Tag Archives: DSD

Advice from the press?

So, as we look at the Guardian, we see someone stating that we need an independent monitor. So, what is going on? To be quite honest, at first I thought I was reading a cartoon. The fact that the spokespersons name is Julian Disney did not help matters (and I so love my Disney movies).

Yet, this is not me having a go at a respectable person. I do not know Prof Julian Disney AO; he is a professor of Law at UNSW. Even though those from UTS will always happily have a go at their academic brethren (Australian graduates regard the rivalry between Oxford vs. Cambridge and Harvard vs. Yale to be mere child’s play), we do keep all professors in high regard!

Yet, that does not mean that we will not oppose them when needed and this is as I see it such a moment!

I have been very vocal in the past in regards to the press, their actions and their flaws, their massive flaws. It seems that the press all about ‘self-regulating’ and beyond that it is all about public advocates (so that they will have access to materials. Yet, the intelligence field does not operate in this way. I had a few concerns, which I addressed as “I would have preferred that a clear location would be there to alert someone, even if it was a special appointed judge“, which allows for whistle blowers to the smallest extent, but not one that is open to all. I want to be certain that the information is properly vetted for ‘misuse’ (read: whinge to promote one’s self agenda and career).

So yes, I have issues with the article (at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/02/australian-press-council-spy-powers-independent-monitor). My first issue is “The Greens senator Scott Ludlam announced on Wednesday the Greens would not be supporting the next tranche of legislation, which will force telecommunications companies to keep the personal details of Australians for two years“. We have two options here, either the DSD (Australian version of GCHQ) gets all the data, or they get access to the data when properly needed. They opted for option two, which means that telecoms need to hold on to data. Listen up people, this means that your data is safe until there is a direct known threat, which will allow for a ‘data warrant’. So if you did nothing, you will never show up in their lists. To be clear, in America, the NSA opted for solution one, which gives them all your actions and as such you were ‘mined’ for flags. This means that in 99.999657% likelihood (roughly), they never saw you, they mined you with processes, but no person ever saw your actions.

The second quote is “He added that it was critical for the inspector general of intelligence and security, journalists and the community to continue to monitor how the new laws were implemented“, I agree with most of this view, but let’s change ‘, journalists and the community‘ into ‘a special appointed and security cleared judge‘. I have nothing against the proper person monitoring what happens and as I am still in favour of a legal approach, it should be a special appointed judge and let’s keep the journo’s out of that part, for several reasons. Let’s not forget that the Sunday Mirror entrapment sting is less than a week old and we have seen our share of issues, especially when there was some free for all against Julia Gillard, with the questions aimed at Tim Mathieson to be the ‘Ruddy’ cake, the icing and the candles. There are several more issues. I admit we are not as bad as that island on the other side of the planet, but when it comes to trusting the press, we should all have issues, especially as the Sony issue was ignored by ALL!

So, as it stands, at present I will oppose the Australian Press Council on this.

There is however something in the quote “This will affect every man, woman and child and every device in the country. Now the government has rammed the Asio laws through the Parliament today it is now turning its sights on every internet user in the country“, this statement is not incorrect, yet the people (read the press and politicians) are both dancing around one issue, whilst another issue is the real threat. It is not that the Intelligence community has access. They are merely there to stop the dangers of terrorism. My issue from the very beginning has been ‘who else gets to have access‘. Here we see the real danger, which the press seems to be unwilling to voice. Why? Is a company like Telstra too able to ‘uproot’ your careers? That fear was voiced by me in the blog ‘For our spies only!‘ which I wrote on the 26th of September, the issue is not what should get access, but what will end up having access too that is to a larger degree a concern. I am still convinced that if data retention becomes a larger issue, the intelligence community will be lacking in hardware, knowledge and staff to deal with these massive amounts of data, which leaves us open to other issues, yet this is just my view!

Now consider the impact!

What impact could there have been? Well, to understand that, we have to take a look at yesterday’s news (at http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/jihadist-sponsor-accused-may-have-made-one-fatal-error-that-led-to-his-arrest/story-fni0fee2-1227075746698). The issue here is not how they got him, but how they almost did not get him. The issue was luck, if the FBI did not have a record on all 12 Americans in Syria, we would not know. Hassan El Sabsabi was allegedly funding people to join Islamic State. He would still be in business, and your money on pizza would have gone to support Islamic State. What a lovely meal you would be having then. Was it perhaps the peperoni supreme?

