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08.25.19

The War on Privacy Escalated

Posted in Law at 10:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No encryption

Summary: People’s ability to behave freely and speak freely (without scrutiny from above) is running out of time; the tracking of people’s every word, movement and thought is a tyrannical pivot many are conditioned to accept as “necessary” even though those standing to gain the most are perpetrators of abuse at higher levels

EACH time I travel it seems like counters (manned by operators) gradually vanish, cash payments are not allowed (or discouraged), ‘free’ Wi-Fi means bandwidth in exchange for very aggressive spying and transport is closely tracked, usually through phones. We’re supposed to believe that this is done for our convenience or for collective security, yet there’s no evidence to support that. Now that we’re in Ireland it initially seemed like surveillance was decreased somewhat, but we soon saw cameras in ‘smart’ stations in the streets and Wi-Fi is prohibitive unless or until one provides a lot of personal details. Sure, one can provide fake details, but that’s not the point.

“The common tale told by mainstream media is that privacy is only important to drug dealers, child molesters and terrorists. Nobody wishes to be classified as an apologist of these groups.”In our daily links we’ve had a section dedicated to privacy for nearly a decade. It’s a digital rights or a tech rights issue. Things have gotten considerably worse since then, despite Snowden’s leaks, Cablegate and so on. It’s like no matter the extent of public backlash — while it actually lasts — spies and spying corporations carry on as if no controversy even exists and they just need to label their surveillance operations “confidential” and “secure” (thanks for that, Linux Foundation).

The relative absence of resistance to this war on everyone’s privacy (treating law-abiding citizens like potential/closeted/wannabe bombers) motivates us to write more on the subject of privacy, as we did yesterday in the early morning. What we include in our daily links is insufficient and unoriginal. One way to tout the advantages of Free software is to speak of the privacy impact — an aspect which sadly enough the EFF barely mentioned (it continued to back proprietary software) and the FSF has never exploited much. Surveillance does not only harm liberty, discredit the governments and corrode people’s dignity; it also helps shield powerful/well-connected criminals from scrutiny, e.g. by identifying who speaks about them (and who with). Surveillance is all about control. It is a form of oppression. Apathy towards it is typically a product of indoctrination. The common tale told by mainstream media is that privacy is only important to drug dealers, child molesters and terrorists. Nobody wishes to be classified as an apologist of these groups.

Diversity and Inclusion: When Corporations Hijack or Co-opt Social Causes

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 10:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Our investigations revealed that the Linux Foundation does not actually support what it claims to

Linux Foundation fund laundering

Summary: Whether minorities care to realise it or not (each person is a minority in one particular place/context or some particular aspect), corporations seek to control the narratives surrounding popular movements, facilitating social control and thus corporate power (exercising control over nonprofit communities that cannot be bought)

THIS is a notoriously difficult and at times unsettling topic, not only in the Free/Open Source software (FOSS) community but in just about every facet of life and business, including law firms (we write a lot about these). We’ve mostly alluded to this in editorial comments in our daily links; whenever we write an article about it there’s a risk someone will quote-mine, take something out of context, or not properly read what’s written as a whole (sometimes intentionally, just to make a mountain out of a molehill). We kindly suggest reading the whole post before commenting. The only thing we ‘bash’ is corporations and greed; it’s a smokescreen.

Techrights has never (as far as we’re aware) been accused of intolerance, except in the business sense, e.g. “intolerant towards Microsoft” (which is not a person; corporations are not people and they lack feelings).

“We’re very much focused on the real issues, notably things such as patent law, corporate corruption, FOSS affairs, entryism and oftentimes politics (depending on the channel).”Our 24/7 IRC community has males, females, gay people, trans people etc. We’ve rarely encountered any issues associated with that, e.g. people being attacked for orientation, identity, nationality etc. The logs are all public, so it’s not a secret. We’re very much focused on the real issues, notably things such as patent law, corporate corruption, FOSS affairs, entryism and oftentimes politics (depending on the channel).

Months ago we wrote about the Linux Foundation‘s posturing along the lines of "Diversity and Inclusion" and we mentioned that again earlier this month; it’s just another one of their marketing aspects, which resembles what Microsoft does. It is about corporate image or brand power. It’s not genuine concern or care.

“…companies like Microsoft have severe issues in that regard and this is why they can’t stop talking about it, in an effort to drown out the signal (facts).”Always be careful to distinguish; there are tolerance opportunists; they tend to be a lot louder than those who are passively if not silently tolerant. Those who have nothing to cover up don’t need to googlebomb the Web with puff pieces about how they champion “Diversity and Inclusion”; companies like Microsoft have severe issues in that regard — to the point of facing loads of lawsuits — and this is why they can’t stop talking about it, in an effort to drown out the signal (facts). They’re concerned people might come across legal documents and news reports about racism, sexism, homophobia etc. Those are very prevalent there. That’s the road to brain drain. That can harm sales through boycotts.

