Hamilton 68: Tracking Putin’s Propaganda Push in the United States [and more]

❝ In the Federalist Papers No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote of protecting America’s electoral process from foreign meddling.

❝ Today, we face foreign interference of a type Hamilton could scarcely have imagined, a world in which global powers use instantaneous media networks and a mix of overt and covert programming to reach into our homes and workplaces and shape our view of the world.

The Hamilton 68 dashboard, a project with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, seeks to expose the effects of online influence networks and inform the public of themes and content being promoted to Americans by foreign powers.

Worthwhile addition to your bookmarks.

The Trump government continues to remove scientific data from the Web


Click to run

❝ In our latest episode of Ars Technica Live, Ars editors Annalee Newitz and Joe Mullin talked to UC Santa Cruz sociology professor Lindsey Dillon about how the Trump administration has been removing scientific and environmental data from the Web. Lindsey is part of a group called Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI), which is working on ways to rescue that data and make it available to the public.

Lindsey told us how EDGI got started in November 2016, within days of the presidential election. Its founders are scientists and academics whose main goal was to make sure that researchers and citizens would continue to have access to data about the environment. They organized data rescue events around the country, where volunteers identified vulnerable climate information on websites for several government agencies, including the EPA, DOE, and even NASA. The Internet Archive helped by creating digital records of all the at-risk pages…

The Trump administration promises to cut the EPA’s budget by one third, and it has appointed Scott Pruitt to head the agency. Pruitt, who sued the EPA 14 times during his tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General, has just launched an initiative to “challenge” climate change data.

Run the video up top. Check out the discussion. The underground still functions within the most anti-science government elected by an ignorant nation – since Ronald Reagan.

Brits’ new Surveillance Law will be a global model – for repression

Civil rights advocates are up in arms over a sweeping new digital surveillance law in the United Kingdom, and not just because they say it intrudes on the privacy of people in the U.K. Some worry that the law sets an example other democratic nations will be tempted to follow.

The legislation…is called the Investigatory Powers Act (or, by its critics, the “Snooper’s Charter”). It enshrines broad new authority for U.K. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conduct online surveillance, hack into devices deemed relevant to investigations, and make technology companies provide access to data about their users — even by forcing them to change the design of products. It also gives investigators the authority to use these powers in “bulk,” meaning they can access large data sets that may include information about people not relevant to investigations. They can even hack into devices owned by people who are not suspects in a crime.

…The most high-profile fight is over a new authority for the government to compel Internet service providers to retain “Internet connection records”—including websites visited or mobile apps used, the times they were accessed, and the duration of use — for up to 12 months for all their customers. Investigators won’t need a warrant from a judge to access this data. “There is no state in the Western democratic world that has anything similar,” says Eric King…former deputy director of Don’t Spy on Us, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations that advocates for surveillance reform…

Brazil and Australia have also recently instituted data retention laws. The U.S. has not, but the U.S. Department of Justice has advocated for mandatory data retention before, as have members of Congress. After the Snowden revelations, President Obama issued a policy directive limiting bulk data collection by the federal government itself. But Donald Trump could rescind that or work with Congress to require Internet service providers to retain data so investigators could access it later—a step that would be modeled on the U.K. legislation. “If the Trump administration wants to expand its surveillance powers, or seek sanction for more aggressive use of its existing powers, it could unfortunately point to the U.K.’s new law as precedent,” says Camilla Graham Wood, Privacy International’s legal officer.

RTFA for a peek at the brave new world brought to us in part by fools who vote for phonies like Donald Trump. That doesn’t exempt the chickenshit Establishment of Democrats and Republicans who roll over and stick all four feet into the air every time some surveillance pimp prattles about fear.

Younger adults more likely than seniors to prefer reading news

guardian-online

❝ When it comes to technology’s influence on America’s young adults, reading is not dead – at least not the news. When asked whether one prefers to read, watch or listen to their news, younger adults are far more likely than older ones to opt for text, and most of that reading takes place on the web.

❝ Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. Among those under 50, on the other hand, roughly equal portions – about four-in-ten of those ages 18-29 and ages 30-49 – opt to read their news as opt to watch it.

Most of that reading among younger adults is through digital text rather than print. About eight-in-ten (81%) of 18- to 29-year-olds who prefer to read their news also prefer to get their news online; just 10% choose a print newspaper. The breakdown among 30- to 49-year-olds is similar. News readers who are ages 50-64, on the other hand, are more evenly split between a preference for the web (41%) and print paper (40%), while those 65 and older mostly still turn to the print paper (63%).

❝ There is also evidence that younger adults who prefer to watch their news are beginning to make the transition to doing so on a computer rather than a television. While 57% of 18- to 29-year-old news watchers prefer to get their news via TV, 37% cite the web as their platform of choice. That is far more than any other age group, including double the percentage of 30- to 49-year-old news watchers.

