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Gary Edwards

Siding with HTML over XHTML, My Decision to Switch - Monday By Noon - 0 views

  • Publishing content on the Web is in no way limited to professional developers or designers, much of the reason the net is so active is because anyone can make a website. Sure, we (as knowledgeable professionals or hobbyists) all hope to make the Web a better place by doing our part in publishing documents with semantically rich, valid markup, but the reality is that those documents are rare. It’s important to keep in mind the true nature of the Internet; an open platform for information sharing.
  • XHTML2 has some very good ideas that I hope can become part of the web. However, it’s unrealistic to think that all web authors will switch to an XML-based syntax which demands that browsers stop processing the document on the first error. XML’s draconian policy was an attempt to clean up the web. This was done around 1996 when lots of invalid content entered the web. CSS took a different approach: instead of demanding that content isn’t processed, we defined rules for how to handle the undefined. It’s called “forward-compatible parsing” and means we can add new constructs without breaking the old. So, I don’t think XHTML is a realistic option for the masses. HTML 5 is it.
    • Gary Edwards
       
      Great quote from CSS expert Hakon Wium Lie.
  • @marbux: Of course i disagree with your interop assessment, but I wondered how it is that you’re missing the point. I think you confuse web applications with legacy desktop – client/server application model. And that confusion leads to the mistake of trying to transfer the desktop document model to one that could adequately service advancing web applications.
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    A CMS expert argues for HTML over XHTML, explaining his reasons for switching. Excellent read! He nails the basics. for similar reasons, we moved from ODF to ePUB and then to CDf and finally to the advanced WebKit document model, where wikiWORD will make it's stand.
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    See also my comment on the same web page that explains why HTML 5 is NOT it for document exchange between web editing applications. .
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    Response to marbux supporting the WebKit layout/document model. Marbux argues that HTML5 is not interoperable, and CSS2 near useless. HTML5 fails regarding the the interop web appplications need. I respond by arguing that the only way to look at web applications is to consider that the browser layout engine is the web application layout engine! Web applications are actually written to the browser layout/document model, OR, to take advantage of browser plug-in capabilities. The interoperability marbux seeks is tied directly to the browser layout engine. In this context, the web format is simply a reflection of that layout engine. If there's an interop problem, it comes from browser madness differentials. The good news is that there are all kinds of efforts to close the browser gap: including WHATWG - HTML5, CSS3, W3C DOM, JavaScript Libraries, Google GWT (Java to JavaScript), Yahoo GUI, and the my favorite; WebKit. The bad news is that the clock is ticking. Microsoft has pulled the trigger and the great migration of MSOffice client/server systems to the MS WebSTack-Mesh architecture has begun. Key to this transition are the WPF-.NET proprietary formats, protocols and interfaces such as XAML, Silverlight, LINQ, and Smart Tags. New business processes are being written, and old legacy desktop bound processes are being transitioned to this emerging platform. The fight for the Open Web is on, with Microsoft threatening to transtion their entire business desktop monopoly to a Web platfomr they own. ~ge~
Gary Edwards

Skynet rising: Google acquires 512-qubit quantum computer; NSA surveillance to be turned over to AI machines Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind! - 0 views

