Privacy not found!

Peep The All Seeing Spy EyeTrump demands secrecy himself but you cannot use the Internet with any privacy. To add insult to injury, every major company in any ties to the Internet are selling or going to be selling information about you.

Congress voted to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules on March 28.  President Trump signed the legislation (SR Res 34) April 3rd, to take the regulations off the books and prevent future privacy rules.

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “the only people in the United States who want less Internet privacy are CEOs and lobbyists for giant telecom companies who want to rake in money by spying on all of us and selling the private details of our lives to marketing companies.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said “It is worth remembering that the FCC’s own overreach created the problem we are facing today. Until 2015, the Federal Trade Commission was protecting consumers very effectively, policing every online company’s privacy practices consistently and initiating numerous enforcement actions. However, two years ago, the FCC stripped the FTC of its authority over Internet service providers. At the time, I strongly opposed usurping the FTC, and the FCC’s struggles to address the privacy issue over the past couple of years (along with its refusal to recognize consumers’ uniform expectation of privacy) has only strengthened that view.”

The FTC’s Privacy Guidelines seem to cover criminal acts with your data or very fragmented rules about using your data.  Rules about how AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon use and sell your data seem to be governed by the “Privacy” contract (3000 words) that you forced to sign before you can get service.  If you have every read one, you will find that they allow the company to do just about anything with your data and change the contract at anytime.

Big Data cartoonCollecting, using, and selling your data has become a huge growth industry benignly called Big Data.  This industry collects, analyzes, and extracts value (make money).  Facebook is a database marketing company, posing as a social networking service, that eliminated the need for data collection and data entry by convincing 1.86 billion+ people to enter lots of data about themselves.

Donald, Do Not Fuck Up America!

Nor the rest of the world! Do nothing evil that you promised to do to women, Muslims, Mexico, immigrants and above all, do not nuke’em! Also do not sue all the women that came out accusing you of sexual harassment nor put Hillary in jail.  These things will not help most Americans.  I watched as you promised everything to everyone, but you cannot deliver everything to everyone.  Disinformation will not change the truth.  Please try to deliver something good to most people.  I fear that your term will continue the decline of America that President Obama was slowly turning around.  As in the words of one MSNBC commentator, “This is going to take a lot of sinking in.”  Donald, remember that more than half the citizen’s votes were not for you and some of your votes were not Hillary votes.

We do want you to improve our infrastructure.  Maybe you can deliver us the fastest, cheapest, most neutral Internet in the world.  And rebuild and secure our electric grid, because electric power is the fuel that will drive our success.  Please remember that everything that you say or tweet will send shock-waves around the world for better or worse for Americans.

Release your tax return or are you afraid that it will show you are not doing your fair share to make America great.  In the end the American public will judge you not on what you say or tweet, but what you do!  Think how it will effect everyone, not just Donald Trump.  And finally some hope from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, There has got to be a pony in this crap pile.

Donald Trump, Still A Loser!

You lost $916,000,000 in 1 year! You are the biggest loser!  Business has it’s ups and downs, but claiming you are the best because you can be a success while losing money and not paying people that work for you makes you a narcissist, not a successful business person.

I can only assume that you will fix the loopholes (as you stated) by plugging all the ones for lower income people (less than a billion dollars).  At the same time, expanding the loopholes for billionaires?

You have shown lots of people how to lose money at several Trump businesses, like the Trump University and Trump Entertainment Resorts.  The German government believes that a Trump presidency would result in a ravaged U.S. economy, expanding by less than expected by $1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) by 2021.  So you would Make America Great Again by making U.S. citizens the world’s biggest losers!

Pandora’s iPhone

Pandora's iPhoneThe U.S. government’s case against Apple to force Apple to change the iPhone’s operating system software, iOS to allow access to a terrorist’s information is an issue that impacts all of us.

Even though the FBI has insisted that this is just about this case is just about a single phone, the end result would be opening Pandora’s Box or iPhone in this case.  Once the solution has been created, everyone will want to use it; the British, the French, the Russians, your wife’s divorce lawyer….  And the FBI has other cases where this might be used to compel Apple to change their product.  And once a method has be created, it will only be a matter of time (weeks or days) before hackers have created their own version to steal your identity and bank balance.

As the government demands access to our secrets, they demand their secrets are protected by the highest level of encryption in the name of “National Security,” some which turnout to be questionable and illegal, many exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013.  On the opposite side, the government does have valid reasons for protecting certain information and so do citizens.

We all should be creating or buying the best encryption technology available to protect our lives, liberties, and bank accounts.  Our government should not be trying to weaken that protection.  Maybe it is time to create an explicit Right to Privacy in our constitution instead of the current maze of laws and implied protections.

U.S. becoming a third world country?

It is beginning to look like this country’s police and sheriff departments are getting a taste for cash, your cash! You don’t need to be a criminal or even charged with a crime. They just demand citizens turn over any large amounts of cash and claim you are going to buy drugs with it without any proof.  This is how government officials/police are financed in third world countries.

Forfeiture has been used by authorities to fight the “War on Drug” with great impact on criminal organizations.  But now the local police trained by private companies such as Desert Snow, LLC and it’s Black Asphalt Electronic Networking System that is used by police to target individuals without proof of a crime.

As the tactics taught by Desert Snow are used in state and local police become more institutionalized, forfeiture has been abused to violate an individual’s right to property and presumption of innocence.

In civil forfeiture, the burden of proof has moved to the victim of forfeiture, making the return of property seized difficult and expensive.  Also the benefit to the governmental agencies involve is great, growing from $93.7 million (1986) to $2.50 billion in 2008 in Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund.  Some of this was criminal forfeiture, but also includes innocent victims.

State and local agencies have found this is a way to increase their budgets significantly.  In Texas, in Jim Wells County, authorities seized more than $1.5 million during a four-year period mostly off of U.S. Route 281, described as a “prime smuggling route for drugs going north and money coming south.”  Seized cash is a third of the budget of the sheriff’s department, allowing it to buy more equipment, high-powered rifles, and police vehicles. There are few restrictions on how police use seized funds.  In some counties in Texas, 40% of police revenue comes from forfeitures. Texas, with many smuggling corridors to Mexico, and police seized $125 million in 2007.

The solution to preventing innocent victims of civil forfeitures, is to reduce or eliminate the incentives for police and governmental agencies.  By restricting the use of funds to neutral use, that does not benefit the agencies directly, abuse would be reduced.  Or eliminate the issue completely like New Mexico which passed a law making civil forfeiture illegal in New Mexico, the first state to outlaw the practice.

More info:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asset_forfeiture
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_forfeiture_in_the_United_States
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/09/06/stop-and-seize/
http://www.hbo.com/last-week-tonight-with-john-oliver/episodes/01/20-october-5-2014/video/ep-20-clip-civil-forfeiture.html

New Horizons phoned home today!

New Horizons, an interplanetary space probe that was launched on January 19, 2006, passed by the dwarf planet, Pluto and took the best pictures to date of the distant plutoid.  Yesterday, New Horizons sent back the following picture of Pluto.

Pluto picture
Pluto from New Horizons on 7/13/2015.

The best picture previous to New Horizons was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1994, shown below.

Pluto from Hubble picture
Pluto and its moon, Charon, as revealed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1994

On July 14, 2015 05:49 MDT, the New Horizons spacecraft flew 12,600 km (7,800 mi) from the surface of Pluto, taking more pictures and gathering more sensor data.  In the next few days and weeks, this data will be sent back to earth, providing even better pictures of Pluto, up to 10 times the resolution of the picture sent just a day before now.

Congratulations to the New Horizons team for the success of their mission that began January 8, 2001.  I hope it continues generating new discoveries far into the future.

A Good Day for Internet Users!

Today, the FCC adopted strong legal protections for network neutrality that will yield civic, social and economic benefits for U.S. citizens.  The FCC issued a statement which said in part:

Today, the Commission—once and for all—enacts strong, sustainable rules, grounded in multiple sources of legal authority, to ensure that Americans reap the economic, social, and civic benefits of an Open Internet today and into the future. These new rules are guided by three principles: America’s broadband networks must be fast, fair and open—principles shared by the overwhelming majority of the nearly 4 million commenters who participated in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding.

The details can be view on the FCC web site at http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-strong-sustainable-rules-protect-open-internet

Are Free Markets Really Free?

Some people are demanding free markets to help the economy recover from the Great Recession.  Republicans and Libertarians maintain there needs to be less government regulation.  Free markets helped started the Great Recession and it has not ended!

The banking industry got their free market wish granted when Bill Clinton signed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, AKA the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, into law.  This removed regulation that prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company.  The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded that

  1. the financial crisis was avoidable;
  2. the widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision proved devastating to the stability of the nation’s financial markets;
  3. the dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions were a key cause of this crisis;
  4. a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency put the financial system on a collision course with crisis;
  5. collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline lit and spread the flame of contagion and crisis;
  6. over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis;
  7. the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.

To read the details of the report, download the official government PDF and make up your own mind.  My opinion is that laws and regulations that had protected us since 1933 were removed to create a free market.  This market crisis was not free and we are still paying for it! Laws and regulations are made to protect citizens’ lives and fortunes. Removing the laws that are working to that end allows people (and certain large corporations) to rob us blind.

As early as 1999 I was wondering how “mortgage companies” could loan out big sums of money to people that only had to show a drivers license.  When I heard about credit default swaps in 2007 and how they eliminated risk in risky mortgages, I could not see that could be the case in all situations.  When I tried to talk about these issues and my concerns, I was told to just refinance and keep quiet.  What I did not realize is that all that risk was being transferred to the citizens of the world and the biggest financial crisis in my lifetime was about to begin.  I doubt that the organizations that benefited from this crisis will every be held fully accountable, but I will not be silent when I see pending doom in the future.

Update 11/24/2014

It appears that the economy is recovering, but slowly.  Of course the conservatives are blaming President Obama because politically they cannot do anything else except to act defensively.  Big business leaders are blaming the federal government when they were the ones that gutted the middle class by moving middle class jobs off shore.  That has helped them to capture a greater share of overall income from the middle and lower income levels since 1967!

To Big To Fail?

We are the 99%If a company is to big to fail then it needs to be managed for the benefit of all of us (the 100%) and not for the benefit of the shareholders or top management.

If the public must subsidize a business to prevent it’s failing because it will cause catastrophic impact on all of us (the public), then the public needs to sit on the board of that company to make sure they do not fail.  Another option is to nationalize these businesses for the benefit of everyone.  I am not in favor of this option, because the U.S. Congress cannot seem to manage themselves or our country.  But there are many examples of non-profit companies, with no shareholders, managing water, electric, and phone services very well, for the benefit of their customers.

I am not advocating that the government is directly involved with management of a business, but the government makes rules that provide access to a businesses information and governance.  This public access could be accomplished in several ways: board seats, public notice of future plans, rules specific to a industry or business area.

As the US subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 showed, industry practices that might be OK on a limited basis can be devastating when practiced industry-wide.  This is the result of a free market behaving badly!

Global Post rails against privacy!?

I was surfing my news feeds and ran across this post on the Global Post that gave me pause.  Here is a quote from their site with emphasis added.

The letter was published a day before House Judiciary committee members will debate on the Stop Online Privacy Act introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). Although Smith’s bill has attracted tons of support from media firms and the Hollywood industry, web companies and public interest groups strong oppose it, the Washington Post reported.

SOPA aims to cut the amount of pirated content online and would give content owners and the US government the power to request court orders to shut down websites associated with piracy, the BBC reported. The bill also aims to stop online ad networks and payment processors from doing business with foreign websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.

I know Mark Zuckerberg thinks privacy is over, but Sergey Brin of Google, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Elon Musk of PayPal (EBay), Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia?  Apparently they were opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act introduced by Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), which is very different.  And even Mark Zuckerberg is not as open as he wants you to be!

Apparently the editors and fact-checkers at the Global Post are out for the holidays.  Happy New Year!