Just a little bit of info; but – interesting. I wonder what the average education levels are in the comparison populations? More cultural factors – effects as much as causes – should be worth noting in Pew’s inevitable follow-on studies.

Dear Obama — Tell the NSA to get an honest job and quit playing God

Warning of an erosion of confidence in the products of the U.S. technology industry, John Chambers, the CEO of networking giant Cisco Systems, has asked President Obama to intervene to curtail the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency.

In a letter dated May 15 (obtained by Re/code and reprinted in full below), Chambers asked Obama to create “new standards of conduct” regarding how the NSA carries out its spying operations around the world. The letter was first reported by The Financial Times.

The letter follows new revelations, including photos, published in a book based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden alleging that the NSA intercepted equipment from Cisco and other manufacturers and loaded them with surveillance software. The photos, which have not been independently verified, appear to show NSA technicians working with Cisco equipment. Cisco is not said to have cooperated in the NSA’s efforts.

Addressing the allegations of NSA interference with the delivery of his company’s products, Chambers wrote: “We ship our products globally from inside as well as outside the United States, and if these allegations are true, these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally.”

We simply cannot operate this way; our customers trust us to be able to deliver to their doorsteps products that meet the highest standards of integrity and security,” Chambers wrote. “We understand the real and significant threats that exist in this world, but we must also respect the industry’s relationship of trust with our customers…”

Here’s a link [.pdf] to the complete Chambers letter to President Obama.

Obama rolls over and plays dead for the State Department party line that’s unchanged since Truman. He rolls over and plays dead for the NSA crowd that’s been in charge since Ronald Reagan. No surprise to folks who study American foreign policy and domestic spying policies – as practiced.

The standard dicho on US spies was the CIA is liberals, the FBI is conservatives and the NSA is Nazis. That hasn’t changed. The roles they play internally has. The ultimate rat bastard bigot, J.Edgar Hoover, ran the FBI as his own personal Red Squad for decades. The CIA played the same role abroad – recruiting people who might have ended up in the Peace Corps otherwise. The my-country-right-or-wrong nursery rhyme still worked.

The NSA has always hoped for a dictator – conservative or fascist never made much of a difference. Reagan gave them every hope of success and an endless budget – which continues today.

No part of this process gives a damn about unemployed Americans, businesses dwindling down into a rusty crapper, the potential for trade in a globalized economy, education, healthcare, equal rights – for Americans or anyone else on the planet. American politicians, American corporations should rule the world and maximize profit at every level. Period.

I wish John Chambers well. His company played a significant role in building the Internet as we know it – and made money along the way. But, the rest of the world now indicts Cisco the way the NSA’s favorite pimp, Mike Rogers, tried to indict Huawei from the floor of Congress. The world has evidence for their opinion – courtesy of Edward Snowden.

I don’t think Obama will change the core tasks and policies of the NSA in the least. He’s drunk the KoolAid of Imperial America and it’s stronger than anything you can smoke on the South Side of Chicago. The propaganda may change. The lies to us – may change. Not the destiny they consider their right. God bless the United States of Amerika.

Mazda recalls vehicles because of a spider problem, again!

In what might be the weirdest reason for a car recall, Mazda is contacting car owners because of an issue with spiders. On April 5, Autoblog reported on the latest Mazda recall. They say the issue has to due with a specific spider that is attracted to the fuel systems in the car.

The Yellow Sac spider is plaguing Mazda yet again. Just three years ago the car manufacturer was forced to recall some 52,000 of their cars for the same exact problem. The issue here though is that the problem isn’t faulty equipment, it is the wildlife.

The newest recall applies to the 2010 through 2012 models of the Mazda6 sedan. According to Mazda, the Yellow Sac spiders are somehow getting into the vent lines in the fuel systems because they are attracted to the hydrocarbons in the gas tank. The problem with the pesky spiders is that their webs are blocking the ventilation systems and causing pressure to build up in the gas tank.

The recall only applies to the Mazda6 vehicles with the 2.5 liter engines. Even more interesting, the spider problem has only been found in vehicles that came from the Flint, Mich. plant. Many speculate that the spider problem originated at that specific plant and made it’s way into the fuel systems due to mature spiders laying their eggs inside the cars.

Does this latest spider related recall mean that Mazda should redesign the fuel system of the Mazda6 altogether? That might be the only solution since other Mazda vehicles haven’t been impacted and no other auto maker is reported a fuel tank issue caused by spiders.

Maybe they should be doing something about an excess of Yellow Sac spiders in their Flint factory?

Last time my only comment was about a spring-loaded solution to the invasion.

