Privacy and security, a perpetrated myth

Post inspiration:  Yahoo, complying with U.S. intelligence directive, searched emails


Before you say it, this dude is crazy.  This quote is totally relevant though and absolutely true.  The Patriot Act is a perfect example of the State giving us security.

We’re living in a scary time in regards to online data and how that data is kept secure and private. We put a lot of faith in the companies where we save our personal data without much thought about how its kept private and secure. The article above is confirming what I’ve known since the Patriot Act was passed. The U.S. Government, in execution of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) request, using the Patriot Act as leverage, has forced Yahoo into complying with a directive to search emails. Yahoo designed a custom application to search their entire email system looking for key words, not yet known, catalog then place the information in a repository for remote pickup.

What irks me to no end is that the FISA was passed in 1978, well before anyone even dreamed of electronic storage or communications. The government used the FISA, as a sub-section of the Patriot Act, to allow it to spy on U.S. citizens in the prevention of terrorism. The crappy part of this is that they’re not targeting anyone specifically, rather, their using keyword searches and specific criteria to search EVERYTHING they can access easily. Think of trying to swat a fly with a 20 lb. sledge-hammer and you’ll come sort of close to what the government is doing. What I didn’t realize until just recently, is that the FISA has been amended with the following:

  • Protect America Act of 2007
  • FISA Amendment Act of 2008
  • USA Freedom Act

These aren’t what I’d call light reading. In my estimation, the FISA has been essentially used as the vehicle to push modern agendas that eroded away the security of U.S. citizens to the point that we’re not treated any differently than a foreign actor. The problem with keyword searches is simple: searching for “bomb” in the email inboxes of potentially 500 million people will result in a massive amount of data. The data is of course taken out of context and often falsely targets individuals that have nothing to do with terrorism. That’s the problem with casting a wide net, you get a lot of things caught in it that you don’t want or need to catch, but need to look at none the less.

I had a Yahoo account, I deleted it on Wednesday. I had a Gmail account and deleted that a few months ago. I’m consolidated to a few Outlook accounts at this point and am starting to think that a fully encrypted offshore email service is the better way to go. It’d be a major pain to migrate everything to a new email address, but for now, I’m going to stay put as I’ve yet to see anything damaging in regards to Microsoft bending over backwards for the government similar to the way Yahoo did. I do have a ProtonMail account, based in Switzerland, and reported to have end-to-end encryption that is unique to each account (meaning not even they can decrypt). As in, if you forget your mailbox password, in order to recover access it has to delete your mailbox and start you over. With years worth of email (something I’ve been meaning to go through), it would be a horrible tragedy to have to start over.

Our government has created a structure of law that allows them to essentially do what they want, when they want to, basically without our knowledge or approval. I’m left asking myself what the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights actually stand for when, very clearly, we’ve lost some or most of our rights to privacy, security, and personal freedoms. Shame on Yahoo for just “complying” with the Governments request to search emails of all their users. Shame on the American people who have traded their privacy in exchange for violations of their rights in the name of national security. My recommendation, encrypt as much of your data and activity as you can. Encryption, as we found out in the FBI vs. Apple, requires court orders to compel you to unencrypt; and then only after they have justified their request. I’m sure the elite will alter the law to make it so that even encryption isn’t adequate protection for your privacy. How and when remains to be seen.

#fisa, #illusion-of-security, #patriot-act, #privacy, #security, #yahoo-breach, #yahoo-e-mail-accounts

Why I’ve decided to delete my Facebook account

I’ve been on Facebook for almost a decade, signed up around 2008 or so. It was fun at first, reconnecting with all sort of people who were blasts from the past in high school and college. That quickly faded though as I realized that past the idle chit-chat and random posts, I never really had a connection with them from before, so why would I think it would be different through Facebook. Recent events and taking the time to read, understand, and read more about the true nature of the system we’re being forced to live with, I’m seeing things clearer and for how they truly exist. I’m in a better space now based on knowledge and truth and have decided to delete my Facebook account.


Inspiration for this post: Control perception, control the world by Learning to Speak Politics

Opt-in Default Settings

Lets face it, the social meida world in 2008 was drastically different from the social media world today. We’re in a state of thought where privacy is fleeting and is more of an illusion than of true fact. The settings for privacy on Facebook have changed multiple times in the past decade and not always for the better. Traditionally, as privacy settings have been added and/or updated, they were implemented in our accounts as an “opt-in” feature, or turned on by default. As I’m sure there are people out there that are perfectly fine (I think they’re crazy) with sharing with “Everyone” their entire lives, I am not. I had to review privacy every few weeks to a few months to make sure a sneaky privacy change didn’t creep in and I unknowingly started sharing with everyone. I never appreciated most of the changes Facebook made as it was time-consuming to first figure out what changed and then work to protect myself from the change so that I wasn’t sharing with 1 billion people instead of the 94 friends I currently have.