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    "The ultimate code breakers" If you know anything about encryption, you probably also realize that quantum computers are the secret KEY to unlocking all encrypted files. As I wrote about last year here on Natural News, once quantum computers go into widespread use by the NSA, the CIA, Google, etc., there will be no more secrets kept from the government. All your files - even encrypted files - will be easily opened and read. Until now, most people believed this day was far away. Quantum computing is an "impractical pipe dream," we've been told by scowling scientists and "flat Earth" computer engineers. "It's not possible to build a 512-qubit quantum computer that actually works," they insisted. Don't tell that to Eric Ladizinsky, co-founder and chief scientist of a company called D-Wave. Because Ladizinsky's team has already built a 512-qubit quantum computer. And they're already selling them to wealthy corporations, too. DARPA, Northrup Grumman and Goldman Sachs In case you're wondering where Ladizinsky came from, he's a former employee of Northrup Grumman Space Technology (yes, a weapons manufacturer) where he ran a multi-million-dollar quantum computing research project for none other than DARPA - the same group working on AI-driven armed assault vehicles and battlefield robots to replace human soldiers. .... When groundbreaking new technology is developed by smart people, it almost immediately gets turned into a weapon. Quantum computing will be no different. This technology grants God-like powers to police state governments that seek to dominate and oppress the People.  ..... Google acquires "Skynet" quantum computers from D-Wave According to an article published in Scientific American, Google and NASA have now teamed up to purchase a 512-qubit quantum computer from D-Wave. The computer is called "D-Wave Two" because it's the second generation of the system. The first system was a 128-qubit computer. Gen two
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    Normally, I'd be suspicious of anything published by Infowars because its editors are willing to publish really over the top stuff, but: [i] this is subject matter I've maintained an interest in over the years and I was aware that working quantum computers were imminent; and [ii] the pedigree on this particular information does not trace to Scientific American, as stated in the article. I've known Scientific American to publish at least one soothing and lengthy article on the subject of chlorinated dioxin hazard -- my specialty as a lawyer was litigating against chemical companies that generated dioxin pollution -- that was generated by known closet chemical industry advocates long since discredited and was totally lacking in scientific validity and contrary to established scientific knowledge. So publication in Scientific American doesn't pack a lot of weight with me. But checking the Scientific American linked article, notes that it was reprinted by permission from Nature, a peer-reviewed scientific journal and news organization that I trust much more. That said, the InfoWars version is a rewrite that contains lots of information not in the Nature/Scientific American version of a sensationalist nature, so heightened caution is still in order. Check the reprinted Nature version before getting too excited: "The D-Wave computer is not a 'universal' computer that can be programmed to tackle any kind of problem. But scientists have found they can usefully frame questions in machine-learning research as optimisation problems. "D-Wave has battled to prove that its computer really operates on a quantum level, and that it is better or faster than a conventional computer. Before striking the latest deal, the prospective customers set a series of tests for the quantum computer. D-Wave hired an outside expert in algorithm-racing, who concluded that the speed of the D-Wave Two was above average overall, and that it was 3,600 times faster than a leading conventional comput
Paul Merrell

Expert System Guns for Google with Semantic Search, Advertising - 0 views

  • Would-be Google AdSense rival Expert System launches its Cogito Semantic Advertiser tool, which discerns the meaning and context of words to provide more relevant ads. By leveraging semantic technologies, Expert System joins a cadre of search providers that includes Microsoft-owned Powerset, Hakia, Yedda and Zoomix.
  • The problem is that AdSense relies on keyword frequency but doesn't drill down into the semantics—the meaning in the words. Cogito Semantic Advertiser attempts to go further by using semantic intelligence to analyze the text on each page and ensure that ads are placed appropriately to increase click-through rates.
  • Asher told me Cogito Semantic Advertiser understands content based on four key methodologies: studying the morphology of words; looking at parts of speech; sentence logic, or the reduction of sentences to subject, verb and object; and disambiguation, which in the case of the jaguar story paired with the Jaguar car ad would determine whether or not the text referred to a car or an animal.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Computer Scientists, Legal Experts Explain To Supreme Court Why APIs Are Not Copyrightable | Techdirt - 0 views

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    "Today, open, uncopyrightable APIs continue to spur the creation and adoption of new technologies. When programmers can freely reimplement or reverse engineer an API without obtaining a costly license or risking a lawsuit, they can create compatible software that the interface's original creator might never have envisioned or had the resources to develop."
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    "Today, open, uncopyrightable APIs continue to spur the creation and adoption of new technologies. When programmers can freely reimplement or reverse engineer an API without obtaining a costly license or risking a lawsuit, they can create compatible software that the interface's original creator might never have envisioned or had the resources to develop."
Paul Merrell

Evidence of Google blacklisting of left and progressive sites continues to mount - World Socialist Web Site - 0 views

