March 22, 2019

Crisis: Facebook´s Crimes, On Brexit Delay, Medicare-for-all, Net Neutrality Bill, On The Internet

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 22, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, March 22, 2019.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from March 22, 2019:
1. Facebook Exposed Millions of Passwords to Employees
2. EU Leaders Open to Brexit Delay, but May Face Storm at Home

3. The Washington Post's Disgraceful Coverage of Medicare-for-All

4. On Big Telecom Gutting Net Neutrality Bill

5. The Vote to Create Internet 'Censorship Machine'
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at everyorning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Facebook Exposed Millions of Passwords to Employees

This article is by Barbara Ortutay on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

Facebook said Thursday that it stored millions of its users’ passwords in plain text for years.

The acknowledgement from the social media giant came after a security researcher posted about the issue online.

“Security rule 101 dictates that under no circumstances passwords should be stored in plain text, and at all times must be encrypted,” said cybersecurity expert Andrei Barysevich of Recorded Future. “There is no valid reason why anyone in an organization, especially the size of Facebook, needs to have access to users’ passwords in plain text.”

Facebook said there is no evidence its employees abused access to this data. But thousands of employees could have searched them. The company said the passwords were stored on internal company servers, where no outsiders could access them. But the incident reveals a huge oversight [problem] for the company amid a slew of bruises and stumbles in the last couple of years.

Well... I think Facebook is lying, as usual, and I think the same about the ¨digital gangster¨, the extra-ordinarily creepy Mark Zuckerberg, although he is not mentioned in this article.

I think Facebook is lying because it makes its money by selling private data (from billions of its users) to advertisers, to whom - as e.g. the Cambridge Analytica case illustrates - it gives all sorts of freedoms.

And needing only a possibly corrupted or possibly paid member of Facebook´s personal to get the millions of passwords of its users seems - apart from legalities - one of the best ways that Facebook has to service its advertisers.

Then again, I admit I have no proof of my suspicions other than the many previous lies from both Facebook employees and Zuckerberg.

Here is some more on the passwords of
“hundreds of millions” of users of Facebook:

The security blog KrebsOnSecurity said some 600 million Facebook users may have had their passwords stored in plain text. Facebook said in a blog post Thursday it will likely notify “hundreds of millions” of Facebook Lite users, millions of Facebook users and tens of thousands of Instagram users that their passwords were stored in plain text. Facebook Lite is designed for users with older phones or low-speed internet connections and is used primarily in developing countries.

Facebook said it discovered the problem in January. But, according to Brian Krebs, the security researcher, in some cases the passwords had been stored in plain text since 2012. Facebook Lite launched in 2015 and Facebook bought Instagram in 2012.

The last paragraph indicates more lies by Facebook (whose employees lie most of the time when their assertions can be checked). Anyway... this is a recommended article.

2. EU Leaders Open to Brexit Delay, but May Face Storm at Home

This article is by Lorne Cook and Jill Lawless on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

European Union leaders meeting for a Brexit summit are likely to grant Britain a short extension, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday, if the U.K. government can win parliamentary support next week for its divorce deal.

But the early signs of that happening were not good. British Prime Minister Theresa May angered many legislators with a televised speech late Wednesday blaming a divided Parliament for an impasse that has left Britain eight days away from crashing out of the bloc. One lawmaker slammed her remarks as “toxic.”

I review this article basically because I want some clarity on Brexit (to which I was and am opposed, but I am not a Brit), although I agree this is hard to get for various reasons, two of quite a few more are May´s incompetence and the strongly divided parliament.

And I suppose the bitter comments by quite a few reviewers on May´s latest speech were at least in part caused by the fact that May seemed to claim no responsibility whatsoever for the present Brexit mess.

Here is some more:

Her deal has been roundly rejected twice by the U.K. Parliament, and EU leaders are being asked to take the risk that May can convince the lawmakers next week.

That looked more uncertain after her speech on the eve of the summit, in which May told a Brexit-weary public: “You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.”

May accused lawmakers of “infighting, “political games” and “arcane procedural rows,” but acknowledged no personal role in creating the impasse.

Well... as I said under the previous quoted bit. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

May’s opponents, and EU officials, say her refusal to budge on her rejected deal is pushing the country to the brink of a catastrophic no-deal scenario, with huge political and economic implications for Britain and the EU.

