Tag Archives: Peter R. de Vries

The devil rang

This is too good, I had just finished yesterday’s article and the Guardian gives me ‘Spyware can make your phone your enemy. Journalism is your defence’, in this that I have some troubles accepting that journalism is my defence, they are al about circulation and satisfying their shareholders and stakeholders (optionally advertisers too). But the article came at the right moment, even as this is about Pegasus and the NSO group. Whenever I look back at the title ‘Pegasus’ I think back to Pegasus mail and windows 3.1. It is a reflex, but a nice one. So, the article gives us “The Pegasus project poses urgent questions about the privatisation of the surveillance industry and the lack of safeguards for citizens”, which is nice, but Microsoft, Solarwinds and Cisco made a bigger mess and a much larger mess, so pointing at Pegasus at this point seems a little moot and pointless. (Microsoot’s Exchange anyone?)

Yes, there are questions and it is fair to ask them, so when we see “This surveillance has dramatic, and in some cases even life-threatening, consequences for the ordinary men and women whose numbers appear in the leakbecause of their work exposing the misdeeds of their rulers or defending the rights of their fellow citizens”, yes questions are good, but the fact that millions of records went to the open air via all kinds of methods (including advertiser Microsoft) is just a little too weird. And it is not up to me, it was The Hill who asked the people (5 days ago after the Kaseya hack gone public, the larger question that actually matters ‘Kaseya hack proves we need better cyber metrics’ and they are right, when we see “Once “infected”, your phone becomes your worst enemy. From within your pocket, it instantly betrays your secrets and delivers your private conversations, your personal photos, nearly everything about you” we read this and shrug, but at this point how did a third party operator (NSO group) get the data and the knowhow to make an app that allows for this? Larger question should be handed to both Google and Apple. The fact that the phones are mostly void of protection comes from these two makers. This is a setting of facilitation and a lack of cyber security. The NSO group decided to set a limited commercial application (more likely to facilitate towards the proud girls and boys of Mossad) and they took it one step further to offer it to other governments as well, is that wrong?

So when we see “All of these individuals were selected for possible surveillance by states using the same spyware tool, Pegasus, sold by the NSO Group. Our mission at Forbidden Stories is to pursue – collaboratively – the work of threatened, jailed or assassinated journalists”, if that were true, we would see a lot more articles regarding the 120 Journalists jailed in Turkey, not to mention the 60 journalists that were assassinated (read: targeted killing exercise) there as well. The papers are all about a journalist no one cares about (Jamal Khashoggi) but the other journalists do not really make the front page giving pause and skepticism to “the work of threatened, jailed or assassinated journalists”, my personal view is that the advertisers and stake holders don’t really care about those lives. Then I have issues with “This investigation began with an enormous leak of documents that Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International had access to”, was it really a leak, or did one government take view away from them (by Amnesty International) and handed it towards the NSO group? A list of 50,000 numbers is nothing to sneer at, as such, I doubt it was a leak, it was a tactical move to push the limelight away from them and push it somewhere else. As we consider Kaseya, Solarwinds, Microsoft and Cisco, the weak minded democratic intelligence players from the Unified Spies of America come to mind, but I admit that I have no evidence, it is pure speculation.

And then we see the larger danger “But the scale of this scandal could only be uncovered by journalists around the world working together. By sharing access to this data with the other media organisations in the Forbidden Stories consortium, we were able to develop additional sources, collect hundreds of documents and put together the harrowing evidence of a surveillance apparatus that has been wielded ferociously against swaths of civil society”, who did they share access to? Who reports to another faction that is not journalism or is purely greed driven? In this, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2021/jul/19/spyware-can-make-your-phone-your-enemy-journalism-is-your-defence) gives us one other gem, it is “not to mention more than 180 journalists from nearly two dozen countries”, as such we see 0.36% of the data is about journalists, so if I was to look at a slice and dice dashboard, how will these 50,000 people distribute? So when we see “If one reporter is threatened or killed, another can take over and ensure that the story is not silenced”, yes, how did that end up for those journo’s in Turkey? What about outliers in data like Dutch journalist Peter R. De Vries? He is not getting the limelight that much in the last three days, you all moved on? You pushed the limelight towards Jamal Khashoggi for well over a year, who achieved less than 0.01% compared to Peter R. De Vries. I reckon that this article, although extremely nice is there to cater to a specific need, a need that the article does not mention (and I can only speculate), but when we see all this holier than though mentions and we see an inaction on Turkey’s actions, as well as a lack of news regarding Peter R. De Vries, I wonder what this article was about, it wasn’t really about the NSO group and Pegasus, they are mentioned 4 and 7 times, the article was to push people towards thinking it is about one thing and it becomes about the 0.36% of journalists in a list of 50,000, all whilst the number is mentioned once in the article without a breakdown. Someone else is calling, when you answer, just make sure the local number is not 666.

