Even Trump’s paid geeks are political incompetents

Click to zero in on the core bigotry

When Trump and his assistant dolts realized they were being too public about their bigotry – things like the Constitution were getting in the way – they tried to tidy up their shitpile of ideology online. They deleted the content from this press release about their so-called travel ban. And never noticed the bigotry was just as clear in the url.

Thanks, Jessica Stone

Jeb Bush is the ultimate opponent of Internet Freedom

Do you want to live in a country where Internet Service Providers can slow down and censor your internet traffic at will, where the NSA has vastly more power than it does today and where end-to-end encryption may be illegal? Then Jeb Bush is the Republican presidential contender for you: he has positioned himself as the anti-internet candidate in an election where internet rights have never mattered more.

A lot of the White House candidates have made worrying comments about the future of surveillance and the internet – from Chris Christie’s bizarre vow to track 10 million people like FedEx packages, to Hillary Clinton’s waffling on encryption backdoors – but Jeb Bush’s deliberate campaign to roll back internet rights is the perfect storm of awful.

Bush proudly stated on his campaign website this week that he would axe the FCC’s important net neutrality rules, a hard-fought, grassroots victory from earlier this year by internet rights activists almost a decade in the making. As the New York Times described it at the time, the net neutrality rules “are intended to ensure that no content is blocked and that the internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else…”

As Gizmodo’s Kate Knibbs put it, however, “Instead of viewing the FCC’s net neutrality rule as a safeguard for consumers, Bush is framing it a way to sandbag ISPs out of their rightful profit margins, with no upside for people using their services.” Jeb Bush is apparently happy to side with Comcast and Time Warner, two of the most hated conglomerates in America, rather than the tens of millions of people who just want watch Netflix every night without their internet slowing down or having to pay more.

But that’s just his latest vow to dismantle the hard-fought rights internet users have won over the past few years. Bush is also a mass warrantless surveillance fanatic. He not only continually defends the NSA on the campaign trail, but has called for the mammoth spy agency to be handed even more powers. He’s defended the massive phone metadata program that collected Americans’ phone records that is both wildly unpopular with voters and has already been modified by Congress – and to a large extent shuttered – with the passage of the USA Freedom Act. Bush even claimed the expansion of the NSA over the past six or seven years has been the “best part” of the Obama administration.

Perhaps worst of all, Jeb Bush has ignorantly criticized the welcome trend of tech companies like Apple implementing end-to-end encryption in their devices to protect its millions of users from criminals and government spying. Seemingly channeling his brother George W at an event in August, Jeb said, “If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job…”

I rarely expect the average American voter to vote on behalf of their own economic interest. Might be a bit of a stretch for a society working harder than ever at perpetuating ignorance and obedience.

I hope geeks interested in blogs fond of tech and science are brighter than that. I hope that vague number of Americans still believing in personal privacy will vote – even in another election featuring the untrustworthy vs the folks who try to be nice.

Geeks fightback against NSA spies with super encryption

America’s Mecca for Fascist technology

Google, Facebook and Yahoo! are fighting back against the National Security Agency by using harder-to-crack code to shield their networks and online customer data from unauthorized U.S. spying.

The companies, burned by disclosures they’ve cooperated with U.S. surveillance programs, are protecting user e-mail and social-media posts with strengthened encryption that the U.S. government says won’t be easily broken until 2030…

Companies are fighting back primarily by using increasingly complex encryption, which scrambles data using a mathematical formula that can be decoded only with a special digital key. The idea is to protect sensitive information like e-mails, Internet searches and digital calls…

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has determined that known computing power won’t be able to break 2048-bit encryption until at least 2030…

“The NSA is one of the largest, most powerful, well-funded intelligence agencies in the world,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl said in a phone interview. “While the government has been misusing its legal authorities to require a set of data at the front door, the NSA has been sneaking in the back door to grab all the data…”

Encrypting data can, at the least, make it harder for the NSA to gain unauthorized access to information, forcing the agency to pick targets or come out of the shadows and go before a court to obtain it legally, Opsahl said.

The other thing companies can do is lobby Congress to change the law to restrict what the NSA is able to do, according to Harvard’s Bruce Schneier.

“There is a technology component, but primarily this is a political problem,” Schneier said.

