Category Archives: Privacy

Teslian eFleas, by Eric Peters

Tesla makes itself part of China’s surveillance state. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

When corporations get into bed with government, it’s uswho get the fleas. Obamacare, for instance.

Big Med plus Big Government.

Sometimes, you can’t actually see the fleas. But they’re there, just the same.

An example of this unwholesome symbiosis has just emerged – in China. But it involves an American company, Tesla – which sells the same cars here.

Turns out Tesla – which builds electric cars but makes money by leveraging government mandates  – has set up its EVs to live-feed information about where each of their cars is at any given moment directly to the Chinese government.

Their car italicized to make the point that it’s not really your car when someone else has open access to it  – and so, to your life. The car tracks your movements, records where you’ve been, how long you stayed.

The government takes note.

According to the Associated Press, which broke the story, the Chinese government merely wishes to obtain “data points” for the purpose of “infrastructure planning” and – of course – to “improve public safety.”

How isn’t specified.

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The Elite Are Creating An Authoritarian ‘Beast System’, And Those That Dissent Could Lose EVERYTHING, by Michael Snyder

China’s leading the way in surveillance and repression, but many other countries are following its lead. From Michael Snyder at theeconomiccollapse blog.com:

They are transforming the Internet into the greatest tool of surveillance that humanity has ever seen, and if we stay on the road that we are currently on it is only a matter of time until our society becomes a hellish dystopian nightmare.  I wish that this was an exaggeration, but it isn’t.  Over the past couple of decades, the Internet has completely changed the way that we all communicate with one another.  At one time, all forms of mass communication were tightly controlled by the elite, but the Internet suddenly allowed us to communicate with one another on a massive scale without having to go through their gatekeepers.  This radically altered the landscape, and at first the elite were unsure of how to respond to this growing threat.  There was no way that they could roll back time to an era before the Internet was invented, and so they have decided to use it for their own insidious purposes instead.

Today, the Internet has become the centerpiece of their “Big Brother surveillance grid”, and they are gathering information on all of us on a scale that has never been seen before in all of human history.  But of course it was never going to stop there.  Over the past couple of years we have started to watch the elite use all of this information to punish those that are doing or saying things that they do not like.

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Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism, by Adrian Shahbaz

An authoritative survey of net freedom around the globe. By Adrian Shahbaz at freedomhouse.org:

Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracy

The internet is growing less free around the world, and democracy itself is withering under its influence.

Disinformation and propaganda disseminated online have poisoned the public sphere. The unbridled collection of personal data has broken down traditional notions of privacy. And a cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018.

Events this year have confirmed that the internet can be used to disrupt democracies as surely as it can destabilize dictatorships. In April 2018, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified in two congressional hearings about his company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which it was revealed that Facebook had exposed the data of up to 87 million users to political exploitation. The case was a reminder of how personal information is increasingly being employed to influence electoral outcomes. Russian hackers targeted US voter rolls in several states as part of the Kremlin’s broader efforts to undermine the integrity of the 2016 elections, and since then, security researchers have discovered further breaches of data affecting 198 million American, 93 million Mexican, 55 million Filipino, and 50 million Turkish voters.

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The Deadliest Operation, by Robert Gore

Choose your battles wisely.

One month to the day after President Kennedy’s assassination, the Washington Post published an article by former president Harry Truman.

I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA. At least, I would like to submit here the original reason why I thought it necessary to organize this Agency during my Administration, what I expected it to do and how it was to operate as an arm of the President.

Truman had envisioned the CIA as an impartial information and intelligence collector from “every available source.”

But their collective information reached the President all too frequently in conflicting conclusions. At times, the intelligence reports tended to be slanted to conform to established positions of a given department. This becomes confusing and what’s worse, such intelligence is of little use to a President in reaching the right decisions.

Therefore, I decided to set up a special organization charged with the collection of all intelligence reports from every available source, and to have those reports reach me as President without department “treatment” or interpretations.

I wanted and needed the information in its “natural raw” state and in as comprehensive a volume as it was practical for me to make full use of it. But the most important thing about this move was to guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions—and I thought it was necessary that the President do his own thinking and evaluating.

Truman found, to his dismay, that the CIA had ranged far afield.

For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.

The article appeared in the Washington Post’s morning edition, but not the evening edition.

Truman reveals two naive assumptions. He thought a government agency could be apolitical and objective. Further, he believed the CIA’s role could be limited to information gathering and analysis, eschewing “cloak and dagger operations.” The timing and tone of the letter may have been hints that Truman thought the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s assassination. If he did, he also realized an ex-president couldn’t state his suspicions without troublesome consequences.

