Water Tower Place isn’t what it used to be.
So Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, CNN, and probably the Bavarian Burgerbilders got together and kicked Alex Jones off the internet. That’s ironic in two ways. So Big Tech conspired to silence Jones – for peddling crazy conspiracy theories. But Jones wasn’t really a conspiracy theorist. Maybe he is now.
Irony aside, this is foolish. Now that Google and all of them have shown that they can kick someone offline, they’ll have to explain why they haven’t kicked X off line. X is an obnoxious idiot; X is a racist homophobe; X is literally Hitler. Why does X still have a weblog, email, phone service, paypall?
Someone a little more to the left is sure to ask.
I used SpiderOak for a while a couple of years ago, and liked it, but not enough to pay for it. When they stopped offering their free tier I went back to Dropbox. SpiderOak said they encrypted everything, but that wasn’t important to me and I didn’t rely on it. In any case I’m not going to trust any encryption product that isn’t open source. More, I don’t trust anything I don’t understand, which in practice limits me to the Imelda’s-shoes protocol. SpiderOak said they were committed to having everything open source eventually, but they seem not to have got there yet.
Now it seems SpiderOak’s Warrant Canary Died. They say it didn’t really die, but that they changed to a transparency report or something. As far as I can tell, that means either that they accidentally killed their canary, and so don’t rely on SpiderOak for encrypted file storage, or that the canary functioned as designed, and so don’t rely on SpiderOak for encrypted file storage.
Again, SpiderOak worked fine for me when I used it, and there’s no reason I know to trust them less than Dropbox; but there’s no reason to trust them any more than Dropbox either.
“How terrible must it be to get an unwanted glimpse of the top of someone else’s shed?”
The suggested fix for Tor and Firefox: “If you’re a Firefox user and would like Firefox to always render IDNs as their punycode equivalent when displayed in the browser address bar, type ‘about:config’ without the quotes into a Firefox address bar. Then in the ‘search:’ box type ‘punycode,’ and you should see one or two options there. The one you want is called ‘network.IDN_show_punycode.’ By default, it is set to ‘false’; double-clicking that entry should change that setting to ‘true.'”
The same fix worked for Palemoon, which I’m using right now.
In this paragraph from The Trivium, the topic is ambiguity:
“Telephone books add addresses, empirical descriptions, to proper names in an effort to make them unambiguous in their reference. The identification cards of criminals are attempts to make a proper name unambiguous by supplementing it with an empirical description, a photograph, and fingerprints, which are regarded as unique in the truest sense of the word, because no two are exactly alike.”
Would anyone today assume identification cards were for criminals?
It reminds me of King David’s census, in chapter 21 of First Chronicles.
by invisibly fingerprinting text with zero-width characters.
In the example at the link, the zero-width characters don’t show up in Windows notepad or in the html source; they are (at least some are…) visible when the example is pasted into Vim.
The Motherboard Digital Security Guide, along with a few others, are recommended.
Lots to read, but it’s necessary to do so before you do anything. For instance, there seems to be no point and some risk just in checking the site Equifax put up to see if your information has been compromised.
UPDATE: The title of this post, “Equifax hacked,” might be a bit misleading. I don’t know exactly what happened in this case. Consider a hypothetical. If Japanese agents killed the guards, drilled into Colonel Blimp’s safe, and made their getaway in an ultra-light helicopter they assembled from parts they carried in, then the Post could report “Japanese Agents Steal War Plans.” If Colonel Blimp left the war plans at McDonald’s, and an opportunistic thief picked them up and sold them to the Japanese, the Post wouldn’t say “Japanese Agents Steal War Plans.”
What are they?
Airbnb canceled the accounts of
people Nazis attending the recent rally in Charlotte. Twitter and Facebook regularly shut down the accounts of the more odious haters. Will Google do less? They scan users’ email to identify people interested in, say, Ford trucks; surely they can scan to spot white supremacists.
Current law might not let them publish contact information and probable employers (though they might be able to share information with selected NGOs); but it does seem like Google would feel obliged at least to close the accounts of people whose email or blogging clearly shows they are white supremacists, racists, misogynists, homophobes, Islamophobes, or transphobes. Twitter can do that, and does. Fascists, white supremacists, and Nazis shouldn’t be allowed to legitimize their hate with a gmail address or Blogger account. Isn’t Google, famously not evil, obliged to use at a minimum all legal means to resist evil?
Until we know more clearly what Google sees as their moral obligations, it might be better to look elsewhere for web searches and email.
UPDATE 19 August 2017: ProPublica, Working with Google to ‘Document Hate,’ Threatens Conservative Bloggers. The perenial challange of satire is to stay ahead of reality.