Did Facebook, Zuckerberg and Big Data Elect Trump?

New revelations about SCL and CA (Cambridge Analytica) have revealed that they may have even altered the Brexit Vote.  In fact an article quotes the CEO of Camridge Analytica as bragging that they got Trump elected using dirty and undetectable tricks.

If any of these is true it is safe to assume that Cambridge Analytica is not alone, and they have likely influenced more than just the US election.  What’s more, there could be other companies that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and other US based social platforms used data from whether knowingly or unknowingly.  This has been the big evil that I’ve warned about for years, that these free social platforms are analyzing and mining your data for bad purposes.  Apparently there are no limits to the violation of your privacy, proven social experiments conducted by Facebook and likely the others etc..  It’s all in their TOS essentially.  It’s well known that using any of those platforms including Gmail is the same as typing your most personal thoughts and messages to the bots and analysts at the big social media companies and government minders.

Going back to all of this, I thought we were told that it was the Russians who elected Trump (without any evidence ever being provided mind you)?   Now it comes out that private companies based in the West have been influencing elections and I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg.  The bigger question is who are the clients of Cambridge Analytica?  I don’t think we have to look far considering the relationship to the UK government and Royal Family.

 

Why Deleting Facebook Is Futile Unless…..

I’ve had this conversion with a lot of people over the years and what I’ve found is that the majority of people are complacent about privacy and security.  In a way it is good that some have woken up to what Facebook is and has been doing but this idea of some floated around that “I will trust Facebook until it gave me reason not to”.  This is a completely flawed idea in my opinion.  Facebook was never trustworthy and its TOS always gave it a right to violate your privacy, harvest your data for both government and marketing purposes etc… In fact Google, Gmail, Hotmail, Telegram, Whatsapp and the list goes on are free for a reason.  One, they make money by spying on you and they also provide a great backdoor to the NSA to spy on you (hopefully everyone now understand the PRISM spying network).

There were times where some would debate about the length and depth of spying by major free services but this is no longer in debate.  If you are using these freebie services and just delete Facebook alone you haven’t done enough.

Here are some steps to secure yourself and your privacy:

Delete Everything!

Seriously stop using these free chat and e-mail services and tell your friends and family that you won’t communicate via those mediums.

Secure Your E-mail

Use your very own, owned e-mail server with encryption including GnuPG to encrypt e-mails in both transit and storage.  There are providers who can get you a VPS or full Dedicated Server for this purpose.  You will probably find that your e-mail stops going missing, is fast and more reliable to boot!

Stop Using US Based Massive Cloud Servers

This could be in the form of an Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba VPS instance but you can expect that those services will not be keeping your data private and most likely have been obliged to allow backdoor access to your server and data.

Another type of user would again be those who “store data in the Microsoft, Google or Apple Cloud”.  Stop using those services if you value your privacy.

Secure Your Chat

Everyone likes instant chat but did you ever wonder why all the traditional chat services like ICQ and MSN Messenger shutdown?  My belief is that being forced to chat on your phone makes it easier to both identify and track you but also to spy on you.  Once again top offenders are Telegram, Whatsapp and any similar ones.

To secure your chat you should run your own encrypted chat server.

These are just a few common sense things you can do to make it much more difficult to have your rights and privacy violated.  Personal and intimate moments shouldn’t be uploaded to the Cloud for corporate and government agencies to peruse!]

In general try to think in a security minded way perhaps as you would your house.  Would you feel secure at home if you knew your living quarters was shared with multiple people or that it was being spied on constantly.   Think about steps you would take to protect your house or property from intruders and spies.  Your digital house works the same way, so be sure to keep the keys and access in your control and not that of a third party which can’t be trusted.

The NSA is spying on cryptocurrency including Bitcoin – Edward Snowden

Unsurprisingly Edward Snowden recently revealed to the world that the NSA is tracking cryptocurrency users including Bitcoin.  What makes it worse, but also not surprising is that they tricked users to install security software they wrote that actually feeds all of their private data, cryptokeys, back to the NSA directly.  It is soon going to be an absolutely necessity to increase your own security and to start using better, more secure coins that cannot be so easily tracked.  This is the equivalent of the government following you around and poking around your wallet and watching each transaction you do even with cash.  There’s no privacy anymore and ironically cryptocurrency is part of this reason, or shall we say at least, the majority of insecure, public, permissionless blockchain based currencies.    This could send the value of currencies like XMR/Monero skyrocketing as a Bitcoin alternative.  While Monero is in my opinion better in almost everyway to Bitcoin, it is still not the perfect coin as it does have some issues including the use of PoW and of course the whole public, permissionless issue, speed issues etc..

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Business Decision to Fight the FBI/Court Order

Mr. Cook has clearly made a strategic decision to be one of the first and few tech companies to challenge a court order of this magnitude, and if anyone can do it, it would be Apple.

Now to be clear there is a very serious matter in this case, and it is a tricky rope for investigators and business to get it right.  A crime has been committed and the authorities have presumably presented credible evidence and there is a court order, however the order is essentially unlimited access to all Apple devices.  The business (Apple) has two choices, co-operate or deal with the consequences of not doing so, in Apple’s case there is little financial consequence to not co-operate.  The opposite case could be made that Apple recognizes that if the public finds out that they complied that their encryption is as good as useless, their analysts probably put a price tag on the customer backlash and likely predicted a huge drop in AAPL shares.  Aside from the business case, it looks like now that the issue of privacy has come knocking on his doorstep, he has no choice but to take a bold and very public stand.

This is not a typical court order but is in effect a blanket and mass surveillance project.  Apple is basically being asked to make an app and backdoor to bypass their encryption, or at least disable the 10-try mechanism so they can try traditional bruteforce password methods.  Tim Cook stated very clearly that the ramifications would go far beyond this one case and validated his concerns by mentioning there would be little control over oversight over such a mechanism if Apple complied, which could mean the backdoor could be abused without due cause, as has been the case in the past with other surveillance.

One wonders if Apple has pondered its next move because it is unlikely that Apple can indefinitely delay or win the fight in the end.  They are legally under US jurisdiction and must win their challenge or comply.  Failing that Apple’s only option would be to move overseas/off-shore and this would be a huge blow for the US economy, tech sector and other companies may follow suit, such as McAfee’s weighing in on the issue and offer to crack the iPhone.

My philosophy has always been the US is a great place to do business with huge potential, but I always advise people to understand that any traffic transiting the US and especially data stored there is subject to US laws and regulations.

It will be interesting to watch where this goes, I have a feeling that most are cheering for Apple and Tim Cook at the moment and it is really no wonder with what is at stake.