  • A growing number of leading left-wing websites have confirmed that their search traffic from Google has plunged in recent months, adding to evidence that Google, under the cover of a fraudulent campaign against fake news, is implementing a program of systematic and widespread censorship. Truthout, a not-for-profit news website that focuses on political, social, and ecological developments from a left progressive standpoint, had its readership plunge by 35 percent since April. The Real News , a nonprofit video news and documentary service, has had its search traffic fall by 37 percent. Another site, Common Dreams , last week told the WSWS that its search traffic had fallen by up to 50 percent. As extreme as these sudden drops in search traffic are, they do not equal the nearly 70 percent drop in traffic from Google seen by the WSWS. “This is political censorship of the worst sort; it’s just an excuse to suppress political viewpoints,” said Robert Epstein, a former editor in chief of Psychology Today and noted expert on Google. Epstein said that at this point, the question was whether the WSWS had been flagged specifically by human evaluators employed by the search giant, or whether those evaluators had influenced the Google Search engine to demote left-wing sites. “What you don’t know is whether this was the human evaluators who are demoting you, or whether it was the new algorithm they are training,” Epstein said.
  • Richard Stallman, the world-renowned technology pioneer and a leader of the free software movement, said he had read the WSWS’s coverage on Google’s censorship of left-wing sites. He warned about the immense control exercised by Google over the Internet, saying, “For people’s main way of finding articles about a topic to be run by a giant corporation creates an obvious potential for abuse.” According to data from the search optimization tool SEMRush, search traffic to Mr. Stallman’s personal website, Stallman.org, fell by 24 percent, while traffic to gnu.org, operated by the Free Software Foundation, fell 19 percent. Eric Maas, a search engine optimization consultant working in the San Francisco Bay area, said his team has surveyed a wide range of alternative news sites affected by changes in Google’s algorithms since April.  “While the update may be targeting specific site functions, there is evidence that this update is promoting only large mainstream news organizations. What I find problematic with this is that it appears that some sites have been targeted and others have not.” The massive drop in search traffic to the WSWS and other left-wing sites followed the implementation of changes in Google’s search evaluation protocols. In a statement issued on April 25, Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.” In a set of guidelines issued to Google evaluators in March, the company instructed its search evaluators to flag pages returning “conspiracy theories” or “upsetting” content unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”
Gary Edwards

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Introducing Rich Snippets - 0 views

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    Google "Rich Snippets" is a new presentation of HTML snippets that applies Google's algorithms to highlight structured data embedded in web pages. Rich Snippets give end-users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance. Google is currently supporting a very limited subset of data about reviews and people. When searching for a product or service, users can easily see reviews and ratings, and when searching for a person, they'll get help distinguishing between people with the same name. It's a simple change to the display of search results, yet our experiments have shown that users find the new data valuable. For this to work though, both Web-masters and Web-workers have to annotate thier pages with structured data in a standard format. Google snippets supports microformats and RDFa. Existing Web data can be wrapped with some additional tags to accomplish this. Notice that Google avoids mention of RDF and the W3C's vision of a "Semantic Web" where Web objects are fully described in machine readable semantics. Over at the WHATWG group, where work on HTML5 continues, Google's Ian Hickson has been fighting RDFa and the Semantic Web in what looks to be an effort to protect the infamous Google algorithms. RDFa provides a means for Web-workers, knowledge-workers, line-of-business managers and document generating end-users to enrich their HTML+ with machine semantics. The idea being that the document experts creating Web content can best describe to search engine and content management machines the objects-of-information used. The google algorithms provide a proprietary semantics of this same content. The best solution to the tsunami of conten the Web has wrought would be to combine end-user semantic expertise with Google algorithms. Let's hope Google stays the RDFa course and comes around to recognize the full potential of organizing the world's information with the input of content providers. One thing the world desperatel
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

RightsCon 2014 | HOME - 0 views

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    "This March 3-5 at Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, Access is bringing the RightsCon summit back to Silicon Valley, where human rights experts, investors, corporate leaders, engineers, activists, and government representatives from around the world work to advance solutions to human rights challenges by concentrating on the possibilities within the technology sector."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