Like most every social problem in our lives, today – this is a political problem. Congress and the White House vacillate between do-nothing know-nothings on the Right and spineless do-nothings in the supposedly Liberal middle. Obama was elected to change foreign policy, end military complicity and bring our troops home, lead a constitutional fight to restore democracy and privacy to our nation. He failed. In the fight for privacy he didn’t even try – rolling over for the NSA and Homeland Insincerety.

Though pressure from below – that means you and me – we shoved half the Blue Dog Democrats out the door and replaced them with Progressives or at least Constitutionalists who will stand up for traditional rights. Pressure needs to be maintained on Congress which will likely return a significant number of populist Tea Party phonies from gerrymandered districts. Pressure needs to be increased on Democrats who have the ethical sturdiness of Jello.

‘Dark Tangent’ goes to work for Homeland Security

The real sign that the White House might be finally taking cyber security seriously came in an announcement that Jeff Moss, aka “Dark Tangent” and the former hacker behind the annual DefCon hacker confab in Las Vegas, has been appointed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council (HSAC).

He was among 16 people sworn in to the council by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Former CIA Director WIlliam Webster and former FBI Director Louis Freeh are also on the council, which provides advice and recommendations to the secretary. Webster is the council chair.

Moss, who lives in Seattle, says he was really surprised when he got a call about three weeks ago inviting him to join.

“I always figured that because of my associations in the past that I would be kind of out of the running for anything like this,” he told Threat Level. “DefCon started as a hacking conference . . . and I just figured that that past, in a nontraditional beginning, people wouldn’t know how to relate to that. To me it shows that they’re really looking for fresh perspectives…”

Moss says he didn’t have a clue what the Advisory Council was when he got the call to join. But he was told that DHS was looking for outside perspectives to rejuvenate the council, which had been neglected under former Secretary Michael Chertoff. The position is voluntary and runs for a term of three years.

Good for you, dude. Glad you’re not saddled with the kind of counter-culture hangups that inhibit performing a useful service for something larger than your clan.

How Technology Won the Presidency, Part I

Daylife/Getty Images

Command of the issues, cool confidence and disarming smile aside, Barack Obama might just owe his campaign’s success to his team’s ability to harness the technology at their fingertips. Social networking, broadband and data management all played huge roles in making the Obama campaign the most personalized presidential campaign ever…

Data drove many decisions for the campaign. The team amassed more than 13 million email addresses and more than 5 million friends across the social networking landscape. Of the roughly $750 million Obama raised, two-thirds of it was donated online. There were field offices across the nation. Data was coming from everywhere — every time someone signed up on Facebook, donated $5 or requested info from my.barackobama.com, the campaign got at least a phone number or an email address.

Corralling the various data was critical, Luke Peterson said during the presentation, as it allowed the campaign to “break down the walls between departments.” In early 2007, when Iowa was the focus, Team Obama built a tool that meshed voter registration data with data collected online to determine the geographic location of voters. This allowed precinct organizers to more fully personalize the experience for voters in their precincts. Instead of generic phone calls asking people to vote for Obama, callers were able offer rides to caucus locations or talk about issues that voters might have raised via a forum post. While all this was going on in Iowa, another web tool was feeding information to volunteers in states with later primaries and caucuses, who built and grew coalitions until the official campaign focused its attention on those states.

The main objective of this data integration strategy was to make the most of resource expenditures. The Obama campaign didn’t want to waste time going through the phonebook cold calling, so it used data mining and integration to figure out “who the cream was on our barrel,” on whom it should unleash its hordes of volunteers. This was the campaign’s single biggest technology-derived success…

Makes good sense to me. The Rove-directed Republicans did similar work, though, focused by premise on a smaller demographic grounded in religion and reactionary ideology.

German computer geeks learn to flirt – hopefully

Even the most quirky of computer nerds can learn to flirt with finesse thanks to a new “flirting course” being offered to budding IT engineers at Potsdam University south of Berlin.

The 440 students enrolled in the master’s degree course will learn how to write flirtatious text messages and emails, impress people at parties and cope with rejection…

The course, which starts next Monday, is part of the social skills section of the IT course and is designed to ease entry into the world of work. Students also learn body language, public-speaking, stress management and presentation skills.

There’s something especially droll about technology whizbangs who find themselves incapable of communicating with human beings.