12.18.19

Fuzzy Logic and Personal Attacks: How Startpage Guards Its Image After Becoming a Surveillance Company

Posted in Deception, Search at 1:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t worry, buddy, System1 already has you ‘backed up’

Startpage lie
One of many “sponsored” tweets (promoted for a fee) that spread lies and misinformation

Summary: Startpage assumes that its users have bags for brains; it continues to shamelessly lie about Startpage’s data flows, which ‘inadvertently’ reveal what users are searching for (an advertising company that owns most if not all of Startpage deciphers identities)

The Startpage saga has come to a phase of personal attacks or ad hominem tactics. They try to personify the issues and create a phony ‘personal’ controversy. Seeing that System1 turned Startpage into a surveillance site/company (perhaps fully owned or almost fully owned by System1), now there’s a deflection and blame game. They attack the messengers, using innuendo of course, and pretend to be the victim (playing the victim has always been a classic strategy). Perhaps this is expected when one’s “side” in a debate isn’t supported by facts. We don’t want to name any names or link to the personal attacks, but they’re out there. There’s suspicion that some act as ‘proxies’ of the accused. Heck, some are literally employed by the accused!

“After persistent pressure they admitted it, but they claim to preserve anonymity (those who have followed many scandals since the famous AOL scandal are aware that de-anonymisation is almost always very easy — there’s a body of scholarly work to that effect too).”Our investigation of this matter will of course persist. We already know (it’s confirmed by the accused) that data is being passed from Startpage to System1 for advertising purposes. After persistent pressure they admitted it, but they claim to preserve anonymity (those who have followed many scandals since the famous AOL scandal are aware that de-anonymisation is almost always very easy — there’s a body of scholarly work to that effect too).

This is an area I deal with at work. Here’s what readers might want to know about data anonymisation, data re-identification, de-identification, and k-anonymity. Andrew Orlowski wrote about such issues more than 13 years ago in “AOL publishes database of users’ intentions” (it even made it public! It did not just pass it to advertisers!).

Pseudonymization is a suitable term here. As Wikipedia puts it: “The pseudonym allows tracking back of data to its origins, which distinguishes pseudonymization from anonymization, where all person-related data that could allow backtracking has been purged. Pseudonymization is an issue in, for example, patient-related data that has to be passed on securely between clinical centers.”

“Must there be some kind of identifier in order to have System1 process data for Startpage that gets back to a user?”

One reader asked us that. We used to recommend Startpage, so we suppose some of our readers still use it and are now rightly concerned. “It might not be an IP,” our reader continued, “maybe an IP substitute? This is a generic question.”

There’s lots more to go by, including cookies and additional data that is passed around recklessly by so-called ‘data brokers’. It’s a vast and very shady ‘industry’ — a so-called ‘industry’ in which System1 is a prominent player.

“Stay away from and keep a distance from Startpage. They’re liars and charlatans, pretending to value privacy whilst actively betraying it.”“I am also not clear as to how Startpage can hand even anonymised or fuzzed data to a behavioral ad company like System1 for processing,” our reader continued. “Wouldn’t that need to be divulged in the Startpage policies? Maybe the privacy policy is actually accurate because technically Startpage itself is doing what it says and doesn’t mention what other organisations might do or what organisations it might share data with?”

Yes, that’s a known loophole. With GDPR care is taken to ensure third parties aren’t leveraged as loopholes — means by which to bypass the law or outsource/offshore the abuses. That has happened a lot.

“I reached out to another computer expert,” our reader noted, “and got a plausible explanation for how System1 might process Startpage data without getting user personal info and then get it back to the user.”

It’s really unhelpful that Startpage has been so facetious about it; it also should be considered a major breach of trust that Startpage gave in to System1 about a year ago without telling anyone (until it came up with this ridiculous spin). There’s no ‘Privacy One Group’; it’s like an offshore account/shell. Stay away from and keep a distance from Startpage. They’re liars and charlatans, pretending to value privacy whilst actively betraying it. They think they’re being clever about it with their shameless marketing campaigns, but geeks aren’t gullible enough to fall for “sweet talk”.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 5/12/2020: Debian 10.7, ExTiX 20.12, and Sparky 2020.12 Released

    Links for the day



  2. [Meme] 'Nice' and 'Cool' António Campinos, Now With Extra Sneakers

    António 'Fanta' Campinos sporting new 'EPO Sneakers' in these ‘Pandemic Times’; at least he’s being ‘cool’ while staff is confined/sentenced to live in a shoebox, working 24/7 without holidays under constant surveillance in the bedroom



  3. A Mister António Campinos 'Joins' IAM 'Media' and IAM 'Magazine' (Symptom of Dying Media)

    IAM "Foreword" composed by the EPO; is this journalism or just self-serving propaganda and agenda-steering operations with the veneer of reporting and/or expert advice?



  4. Bringing DRM to GNU/Linux to Attract the Stereotypical 'Gamers'

    With streaming disservices such as Google's Stadia (GNU/Linux-powered, albeit proprietary and spying) and rental-like disservices such as Steam the situation is further complicated for Software Freedom; what can be done? Gamers aren't 'lamers' and attracting them too would be better than leaving them stranded in Windows.