US plans to hand over Internet control to global independence


American center for Internet oversight

The United States will hand over government control of administration of the Internet, bowing to pressures to globalize the management of the networks that connect billions of people around the world in a move meant to ease fears following last year’s revelations of NSA spying.

U.S. officials on Friday announced plans to relinquish its oversight role over the group that manages the Web’s critical infrastructure, said Lawrence Strickling, the head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration at the Commerce Department.

The transition will come in 2015, when Commerce contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers expires next year. But the announcement comes with a major caveat: As part of the transition, an independent, international oversight authority must be established so as to earn the trust of the world, Strickling said.

ICANN, the California-based nonprofit that coordinates the Web’s various systems of identifiers, has been pushing for increased global participation in the administration of the Internet, particularly since Edward Snowden’s leak of thousands of classified NSA documents last summer revealed the U.S. had been snooping on foreign nationals and governments…

But not everyone welcomed the news, particularly business leaders and others who were glad to accept tight U.S. control on the Internet’s administration as it ensured the Web operated smoothly and openly…

Yup. And Mussolini made the trains run on time in Fascist Italy.

Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, warned that without U.S. oversight, the Web may not hold together as a single entity.

“The world could be faced with a splintered Internet that would stifle innovation, commerce, and the free flow and diversity of ideas that are bedrock tenets of world’s biggest economic engine,” Castro wrote in an op-ed Friday.

“It is too important to get wrong,” he said. “And if the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet, it will be gone forever.”

Daniel Castro’s argument is nothing new. It is advanced by many American geeks and pundits every time the question of globalizing management of the Web comes up, every time the ICANN contract comes up for renewal.

What’s changed is that we know now that our government has handed oversight of the Internet to the NSA.

UPDATE: the most prominent, broadest body already established to globalize, democratize Internet management is Global Commission on Internet Governance. Useful article at GigaOm.

Independent commission to investigate future of internet freedom

A major independent commission headed by the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, was launched on Wednesday to investigate the future of the internet in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

The two-year inquiry, announced at the World Economic Forum at Davos, will be wide-ranging but focus primarily on state censorship of the internet as well as the issues of privacy and surveillance raised by the Snowden leaks about America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ spy agencies…

Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, said: “The rapid evolution of the net has been made possible by the open and flexible model by which it has evolved and been governed. But increasingly this is coming under attack.

“And this is happening as issues of net freedom, net security and net surveillance are increasingly debated. Net freedom is as fundamental as freedom of information and freedom of speech in our societies.”

The Obama administration on Friday announced the initial findings of a White House-organised review of the NSA. There are also inquiries by the US Congress and by the European parliament, but this is the first major independent one.

The nicest thing said about Obama’s recommendations is that they have the strength of weak tea. My characterization would be more scatalogical.

Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, said: “The issue of internet governance is set to become one of the most pressing global policy issues of our time…”

Gordon Smith, who is to be deputy chair of the commission, said: “For many people, internet governance sounds technical and esoteric but the reality is that the issues are ‘high politics’ and of consequence to all users of the internet, present and future.”

Many of America’s geek pundits feel the United States owns the Internet and every other nation should simply follow whatever our government says should be the rules. Obedience is required by the Internet Overlords.

The battle comes up every few years, The next round will not only involve the question of global democracy; but, individual privacy and security will have to be part of the discussion.

7 stories to read this weekend – from Om Malik


This is how cold Om felt in Munich

The D2C generation, student debt, Mike Matheny’s tragic story, the problem with social news and the amazingly talented Dualtone records are some of the stories on the menu this week.

After spending a week in bone-numbingly cold Germany, I have come back to work and here are some of the stories I found that are worth your time. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

The trouble with social news: Aldo Cortesi shares his growing discontent with the social news ecosystem and in it, he nails some of the anxiety I have felt about the internet’s new news ecosystem…

Click the link to make your choices.

Tomorrow morning – my blogging will be back to whatever passes for normal in my life

We will get our first walk in with Rally before dawn. The second right at dawn. A third about a half-hour after that – right after breakfast. This time of year, we try to get her walks in before temperatures start to climb.

Then, I can return to my usual blogging schedule here – and at the other blogs where I contribute.

I have been offline for nine hours or more. I’m just getting to bed and – peering into my study – realized the internet connection has come back up.

I don’t know if I should blame the gremlins who manage the interwebitubes at the local Comcast hub or not. I’ll call in the morning and cancel the scheduled tech visit. It took six phone calls – two of which were dropped because of the lame cell service we get from T-Mobile – running out to buy a new modem to try [which I have to return, tomorrow] to even get as far as scheduling a service call.

Looking forward to catching up with news, happenings, science, politics, opinion – and expressing my feelings online about it all.