If ASIO had the data and the scripts would have been running, it is likely that he would have been known earlier, more important, who else is doing this? If they funded a non-American they could still be in business and perhaps they still are. There is no evidence that there was only one person doing this, there is evidence that he is unlikely to be the only one. Did you sign up for your Pizza, your Salad or your Sushi to be the foundation for another terrorist? No! So let ASIO do their job! In this case the press will only advice on the things that further their OWN cause, which tends to be circulation and advertisement. That part has been in the foreground in such a blatant way, that I feel no other option then to oppose the view Professor Disney is offering. Possible we will see more information on what happens next and perhaps the Professor will sway my view. I do not think so, but ignoring voices of wisdom tends to be silly and polarising, which serves no one, not even me, myself and I.

What other issues are there?

Well for me that is pretty much it. I believe that access needs to be monitored and no one beside the Intelligence community should have access and that will, at present not be a given. However, I am very much in favour of the press not getting access at all. Yet, the article by Paul Farrell seems to be written with the ‘intent’ to instil fear. A fear we should not get into, for the very reason that it is fear that they are trying to remove and is achieved by people not looking over their shoulder, especially a group of journalists who seem to give into appeasing advertisers, the one group we do not want to see anywhere near these amounts of data.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Law, Media, Politics

Are they the real losers?

Yes, it is a nice new day and to be quite honest, I feel ashamed that fellow gamers and fellow men on the internet are starting to show that many are the type of person, real man are disgusted to know.

Let’s have a look at the facts lately. First we get the 101 naked celebrities, which, fair enough could have been done by any over enthusiastic (read: horny) teenager. That does not make it OK or any way acceptable. Then we get the persecution of Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn for the most ridiculous of reasons and now, because an actress speaks out for all women, you know, through that usage of ‘freedom of expression‘, she now gets haunted by hackers, posting her stolen images (because she was wearing not that much) to scare her and to ridicule her and finally there was Caroline Criado-Perez who had a really nice idea and got threatened because of voicing the idea.

You see, I am very willing to do something about it, but I am not that good a hacker. I can remove them with a sniper rifle pretty efficiently, but that gets me into hot water (the Crimes Act of NSW 1900 gets a bit iffy at this point) the police seems unable to do anything about the victims, but the hackers will apparently have all the rights to protection and privacy. I am willing to test these rights.

So, here I throw down the gauntlet! Because, I am sick of these cowards feeling safe and secure. I challenge these groups of so called ‘greater than life‘ hackers to prove their greatness and find those hackers who did this to Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Emma Watson and Caroline Criado-Perez. I think the people (and me) have a right to know, so I challenge the hackers to find them, post the evidence as well as their identity and address on all places, as well as 4chan. If the press is so into ‘the people have a right to know‘ then let’s find out who they are. It would also be nice to know who hacked the celebrity mobiles and add those names and identities too.

Let us find out whether there are real men amongst those hackers, who would like to get recognised as the man who gave us the names of these hiding cowards. If these people claim a right to ‘privacy’, let us recall a tweet that was send to Caroline Criado-Perez. The tweet ended with “NO MEANS YES“, let us test that theory!

You see, I reckon that once they are out in the open, the game changes. Their neighbours will point at them. Those guys in school who were always smitten with Hermione Granger will want to prove to their hero actress that they will stand up for her. These fathers living nearby who have seen their darling daughter cry because she got bullied, will feel the rage of violence boil their blood when they spot them. I wonder how secure their confidence is during the day when they all know who they are.

Did you, the threatener and abuser consider that?

When we look at the piece in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2014/sep/23/hackers-tried-silence-emma-watson-naked-photos-but-made-her-voice-louder), we see an article that is decent, but substandard. It gives us a psychology part and some referencing, which is how I saw it. Of course the daily star front cover was there. There was a part I did really like. The quote was “Emma Watson did not talk to the UN about the need for equality because all forms of gender discrimination have been eradicated from our world. She spoke about it because every day, in every country, women face violence, abuse or just plain old ignorance”, yet this was countered by the quote that follows “Much as we’ll cheer for the underdog in a sports match, in real life we don’t want them to defend themselves”, which I found offensive. Of course the debate then becomes whether that statement has any truth. You see, if we truly believed that, we would be outspoken about it. The reality is that those acting out against it are cowards, like those old white men in white outfits with burning crosses (KKK reference). These people hold their believe in the dark corners, where no one can see who they truly are, which is why I want these ‘hackers’ out in the open. I am truly curious what we will find and whether we see some crying father on how his son was misled and it was all one big misunderstanding.