It was in the news (if you can call it that now) that Facebook in the past had changed settings and defaulted them to “opt-in” which I think now has changed. The change is that they now notify you of pending changes and offer you the chance to “opt-out” of the change prior to it being implemented. The true problem here is that regardless of whether you share with Everyone or just Friends, Facebook has access to your entire profile all the time. Pictures, friends, groups, pages, etc. They hold this data on you for purposes of squeezing out as much monetization from ads as they can. As several countries have brought Facebook to court over privacy, and even had their service blocked in some cases, should be a reminder that they’re not in it for us. A social network without people being social and sharing everything doesn’t hold a lot of appeal. A quick Bing or Google search will bring up hundreds of articles on how Facebook has filtered and manipulated what is shared, the most recent example being related to Bernie Sanders.

Filtered Feeds

For years I had my settings set to show me the most recent stories by default. Sometime in the last few years, Facebook decided that the most recent stories are crap and instead thought that I deserved their news feed. Their news feed was based on some algorithm based on what I posted, who I followed/commented on regularly, and rarely showed me anything that wasn’t at least a few hours to a few days old. Logging on, the first thing I did was immediately change that from “News Stories” to “Most Recent” before even looking at anything. I’m not the only one that thought this was crap, but they have refused to allow the settings to be changed to a default of anything other than “News Stories”. Facebook, it seems, is now in bed with CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, and others to push their agenda of filtered news and show only what they think we should see. They consistently spin a narrative where they are in control and use tactics that force a suggested theory on the conclusions we eventually make. I fell into that trap for years and have finally broken free and I urge everyone I talk to, do some independent research to discover it for themselves. I’m not so naive to think that I can alter someones opinion just on my own conjecture. Yes, I’m looking at you Trump supporters out there. Open eyes are what the elite fear most in us non-elite common folk. The truth is there, but it has to be discovered on your own time and effort.

Our world has become so filtered at this point that no one remembers what it’s like to not have it filtered. See the Jeff Daniels video I posted from his performance in News Room if you don’t believe me. Fiction is often a silent protest of the so-called truth.

It’s about money now

A free service that isn’t free. Try as hard as you can to debate this, there are too many examples to contradict that in fact, the service costs something. It costs you the surrender of your personal details. Email, Name, location, mobile number, friends, etc. It has become almost impossible to create an account that doesn’t demand these details so aggressively that you’re forced to surrender them just to make the reminders go away. Facebook doesn’t need to know I went to a certain high school or college, the friends I’m still in touch with already know. They also don’t need to know what groups I’m interested in outside of Facebook, but they poke and prod that out of you as well. Facebook is trading as of this post at $125.60/share, how can a “free” service be worth money unless their Ad network is raking in the money for both Facebook and their advertisers? My personal data is being used to fuel the money-making engine that is targeted advertising. “Suggested posts” are littered in my feed from pages that I don’t remember liking and accidentally clicking on them yields a click-through that ends up getting everyone but me paid some money. I’ve had a hard time getting past the feeling that I’m being used and exploited for my personal data.

Personal ads that matched recent non-Facebook searches

In the last year or so, I started seeing ads in the right margin that weren’t related to Facebook likes or posts, but related to searches I had made outside of Facebook. Thinking that was a bit odd, I searched for specific items that I had never done in the past a few times each day for a week. Sure enough, I started seeing ads related to those search terms while in Facebook. It would appear, through my unscientific research, that Facebook was reading search cookies on my laptop using Google on the Chrome browser. These search cookies were used to display ads to me while logged into Facebook in an attempt to get me to click-through. I’m sure Facebook has some Terms of Service where data from affiliate systems (like Google or Chrome) can be shared with Facebook for the purposes of displaying relevant information to me. Unfortunately the Terms of Service would require 1-2 hours to completely read through with the assumption that I wouldn’t need to look anything up. I loathe ads of any type and is the reason I run an Ad-blocker. An ad-blocker that interestingly doesn’t block the Facebook ads.

Is “free” truly “free”?

Ask yourself what is being surrendered when you use a “free” service? In the case of Facebook, they attempt to force their idea of what you want to see in your feed and use your data to personalize the service in order to maximize their revenue. I downloaded my data set from Facebook, a 29MB zip file, that took me all of 5 minutes to discover that it wasn’t all my data. A deleted profile in fact, is not deleted, rather the value for the “Data Deleted” flag is changed from “No” to “Yes”. What happened to my right to be forgotten?

#delete-facebook, #facebook, #filtered-news-media, #privacy, #right-to-be-forgotten