Oct 10

404 Privacy Not Found

The curious thing to me about the Facebook apps ‘leaking data’ story is not that’s its happening, but rather the low levels of digital literacy (or the fact that this has been happening for years) by the public:

Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.

The difference in the past was that the cost of acquiring this data was substantial enough to make it not worth the effort.  The amount of data freely available and the decreased cost of computing power make it a trivial effort.  This is only going to become more prevalent as online providers look to monetize the sale of data.  The problem is that data is being used in ways that the average internet user cannot comprehend, and therefore cannot make an informed decision to opt-in or opt-out.

Continue reading →

Oct 08

Best. Post-Election. Crackup. Ever.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

It’s not even election day, and already the GOP is taking out the long knives. I’m unsure if McCain picked Palin as a stunt to woo the unicorns PUMAs, as a dog whistle to crazy-baselanders, or as a patsy for his increasingly probably defeat. In any case, the coalition of convenience formerly known as the GOP three legged stool of social conservatives, policy and pundit conservatives, and fiscal conservatives is rapidly coming off the rails. We can only hope that the GOP is too busy dealing with their own insurgents to pay attention to any of the real work getting done in picking up the pieces of eight-years of GOP-rule. Continue reading →

May 08

What if I told you I might be an ‘Enemy of the State’?

Nothing is really unbelievable anymore, is it?   And why is a glossy entertainment magazine – in this case, RADAR magazine –   delivering reporting that was formerly the domain of the Fourth Estate?

There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.

They’ve been working on predictive large-scale behavioral modeling whole-world simulators, with the idea being that   every person, industry, and organization existing in a Matrix-style world that they could then submit to famines, natural disaster, economic disruptions, pandemics, and terrorist attacks.   I suspect this is a part of “Main Core .

So many of the parts that would allow this monstrosity to roar into action have become enabled, short of Skynet becomes aware.   We’ve seen internment camps.   The definition for national emergency has been broadened.   We’ve seen precedents established and reinforced for the seizing of public and private land.   A web of databases has been exposed, from no-fly lists, domestic and international communications, descriptive statistics, financial records, domestic and international travel, and various commercial and private entities.   For more discussion on the alphabet soup of programs, see this Metafilter post on the Pentagon’s CIFA, ICEWS, HCSB, the Human Terrain System, the likely ‘collaboration’ between Telcos and the NSA in snooping rooms, TIA – which was defunded but then resumed as ADVISE, TANGRAM, and the expansion of already existing domestic NSA programs.   Such a program would even round up our law-and-order and anti-tax conservatives.   As always, we ultimately come down to no more than a number, as evident by this Colin Powell slip-up.

So, if some activist you know should suddenly stop coming to work, church, or school in case of a ‘national emergency’ – now you’ll know why.