Regarding the Linux Foundation, days ago we learned there was an incident at its event. The community, i.e. actual FOSS people (those raided by software monopolies with their openwashing staffers and defectors) as opposed to marketing staffers of the Foundation, belatedly strikes back. We are still trying to get the pertinent details and will hopefully report soon. And yes, there’s a legitimate diversity angle to it. The Foundation likes to hide behind the cover or the curtain of ethics, morality etc. Any criticism of the Foundation or its sponsors (i.e. patrons) can be spun as an unacceptable act which they dub “toxic”. They classify particular elements of the community “toxic” and attempt to marginalise these, never mind the merits of their concern/s. The Foundation, disguising itself as a “nonprofit”, is quite suitable for such a function; it’s a front or a shield, protecting the image of corporations whose brands the Foundation exists to promote.

Sadly for the Foundation, for all its talks (and Web pages) of tolerance, its patrons are very much intolerant. They’re intolerant in various ways and it’s not hard to research the subject (evidence is overwhelming). The closest example we can think of is the Gates Foundation, which helps Microsoft or more specifically Bill Gates label critics of criminal activities as bashers of a charity, ‘sick’ people who are ‘jealous’ of benevolent philanthropists. It’s not a novel trick. Torvalds is a 'sick' man for calling bullshit code "bullshit", but Gates is a Saint for demanding a "Jihad" against Linux.

Thirteen Years of Techrights This Year

Posted in Site News at 8:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mark Webbink
Photo credit: Mark Webbink’s image by Luca Lucarini, CC BY-SA 3.0

Summary: We’re the survivor of a dying breed of sites, which are largely dedicated to FOSS-centric news

EARLIER this year Debian celebrated 26 years. That’s pretty impressive considering the fact that the grandfather of GNU/Linux, Slackware, was having some issues in recent years and its founder sought to raise funds through Patreon some weeks ago. This distribution was created by Patrick Volkerding in 1993, whereas Debian was created about a month later by Ian Murdock. He founded the Debian Project on August 16, 1993.

So far in 2019 at least 3 noteworthy GNU/Linux distributions ‘called it a day’. News sites covering GNU/Linux also suffered heavy casualties; these were some of the biggest sites, notably Linux Journal and Linux.com; few others became stagnant. It’s part of the decline of media in general, not a problem with GNU/Linux in particular.

“So far in 2019 at least 3 noteworthy GNU/Linux distributions ‘called it a day’. News sites covering GNU/Linux also suffered heavy casualties; these were some of the biggest sites, notably Linux Journal and Linux.com; few others became stagnant.”The journey of Techrights began back in the days of Digg. Remember Digg.com? I certainly do. I was a Ph.D. student at the time and “social media” had just begun to catch on (prior to it I spent a lot of time in USENET newsgroups). In 2006 I met Shane on Digg, where we shared our concerns about the Novell deal with Microsoft. That’s how a blog (back then dedicated to a Novell boycott) was born. Digg.com is still around, but it’s in no way related to the original Digg, which stagnated and died within a few years. By 2009 or 2010 it was already quite irrelevant, partly (depending on one’s interpretation) due to Facebook and Twitter, maybe even Reddit. Those three sites are still around. Back in 2006 we also shared concerns and views with Groklaw and Technocrat, the site of Bruce Perens (famous for Debian and OSI). Perens made a bit of a comeback, even in his own domain name, but that didn’t quite replace his original project, the “Slashdot for grown-ups” which suffered an epic demise just like Slashdot itself. As for Groklaw, it too made a sort of comeback attempt, first with Mark Webbink, a former Red Hat employee (he’s retired now; photo above), and then Pamela Jones (PJ) again. I spent years mailing her every day and her decision to ‘disappear’ from the Web was rather disappointing. Snowden’s leaks did not reveal much that wasn’t already known; they just provided hard proof for what many of us speculated about or cited other whistleblowers about (they didn’t have the documentary evidence at hand, so NSA denials was simpler). At the same time Andy Updegrove’s blog became less active (he’s with the Linux Foundation now) and the Web as we knew it was transforming into Social Control Media, which is a lot of hearsay.

The media as a whole is being battered; and no, tabloids aren’t media and channels like Fox News and CNN are mostly partisan feeding frenzy. They lack credibility and accuracy on a lot of topics — typically those that get them many viewers, drawing them in based largely on emotion, not substance.

In a sense, we view ourselves as survivors of much turbulence. We don’t rely on ads and we don’t pay salaries; I work full time in a technical job, so I can afford to keep the site going in my spare time. No rich sponsors, no sellouts, no “affiliate” posts.

“In a sense, we view ourselves as survivors of much turbulence.”It seems pretty certain we’ll reach 15 years. 20 years might be a challenge, but at the moment it seems doable because we're growing. Our European Patent Office (EPO) coverage helped make a positive impact and this year we’re gradually revisiting more and more aspects of GNU/Linux and Software Freedom. Some of the topics we covered nobody else dared cover. We have several important stories in the pipeline. Hopefully we won’t have to see any more publishers in the area of FOSS (what’s left of such publications) perishing and closing down. That creates an information vacuum that gives leeway to Microsoft's PR department and prevents introspection or self-assessment — something sorely needed in today’s tough terrain of GAFAM and Microsoft entryism.

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