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The choices made for us

Yes, that happens. It happens all the time. We vote and the elected people make choices for us. We support charities and that allows them to save who they think are important. These are choices that happen, to some degree with our consent. In the other hand we are confronted with choices made FOR us, without permission and without consent. And there the problem starts, we cannot make all our decisions and all our choices, in this we also set a larger stage that we can never control, and that is where the issues begin. 

In the first stage we see ‘Covid misinformation on Facebook is killing people’, the article by the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57870778) gives us “The White House has been increasing pressure on social media companies to tackle disinformation”, which is nice, but utterly useless. As I see (as a Republican) that there can never be freedom of speech without accepting the accountability of what we say. To put it mildly, I wrote ‘The accountability act – 2015’ On June 4th 2012, almost 10 years ago I saw the solution that all the high and mighty lawyers are steering clear from. My thoughts never became reality, and you might wonder why not? When we see today at the BBC “Earlier on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Facebook and other platforms were not doing enough to combat misinformation about vaccines”, I am stating that people like Jen Psaki are wording the thoughts of people who are at times too stupid for everyones good. We need to accept that solutions like Facebook are mere publishers here, the people uploading their views are to be held responsible for what they say, but politicians for well over a decade refused to do so. I get it that there should be freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but in that same setting those freedoms need to be enriched with  accountability. 

In the second stage we see ‘Under the skin of OnlyFans’, also by the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-57269939). There we see “Soon Tina was making $2,000 (£1,450) a month and able to rent her own flat. But in January, a hacker seized control of her account, blackmailed her for $150 and uploaded streams of IS terror videos”, as such we see “one of the million content creators on OnlyFans”, yet how much is revealed on the terrorist that resorted to blackmails. So the BBC and others are all about the OnlyFans part, but only (in passing) the BBC mentions blackmail and terrorism. So how much is there on that hacker and has that person been arrested yet? We can optionally see that Tina takes accountability for HER material, but who holds the terrorist accountable? 

Then there is level three, which comes from the Dutch NOS. There we see (at https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2389685-zo-opereert-de-digitale-maffia) ‘This is how the Digital Mafia operates’. The articles gives us “We were able to listen in on a piece of negotiation between a Dutch security company and a hacked company. The online criminals are so professional that the negotiators work in team services. They even seem to use scripts during the negotiation – as if you were calling a customer service”, they even give a video on how a ransomware kill chain is operated by seven different groups, and the US president Joe Biden is all about blaming social media, instead of hunting down these digital criminals with optional targeted kill orders. 

As I personally see it, our freedom has been given away hiding behind ‘freedom of speech’ posters, and the freedom of expression for digital criminals is to get every penny they can get. No one is held accountable for their actions. A choice made FOR us, against us and in opposition of our safety and freedoms. 

So how does that sit with you?

Yes, we might see one side of the table, all whilst the other side is covered with a table cloth. And the Dutch version matters, in this age, after criminals executed the crime journalist Peter R. De Vries the public might get angry enough to force the issue and that gives us a new stage, the dozens of criminals feeling safe in the Netherlands might suddenly lose that freedom of action because of the acts of a person allegedly acting for (or in response) Ridouan Taghi. I reckon that it will take time to ascertain one or the other, but the public does not wait, they will act in loud response and that might be just the coin toss a few people are hoping for and especially the digital crime circles dreads, they are all about white collar crimes, all whilst the response is well above their heads and others will respond in kind, even criminals will react, all to push the limelight away from them. This is the response we get to have in a world of ‘freedom of speech’ without accountability.

In a world where no one wants to pay the bill for what they caused. This might be most visible on Covid and disinformation, but soon enough the Trumpists (drummers as well) and others will see the consequence of action without accepting the liability attached to it. Even now as life in the US becomes close to unliveable, we see that politicians are allowing QAnon speakers to take the limelight. You think the age of Donald Trump is over? Think again, as long as there is a lack of accountability is continuing this wave keeps on going on. 

And the opposition? That is easy, it will not take too long, but the intelligent people could pick up their IP and take it to Canada, the UK and the EU, when that happens and the US Credit card is considered too overdrawn, the stage of life in the US will soon change and not due to a heatwave. In 2021 $15 billion in drugs patents will expire, the year after $36 billion more, and over the next 5 years the US will see well over $20 billion in technology patents expire and now consider that an estimated $25 billion in patents move somewhere else, an economy with an immediate write-off that goes optionally beyond $100 billion lost. Now consider what happens to your credibility when your collateral is diminished by 100 billion? The US might need a new song, one that is different from blaming big tech, they are keeping the US economy alive. All drenched in choices made for us, made for us all. Yet how many of them were made FOR us? And this is not merely about the US, when they go under so does Japan and soon thereafter the EU as well. Do you still think that freedom of speech is the real saviour? It is a one sided coin of a larger stage that ignores the other side of that very same coin. 

Good luck!

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