EU may Fine Political Groups Misusing Personal Data to Skew Elections

The European Union is determined to prevent a Cambridge Analytica-style scandal where politicians misuse personal data for strategic gains. The Financial Times has learned of a European Commission draft amendment that would fine political organizations if they benefit from surreptitious personal data gathering. The details are reportedly still in flux, but the penalty would represent about 5 percent of a political party’s yearly budget — not necessarily fatal to a campaign by itself, but it would stack on top of GDPR-related fines.

Details may be found in an article by Jon Fingas in the Engadget web site at: https://engt.co/2MAClrf.

Microsoft Calls For Federal Regulation of Facial Recognition

In just the past few weeks, critics assailed Amazon for selling facial recognition technology to local police departments, and Facebook for how it gained consent from Europeans to identify people in their photos. In an effort to help society keep pace with the rampaging development of the technology, Microsoft President Brad Smith published a blog post calling for government regulation of facial recognition.

Details may be found at: https://www.wired.com/story/microsoft-calls-for-federal-regulation-of-facial-recognition/.

Russians Found One Use for Bitcoin: Hacking the 2016 US Election

Your analysis of the candidates and the issues may have been partially influenced by fake news spread online by Russian hackers. To facilitate all this, the hackers used many modern tools, including Bitcoins, to fund their operation. The hackers allegedly used the funds to purchase the domains, servers, and accounts involved in obtaining and disseminating the stolen materials.

You can read more about this news in an article by Gregory Barber in Wired at https://www.wired.com/story/russian-hackers-bitcoin/.

Comment: Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that Bitcoin is an evil invention. Some politicians are already spreading that bit of “fake news” misinformation in many places.

Many modern inventions, including the telephone, the automobile, social networks, credit cards, and much more can be used for legal and illegal purposes alike. Yet I don’t hear anyone suggesting that we abandon automobiles to go back to the horse and buggy days nor does anyone advocate banning the use of credit cards. Any suggestion of banning any modern invention reminds me about an old parable concerning babies and bathwater.

“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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