U.S. Court Grants Order to Wipe Pirate Sites from the Internet | TorrentFreak - 1 views

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    "... The preliminary injunction is unique in its kind, both due to its broadness and the fact that it happened without due process. This has several experts worried, including EFF's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "It's very worrisome that a court would issue a rapid and broad order affecting speech based on allegations, without careful consideration and an opportunity for the targets to defend themselves," McSherry tells TorrentFreak."
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    "... The preliminary injunction is unique in its kind, both due to its broadness and the fact that it happened without due process. This has several experts worried, including EFF's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "It's very worrisome that a court would issue a rapid and broad order affecting speech based on allegations, without careful consideration and an opportunity for the targets to defend themselves," McSherry tells TorrentFreak."
Paul Merrell

Leaked docs show spyware used to snoop on US computers | Ars Technica - 0 views

  • Software created by the controversial UK-based Gamma Group International was used to spy on computers that appear to be located in the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia, Iran, and Bahrain, according to a leaked trove of documents analyzed by ProPublica. It's not clear whether the surveillance was conducted by governments or private entities. Customer e-mail addresses in the collection appeared to belong to a German surveillance company, an independent consultant in Dubai, the Bosnian and Hungarian Intelligence services, a Dutch law enforcement officer, and the Qatari government.
  • The leaked files—which were posted online by hackers—are the latest in a series of revelations about how state actors including repressive regimes have used Gamma's software to spy on dissidents, journalists, and activist groups. The documents, leaked last Saturday, could not be readily verified, but experts told ProPublica they believed them to be genuine. "I think it's highly unlikely that it's a fake," said Morgan Marquis-Bore, a security researcher who while at The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto had analyzed Gamma Group's software and who authored an article about the leak on Thursday. The documents confirm many details that have already been reported about Gamma, such as that its tools were used to spy on Bahraini activists. Some documents in the trove contain metadata tied to e-mail addresses of several Gamma employees. Bill Marczak, another Gamma Group expert at the Citizen Lab, said that several dates in the documents correspond to publicly known events—such as the day that a particular Bahraini activist was hacked.
  • The leaked files contain more than 40 gigabytes of confidential technical material, including software code, internal memos, strategy reports, and user guides on how to use Gamma Group software suite called FinFisher. FinFisher enables customers to monitor secure Web traffic, Skype calls, webcams, and personal files. It is installed as malware on targets' computers and cell phones. A price list included in the trove lists a license of the software at almost $4 million. The documents reveal that Gamma uses technology from a French company called Vupen Security that sells so-called computer "exploits." Exploits include techniques called "zero days" for "popular software like Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and many more." Zero days are exploits that have not yet been detected by the software maker and therefore are not blocked.
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  • Many of Gamma's product brochures have previously been published by the Wall Street Journal and Wikileaks, but the latest trove shows how the products are getting more sophisticated. In one document, engineers at Gamma tested a product called FinSpy, which inserts malware onto a user's machine, and found that it could not be blocked by most antivirus software. Documents also reveal that Gamma had been working to bypass encryption tools including a mobile phone encryption app, Silent Circle, and were able to bypass the protection given by hard-drive encryption products TrueCrypt and Microsoft's Bitlocker.
  • The documents also describe a "country-wide" surveillance product called FinFly ISP which promises customers the ability to intercept Internet traffic and masquerade as ordinary websites in order to install malware on a target's computer. The most recent date-stamp found in the documents is August 2, coincidung with the first tweet by a parody Twitter account, @GammaGroupPR, which first announced the hack and may be run by the hacker or hackers responsible for the leak. On Reddit, a user called PhineasFisher claimed responsibility for the leak. "Two years ago their software was found being widely used by governments in the middle east, especially Bahrain, to hack and spy on the computers and phones of journalists and dissidents," the user wrote. The name on the @GammaGroupPR Twitter account is also "Phineas Fisher." GammaGroup, the surveillance company whose documents were released, is no stranger to the spotlight. The security firm F-Secure first reported the purchase of FinFisher software by the Egyptian State Security agency in 2011. In 2012, Bloomberg News and The Citizen Lab showed how the company's malware was used to target activists in Bahrain. In 2013, the software company Mozilla sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company after a report by The Citizen Lab showed that a spyware-infected version of the Firefox browser manufactured by Gamma was being used to spy on Malaysian activists.
Paul Merrell

