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09.05.19

Openwashing Report: Mass Surveillance is Now… Open!

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft at 3:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: Mass surveillance by proprietary software (either at the user’s end or the server side, where Free software can be made secret, proprietary, impossible for the user to modify) is being framed as ‘championing’ Open Source; it doesn’t seem to matter, not to the mainstream media at least, how this code gets used in practice and what for

THE public is expected to celebrate the code that is harming the public every second of the day. Openwashing tactics have become the go-to PR strategy.

“That redefines if not distorts what we typically mean by Open as in Open Source.”Sometimes not even code is being made available; last week we saw “open source APIs” (the old lie) being leveraged as a classic openwashing pattern. Things that latch onto surveillance monsters are now open? Well, maybe they’re open to abuse or open to receiving MOAR more data. That redefines if not distorts what we typically mean by Open as in Open Source.

Take the term “Smart City” (above) or “Smart Car” for example. That just means a city or a car with surveillance in it. And now they’re openwashing this whole abomination, with articles such as “Will Open Source Platforms Bridge The Gap Across Smart Car Solutions?”

“Take the term “Smart City” (above) or “Smart Car” for example. That just means a city or a car with surveillance in it.”That was published only days ago.

How about OpenADx? It isn’t open. It’s a front group for proprietary software companies including Microsoft. “Originally launched by Bosch and Microsoft,” says this press release, “[t]he working group launches with original members AVL, Bosch, Eteration, IBM, itemis, JC Information Management, Red Hat, and Siemens.”

It’s about spying inside cars. Hardly surprising to see Microsoft as a founding member. We’ll come again to Microsoft in a moment.

Facebook

Now, how about Facebook?

Facebook apparently has an “Open Source Community”; That’s what this news headline from Vice tells us. But it’s a proprietary software surveillance operation with some openwashing on the side; watch how they demonise people: “Facebook’s Open Source Community Is Reckoning With Toxicity and Harassment”

It says that “[l]ike other open-source communities, ReactJS is now reckoning with how it treats traditionally underrepresented groups in tech.”

“It’s about spying inside cars. Hardly surprising to see Microsoft as a founding member.”Corporate means for kicking out people under the guise of "manners". Here’s another new headline: “React, a popular open source project that started at Facebook, is adopting a new code of conduct after several people on Twitter called out racism in the community”

So-called “open source project”; there have been scandals associated with the licence they choose, the patents, and Facebook’s control of it. This is a surveillance tool.

As for the ethical aspects these reports allude to, spare me the tears. As I wrote about in length yesterday, the Linux Foundation‘s liars called me the “F” word three times so far this week. The Foundation’s staffers want us to adopt a Code of Conduct they themselves violate. They’re not pleasant people and when you put people who want to be TV stars in charge of a group that’s supposed to steer a project of geeks you end up with abuse. They can be a lot worse than geeks. We’ll have more to say about that in a separate (and later) post.

Google and GitHub (Microsoft)

Speaking of the Foundation, which is happy to let Microsoft tell Linux what to do (adopt our OWN APIs/file systems or else!), we couldn’t help but notice yesterday’s news pick by the Linux Foundation’s Linux.com. I immediately joked about it, claiming that they plug in some Google stuff instead of GNU/Linux stuff (there were three news picks that day, one for proprietary software of Microsoft and this one). Are we supposed to think that anything Google is the same as “Linux”? Is Google’s surveillance OK because it’s… open? Watch how the media frames this. This is openwashing of surveillance capitalism on proprietary GitHub (yes, they too gave the code to Microsoft!). “The source code for the AI is now available on GitHub,” it says, “which you can check out from here. You may also download arm64 APK here, and a version with 3D mode here.”

“This is a surveillance tool.”Here’s another new report: “Google open sources real-time hand and finger tracking tech”

Give a finger to it. That’s just Google’s openwashing of surveillance capitalism and it’s putting all the code in imperialistic GitHub. “Google has made its hand detection and tracking tech open-source,” it says, “giving developers the opportunity to poke around…”

Poke around…

More openwashing by Google.

It’s surveillance you can ‘tinker’ with…

“That’s just Google’s openwashing of surveillance capitalism and it’s putting all the code in imperialistic GitHub.”Yay. Let’s dance.

