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.

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.

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

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!

IRS should allow direct electronic submission of forms

The IRS should all U.S. citizens to submit tax returns directly to their system without going through a third party. This is something you can do on paper, but not electronically.

The IRS gave a big boost to the tax professional/software industry by requiring me to use one of the third party preparers to submit my tax return electronically.  Buried in the online agreement, that you must respond in the affirmative, is usually a clause that gives the third party the right to use your tax return data for purposes other that submitting your return to the IRS!  In other words, sell you unrelated goods and services.

Now third party tax preparation companies are gathering detailed information about their customers.  And what could be more detailed that a tax return.  We are requried to list every financial company that we have a relationship.  Who are our dependents.  If we gamble, or more correct, if you won some money gambling.  How much we spend on health insurance.  To what charities we give money.  Who holds our mortgage.  And that is just the beginning.

Where and when will the assault on our privacy end!  I will continue filing my tax return on paper, by snail mail, until this right to privacy is recognized by the IRS.

IRS, sharpen your letter openers and check your post office box.