  5. Twitter Will Abandon Older Systems/Geeks on December 15th and Fediverse Rots Away (Pleroma.site and Pleroma.fr Shut Down Without Notice)

    The promises of "social control media" are repeatedly being broken; it's time to focus on simpler and more reliable means of communication (journalism cannot fit into short bursts of text with a fancy GUI)



  6. [Meme] When a European Patent Office President Was There for Only 2 Years (and Some Staff for Over 40 Years)

    The EPO should never have been put at the hands of politicians like António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli (Campinos lacks the experience, but he has the connections)



  7. EPO Call for Strike in 2019

    Staff of the EPO was fed up and extremely annoyed by the "new" and "nicer" President less than a year after he took Battistelli's chair



  8. EPO Management is Lying About the Position of EPO Stakeholders While Compelling Those Stakeholders to Become Accomplices

    With the media colluding (cooperating with EPO management, Team UPC etc. and sometimes just because they occupy this media) and with officials (in Germany, EU etc.) not lifting a finger, it doesn't seem like anyone is willing to hold the EPO accountable for illegal behaviour; even the views of people, both inside and outside the Office, are being publicly distorted, sometimes with help from the media and from sites of the patent litigation 'sector'



  9. A Closer Look at Richard Stallman's Ousters From Inside the Free Software Foundation (Board)

    A devoted reader of Techrights has studied documents submitted by an organisation that claims to speak on behalf of Free software (while its main sponsor is Google and whilst also selling keynote speeches to Microsoft)



  10. IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 04, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, December 04, 2020



  11. Links 4/12/2020: New Raspberry Pi OS, Tizen OS Dominating TVs, Wine 6.0 RC, Debian 10.7 Ready Later Today, Fedora 33 Elections Concluded, Pacman 6.0 Enters Alpha

    Links for the day



  12. What's GNEW? GNEW's Nice Efforts Welcomed! (The GNEW Manifesto)

    "Dyne.org could be useful," figosdev says. "Denis Roio would be useful. Devuan would not. Dyne.org, it should be noted, was one of the very few organisations that publicly and explicitly defended Stallman when others (like FSFE) attacked."



  13. Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) is Not About Freedom

    As evidence serves to show, the SFC quit caring about Free-as-in-Freedom-respecting Software a long time ago; it’s about raising money (even from Microsoft) and ‘canceling’ people who actually care about Software Freedom



  14. [Meme] Being Occupied by Microsoft Azure and Windows

    The persistent lying (led by slogans like "Microsoft loves Linux") only ever comes from media moles of Microsoft, who spent decades attacking GNU/Linux, so we know the real sentiments



  15. [Meme] The Master Negotiator

    EPO President António Campinos is the opposite of what his father claimed to be, as EPO staff quickly found out



  16. What Really Happened Last Year When Workers of the European Patent Office, Europe's Second-Largest Institution, Were About to Go on Strike

    The full story of what happened behind the scenes around the time of the call for strike (less than a year after a "new" (recycled) and "better" president had been appointed, perpetuating the same abuses)



  17. Censored EPO Publication: Conflict Resolution Unit (CRU) Unspeakable Because Office Management Buries the Facts

    Another censored (by EPO management) publication, this time about the cover-up of misconduct



  18. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 03, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 03, 2020



  19. Linux Foundation Trolls Its Critics by Forging Metadata in Its Annual Report (Updated)

    The annual report of the so-called 'Linux' Foundation was produced using mythical software (or not)



  20. Links 4/12/2020: Mesa 20.3.0, Manjaro 20.2 Nibia and Budgie 10.5.2

    Links for the day



  21. Censored EPO Publication: Staff Cannot Comment on the Administrative Council's Meetings?

    The suppression of speech in Europe’s second-largest institution should be a cautionary tale or loud alarm to the rest of Europe. Corruption and cover-up have reached the point where mentioning the corruption is its own right a ‘crime’.



  22. Nobody Needs to Write a Text Editor (or Use Geany)

    "If free software really benefits from education, then telling people not to learn more about creating software by working on a simple text editor project makes no sense at all."



  23. [Mail] Reader's Comment on 'Fraudlinger'

    ‘Fraudlinger’ (as our reader calls Margot Fröhlinger) is knowingly lying to Europe, just like the EPO routinely does, both to workers and to the general public/journalists



  24. [Meme] European Patent Office Violates European Laws

    By violating international and European laws the EPO basically tells us what it’s all about (and it has nothing to do with protecting patent law or any law for that matter, not even the EPC)



  25. EPO Management Consciously Breaking European Union Laws: Staff and Stakeholders Subjected to Illegal Tactics and Practices, Now Exam Takers As Well

    The EPO routinely breaks privacy laws, knowing that there’s not even an attempt to enforce the law against the EPO’s dictators; we’ve lost count of the instances/number of privacy scandals at the EPO, but we keep adding more to our list



  26. 'Social Dialogue' at the EPO Broke Down, Team Campinos is Totally Delusional

    Team Campinos is speaking to itself, reaffirming its own decisions, but it's trying to give the impression of consultation with staff; unfortunately for them, staff isn't gullible enough and there's good understanding of the false pretenses



  27. The EPO's 2020 Impaired Vision/ViCo: Imposing Illegal Practices on EPO Stakeholders, Not Only on EPO Staff

    Corruption is contagious; we now see a growing number of EPO stakeholders speaking out against the outrageous attempts by Office management to impose illegal practices on them; they don't wish to participate in any of this



  28. Censored EPO Publication: Evidence That the Censorship of EPO Staff Representation (Central Staff Committee) Started Months After António Campinos Started His Term

    Central Staff Committee representatives explained in very clear terms how Team Campinos (soon 2.5 years in the role) was — and still is — censoring representatives in an attempt to keep staff ignorant, misinformed, and afraid



  29. Guest Post: Helping Roy Delete Debian at Work and Home

    "What we probably don't want to do is continue to support Debian or systemd, if we can help it."



  30. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, December 02, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, December 02, 2020


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts