Everyday Erinyes #108

 Posted by at 9:11 am  Politics
Jan 132018
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

I wrote last week about impersonation trolls and how “well” they are doing – for Nazis.  But it turns out that impersonation trolls are not JUST for Nazis.  Corporations are doing them too.

I know, I know, the line between corporations and Nazis is a pretty thin one, especially what with Citizens United and all.  But it seems to me that the goal of Nazis is to steal freedom, and lives, and livelihood from certain individuals, and when this involves stealing money, that’s just a fringe benefit.  Whereas with corporations, it’s just the opposite – the goal is to steal money (they are not so particular as to from whom), and any loss of life, or livelihood, or freedom is just a fringe benefit.

So we have a regime which wants generally to limit or eliminate regulations – you know, regulations, the things that keep us safe and keep our playing ground kinda sorta halfway level.  And, we have a bunch of wealthy corporations that just want to get wealthier, and those darned regulations are expensive to comply with.  Stir into the mix a sprinkling of people who know how to hack, and what do you get?  You get –

Hundreds of thousands of comments, purportedly made by Americans, have come in over the electronic transom to at least five different federal agencies calling for an end to Obama-era consumer protections and other regulations that impede profits, a series of investigative reports by the Wall Street Journal found. Except, the people who supposedly sent these comments never did.

Further,

“The Journal previously found fraudulent postings under names and email addresses at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission,” it continued. “The Journal’s findings were cited by calls from Congress to delay the repeal of the FCC’s net-neutrality rule.”

Well, we know what happened to that.

Posting a fraudulent comment on a Federal website is a felony, and the departments who have been defrauded will remove such comments when notified.  But most agencies make it a bit difficult to check the authenticity of comments independently.  Only a few, for instance, publish the email address with the comment.  And I find that reasonable.  When I post a comment, or sign a petition or a letter sponsored by an organization, I don’t mind the agency having my email address, nor do I have a problem with the organization having my email address (that’s probably how I found out about the petition.)  But I really don’t want my email posted by my name on the agency website – for exactly this reason.

I would, however, want my email address provided to any government attorney who is investigating comment fraud – and that’s just what is NOT happening.

The day before the FCC vote in late November, the Verge reported, “A search of the duplicated text found more than 58,000 results as of press time, with 17,000 of those posted in the last 24 hours alone.”

At that time, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, had been stonewalled by the FCC for six months in his office’s efforts to investigate the falsified public comments. (Verge first reported the fake comments in May 2017.)

I would certainly have trusted Eric Schneiderman with my email address (which, I suspect, is exactly why Ajit Pai wouldn’t.)   And we did hear a little bit about this, at the last minute, before the FCC threw us to the wolves – but it all happened pretty fast.  And it was just the tip of the iceberg anyway, as you see from the agencies we KNOW were targeted..

Furthermore, the impersonating software was able to insert subtle differences in the messages so that they would not be dismissed as identical.  It was even able to insert some phony comments on the side opposite the side that was being pushed!  Not so many as to distract from its main point, though.  Just enough to make unsuspecting agencies think there was an actual dialogue and real interest – on issues where there wasn’t.  Probably surprising no one, those whose identities were used without their permission were just as furious if they agreed with the comment as they were if they didn’t.

If you have a subscription to the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, you can read the full report – it’s linked from AlterNet.  (I don’t.)

But there’s one thing missing from it:

[T]hey didn’t explore the most obvious question: who is behind these moves? While there is likely to be more than one answer and one culprit, only one category of special interest has the means and motives to thwart government regulators: that’s the targeted industries, professional trade association and lobbyists and the biggest corporate players.

Instead the Journal’s investigative reports leave readers with small-scale indignation and not the bigger pattern that private sector interests have found a new way to steal and use personal data for their bottom-line battles with government.

Yes, other things happened last week.  But many of them we know about, thanks to TC and Sam and Stephen and Rachel and all the others.  And I think this is important enough to stand alone and receive the attention of all three Furies (and all their nameless sisters – you never know – there could be thousands – even millions.)