U.S. military closer to making cyborgs a reality - CNNPolitics.com - 0 views

  • The U.S. military is spending millions on an advanced implant that would allow a human brain to communicate directly with computers.If it succeeds, cyborgs will be a reality.The Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), hopes the implant will allow humans to directly interface with computers, which could benefit people with aural and visual disabilities, such as veterans injured in combat.The goal of the proposed implant is to "open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics" according to DARPA's program manager, Phillip Alvelda.
  • DARPA sees the implant as providing a foundation for new therapies that could help people with deficits in sight or hearing by "feeding digital auditory or visual information into the brain."A spokesman for DARPA told CNN that the program is not intended for military applications.
  • But some experts see such an implant as having the potential for numerous applications, including military ones, in the field of wearable robotics -- which aims to augment and restore human performance.Conor Walsh, a professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Harvard University, told CNN that the implant would "change the game," adding that "in the future, wearable robotic devices will be controlled by implants."Walsh sees the potential for wearable robotic devices or exoskeletons in everything from helping a medical patient recover from a stroke to enhancing soldiers' capabilities in combat.The U.S. military is currently developing a battery-powered exoskeleton, the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, to provide superior protection from enemy fire and in-helmet technologies that boost the user's communications ability and vision.The suits' development is being overseen by U.S. Special Operations Command.In theory, the proposed neural implant would allow the military member operating the suit to more effectively control the armored exoskeleton while deployed in combat.
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  • In its announcement, DARPA acknowledged that an implant is still a long ways away, with breakthroughs in neuroscience, synthetic biology, low-power electronics, photonics and medical-device manufacturing needed before the device could be used.DARPA plans to recruit a diverse set of experts in an attempt to accelerate the project's development, according to its statement announcing the project.
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    Let's assume for the moment that DARPA's goal is realizable and brain implants for commuication with computers become common. How long will it take for FBI, NSA, et ilk to get legislation or a court order allowing them to conduct mass surveillance of people's brains? Not long, I suspect. 
Paul Merrell

YouTube To Censor "Controversial" Content, ADL On Board As Flagger - 0 views

  • Chief among the groups seeking to clamp down on independent media has been Google, the massive technology company with deep connections to the U.S. intelligence community, as well as to U.S. government and business elites.
  • Since 2015, Google has worked to become the Internet’s “Ministry of Truth,” first through its creation of the First Draft Coalition and more recently via major changes made to its search engine that curtail public access to new sites independent of the corporate media.
  • Google has now stepped up its war on free speech and the freedom of the press through its popular subsidiary, YouTube. On Tuesday, YouTube announced online that it is set to begin censoring content deemed “controversial,” even if that content does not break any laws or violate YouTube’s user agreement. Misleadingly dubbed as an effort “to fight terror content online,” the new program will flag content for review through a mix of machine algorithms and “human review,” guided by standards set up by “expert NGOs and institutions” that are part of YouTube’s “Trusted Flagger” program. YouTube stated that such organizations “bring expert knowledge of complex issues like hate speech, radicalization, and terrorism.” One of the leading institutions directing the course of the Trusted Flagger program is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but has gained a reputation over the years for labeling any critic of Israel’s government as an “anti-Semite.” For instance, characterizing Israeli policies towards the Palestinians as “racist” or “apartheid-like” is considered “hate speech” by the ADL, as is accusing Israel of war crimes or attempted ethnic cleansing. The ADL has even described explicitly Jewish organizations who are critical of Israel’s government as being “anti-Semitic.”
Paul Merrell

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange warns: Google is not what it seems - 0 views

  • Back in 2011, Julian Assange met up with Eric Schmidt for an interview that he considers the best he’s ever given. That doesn’t change, however, the opinion he now has about Schmidt and the company he represents, Google.In fact, the WikiLeaks leader doesn’t believe in the famous “Don’t Be Evil” mantra that Google has been preaching for years.Assange thinks both Schmidt and Google are at the exact opposite spectrum.“Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. Schmidt’s tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of US power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive megacorporation. But Google has always been comfortable with this proximity,” Assange writes in an opinion piece for Newsweek.
  • “Long before company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Schmidt in 2001, their initial research upon which Google was based had been partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). And even as Schmidt’s Google developed an image as the overly friendly giant of global tech, it was building a close relationship with the intelligence community,” Assange continues.Throughout the lengthy article, Assange goes on to explain how the 2011 meeting came to be and talks about the people the Google executive chairman brought along - Lisa Shields, then vice president of the Council on Foreign Relationship, Jared Cohen, who would later become the director of Google Ideas, and Scott Malcomson, the book’s editor, who would later become the speechwriter and principal advisor to Susan Rice.“At this point, the delegation was one part Google, three parts US foreign-policy establishment, but I was still none the wiser.” Assange goes on to explain the work Cohen was doing for the government prior to his appointment at Google and just how Schmidt himself plays a bigger role than previously thought.In fact, he says that his original image of Schmidt, as a politically unambitious Silicon Valley engineer, “a relic of the good old days of computer science graduate culture on the West Coast,” was wrong.
  • However, Assange concedes that that is not the sort of person who attends Bilderberg conferences, who regularly visits the White House, and who delivers speeches at the Davos Economic Forum.He claims that Schmidt’s emergence as Google’s “foreign minister” did not come out of nowhere, but it was “presaged by years of assimilation within US establishment networks of reputation and influence.” Assange makes further accusations that, well before Prism had even been dreamed of, the NSA was already systematically violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under its director at the time, Michael Hayden. He states, however, that during the same period, namely around 2003, Google was accepting NSA money to provide the agency with search tools for its rapidly-growing database of information.Assange continues by saying that in 2008, Google helped launch the NGA spy satellite, the GeoEye-1, into space and that the search giant shares the photographs from the satellite with the US military and intelligence communities. Later on, 2010, after the Chinese government was accused of hacking Google, the company entered into a “formal information-sharing” relationship with the NSA, which would allow the NSA’s experts to evaluate the vulnerabilities in Google’s hardware and software.
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  • “Around the same time, Google was becoming involved in a program known as the “Enduring Security Framework” (ESF), which entailed the sharing of information between Silicon Valley tech companies and Pentagon-affiliated agencies at network speed.’’Emails obtained in 2014 under Freedom of Information requests show Schmidt and his fellow Googler Sergey Brin corresponding on first-name terms with NSA chief General Keith Alexander about ESF,” Assange writes.Assange seems to have a lot of backing to his statements, providing links left and right, which people can go check on their own.
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    The "opinion piece for Newsweek" is an excerpt from Assange's new book, When Google met Wikileaks.  The chapter is well worth the read. http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279447
Paul Merrell