Speaking of GitHub as the medium (it’s in NSA PRISM now), mind this new article from JAXenter where GitHub is presumed ‘synonymous’ with FOSS (never mind if GitHub itself is proprietary and owned by the foremost enemy of FOSS).

If Microsoft does not own and control a FOSS project, does it not exist and won’t count? JAXenter reinforces monopoly and coercion by proprietary software (which is what GitHub is). They leave out every project that isn’t controlled by Microsoft.

We’ll return to Microsoft later.

AMDOCS et al.

A buzzword-hyped surveillance “revolution” is apparently “fueled” by “open source” (or openwashing of malicious proprietary software from monopolies connected to spy agencies). That’s what this new article about “hey hi” (AI) tells us. There’s also openwashing of mass surveillance by companies such as AMDOCS, which process a lot of data and leave copies to states.

But worry not; according to this, “open source as a driver of innovation will be the focus” (of surveillance) by the likes of Amdocs and Adtrans, which also got this puff piece. Yet more openwashing of proprietary 5G — a typical feature from Light Reading: “Sessions, presented by Amdocs and Adtrans, to be presented at tail end of SCTE/ISBE event in New Orleans on October 3.”

That’s next month. “Post-Cable-Tec Expo Sessions to Focus on 5G, Open Source” is the headline.

“A buzzword-hyped surveillance “revolution” is apparently “fueled” by “open source” (or openwashing of malicious proprietary software from monopolies connected to spy agencies).”One looks for articles about “Open Source” and ends up finding these surveillance-centric events. Classic openwashing by iconectiv here (ONAP); their message, between the lines: We made some code changes, hence our network is now “open”…

Over at Telecompaper this press release got expanded with fluff.

It’s not “bad” per se; but the underlying stuff will be closed with some “open bits” to tinker with (or “see”). We’re supposed to think that all networks and telecoms are now “open” even when they’re not (and to make matters worse, they’re used for pervasive surveillance at every level, even intra-packet, e.g. DPI).

Microsoft

Perhaps we should expect this ‘champion’ of so-called ‘open’ to be the worst culprit. Indeed, Microsoft never disappoints. How about openwashing of listening devices, or military-grade surveillance by Microsoft?

“How about openwashing of listening devices, or military-grade surveillance by Microsoft?”This was put at the very top of Linux.com earlier this week (this is what Swapnil does almost every week). Remember that the Linux Foundation boils down to its Board, and seats on the Board are for sale basically.

These articles are all about Microsoft’s listening devices, a.k.a. “conversational HEY HI!” (AI).

Beware the openwashing of such listening devices. All sorts of surveillance are nowadays being spun as “open” or “helping the blind” (or disabled people). Swapnil did a whole series of interviews to that effect last month; They exploit and abuse the disabled (hijacking social causes) to push evil agenda of surveillance.

Are you against listening devices?

“They exploit and abuse the disabled (hijacking social causes) to push evil agenda of surveillance.”Then you’re against disabled people!

“WHY DO YOU HATE BLIND PEOPLE?”

Microsoft used these tricks to demonise OpenDocument Format (ODF) as well.

So nowadays surveillance is being disguised as a ‘social cause’.

It hardly surprised us that mostly Microsoft sites and Microsoft boosters promoted this latest openwashing offensive from Microsoft, e.g. here, here, and here. It’s all because “open” makes spying “ethical”, right?

“Openwashing works great for surveillance capitalism.”To quote one puff piece, “Microsoft announced that it is releasing a new open-source toolkit that allows researchers and developers to create chatbots with different personas called the Intelligent Conversation Engine: Code and Pre-trained Systems (ICECAPS).”

That’s just openwashing of listening devices by Microsoft, the NSA’s foremost partner. Other shallow pieces can be found outside Microsoft’s ‘fan media’, e.g. CBR and Analytics India Magazine, but most of the coverage we saw comes from Microsoft boosters. Maybe they even lie to themselves about how wonderful it is that devices designed to listen to all tenants in entire homes, cars and offices (and relay the audio to governments) are now “open”. Because of an “open-source toolkit” (see what we wrote about “open-source APIs” at the start).

Openwashing works great for surveillance capitalism.

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