The second article http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/sep/23/feminists-rally-emma-watson-4chan-nude-photo-threats is also decent, but I had a huge issue with the title ‘Feminists rally round Emma Watson after 4chan nude pictures threats‘. I personally believe that the title ‘All real man and real women go to bat for UN spokesperson under siege‘. That would be the title that wakes up nations! Let’s be clear, this is not because she looks nice, is pretty or an actress. I felt the same way when we saw the utter injustice that befell Caroline Criado-Perez.

The question is how to deal with these people, because they are tearing at the foundation of our freedom, not just the woman, the men are in equal danger. If you doubt this, then ask the father of Emma, the parents of Caroline. Do you have a daughter? It could even be a son, what happens when your child speaks out against injustice? Then what do we do? Let them be victims to some coward, who does not believe in their freedom of speech, their freedom of expression or their support to a person they ‘hate’.

I believe that they fear the light and accountability, so let’s give them some bright light to bake under. Even though the intelligence community has a few other priorities, can you guys (NSA, GCHQ, DSD, DGSE and FAPSI) make it into a competition (perhaps for your interns)? The first correct publication is worth 4 gold stars, second place gets 2 gold stars and third gets one star and the rest will have to fend for the next round. Like a hacker Olympics for signal intelligence.

Seems like a harmless enough sport and let’s face it, the hacker wants a challenge, he/she is baiting you to find them! Are you, the upcoming SIGINT officers of the future up to the challenge?

But I very much liked the quote in the end: ““All I can say Emma, is: fuck them,” wrote Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett“, she took the words right out of my mouth!

UPDATE:

At 21:00 the games changed a little. It seems that the threats against Emma Watson were a viral marketing ploy. (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-24/emma-watson-threats-actually-stunt-to-shut-down-4chan/5766882). In my mind there is no change, the others were victims of harassment and psychic assault. Yet, these issues have other issues too. You see, the origin of 4chan was nice, clean and pure. It was altered by some to be used in other ways. It was the brainwave of the then 15 year old Christopher Poole who was into Japanese comics and anime. there is a lot more to 4chan. I found a reference to ‘A 21-year-old man was arrested after 4chan had provided the police with the IP address of the poster.’, so 4chan is more then just trollers and hackers. Which makes the actions of the company Rantic more then just a little dubious. Yet all is not clear there either as the ABC has one excellent quote “The #shutdown4chan hashtag gained some momentum on Twitter, but some users raised concerns that it aimed to eclipse conversation about Watson’s gender equality speech“, which beckons the thought, what exactly is going on and perhaps 4chan is not the nuisance, but the saviour for the message that prevails with #heforshe and whether they could do something extra to spread the message Emma Watson had for all people visiting the internet.

So was my article right or wrong? In the end, the issue I had remains and remains clearly. The press acted directly and corrected as soon as they had the information, the question becomes what about the other victims?

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Law, Media, Military

The hungry Journalist games

Another day and another article on Sky News!

This all started a long time ago, but it seems that this article (at http://news.sky.com/story/1293651/internet-firms-take-legal-action-against-gchq), opens up new avenues to explore, aqs it already had taken the cake as one might say. There are issues for certain, they are on both sides, but what is this about?

The seven countries involved are the UK, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zimbabwe. Let’s start by stating that this is an interesting group of nations to begin with. It was an article in Der Spiegel that set them off. Most sources seem to have copied and pasted the same message (Reuters Journalism as I tend to call it), one source also had this: “Their complaint follows in the wake of articles about mass surveillance published in the Guardian based on material released by Snowden“.

So again this could be a ‘Snowden’ story, but I want to take a look at another side and the quote by Eric King spokesperson (deputy director) of Privacy International who stated “It completely cripples our confidence in the internet economy and threatens the rights of all those who use it. These unlawful activities, run jointly by GCHQ and the NSA, must come to an end immediately

Is that the truth, or should the correct quote be “It completely undermines our support of optional criminal activities and threatens the opportunity of economic abuse for all who desire it. Their unlawful activities, run jointly by GCHQ and the NSA, must come to an end immediately, so that we may again focus on possibly deniable illicit profit

That is quite the change, isn’t it? Consider the following two issues. First the prices, for example ‘Greenhost’ offers the following:

Webhosting 120 GB storage and 1.2 TB data traffic for 132.75 euro’s a month and virtual data servers containing 50 GB storage and 1 TB bandwidth a month for 215 euro’s a month. Basically, just one account would fit the web space for most the ENTIRE Forbes top 50, not just one or two.