Utah lawmaker questions city water going to NSA - 0 views

  • SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah lawmaker concerned about government spying on its citizens is questioning whether city water service should be cut off to a massive National Security Agency data storage facility outside Salt Lake City.Republican Rep. Marc Roberts, of Santaquin, said there are serious questions about privacy and surveillance surrounding the center, and several Utah residents who spoke at a legislative committee hearing Wednesday agreed.During the last legislative session, lawmakers opted to hold off on Roberts' bill to shut off the facility's water and decided to study it during the interim."This is not a bill just about a data center. This is a bill about civil rights," web developer Joe Levi said. "This is a bill that needs to be taken up and needs to be taken seriously."Pete Ashdown, founder of Salt Lake City-based Internet provider XMission, called the center a stain upon the state and its technology industry. "I do encourage you to stand up and do something about it," he said.Lawmakers said they aren't considering shutting down $1.7 billion facility, but the committee chair acknowledged the concerns and said there might be another way to get the point across. "We may look at some type of a strong message to give our representatives to take back to Congress," said Republican Sen. David Hinkins, of Orangeville.
  • The NSA's largest data storage center in the U.S. was built in Utah over 37 other locations because of open land and cheap electricity. The center sits on a National Guard base about 25 miles south of Salt Lake City in the town of Bluffdale.NSA officials said the center is key to protecting national security networks and allowing U.S. authorities to watch for cyber threats. Beyond that, the agency has offered few details.The center attracted much discussion and concern after revelations last year that the NSA has been collecting millions of U.S. phone records and digital communications stored by major Internet providers.
  • Cybersecurity experts say the nondescript Utah facility is a giant storehouse for phone calls, emails and online records that have been secretly collected.Outside the computer storehouses are large coolers that keep the machines from overheating. The coolers use large amounts of water, which the nearby city of Bluffdale sells to the center at a discounted rate.City records released earlier this year showed monthly water use was much less than the 1 million gallons a day that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicted the center would need, causing some to wonder if the center was fully operational.NSA officials have refused to say if the center is up and running after its scheduled opening in October 2013 was stalled by electrical problems.City utility records showed the NSA has been making monthly minimum payments of about $30,000 to Bluffdale. The city manager said that pays for more water than the center used.The state of Nevada shut off water to the site of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in 2002, after months of threats.The project didn't run dry because the Energy Department built a 1-million-gallon tank and a small well for the site. Department officials said the stored water, plus 400,000 gallons stored in other tanks at the Nevada Test Site, provided time for scientists to continue experiments and design work at the site.
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  • SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah lawmaker concerned about government spying on its citizens is questioning whether city water service should be cut off to a massive National Security Agency data storage facility outside Salt Lake City.Rep
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    Hey, go for their electricity too! But what do we do with the Bluffdale facility after we abolish the NSA? Turn it over to Internet Archives, with a $1 billion endowment for maintenance? Free and permanent web sites for everyone?  
Paul Merrell

The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle - 0 views

  • AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data. The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania. In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”
  • With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.
  • Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment. “Once you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The news of this key theft will send a shock wave through the security community.”
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  • According to one secret GCHQ slide, the British intelligence agency penetrated Gemalto’s internal networks, planting malware on several computers, giving GCHQ secret access. We “believe we have their entire network,” the slide’s author boasted about the operation against Gemalto. Additionally, the spy agency targeted unnamed cellular companies’ core networks, giving it access to “sales staff machines for customer information and network engineers machines for network maps.” GCHQ also claimed the ability to manipulate the billing servers of cell companies to “suppress” charges in an effort to conceal the spy agency’s secret actions against an individual’s phone. Most significantly, GCHQ also penetrated “authentication servers,” allowing it to decrypt data and voice communications between a targeted individual’s phone and his or her telecom provider’s network. A note accompanying the slide asserted that the spy agency was “very happy with the data so far and [was] working through the vast quantity of product.”
  • The U.S. and British intelligence agencies pulled off the encryption key heist in great stealth, giving them the ability to intercept and decrypt communications without alerting the wireless network provider, the foreign government or the individual user that they have been targeted. “Gaining access to a database of keys is pretty much game over for cellular encryption,” says Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. The massive key theft is “bad news for phone security. Really bad news.”
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    Remember all those NSA claims that no evidence of their misbehavior has emerged? That one should never take wing again. Monitoring call content without the involvement of any court? Without a warrant? Without probable cause?  Was there even any Congressional authorization?  Wiretapping unequivocally requires a judicially-approved search warrant. It's going to be very interesting to learn the government's argument for this misconduct's legality. 
Paul Merrell

Information Warfare: Automated Propaganda and Social Media Bots | Global Research - 0 views