Even the man who signed the CIA into law had to stay in the shadows, the CIA’s preferred operating venue. The CIA had become the exact opposite of what Truman envisioned and what its enabling legislation specified. Within a few years after its inauguration in 1947, it was neck-deep in global cloak and dagger and pushing agenda-driven, slanted information and outright disinformation not just within the government, but through the media to the American people.

The CIA lies with astonishing proficiency. It has made an art form of “plausible deniability.” Like glimpsing an octopus in murky waters, you know it’s there, but it shoots enough black ink to obscure its movements. Murk and black ink make it impossible for anyone on the outside to determine exactly what it does or has done. Insiders, even the director, are often kept in the dark.

For those on the trail of CIA and the other intelligence agencies’ lies and skullduggery, the agencies give ground glacially and only when they have to. What concessions they make often embody multiple layers of back-up lies. It can take years for an official admission—the CIA didn’t officially confess its involvement in the 1953 coup that deposed Iranian leader Mohammad Mosaddeq until 2013—and even then details are usually not forthcoming. Many of the so-called exposés of the intelligence agencies are in effect spook-written for propaganda or damage control.

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A Veritable Feast of Reality, Choice, and Consequences, by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

Doug “Uncola” Lynn tracks the many ways the world is going to hell. From Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

Someone I care about got into some trouble the week before Thanksgiving. They asked for my help, and I wasn’t raised to say “no” in such situations. What ensued were a series of unfortunate events that staggered my mind and challenged my previously naive vision of a moderately benevolent universe.

By any definition, any knowledgeable neutral party would say I did everything right, in spite of the dire turn of events that, fortunately, resulted in only a minor loss of time and money on my part; with a still positive outcome for the party I helped.

Even now, looking back, I realize I’d have made all the same decisions with the same information I had at the time. Yet, the mostly-positive denouement of the entire affair resulted in a conclusion I never dreamed possible at the start.

It had to do with a car accident, an insurance claim, buying a lemon, and ultimately enjoying some fine lemonade in the end. The party who I helped is now better off than if my original plans were realized. I will say, however, it was darkest before the dawn, and things should have ended much worse.

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Inside the British Army’s secret information warfare machine, by Carl Miller

Information warfare is just propaganda with a high-tech gloss. Here is a look at how the British Army wages propaganda information warfare. From Carl Miller at wired.co.uk:

They are soldiers, but the 77th Brigade edit videos, record podcasts and write viral posts. Welcome to the age of information warfare

barbed-wire fence stretched off far to either side. A Union flag twisted in a gust of wind, and soldiers strode in and out of a squat guard’s hut in the middle of the road. Through the hut, and under a row of floodlights, I walked towards a long line of drab, low-rise brick buildings. It was the summer of 2017, and on this military base nestled among the hills of Berkshire, I was visiting a part of the British Army unlike any other. They call it the 77th Brigade. They are the troops fighting Britain’s information wars.

“If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking,” was written in foot-high letters across a whiteboard in one of the main atriums of the base. Over to one side, there was a suite full of large, electronic sketch pads and multi-screened desktops loaded with digital editing software. The men and women of the 77th knew how to set up cameras, record sound, edit videos. Plucked from across the military, they were proficient in graphic design, social media advertising, and data analytics. Some may have taken the army’s course in Defence Media Operations, and almost half were reservists from civvy street, with full time jobs in marketing or consumer research.

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The World’s Most Exclusive “Spy Club”, by Mark Nestmann

The Five Eyes nations share intelligence data. It’s an elite club, and a lot of other countries want in. From Mark Nestmann at nestmann.com:

To understand the scope of the US government spying on its own citizens, not to mention the rest of the world, you need a long attention span.

A case in point is a lawsuit filed a decade ago by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) against the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies. The lawsuit seeks to force the NSA to end its practice of “dragnet surveillance,” the interception and copying all internet traffic that passes through the US. The NSA refers to this surveillance program, which was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, as Stellar Wind.

The lawsuit relies in part upon an unclassified draft report published in 2009 by the NSA acknowledging Stellar Wind’s existence. But in a Kafkaesque irony which is common in litigation involving the NSA, the agency refuses to acknowledge the report’s authenticity, even though the NSA wrote the report. Thus, the NSA argues, the court must disregard the document and dismiss the lawsuit.

Help for the EFF arrived in an unexpected form earlier this month, when Edward Snowden himself filed a declaration stating that the report was in fact genuine. Now the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals must decide whether to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

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