So, in light of recent events, I thought I had something here, the Dutch provider fits the bill, but then I got to Riseup, which no longer seemed to be active and the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) which seemed highly ideologically to me. More important, it did not fit the bill either. So am I barking up the wrong tree? (I have been wrong before you know!)

I still believe that the ISP’s are all about not complying as it is not about freedom, but about bandwidth (which directly translates into revenue), which seemed to fit the first part, but the others are not about that, which makes me wonder what is in play. Do you actually think that the NSA and GCHQ are about wasting time? So, is the Chaos Computer Club a waste of time? No, as far as I can tell, they are not. Are they a threat? Well, that remains the issue. They are hackers after all. Is it that farfetched that some people would want to keep track of some of these members? Let’s not forget that someone is feeding organised crime the knowledge that they need to avoid prosecution, when considering the power that both the Triades and the Russian Mafia have in the digital age area, looking into the CCC to some extent seems to be a given. However, knowing their skills, doing it in the way it is implied to have been done seems a little over the top as most of these hackers are pretty proud of themselves and they are for the most not in hiding. Let us not forget, they voice themselves to be about the freedom of the German people and the utter privilege of their data remaining private.

The fact is that this is an implied mess involving 7 countries, the next valid question becomes: ‘are they linked (beyond the accusation), or are they just a collection of elements?’

That question bares scrutiny, but should also indicate the view I have had of Snowden from the very beginning. I believe him to be a joke (and a bad one at that). Now, most of you will not believe this, but let us take a look at the EVIDENCE. I am not talking about some claim, but actual evidence partially on the common sense you and me hopefully tend to have.

1. The claims that he has made involves massive levels of access. Not the access a hacker will ever have, but the information from top level sources in the CIA, NSA and GCHQ. So were talking hacking into over dozens of top level secured servers, servers which are monitored 24/7. He, some hacker no one had ever heard from, did all that. These people behind the screens do NOT EVER give out passwords, do not give access, yet he had all the information and walked out of one of the most secure buildings in the world with all THAT data? This is a quote found in sources like ‘the Verge’ and ‘Wired’. I think we can agree that wired is a reputable source in regards to technology (at http://www.wired.com/2013/06/snowden-thumb-drive/) “‘There are people who need to use a thumb drive and they have special permission,’ an unnamed, ex-NSA official told the LA Times. ‘But when you use one, people always look at you funny.’” This is not unlike the view I have had for a year now. Let’s not forget, the NSA is the place where SELinux was developed, it was designed to keep close tabs on access control, specifically, who, where, how and with what. So ‘some’ technician, with the USB drive in the most secure server space on the planet is just not going to fly. The question I had from the very beginning is not how he did it, but what was actually at play here? The next part is assumption! Was it to give Booz Allan Hamilton more profit? That was my alleged first thought. If data was going to get ported to non-government institutions, this small caper could give BAH and whoever was getting oversight an easy and clean billion a year in revenue. That tactic, still ethically wrong, would have made perfect sense to me.

Here is how I see it and this is PURE assumption (I will get back to evidence in a minute for my next issue), consider the Microsoft disappointment with data collection plans for the Xbox One. We see some of the changes (at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/23/us/politics/house-votes-to-limit-nsas-collection-of-phone-data.html). The following quotes are essential here. The first one was from Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, “The N.S.A. might still be watching us, he added, but now we can be watching them“. It is a bold statement, but is it true; moreover, should they be watched? Yes, any intelligence operation needs oversight, which is fair enough in a democratic way of life, but how many should overlook this? Are the people in oversight not granted well above average powers and is it fair to any opposition party that they should have it?

2. What lies beneath this access is the amount of involvement. Prism is one of the named projects with supported links to Australia, the UK and the Netherlands, with Microsoft as a commercial partner. Really? One nation, known for clogs, cheeses, Hans Brinker and soccer is placed next to the NSA and the Commonwealth? It is a technological hub, no doubt about that, but it is the size of Maryland. So, this is just the first of several projects, involving secrecies that would be limited to the very top, most of it would not be written down and Snowden had it (as in having in past tense, details follow). The mention of projects like XKeyscore, Tempora, Project 6, Stateroom, Lustre and Muscular. They are not only different projects, but they are a scope of projects that would not ever be in one location to begin with. So, what is implied as ‘the top’ of data gathering and one IT person has it all? Is no one asking the questions the PRESS should have asked and openly doubted from the very beginning to begin with (a part that is not voiced in any way).

The funny part is that stateroom seems to be no more than the legal collection of information as EVERY government tends to collect diplomatic data and in his claim he made them ALL bitches to the NSA, they just do not know it. There is also a reference to Echelon, there are several references, but the one that matters is not named. A covert niche within the NSA and the name of the source is: Tom Clancy!