AlectoMegaeraTisiphone – it’s a deceptively simple problem.  Corporations have plenty of money to produce huge fakes (which make them more money).  Regulators do not have the resources (money, but also adequate staffing, adequate training, adequate time) to tear them down.  And, even if they did, the corporations would just have the Republicans steamroll over them.  So  it all comes down to getting them out.

We are trying our best to have candidates everywhere – and to get out the vote everywhere – and to deliver our true message well enough to get more people involved everywhere.  But – help us.  Please.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 HERE.

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Mar 292017
 

I’m writing late to be sure to be up for my grocery delivery from Store to Door.  Depending on which driver comes, it could be any time between Noon and 3:30 PM.  Wendy landed in Denver last night and is driving to Pueblo today.  Her sister, Carrie, will come on Saturday to fill in for her, and I’ll get her back a week from today.  I run out of meds today so tomorrow we’ll find out how much healing and how much symptom masking has taken place.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:47 (average 4:18).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (GQ Channel): Here’s How This Will End for Trump | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

 

I pray for all his ends but the last, In March 2015, had you told me that Fuhrer Drumpfenfarten would occupy the White House, albeit intermittently, I would have said that your shit level had turned your eyes brown. RESIST!!

From The New Yorker: In a fiercely defiant statement on Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, denied that any member of the White House staff has ever worked “in any way, shape, or form” for the benefit of the United States.

Angrily addressing the press corps, Spicer said that any allegations that members of the Trump Administration have ever acted in concert or collusion with the United States are “unequivocally false.”

“At no time during the transition or afterward did any member of the Trump team have meetings, conversations, or any other contacts that furthered the interests of the United States of America,” Spicer said. “In the thousands of communications that took place, the United States never came up even once.”

Dang, Andy!! We already knew that!! RESIST!!

From NY Times: On Tuesday afternoon, while most people were focused on the latest news from the House Intelligence Committee, the House quietly voted to undo rules that keep internet service providers — the companies like Comcast, Verizon and Charter that you pay for online access — from selling your personal information.

The Senate already approved the bill, on a party-line vote, last week, which means that in the coming days President Trump will be able to sign legislation that will strike a significant blow against online privacy protection.

The bill not only gives cable companies and wireless providers free rein to do what they like with your browsing history, shopping habits, your location and other information gleaned from your online activity, but it would also prevent the Federal Communications Commission from ever again establishing similar consumer privacy protections.

That is an intolerable violation of our First and Fourth Amendment rights. I recommend using anonymous Domain Name Servers (DNS), instead of the ones provided by your ISP.  RESIST!!

Cartoon:

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And I thought progressives had finally won.

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Jun 262016
 

We’re having a heat wave here in Portland, and I’m writing with my right eye shut.  The vision is still quite blurry and I’m seeing double, which are things the doctor told me to expect. At the rate Killer Dawg is getting fed, we may start calling him Killer Donut.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:19 (average 4:44).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From KP Daily Funnies: Samantha Bee on GOP, Trump and Fascism

 

BEElicious!! Sam could not BEE more right!!

From Daily Kos (Classic 10/2014): 

Michael Price, counsel in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, has a disturbing article up at Salon.com.

Turns out, he bought a new "smart" TV, but is now afraid to turn it on.

You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

The technocracy, in the employ of Wall Street corporations, has fully jumped the shark. Sharing the audio from the microphone with third parties?

Are liberals really going to allow this steady march into dystopia to continue? And if liberals and Democrats aren’t willing to fight it, who will?

This issuer needs to move to front burner.

From NY Times: With British politics in turmoil, there were already clear indications on Saturday of a tense and bickering divorce from the European Union.

Britons woke up to a diminished currency and much confusion about the consequences of their vote on Thursday to quit the European Union, including who would be their next prime minister. The leaders of the campaign to exit the bloc, or “Brexit,” continued to disagree over what kind of relationship they wanted with Europe, and thousands of Britons started signing a petition asking for a second referendum.

Meeting in Berlin, European leaders told Britain to hurry up and begin the formal process of exiting the union, while Prime Minister David Cameron said that process could wait until his replacement was chosen in October and leaders of the “Leave” campaign suggested it could come even later, after a new round of talks with Brussels.

I can’t say that I blame other EU leaders, but it sounds like many in the UK have buyers’ remorse.

Cartoon:

0626cartoon

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