Merkel vowed to work “until the last hour” to try and ensure that Britain doesn’t leave without a deal, even though her government has already put “the most important emergency measures” in place to deal with such a scenario just in case.

“We will, despite these measures we have taken, work until the last day — I will say until the last hour — to ensure that this emergency planning doesn’t come into effect,” she said. “We will do everything in the remaining, admittedly few, days to achieve an orderly, joint solution.”

I agree with ¨May’s opponents, and EU officials¨ and this is a recommended article, although I admit it does not give much clarity on Brexit.

3. The Washington Post's Disgraceful Coverage of Medicare-for-All

This article is by Michael Cochran on Truthdig and originally on FAIR. It starts as follows:

The phrase “hard-line,” as commonly used in the Washington Post, is almost always a pejorative. Often it references official enemy states like Iran (5/4/185/9/18) or North Korea (1/18/19). In a recent Post (3/11/19) article, however, reporter Paige W. Cunningham used the term to refer to a different kind of enemy: proponents of Medicare for All.

Among the “hard-line liberal groups and unions” the article refers to in its headline and lead is the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of approximately 100 national disability organizations. The “hard-line” groups include much of the grassroots movements for healthcare justice in the country: National Nurses United, Social Security Works and the Center for Popular Democracy.
These orgs—described elsewhere in the piece as “advocates on the far left”—are devoted to such “hard-line” positions as universal healthcare, protecting senior citizens and empowering voters and activists.

I say, and I quite agree with Cochran that describing e.g. the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities as “advocates on the far left” is - in fact - pure propaganda. Also, I want to suggest that one of the main reasons this propaganda is written by the Washington Post is that it belongs to Google´s boss Jim Bezos, but I admit I have no further reasons than that.

Incidentally, I am disabled as well since more than 40 years with ¨a serious chronic disease¨
that was not admitted to exist for 39 of these 40 years, but then I - happily enough - do not live in the USA.

Here is one more bit from this article:

In fact, what the Post describes as “hard-line” and “far left” is actually a very popular position. Medicare for All has long polled well among the public at large, especially Democratic voters. A Reuters poll from 2018 (The Hill, 8/23/18) showed 70 percent of the public, 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans support Medicare for All. That poll is the high water mark, but the policy polls well in most other polls as well (Politico/Harvard, 1/7/19).

This popular support was not mentioned by the Post. In fact, the article asserted that the “bill would overhaul the US healthcare system so dramatically that summoning broad public support for it seems like a tall order.”

Yes indeed - and the second paragraph seems to imply that the Washington Post is intentionally propagandizing and intentionally leaving out important facts in its journalism. And this is a recommended article.

4. On Big Telecom Gutting Net Neutrality Bill

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

"This could be the single most important moment for net neutrality this year."

That was Fight for the Future's urgent message to internet users across the U.S. on Thursday as the group announced a massive online protest to prevent telecom-backed lawmakers from gutting the Save the Internet Act while no one's looking.

On Monday, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee is expected to begin marking up Democrats' net neutrality legislation, which has been hailed as the best plan to restore the open internet.

To stop telecom-friendly lawmakers from using the amendment process to eviscerate the Save the Internet Act, Fight for the Future is attempting to make the livestream of the committee hearing go viral.

The goal, said Fight for the Future, is to send lawmakers a simple warning: "The whole internet is watching."

I say. I am strongly for net neutrality, but I think the case is very probably lost, both in the USA and in Europe (see the next item).

Here is some more from the present article:

"Telecom lobbyists are working overtime to convince these lawmakers to add bad amendments that could completely gut the bill and leave gaping loopholes for Internet providers to block, throttle, and charge users new fees," Josh Tabish, a tech fellow at Fight for the Future, wrote in an email to supporters on Thursday.

"If we get the bill out of committee without any bad amendments, then we have a solid shot of winning the next big vote on the House floor," Tabish said. "But if the bill gets gutted, we're back to square one."

The online protest to ensure the Save the Internet Act emerges out of committee intact comes as a new poll found that 80 percent of Americans overall—and 77 percent of Republicans—support net neutrality.

Well... I agree with the last paragraph. The first paragraph describes what has been going on in the Senate and the House for decades now, while I fail to see how the Fight for the Future could be able to stop corruptions of the chosen representatives. In brief, I hope for the best, but I do not expect it. And this is a recommended article, while the next article has more on the European situation:

5. The Vote to Create Internet 'Censorship Machine'

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Free speech and digital rights advocates across Europe blacked out websites on Thursday to protest the controversial Copyright Directive the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on next Tuesday.

Activists are also planning #SaveYourInternet protests, which are set to take place across Europe on Saturday.

For the past few years, members of the European Union's (EU) legislative assembly have negotiated updates to continent-wide copyright rules that are nearly two decades old. Digital experts and activists warn that two particular provisions in the final text of the directive (pdf) collectively would be a "catastrophe for free expression."

Yes indeed, and I quite agree that what the ¨members of the European Union's (EU) legislative assembly¨ are preparing is very probably the death of the internet, and indeed also for NL (that you are reading now), simply because I quote a fair amount from news sites.

In fact, I quote
a fair amount from news sites (which I always do honestly and with links) because doing so is the only means for me by which I can get a tolerable view of the various political positions on matters I care about.

I will continue to do so after this has been forbidden, but then I am not allowed to publish what I think anymore, which is a stinking shame, and effectively makes me into a sub-human compared to the rights I have had all my life.

In fact, here is my position on the media and the press (which differs from my position on writers of real books, who often do need some kind of copyright to earn anything), which can be stated by a comment of the late Dutch writer Hugo Brandt Corstius in the late 1960ies, that I remember as follows:
¨What is worth a million or more yesterday, 25 cents today, and nothing tomorrow? The daily press.¨
I quite agree, and indeed my own efforts over the past six to ten years have been to quote parts of the daily media with my comments to preserve both.

Also, I think this is quite fair, among other things because real journalists tend to be employed, unlike real writers of books (who may be employed, but are rarely employed to write books, again unlike journalists).

Anyway... that is my position. Here is more from the article:

"Although there are important wins for the open community in the current text, the inclusion of Articles 11 and 13 will harm the way people find and share information online," the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes free knowledge, said in a policy statement.

(Note: As part of the legislative process, Article 13 has been renumbered as Article 17.)

Detailing the controversial sections, the Wikimedia Foundation explained:

Article 11 would allow news publishers to sell licenses for even the smallest snippets taken from online news sites. If no license fee is paid, the snippets would need to be removed from the search results and news aggregation lists. By imposing these burdens on websites that collect, organize, and make sense of the news, Article 11 will make it even harder to sort through the noise to find high-quality news sources for projects like Wikipedia.

Article 13 [a.k.a. Article 17] creates new liability for websites that host user-generated content, if they are unable to ensure that infringing works are not re-uploaded to their sites. This would mean that all uploads to platforms would have to be scanned and treated as presumptively suspicious. Although non-commercial encyclopedias like Wikipedia are exempted, the greater internet ecosystem our communities rely upon will suffer if platforms are forced to privately enforce copyright.

Activists and website administrators across Europe joined #Blackout21 on Thursday to protest the pair of provisions, which critics often call the "link tax" and "censorship machine," respectively.

Article 11 means total censorship on nearly everyone who gathers news from journalists and desires to publish his findings. Something similar holds for article 13 aka 17, though I suppose this will not endanger my site(s) because I do not allow users to comment of my site by anything else than e-mails to me (of which I rarely publish anything).

But as I have been saying before, I think the internet was designed to give the national securities of every country full access to anyone writing on the internet, including their private mail, their private data, and their private anything (on their computers connected to the internet), and this full access to anyone´s values, ideas, income, health, opinions, photographs, videos or anything else, has been meanwhile extended to Google, Facebook, and hundreds more of rich corporations.

For more, see here. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Next week, MEPs "will get to choose between supporting a reform that forces upload filters onto the internet OR to reject the reform and demand a balanced revision of the text for the benefit of citizens and creators," the site explains. If the directive passes, "the next step is then the final approval of the Council at the Ministerial level. There is no date yet for this vote but it can be expected to take place in April."

In other words, as the Wikimedia Foundation concluded it its statement, "this is the last chance for Europeans who care about access to knowledge and the sharing of diverse information on the internet to make their voice heard."

Yes, I agree with Wikimedia, and in fact go further: The internet was designed to be the tool that would introduce neofascism aka ¨the technotronic society¨ from the late 1960ies onwards. Here is more by and about Brzezinski, and here is more about the internet. And this is a strongly recommended article.

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 3 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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