Is anyone starting to wake up now?

This is not about anything but the warped imagination that is not even close to a reality. Consider that every government has embassies and consulates, the Dutch have them, the Australians have them, so do the Brits and the Germans, not to mention the French and they have them too. Consulates and Embassies represent their governments. Consulates tend to be specific for people and companies, so that they have backups. Like getting home when your passport is stolen, or to help a company with a list of people they should talk to for starting to do business. Trade will always remain important anywhere. Embassies are more about ‘governing’ opportunities as I see them. The Dutch want to get first dibs on building a reliable bridge, so their ambassador talks the great talk. People skills is what it is all about and talking to the right people. There are other sides too, they try to resolve issues, like a Dutchman committing a crime in Melbourne (for example) and the Embassy tries to ‘help’ the Dutch person to get home again, or to assist local government with their investigation if need be. These people do work that they sometimes like and sometimes hate, it is a job that needs to be done. To get the best results some things need to remain confidential and secret and as such whether through encrypted ways or through other ways messages go back and front between a government and its local representatives and that needs a little more security. Some is as simple as a message of a first insight as to build a bridge; to keep the advantage this goes encrypted. It is the cost of business, plain and simple. There is no hidden agenda (other than national pride in trying to score the job). So, they do they do their job and they are not the NSA bitch in the process.

It is simple approach and the lie hidden within a truth was stated as “They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned” Part of the truth is that the encryption specialist is usually not known, it is not a secret either, he used to be the person, who had one extra book with cyphers, he opened each page and set the encryption box and transmitted the information, often a NCO of communication (often has NATO duty reference A00x0). That person had two extra tasks and most in the diplomatic staff might not know, or better stated, they absolutely do not care.

When we saw the statements by certain key people in Australia or the UK they spoke the absolute truth. The small explanation I gave is done by all, the DSD (AUS), GCHQ (UK) and as I said it the Dutch have it too. It is a simple legally valid and required job that needs to be done, nothing secret about it, it is the cost of doing business and sometimes, to keep a lead profitable it sometimes gets handed over more secured, just like they do it at Microsoft (they just get heaps better equipment).

Another issue is the XKeyscore reference. Does such a thing exist, most likely! Now consider the implications of the following, there are mentions of 700 servers in 150 locations. The fact that it needs to intercept without visibility and analyse at the same time as a person does many things at the same time. Even if the best of the best was used (which likely is the case), then we are looking at a very select group trying to get a handle on perhaps no more than the most dangerous 2000 people on the planet. Does anyone believe that a system like this remains a secret if 4 Australian bases are involved? The next part can also be taken as a fact. Can anyone even guess the amount of bandwidth this takes? Most routers nearby the monitored person will truly get a beating, so whatever this is, it will show up. It is the scope that is claimed that makes no sense. Some in the NSA might find it nice if it was true, but the weak link in all this is the actual internet.

The last part of this is the kicker in this joke. If his life depends on it all, do you actually think he would ever part with the information? This came from the NY Times from October 2013 (at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/world/snowden-says-he-took-no-secret-files-to-russia.html) “Mr Snowden said he gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, before flying to Moscow, and did not keep any copies for himself“, so his life depends on a journalist, who now has the thousands of documents?

Perhaps we should look at a much more likely explanation, the man has no value, the press is stretching the value of events, as they would and Snowden has played his part, I still think that the Chinese saw in him what I saw from the very beginning, a simple joke! They walked away and he had to flee to Russia who is keeping him around for entertainment and to piss of the Yanks (which they also regard as good entertainment). My issue is not him, but the fact that I see more wasted time and energy on laughable cases that keep us all away from actually moving forward. In this economy, as we are so stretched thin, rebuilding an economy is a first need, not waste time on some feigned attack on the ‘confidence in the internet economy‘ as Eric King puts it.

And for the love of whomever, let’s not compare Snowden and Assange, I completely oppose Assange and his view, but at least he seemed to believe in that what he did was a just cause and acted accordingly.

In the end this is just my view, but no one seems to be asking the questions the press are supposed to be asking. The Guardian and Der Spiegel seem to get a ‘free’ hand in boasting tons of data and a simple stamp ‘Snowden said it was so’ seems enough for people to just accept it.

4 Comments

Filed under IT, Law, Military, Politics

The Hunchback of the NSA

We have been hearing information in this regard for some time now. I added my thoughts in my last blog, and as this is such a growing story, let me see if I can add some details to this by looking at a few issues from another side. (Source: www.NOS.nl , www.Guardian.co.uk , et al).