  • NATO has announced that it is launching an “information war” against Russia. The UK publicly announced a battalion of keyboard warriors to spread disinformation. It’s well-documented that the West has long used false propaganda to sway public opinion. Western military and intelligence services manipulate social media to counter criticism of Western policies. Such manipulation includes flooding social media with comments supporting the government and large corporations, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this and this. In 2013, the American Congress repealed the formal ban against the deployment of propaganda against U.S. citizens living on American soil. So there’s even less to constrain propaganda than before.
  • Information warfare for propaganda purposes also includes: The Pentagon, Federal Reserve and other government entities using software to track discussion of political issues … to try to nip dissent in the bud before it goes viral “Controlling, infiltrating, manipulating and warping” online discourse Use of artificial intelligence programs to try to predict how people will react to propaganda
  • Some of the propaganda is spread by software programs. We pointed out 6 years ago that people were writing scripts to censor hard-hitting information from social media. One of America’s top cyber-propagandists – former high-level military information officer Joel Harding – wrote in December: I was in a discussion today about information being used in social media as a possible weapon.  The people I was talking with have a tool which scrapes social media sites, gauges their sentiment and gives the user the opportunity to automatically generate a persuasive response. Their tool is called a “Social Networking Influence Engine”. *** The implications seem to be profound for the information environment. *** The people who own this tool are in the civilian world and don’t even remotely touch the defense sector, so getting approval from the US Department of State might not even occur to them.
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  • How Can This Real? Gizmodo reported in 2010: Software developer Nigel Leck got tired rehashing the same 140-character arguments against climate change deniers, so he programmed a bot that does the work for him. With citations! Leck’s bot, @AI_AGW, doesn’t just respond to arguments directed at Leck himself, it goes out and picks fights. Every five minutes it trawls Twitter for terms and phrases that commonly crop up in Tweets that refute human-caused climate change. It then searches its database of hundreds to find a counter-argument best suited for that tweet—usually a quick statement and a link to a scientific source. As can be the case with these sorts of things, many of the deniers don’t know they’ve been targeted by a robot and engage AI_AGW in debate. The bot will continue to fire back canned responses that best fit the interlocutor’s line of debate—Leck says this goes on for days, in some cases—and the bot’s been outfitted with a number of responses on the topic of religion, where the arguments unsurprisingly often end up. Technology has come a long way in the past 5 years. So if a lone programmer could do this 5 years ago, imagine what he could do now. And the big players have a lot more resources at their disposal than a lone climate activist/software developer does.  For example, a government expert told the Washington Post that the government “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type” (and see this).  So if the lone programmer is doing it, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the big boys are widely doing it.
  • How Effective Are Automated Comments? Unfortunately, this is more effective than you might assume … Specifically, scientists have shown that name-calling and swearing breaks down people’s ability to think rationally … and intentionally sowing discord and posting junk comments to push down insightful comments  are common propaganda techniques. Indeed, an automated program need not even be that sophisticated … it can copy a couple of words from the main post or a comment, and then spew back one or more radioactive labels such as “terrorist”, “commie”, “Russia-lover”, “wimp”, “fascist”, “loser”, “traitor”, “conspiratard”, etc. Given that Harding and his compadres consider anyone who questions any U.S. policies as an enemy of the state  – as does the Obama administration (and see this) – many honest, patriotic writers and commenters may be targeted for automated propaganda comments.
Paul Merrell

Facebook Quietly Notifies Public That Millions Of Instagram Users Had Passwords Exposed | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • While everyone was focused on the release of the Mueller report Thursday, Facebook quietly notified the public that the passwords of "millions of Instagram users" were stored in an unencrypted format on an internal server, and searchable by any employee.
  • In March, security expert Brian Krebs of KrebsonSecurity noted:  The Facebook source said the investigation so far indicates between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. The source said Facebook is still trying to determine how many passwords were exposed and for how long, but so far the inquiry has uncovered archives with plain text user passwords dating back to 2012. My Facebook insider said access logs showed some 2,000 engineers or developers made approximately nine million internal queries for data elements that contained plain text user passwords. -KrebsonSecurity In short, if you believe Facebook that the passwords were not improperly accessed, rest well. If you don't believe them, and you use your Instagram password for other things, perhaps it's time to think of a new one.  
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