set up to make the Privacy Shield work legally – an Ombudsman that will look into any requests from Europe about access to data by the US government – remains in place.

You can read more in Julie Brill’s article at: https://goo.gl/ct6cvZ.

Trump Aides’ Use of Encrypted Messaging May Violate Records Law

While Donald Trump has said that he wants to increase electronic surveillance of American citizens’ and non-citizens’ electronic communications, the new administration is making sure that no one can intercept their messages amongst themselves by using Signal, a free end-to-end encrypted messaging app.

Senior Trump administration aides communicating over encrypted messaging apps may be violating federal record-keeping laws. The Presidential Records Act requires staff to keep records of those conversations. By using Signal, all records are encrypted, then later deleted.

It’s not just in the White House. Aides close to the New York governor and the mayor and Obama administration staff also use the encrypted messaging app.

You can read more in an article by Zack Whittaker at https://goo.gl/2wnf63.

Encrypt the Vote

secretballotThe news services are full of stories about voter fraud these days. Maybe Russian hackers influenced the vote tallies. Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe votes were cast by deceased registered voters. Or maybe not. Maybe someone tampered with electronic voting machines. Or maybe not. Whatever the truth, one relatively simple proposal promises to avoid the problems in the future. It will use encryption to verify every vote and to provide irrefutable proof of who cast each vote.

“Recounts don’t actually happen, because if you can’t bring a shred of evidence to the table that something went wrong, you sound like a lunatic,” said computer scientist Ben Adida. “That’s what 2016 proves. We need to build a voting system that inherently provides that evidence in case something goes wrong.”

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