Edward Snowden, His view is that it is up to the people to decide what is to be done. Is it?

2003: Edward joins the Army to deploy to Iraq. He suffers injuries during (basic) training and cannot continue the training.

200?: Edward has been selected into the sanctum and becomes an IT specialist with the CIA, placed in Geneva. Well, that is a nice handle up from basic training isn’t it. Some people dream of opportunities like that all their life.

He gets a dose of disillusionment. (Not my words, just quoting here). The CIA methodology does not sit well with him. As a data analyst with a few decades of experience, including some not to mention data depositories, I can tell him now, that there is method to their madness. I know where he is at this point, because when it is all about data cleaning, integrity checks and verification, whatever you do feels like carrying a bucket of water towards the ocean, but hey, that is what it is. He then decides to quit. That is fair enough! Not all are meant for that lifestyle (including unappreciative bosses that we see by the container load in the commercial world), and as such we should recognise that some of these jobs have a decidedly larger chance of burning out.

2009: He joins the NSA. Really? After he left the CIA? That is an interesting step. Especially knowing that one worries you, the other would not?

Well Edward, this is what you signed up for! But fair enough, you wanted to give it a go. He then becomes NSA’s own Arnold Benedict. Oh joy! (I say in a slightly sarcastic voice) and he ends up feeding the information to the PRESS. I will add that this is slightly better than dumping all this on Wiki-leaks. I will also applaud him for going to the Guardian as I personally see these people as slightly more devoted to Ethics then anything Rupert Murdoch has at present in my humble opinion. Still, Arnold, oops, I meant Edward goes out into the limelight. Consider that his job was to make sure that the American people remained safe. Did he? Many people including terrorists knew this was likely to happen. Now they have confirmation and they might employ new methods, making it harder for the NSA to find them. So who did Edward Snowden actually service? From my point of view it was not the American people. Oh, and Hong Kong of all places? It seems to me that he preferred to be bankable to several potential donators. (But that is just my view).

The NSA has an uncomfortable job that must be done. The terrorist (or perhaps better stated the extremist) threat is real, and as such organisations like NSA, GCHQ and DSD need to look at information as it flows to keep its citizens safe. There is an ugly looking sterile approach to information. It has no emotion; it is simple collection of data. Yes, if anyone gets the wrong phone call we could be checked. Yet, the data is up to a point so complete that these organisations can easily see whether this is a fluke, or if there is more. Is that not the best solution? Most people have this illusion that we have some kind of privacy. The reality is that our information had been collected and data mined by large corporations well over a decade before governments started to collect data.

Do you think that I am kidding?

Take a day in your life. You fill up the tank at a gas station. You use your tank pass to get the 3% extra discount. You pay with either ‘their’ card, or your card. Nowadays it is rare that people pay cash. You go to work. Lunch means that you get lunch at some place. You get a snack and you get 1-2 extra items. Anything at these points that have a pass, or card is in 70% of the cases collected data. Now you go home, get dinner, use your customer loyalty card and you go home. Whenever you did not use cash (and in some cases even if you did) your details were recorded. EVERY day of your life! Whenever you use your mobile, your mobile carrier knows roughly where you are (with some smart-phones they know exactly where you are). All that data has been collected in one way or another.

Yes, even beyond what Orwell contemplated, you are a data collection point, you are marketable!

This is the ugly reality that has been happening since even before 2001. The big problem for you is that many of these companies need to survive, they need revenue, so to survive and you are for sale. Whatever you did is for sale. No matter the amount of cleaning you think they do. It takes but one linkable fact to your raw data details to know exactly who you are, where you are and where you are likely to go. People like the NSA only want to know whether you are a danger to the nation and the people around you. Are you? The others want to make money off you? Only you know how ‘dangerous’ you are, the others want you to spend cash where they like it. It is a never-ending story of greed. So who do you really need to worry about?

So when we see the news on how politicians are all about worries, all about what was done, then ask yourself, what questions have they been asking, investigating and contemplating when it came to the data handed by all to commercial facilities.

Getting back to Edward, whatever his views are. If he was TRULY for the people, and TRULY doing something to make the world better, then he would have done something about the real issues and all those e-mails from bankers and so on. That did not happen, did it? Didn’t Julian Assange ‘vanish’ to Ecuador before he could make good on that promise? So when people are driven by who hold the usage of their credit card, what do we call them then? As for bankable matters, seems that his move to Hong Kong could be all about bankability, but who is banking who?

