Media Articles from 2018

Cloak and Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise and Fall

[Media]
Cloak and Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise and Fall
by Andy Kroll
Posteed May 7, 2018

The secretive data firm said it could move the minds of American voters. That wasn’t its real victory.

Cambridge Analytica manipulation The blowback from the Cambridge Analytica scandals also hit Facebook, which faced a torrent of criticism for its lax handling of users’ data. The company’s stock price tumbled by 7 percent, losing more than $50 billion in value, and the Federal Trade Commission reportedly launched an investigation into its data practices. The hashtag #DeleteFacebook trended on Twitter. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally broke his silence, issuing a statement admitting to a “breach of trust” between Facebook and its users.

Yet, critics wondered, just how many times had their trust been breached? Cambridge Analytica was hardly alone in hoovering up user data. And how exactly were Cambridge Analytica’s psychographic techniques different from Facebook’s core business model—tapping into the vast amounts of data it collects on its users to guide hypertargeted advertising, be it for shoe companies or political campaigns or dubious fake news sites. More…

It’s Impossible to Prove Your Laptop Hasn’t Been Hacked. I Spent Two Years Finding Out

[Media]
It’s Impossible to Prove Your Laptop Hasn’t Been Hacked. I Spent Two Years Finding Out
by Micah Lee
Posted May 3, 2018

computer securityDigital security specialists like me get some version of this question all the time: “I think my laptop may have been infected with malware. Can you check?”

We dread this sort of query because modern computer exploits are as complex, clever, and hard to reason about as modern computers — particularly if someone has the ability to physically access your device, as is routinely the case with laptops, especially when traveling. So while it’s definitely possible to detect certain types of tampering, it isn’t always trivial. And even in controlled environments, it’s impossible to give a laptop a clean bill of health with full confidence – it’s always possible that it was tampered with in a way you did not think to check. More…

Unmitigated Failure: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later

[Politics]
Unmitigated Failure: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later
by Major Danny Sjursen
Posted April 30, 2018

Iraq war utter failureThe story has been told so many times, that the tragedy doesn’t warrant a full recounting. Here’s the short version: poor intelligence and dubious evidence was used by gang of neocon ideologues to sell Americans on the need for regime change in Iraq (a country that had not been involved in the 9/11 attacks). Frightened, naïve, and ill-informed, the American people – and esteemed outlets like the New York Times – went along for the ride. We were told it’d be easy (a “cakewalk”) and self-financing. It was neither.

A civil war broke out. Tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of US troopers died. By the time I arrived, in October 2006, the place was aflame. Fear not, we were told: Bush and his new, brainy general – some Petraeus guy – would “surge” troops and win the day after all. Violence did – briefly – decline; the Iraqi government, however, failed to garner legitimacy. Still, we were told we’d won. More…

The Palestine Exception to Free Speech

[Justice]
The Palestine Exception to Free Speech
by Center for Constitutional Rights
Posted April 29, 2018

anti Israeli speech under attackOver the last decade, a dynamic movement in support of Palestinian human rights, particularly active in US colleges and universities, has helped raise public awareness regarding the Israeli government’s violations of international law, as well as the role of corporations and the US government in facilitating these abuses. This activism, fueled by Israel’s increasingly destructive assaults on Gaza, presents a robust and sustainable challenge to the longstanding orthodoxy in the United States that excuses, justifies, and otherwise supports discriminatory Israeli government policies.

Fearful of a shift in domestic public opinion, Israel’s fiercest defenders in the United States — a network of advocacy organizations, public relations firms, and think tanks—have intensified their efforts to stifle criticism of Israeli government policies. Rather than engage such criticism on its merits, these groups leverage their significant resources and lobbying power to pressure universities, government actors, and other institutions to censor or punish advocacy in support of Palestinian rights. More…

Canadian authorities charging teenager for downloading public records

[Justice]
Canadian authorities charging teenager for downloading public records
By Katitza Rodriguez and Aaron Mackey
Posted April 26, 2018

Canadian teenager charged with downloading public recordsCanadian authorities should drop charges against a 19-year-old Canadian accused of “unauthorized use of a computer service” for downloading thousands of public records hosted and available to all on a government website. The whole episode is an embarrassing overreach that chills the right of access to public records and threatens important security research.

Beyond the absurdity of charging someone with downloading public records that were available to anyone with an Internet connection, if anyone is to blame for this mess, it’s Nova Scotia officials. They have both insecurely set up their public records server to permit public access to others’ private information. Officials should accept responsibility for failing to secure such sensitive data rather than ginning up a prosecution.

The fact that the government was publishing documents that contained sensitive data in a public website without any passwords or access controls demonstrates their own failure to protect the private information of individuals. Moreover, it does not appear that the site even deployed minimal technical safeguards to exclude widely-known indexing tools such as Google search and the Internet Archive from archiving all the records published on the site, as both appear to have cached some of the documents. More…

The Pentagon & Hollywood’s successful and deadly propaganda alliance

[Media]
The Pentagon & Hollywood’s successful and deadly propaganda alliance
by Michael McCaffrey
Posted April 23, 2018

Military propaganda success storyThe Pentagon helps Hollywood to make money and, in turn, Hollywood churns out effective propaganda for the brutal American war machine.

The US has the largest military budget in the world, spending over $611 billion – far larger than any other nation on Earth. The US military also has at their disposal the most successful propaganda apparatus the world has ever known… Hollywood.

In order to obtain cooperation from the Department of Defense (DoD), producers must sign contracts that guarantee a military approved version of the script makes it to the big screen. In return for signing away creative control, Hollywood producers save tens of millions of dollars from their budgets on military equipment, service members to operate the equipment, and expensive location fees. More…

7 Questions About the Syria Airstrikes That Aren’t Being Asked

[Media]
7 Questions About the Syria Airstrikes That Aren’t Being Asked
by Richard Eskow
Posted April 18, 2018

another failure of the corporate mediaThe national security establishment and the corporate media have been promoting a confrontational approach, but they’ve been unable to explain how that would lead to a better outcome for the US or the world

U.S. media, for the most part, reinforce the idea that intervention by our military is the preferred solution to global conflicts. Some of the same reporters who now mock Trump for saying “Mission Accomplished” cheered on Bush’s invasion of Iraq. They remember Bush’s errors, but not their own.

The media’s job, we are told, is to ask skeptical questions about the people in power. That didn’t happen much in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, and it’s not happening now. Here are the questions that should be asked – not just on the eve of a bombing attack, but every day we continue our disastrous and drifting military intervention in the Middle East. More…

Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies

[Media]
Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies
By Zack Whittaker
Posted April 15, 2018

protect yourself from government surveillanceGot nothing to hide? Think again.

Privacy is what sets us apart from the animals. It’s also what sets many countries and citizens apart from dictatorships and despots. People often don’t think about their rights until they need them — whether it’s when they’re arrested at a protest or pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

Surveillance is also a part of life, and it’s getting progressively more invasive. Government eavesdropping is increasing, carried out in wider secrecy, and it’s becoming far more localized. In fact, the last three presidents have pushed for greater surveillance: Clinton introduced mandated wiretapping laws, Bush expanded mass domestic surveillance, and Obama expanded the intelligence service’s reach — just in time for Trump. More…

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The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.

Frank Zappa

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