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Media, Military, Politics

Privacy and (fake) fears

It has been all over the news. The US government has access to your email and your details. It was quite the show to read this all yesterday and the issues this morning was set in a nothing less than A-level theatre play. A play that would make Robert Ludlum envious I might add.

The issue is that the US Government (NSA in this case) is reading your e-mails. They have been doing that for some time. Basically, it was the Patriot act that opened the (back) doors for them to get access to all this information. As they were dealing with data on a lower level in those days, their task was simple. Find Terrorists! Find those who attack America and deal with them. So readers, here is your fake fear! This is one moment where I agree with President Obama 100%. You cannot have 100% security and 100% privacy. Anyone claiming different is lying to you.

The NSA is not interested in you soliciting erotic acts from a recipient on the other side of the e-mail track. They are not interested in the deals you make offering a quick buck! So those in fear (roughly 99.8932353%) you have nothing to fear but fear itself. The part you are not afraid of is the part that SHOULD scare you. You see all that data that you ‘surrender’ to Facebook, Google, MySpace, and Friendster and so on. All THAT data you gave can be crunched, marketed and sold to companies, corporations and all who would buy them. THAT is an interesting part. That is the fear people need to have when they looked at the dangers that Dutch Equens represent (as reported in the earlier blog: ‘You might soon be sold by the banks!‘).

It is not just that part, it is the possibility that data miners offer as they combine data files in one coherent file that could be a personal ‘danger’ to you.

The NSA issues are not that. They need these abilities to fight the existing and growing threat called ‘the lone wolf terrorist’. These people are guided by sources like ‘Inspire’ magazine, which is created by AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). It is however not that simple. The real lone wolves get their ‘guidance’ remotely from sources most do not know and all that under the eyes of the Intelligence Community. To have a grip on stopping these people, monitoring the internet is essential to keeping us the common people safe. If you think that reading mails was enough, then you are wrong. The further going plans by some to monitor the internet is going to be an essential part. Do not think that this is a fun exercise for those involved. It is pricey, it drains resources and it is never ending. As people move to the cloud the need to monitor upcoming dangers will only increase.

Most readers will have heard of the soldier killed in Woolwich UK. Home Secretary Theresa May was quoted when the mention came that this attack was not from a ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist. I am not opposing this thought. Yet, it cannot be denied that magazines like Inspire might be central to these events. As such it is no wonder that GCHQ wants to peek over the shoulders of the NSA to see if dangers are hitting their small island (I meant the UK, for those who wonder).

There were additional issues that are growing on several grounds, which give weight to the need of monitoring and in all of these cases people like you and me are not an issue.

For most of you feeling fear of this, your fear is unwarranted. Your fear should be how Microsoft and Sony are very interested on squeezing your details out of you as they are preparing and implementing their Next Gen consoles. That will affect you a lot sooner than the security services ever will. (Blog: ‘Government ministers, be warned!‘)

It looks almost sanctimonious that people are so shouting at these government actions and after that spread their visions with pictures and reveal all they can (and sometimes with way too much info) using Shutterfly/Instagram and Facebook. When their identities are stolen they will whine that it is ALL the fault of the government on how their identity was not safe.

Seems almost laughable doesn’t it.

When we sit on the fence we do see that there is a responsibility to hold parties to account for what they do. In case of the NSA this is Judge Roger Vinson. So, yes, someone does take a look at what is done. When did you last hear a loud scream on what Facebook is doing with your details? How about never? Only when Facebook had certain plans involving Instagram did the inner demon of personal greed scream out stating that the pictures were not to be open for business. Again we see a show of double standards. Judge Roger Vinson, born in the state where the delicious Forest Reserve Bourbon is from (Kentucky). He is the Federal Judge for the state famous for Pina Colada and cool Mojito’s (Florida). He approved the data request that the NSA made. So, yes there is oversight on this. It is however not needed for foreign requests. Is that bad? We give it freely to Facebook, so why are they stopped from sharing that with the government. Are you having that drink yet?

The NSA, GCHQ, DSD, CSE and a few others need these data streams. They would like to prevent people who are eager to get other people blown up. For you and me to stand on ‘principle’ on one side and then we give away our identity to be marketed and spammed to commercial content is just way too weird.

The world is now visibly changing. It is in my mind a little frightful as we are soon to become part of something different. As the finance markets were not contained, and soon no longer can be contained ever, we see a move away from nations and nationalities. We are about to be reduced to a metadata tag. With an added weighting that is soon to be set to ‘useful’ or ‘waste’. This was not instigated by governments and not even by the intelligence community. It was instigated by corporations behind Social media; and as we openly surrendered our details we are now placed in boxes where we can be approached. When we have moved through all the boxes and we are no longer an asset in any box we will be given the ‘waste’ tag. Then what?

These are my words, but funnily enough I was not the first one to mention this. In the Netherlands there was a New-Age entrepreneur called Luc Sala. Even from the late 80’s he evangelized the dangers of the groups “have” and “have not” and how we were allowing ourselves to be placed in these boxes. I wonder if he ever realised that not only was he correct, but that it could even fade national borders? Consider what you heard over the last months, what we will see in the next 13 months. Prime Minister David Cameron was strong about keeping the UK identity safe, to protect it. He was not willing to step out of the EU for this. That step is now being sought after by UKIP and their leader Nigel Farage.

How are these related? This is a valid question that is forming in your mind. And I have been fighting with these thoughts and especially evidence around this. Without evidence all this is nothing more than a bad level of Conspiracy Theory. You see, all these messages we read in the last few days and the next week are in my mind a smokescreen to some level. We are all so shouting about privacy. Yet, who was up in arms when MySpace started to sell their data in 2010. (Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/191716/myspace_selling_user_data.html).

Did you stop to think about your data on Facebook? Did you think ‘whatever’? So what other ‘evidence’ is there? In that case I point to several blogs I wrote, but more important you should look at more reputable sources like the Guardian and the Wall Street Times, where we faced stories in regards to the pay outs by all towards Greece, Cyprus and other nations to keep the economy ‘alive’. Whilst now we read how the IMF made errors. How a train line sucks up over 7 billion and is presently still not operational in the way it should be. This is a time and place where other nations are now giving aid as budgets are not met in various degrees by nearly all EU nations. So is it such a far stretch to see National borders fade as these issues are ‘resolved’ (read: ‘put on hold’) by group driven options. All this happens whilst we hear ‘voices’ that seem less and less aware of consequences or claim ignorance and error afterwards.

For this train of thought we need to see three parts

In the first part there is last year when this was quoted “The slight uptick is largely due to Europe, which is expected to return to very slow growth of 0.3 percent after the -0.2 percent contraction in 2012” (Source: http://www.conference-board.org/data/globaloutlook.cfm). Yet the guardian in two articles where the 2012 version stated in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/07/eurozone-growth-next-year-ec the following “with the 17-nation Eurozone eking out expansion of just 0.1% in 2013”. However 6 months later we read in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/06/ecb-eurozone-recession-deepen, where it states “European Central Bank says the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.6% in 2013 as it considers unconventional policies to kick-start growth”. Numbers change and get adjusted, but the game can only be one of profit by those who have the right numbers (read the better data source). This game is played and replayed, again and again. This has bearing on all the privacy issue in the form of the collected data these predictors require. If the power of voicing the future is based upon data then your privacy is a thorn in the eyes of commerce as they do react to data, but whose data and created how? So as companies are making less, as economic values go down, other paths to revenue must be found and this does have bearing on your privacy, as you are data. This means you are commercial currency, not government currency as such.

This is the other side of data. Many corporations decided to ‘store’ their backup data in some High-Tech solution off-site facility, not unlike the hosting solution Peer1. Peer1 is a Canadian corporation with hosting locations in for example San Antonio (when they acquired ServerBeach). That is corporate data and as such there is an issue in this place. There had been soft voices of concern in those early days on who gets to access these data servers. American linked companies implementing off-site storage options in America from all over their European locations. Was local management realising that they gave their customer base and (financial) details to US insight?

There is NO; I say again NO evidence that these data files were ever ‘violated’ for commercial gain. If we consider the dangers of greed and in the light of what we read earlier, can we be certain that this did not happen, or even whether this is not likely to happen in the near future?

It had been clear that parties like the NSA had access. There is however a side we do need to take proper heed of. If they have access, then who else has access? From corporate documents from these hosts, corporations would have likely read how impossible access was, and how they never give out access. If that part was shown to be ‘violated’, then what other dangers lurk that these companies did not expect? (In this concept violated does not mean a legal violation as the data storage company would have been adhering to their government rules, yet the fact that corporations might not know this is a question for many and as such legal questions should be asked).

So think again, as social media is in their right to sell the data they have in some shape and that it is the price you paid for all these ‘free’ abilities that these places give you. Most do not worry, but then worry about information the government has/looks in to.

For private individuals all this is simply a fake fear.

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics