EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.04.19

Google Tightens Its Noose

Posted in Google at 5:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Two decades later

Do know evil? Bye, Google

Summary: Now it’s official! Google is just a bunch of shareholders looking to appease the Pentagon at all costs

12.01.19

It EEEsn’t Just a Microsoft Thing Anymore

Posted in Google, Microsoft at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Am I The Only One Around Here That wants to destroy Python from the  inside? No, Microsoft We are also trying to coerce it and it's easier with the Benevolent Dictator in retirement

Summary: The EEErosion of Python’s independence is a known problem and Microsoft is not the sole culprit

11.08.19

System1 (Company Behind Startpage, Dogpile, WebCrawler, MetaCrawler and More) Calls Surveillance “Privacy”

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Search at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Surveillance seems to have become so fashionable that its purveyors and intermediaries (sending one’s data to Microsoft, Google and so on) have a sense of humour strong enough or sufficient to call that “privacy”

THE OTHER DAY we wrote about further suspicious things about Startpage, which had been grabbed by a mass surveillance company that also owns Dogpile, WebCrawler, MetaCrawler and maybe lots more. The whole thing triggered a nerve when they made up something called ‘Privacy One Group’ — Orwellian doublespeak or newspeak for sure. It’s part of a spying company, System1.

“It’s part of a spying company, System1.”But wait, it gets worse

“System1 has a “privacy” browser in the Google Play Store,” a reader told us. It’s called Hushbrowser. “See the linked app page there and the associated privacy policy. If that’s what System1 considers a privacy product…”

Hushbrowser privacyThe link to the privacy policy (of the ‘app’) leads to a broken page (screenshot to the right), but if one goes to the site one can find the full text, which is a year old.

Let’s look/consider how the “app” presents itself: “Hush Browser is a mobile web browser for Android that keeps you in control of your session data. With user-first privacy in mind, we set out to create a super lightweight, fast web browser that gives you an easy way to remove your data. Most browsers hide this deep within app settings accessible through confusing user flows, but we wanted to make this functionality front and center, both on-demand in the main menu and automatically every time you close the app.”

Now let’s look at the actual policy and annotate it with a yellow marker:

Privacy Policy

Last modified: May 15, 2018

System1 LLC respects your privacy and we are committed to protecting it through our compliance with this policy. This policy also applies to our subsidiaries Infospace Holdings LLC and Qool Media Holdings LLC.

Our services include our websites and applications that link to this privacy policy. This policy describes the types of information we may collect from you or that you may provide when you use our services and our practices for collecting, using, maintaining, protecting, and disclosing that information.

This policy applies to information we collect:

  • When you use or interact with our services.
  • In your email, text, and other electronic messages with us.
  • Through our mobile and desktop applications.

Please read this policy carefully to understand our policies and practices regarding your information and how we will treat it. If you do not agree with our policies and practices, your choice is not to use our services. By accessing or using our services, you agree to this privacy policy. This policy may change from time to time (see Changes to Our Privacy Policy). Your continued use of our services after we make changes is deemed to be acceptance of those changes, so please check the policy periodically for updates.

EU-US Privacy Shield and Swiss-US Privacy Shield

System1 LLC, and certain of its controlled US affiliates, Infospace Holdings LLC and Qool Media Holdings LLC, comply with the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework and the Swiss-US Privacy Shield Framework as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information from European Union member countries and Switzerland. System1 has certified that it adheres to the Privacy Shield Principles of Notice, Choice, Accountability for Onward Transfer, Security, Data Integrity and Purpose Limitation, Access, and Recourse, Enforcement and Liability. If there is any conflict between the policies in this privacy policy and the Privacy Shield Principles, the Privacy Shield Principles shall govern.

To learn more about the Privacy Shield program, and to view our certification page, please visit https://www.privacyshield.gov/

System1 is subject to the investigatory and enforcement powers of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Children Under the Age of 13

Our services are not intended for children under 13 years of age. No one under age 13 may provide any information to or through our services. We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. If you are under 13, do not use or provide any information through our services. If we learn we have collected or received personal information from a child under 13 without verification of parental consent, we will delete that information. If you believe we might have any information from or about a child under 13, please contact us at:

Attn: Privacy Officer

1501 Main Street

Suite 201

Venice, CA 90291

Contact System1

Information We Collect About You and How We Collect It

We collect several types of information from and about users of our services, including information:

  • by which you may be personally identified, such as name, postal address, e-mail address, telephone number, or any other identifier by which you may be contacted online or offline (“personal information“);
  • that is about you but individually does not identify you, such as your IP address, referral data, and browser and platform type; and/or
  • about your internet connection, the equipment you use to access our services and usage details.

We collect this information:

  • Directly from you when you provide it to us.
  • Automatically as you use our services. Information collected automatically may include usage details, IP addresses, and information collected through cookies, web beacons, and other tracking technologies.
  • From third parties, for example, our business partners.

Information You Provide to Us

The information we collect through our services may include:

  • Information that you provide by filling in forms through our services. This includes information provided at the time of registering to use our services, subscribing to our service, posting material, or requesting further services. We may also ask you for information when you report a problem with our services.
  • Records and copies of your correspondence (including email addresses), if you contact us.

Information We Collect Through Automatic Data Collection Technologies

As you use our services, we may use automatic data collection technologies to collect certain information about your equipment, browsing actions, and patterns, including:

  • Details of your use of our services, including traffic data, location data, logs, and other communication data and the resources that you use on our services.
  • Information about your computer and internet connection, including your IP address, operating system, and browser type.

We also may use these technologies to collect information about your online activities over time and across third-party websites or other online services (behavioral tracking).

The information we collect automatically is statistical data and does not include personal information, but we may maintain it or associate it with personal information we collect in other ways or receive from third parties. It helps us to improve our services and to deliver a better and more personalized service.

The technologies we use for this automatic data collection may include:

  • Cookies (or browser cookies). A cookie is a small file placed on the hard drive of your computer. You may refuse to accept browser cookies by activating the appropriate setting on your browser. However, if you select this setting you may be unable to access certain parts of our services. Unless you have adjusted your browser setting so that it will refuse cookies, our system will issue cookies when you direct your browser to our services.
  • Flash Cookies. Certain features of our services may use local stored objects (or Flash cookies) to collect and store information about your preferences and navigation to, from, and on our services. Flash cookies are not managed by the same browser settings as are used for browser cookies.
  • Web Beacons. Portions of our services may contain small electronic files known as web beacons (also referred to as clear gifs, pixel tags, and single-pixel gifs) that allow us, for example, to count users who have visited pages and for other related website statistics (for example, recording the popularity of certain website content and verifying system and server integrity).

We do not collect personal information automatically, but we may tie this information to personal information about you that we collect from other sources or you provide to us.

Third-Party Use of Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

Some content or applications, including advertisements, on our services are served by third-parties, including advertisers, ad networks and servers, content providers, and application providers. These third parties may use cookies alone or in conjunction with web beacons or other tracking technologies to collect information about you when you use our services. The information they collect may be associated with your personal information or they may collect information, including personal information, about your online activities over time and across different websites and other online services. They may use this information to provide you with interest-based (behavioral) advertising or other targeted content.

We do not control these third parties’ tracking technologies or how they may be used. If you have any questions about an advertisement or other targeted content, you should contact the responsible provider directly. For information about how you can opt out of receiving targeted advertising from many providers, see Choices About How We Use and Disclose Your Information.

How We Use Your Information

We use information that we collect about you or that you provide to us, including any personal information:

  • To present our services and its contents to you.
  • To provide you with information, products, or services that you request from us.
  • To fulfill any other purpose for which you provide it.
  • To provide you with notices about your account, including expiration and renewal notices.
  • To carry out our obligations and enforce our rights arising from any contracts entered into between you and us, including for billing and collection.
  • To notify you about changes to our services.
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features on our services.
  • In any other way we may describe when you provide the information.
  • For any other purpose with your consent.

We may use the information we have collected from you to enable us to display advertisements to our advertisers’ target audiences. Even though we do not disclose your personal information for these purposes without your consent, if you click on or otherwise interact with an advertisement, the advertiser may assume that you meet its target criteria.

Disclosure of Your Information

We may disclose aggregated information about our users, and information that does not identify any individual, without restriction.

We may disclose personal information that we collect or you provide as described in this privacy policy:

  • To our subsidiaries and affiliates.
  • To contractors, service providers, and other third parties we use to support our business.
  • To a buyer or other successor in the event of a merger, divestiture, restructuring, reorganization, dissolution, or other sale or transfer of some or all of our assets, whether as a going concern or as part of bankruptcy, liquidation, or similar proceeding, in which personal information held by us is among the assets transferred.
  • To fulfill the purpose for which you provide it.
  • For any other purpose disclosed by us when you provide the information.
  • With your consent.

We may also disclose your personal information:

  • To comply with any court order, law, or legal process, including to respond to any government or regulatory request.
  • If we believe disclosure is necessary or appropriate to protect our rights, property, or for our safety, and that of our customers, or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organizations for the purposes of fraud protection and credit risk reduction.
  • Under certain circumstances, we may be required to disclose your personal information in response to valid requests by public authorities, including to meet national security or law enforcement requirements.
  • System1’s accountability for data it receives pursuant to the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield and subsequent transfer of that data to third parties is detailed in the Privacy Shield Principles. In cases of onward transfer to third parties of data of EU or Swiss individuals received pursuant to the EU-US or and Swiss-US Privacy Shield, System1 is potentially liable. In particular, System1 remains responsible and liable under the Privacy Shield Principles if third-party agents that it engages to process the personal data on its behalf do so in a manner inconsistent with the Principles, unless System1 proves that it is not responsible for the event giving rise to the damage.

Choices About How We Use and Disclose Your Information

We strive to provide you with choices regarding the personal information you provide to us. We have created mechanisms to provide you with the following control over your information:

  • You can set your browser to refuse all or some browser cookies, or to alert you when cookies are being sent. If you disable or refuse cookies, please note that some parts of this site may then be inaccessible or not function properly.
  • For some of our products, we use Google Analytics Advertising Features, including Remarketing with Google Analytics, Google Display Network Impression Reporting, DoubleClick Platform integrations, and Google Analytics Demographic and Interest Reporting. For information about Google Analytics currently available opt-outs, please click here.
  • Some of our products may include advertisements from Microsoft. To learn more about information collected by Microsoft, please click here. You can opt-out of Microsoft’s personalized advertising services by following the instructions found here.
  • We do not control third parties’ collection or use of your information to serve interest-based advertising. However, these third parties may provide you with ways to choose not to have your information collected or used in this way. You can also generally opt-out of receiving personalized ads from third party advertisers and ad networks who are members of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) or who follow the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising by visiting the opt-out pages on the NAI site and DAA site.
  • System1 acknowledges that EU and Swiss individuals have the right to access the personal information that we maintain about them. An EU or Swiss individuals who seeks access, or who seeks to correct, amend, or delete inaccurate data, should direct their query to here. If requested to remove data, we will respond within a reasonable timeframe.
  • We will also provide an EU or Swiss individuals with opt-out or opt-in choice before we share their data with third parties other than our agents, or before we use it for a purpose other than which it was originally collected or subsequently authorized.
  • To limit the use and disclosure of your personal information, please click here.

Accessing and Correcting Your Information

We desire to keep you in control of the personal information you provide to us. Accordingly, you can review, correct, change, or remove the personal registration information you provide to us and that we control. To choose not to receive future communications from us, please contact System1.

You may also send us an email here to request access to, correct, or delete any personal information that you have provided to us. We may not accommodate a request to change information if we believe the change would violate any law or legal requirement or cause the information to be incorrect.

Data Security

We have implemented measures designed to secure your personal information from accidental loss and from unauthorized access, use, alteration, and disclosure.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we do our best to protect your personal information, we cannot guarantee the security of your personal information transmitted to our services. Any transmission of personal information is at your own risk. We are not responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures contained on the services.

Dispute Resolutions

In compliance with the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Principles, System1 commits to resolve complaints about your privacy and our collection or use of your personal information. European Union or Swiss individuals with inquiries or complaints regarding this privacy policy should first contact System1 here

System1 has further committed to refer unresolved privacy complaints under the Privacy Shield Principles to an independent dispute resolution mechanism, the BBB EU PRIVACY SHIELD, operated by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. If you do not receive timely acknowledgment of your complaint, or if your complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, please visit http://www.bbb.org/EU-privacy-shield/for-eu-consumers for more information and to file a complaint.

Under certain conditions, more fully described on the Privacy Shield website https://www.privacyshield.gov/article?id=How-to-Submit-a-Complaint, you may invoke binding arbitration when other dispute resolutions procedures have been exhausted.

Changes To Our Privacy Policy

It is our policy to post any changes we make to our privacy policy on this page. If we make material changes to how we treat our users’ personal information, we will let you know through a notice in our services. The date the privacy policy was last revised is found at the top of the page. You are responsible for ensuring we have an up-to-date active and deliverable email address for you, and for periodically visiting this privacy policy to check for any changes.

Contact Information

To ask questions or comment about this privacy policy and our privacy practices, contact us at:

Attn: Privacy Officer

1501 Main Street

Suite 201

Venice, CA 90291

Contact System1

Looking at the above, one must wonder if the broken link isn’t an accident but intentional. Just to satisfy the requirements of listing this bogus ‘privacy’ ‘app’ in Google Play. Maybe better call it piracy ‘app’ because it steals all your data.

11.06.19

Microsoft ‘Rebranding’ (Inventing in the E.E.E. Sense) Chromium

Posted in Google, Microsoft at 12:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Good evening, sir. Can we interest you in a proprietary Microsoft browser? Good evening, sir. There's already Chromium and it's not proprietary like Microsoft's. But it's based on Chromium and it lets Microsoft spy on everything. Get out!!!

Summary: Microsoft’s proprietary spyware has no actual, technical appeal to anybody

11.05.19

‘Dutch’ Startpage Gets a Lot of Traffic Channeled Through/From Small Shop (“Google Premier Partner”) in Scotland

Posted in Deception, Google, Search at 1:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Startpage and inspire.scot

Summary: An ongoing attempt to better understand supposedly privacy-centric search engines and how they make money

FOLLOWING some recent investigations into privacy betrayals by so-called 'private' search engines that track clicks we’ve been getting useful feedback and pointers. I myself used to rely on a lot of Scroogle (until Google shut it down by deprecating APIs/access). Then I moved mostly to Ixquick, which later forced a redirection to Startpage. I stopped using that when they mysteriously added lots of JavaScript and awkward stuff which not only rendered the site inaccessible from my browser but raised all sorts of other concerns/questions. Prior to that I had already pointed out — and confronted over — several issues associated with Startpage’s actions, both technical and operational. I explored alternatives and later used these permanently.

I spent about half a decade promoting Startpage (or Ixquick). Perhaps at the start they were well-meaning and they likely lacked a business model. Perhaps. If that new/later business model gravitated towards/around spying, then users deserve to know. They need to know. Startpage is not a charity or a public service.

We don’t typically write about privacy and search engines (this isn’t our focus, but sometimes that relates to Microsoft entryism). We do, however, receive some valuable pointers and the more we cover it, the deeper we go. “Maybe you could help explain this,” one reader said, referring to the observation (see above screenshot from this page). “Startpage traffic channel source situation: http://inspire.scot 80.7%…”

The reader continued: “Why would over 80% of traffic to Startpage be channelled from http://inspire.scot, a web design and SEO/traffic company? Are there privacy implications in that?

“I understand why Ixquick would send over 20% — maybe redirects since Ixquick sends users to Startpage now that they’ve merged into Startpage. DuckDuckGo has a Startpage “bang” !s or !sp that would send traffic to Startpage. That makes sense. Of course, the %’s add up to over 100%. Maybe it’s very wrong, but I still don’t understand why any 3rd party % would be significant. Thanks for any insights.”

Our research skills may not be any better than this reader’s, but the subject was nonetheless brought up in our IRC channels. They formally call themselves “Inspire IT Services” and the footer says “A Scottish Web Services Company” (very vague or too broad). Under “Search Engine Optimisation” (SEO) they have a section entitled “PPC (Pay per Click)” and it says in large fonts — the headline — “Are you getting an ROI from PPC? As a Google Premier Partner we can be trusted to get it right!”

So they’re a “Google Premier Partner”; there’s also an image there that says “Premier Google Partner” and above that it says: “Contact us today to find out more about our Google Premier Partnership and for more information about working with you on your Pay per Click Campaigns”. Perhaps not unexpectedly, the site is bloated and every page there spies on the visitor on Google’s behalf (“google-analytics.com/ga.js“).

Why would a close partner of Google drive this much traffic to a site that claims to compete against Google? That’s a bit of an open question. The company is based in Perth, not too far from the Scottish capital, and it has been around for over a decade (incorporated in 2008). It lists
4 officers / 2 resignations, David and Maxine Dwyer as the principal ones (Director and Secretary, maybe spouses), plus a Martin Smith (very common name). He resigned 6 years ago. Their latest balance sheet can be found here (not much in there in terms of money). But it’s better than past years. How can such a small shop — perhaps a “mom and pop” store — be commanding so much traffic (if the figures presented above are true)? That itself may be a mystery worth exploring further.

11.04.19

Startpage, Dogpile, WebCrawler, MetaCrawler and Maybe Many Others Send Data to a Surveillance Company Subsidised by the Goldman Sachs-Connected Court Square Capital Partners

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Search at 3:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The money System1 raised for spying comes from investment banks; they’re looking for return on that investment (RoI)

WebCrawler
The search engine I had
used until Google became ‘too
dominant’ in the early 2000s

Summary: The arm of so-called ‘Surveillance Capitalism’ is reaching a lot further than most people care to realise and grab small search engines; their business model is no different than that of Microsoft, Facebook and Google and their real owners are controversial banks

TECHRIGHTS, both as a site and as a growing community, does not focus on Internet businesses or on search. Privacy is not our top/foremost topic. We did, however, write many articles about why Bing (MSN) is bad and why DuckDuckGo (DDG) is a ‘scam’; there’s no privacy there, so it’s false advertising or dishonest marketing. Let’s just clarify that when speaking about the small (niche) search engines we aren’t promoting or endorsing Microsoft/Yahoo/Google/DDG. They’re all bad and we wrote a great deal about those; sadly a lot of people still believe that DDG offers ‘legit’ privacy and some GNU/Linux distros make it the default search engine. I face-palm any time I see this.

Then there’s the issue with browsers. Over the weekend we wrote about why Mozilla/Mozilla Foundation/Mozilla Corporation remains connected to 'Surveillance Capitalism', so we cannot recommend Firefox. Various changes — especially those made in recent years — also weaken its adherence to Software Freedom. Among the “Big Browsers” (that most Web sites fully support), Firefox is probably the least harmful, but it can still be harmful. Not that Chrome/Chromium is better (it’s a lot worse in that regard). Some so-called ‘Linux’ sites currently promote proprietary software of Microsoft because it’s merely based on (i.e. exploits) Chromium codeabase and there’s a new icon/logo (wow! Icon!!). Half a day ago someone wrote to me to say:

OK, did OMGUbuntu intentionally left out Brave as a Chromium based browser on Linux? Brave is FLOSS, the others (except Chromium, which is the base for these browsers) are proprietary.

“And since almost every other Chromium-based web browser is available on Linux (including Chromium, Google Chrome, Vivaldi and Opera) it’s a fairly logical assumption to think Edge will join their ranks.”

https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2019/11/microsoft-edge-gets-a-new-logo-still-debating-a-linux-build

And no we don’t need a Microsoft browser on Linux. Especially not a proprietary one. If Microsoft loves Linux, they would release this browser as Free Software, and not close source junk.

“Would Edge on Linux be a positive move?

I think so; choice is good for users. Not everyone is a dyed-in-the-wool FOSS fan fan sworn off anything with a vague whiff of proprietary licensing.”

OMGUbuntu is shilling for proprietary junk? Why is that? Are they paid by Microsoft?

Oh yeah let our internet habits flow through Microsoft…

I seriously don’t understand this attitude, especially one of the biggest Linux user site!

CNET (CBS) also did a puff piece about it, but we don’t want to link to it (some readers alerted us about this and we found it in “Open Source” news even though it’s proprietary). Stephen Shankland wrote the puff piece. He used to cover Mozilla a lot.

Generally speaking, Microsoft has long (well over a decade) used its browser to spy on Internet users; sometimes it was justified as ‘necessity’ in the name of ‘security’ (e.g. detecting if a visited site was a malicious risk). So to one’s browsing privacy there’s the ISP as a risk, the browser maker as a risk, and then there are trackers and search engines. There are some other factors, which are to some degree explored in PrivacytoolsIO. Privacy is becoming a hard thing to get. Even some VPN providers turn out to be scams. Some are surveillance/DPI ‘as a service’…

The people at PrivacytoolsIO recently delisted Startpage. It was due to Startpage’s connection — however thinly-veiled (with Orwellian language) — to System1.

Someone who supports PrivacytoolsIO told me: “Now we need to ask important questions of ALL privacy services to determine who their masters really are and if they are trustworthy. PrivacytoolsIO stickied my request for users to contribute questions we should ask. You can see that thread here.”

To quote the relevant text: “In light of the recent Startpage acquisition, we want to develop a list of questions we can ask every privacy-centric service we recommend. Help us figure out what we should be looking for! :) There is also an ongoing discussion of this topic on our forum.”

“So this is basically the “Real Owner” of Startpage right now (bankers looking for RoI), not some Dutch person or Dutch operations on Dutch soil.”One person asked: “How do you make a profit?”

To which the OP responded: “That is a good “follow the money” question!”

System1′s business model is spying and “Startpage isn’t System1′s only search engine,” one reader told us, calling it “another concern.”

“It has many,” we were told, “based on my research. See this article for example” [from September 19, 2017]

Venice advertising technology firm System1 announced on Monday that it had completed a $270 million financing round led by New York-based Court Square Capital Partners.

The company, which was founded in 2013, was formerly known as OpenMail. It advertises itself as the world’s largest independent marketplace for keyword pay-per-click advertising. The startup plans to accelerate product development and finance hiring in Southern California with its recent infusion of cash.

System1 uses statistical and machine-learning models to group consumers into thousands of audience profiles, which then are used to match those consumers with relevant advertising, said Chuck Ursini, chief executive of the firm, in an email.

[...]

It has about 190 employees, according to its website. System1 purchased search engine InfoSpace for $45 million in cash last year.

The money for Infospace or all the money comes from a few dozen people connected to Citigroup originally, now AlpInvest Partners and Goldman Sachs (sometimes it’s still listed as Citigroup). There are some, but not many, military connections. These people have billions at their disposal. They don’t actually make anything; they just buy companies and then control their direction. They’re like “monetisation” instruments. So this is basically the “Real Owner” of Startpage right now (bankers looking for RoI), not some Dutch person or Dutch operations on Dutch soil. Years ago I criticised them for suspicious expansions in the US (different laws) and what seemed like exploration of Surveillance Capitalism; up to that point I had used them, typically through ixquick, for about half a decade. They had my search query history (I assumed). Can they still be trusted? Do they still keep all this old data? We don’t know, do we? Is it “monetisation” time now?

“Is it “monetisation” time now?”About the firm that was bought in 2016, “InfoSpace’s main metasearch site is Dogpile; its other brands are WebCrawler, and MetaCrawler.” That’s according to Wikipedia. “The company was founded as Infospace in March 1996 by Naveen Jain after he left Microsoft,” says Wikipedia about Blucora in explaining its lineage: “Blucora (formerly Infospace, Inc.) is a provider of Internet-related services, mostly search engines. InfoSpace changed its name to Blucora and NASDAQ symbol from INSP to BCOR on June 7, 2012. This event reflected the company’s change as the owner of two online businesses, after its acquisition of TaxACT in January 2012, and distinguishes the parent company from its search business operating unit, which is called InfoSpace. Blucora’s InfoSpace business provides metasearch and private-label Internet search services for consumers and online search and monetization solutions to a network of more than 100 partners worldwide. InfoSpace’s main metasearch site is Dogpile; its other brands are WebCrawler, and MetaCrawler. Blucora’s TaxACT subsidiary offers online tax preparation services. Founded in 1998 and made by 2nd Story Software, in the 2005 tax season, TaxACT became the first to offer free federal tax software and free e-file to all U.S. taxpayers.”

Notice phrases like “online search and monetization solutions”; a lot of user data goes through these people. They’re bossed by banks.

11.03.19

Facebook and Other Surveillance Capitalists Won’t Save Mozilla From Google Dependence

Posted in Deception, Google, Search at 6:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Techrights looks deeper at (and under) the guts of the spying industry and the Surveillance Capitalists who drive it (or subsidise it); this is part of an ongoing series of investigative reports

Privacy abuses in so-called ‘privacy’ (or supposedly privacy-centric) services is truly out of control; it is rampant. Techrights is doing a long-term investigation into it, and it will occasionally release known and confirmed facts.

Consider the System1/Startpage scandal which we revisited some days ago. Things aren’t as they seem (or marketed). “I’ve asked Mozilla at its subreddit if it has gotten an investment by System1,” one person told us. We’ve actually heard from quite a few concerned people lately. It’s no secret that Mozilla receives a lot of money from Google (search engine placement) and for a while it explored doing the same with Microsoft through Yahoo! — a decision we strongly condemned at the time.

“How do people assume Mozilla is making money? It doesn’t grow on trees and there are big salaries to be paid.”Mozilla constantly talks about privacy; but it also endlessly uses words like “telemetry” — a euphemism for spying that Microsoft too loves to use. How do people assume Mozilla is making money? It doesn’t grow on trees and there are big salaries to be paid. Watch some of these figures (especially top-level management, as we noted back in August):

Mozilla Foundation salaries
Click or zoom in if the fonts are too fine

So what’s Mozilla’s corporate/financial strategy (it’s a corporation, not a charity)? Sometimes one just needs to check who’s being put in charge, for example:

mozilla-facebook-shepard

mozilla-facebook-lin

At the moment we’re still investigating who exactly pays Mozilla and what for. It’s not just about Mozilla, either. The Foundation’s IRS filings are completed with all the figures one needs to understand the Foundation, but not the Corporation. The latter isn’t a public company and therefore this kind of stuff isn’t in the public domain.

“But these sorts of suspicions are what happens when the business model of a company depends so heavily on Surveillance Capitalists.”Mozilla is careful not to blast Google ‘too much’; we know why. We know who pays Mozilla, but we don’t know how much. The complaints about Chrome taking much of Firefox’s market share typically come from former or departing Mozilla staff, not current workers. If Mozilla’s strategy is moving away from Surveillance Capitalists, then excellent. Power to you, Mozilla. But if not, then you’re just swapping masters and anything said about privacy would be mostly a decoy. Your biggest asset — and you know it — is the large number (albeit declining) number of users and their browsing habits.

“Companies love telling us that the sole risk to one’s privacy is “advertisers”; they don’t talk about nations and armies that leverage data (“intelligence”) for manipulation and blackmail. That would kind of freak/creep out some people.”Outsourcing DNS lookups to Cloudflare (from one’s ISP, which is based in one’s own nation) has led to an outcry and Mozilla publicly denying (to ZDNet; Asa D. told me that himself directly) that Cloudflare was paying for this. But these sorts of suspicions are what happens when the business model of a company depends so heavily on Surveillance Capitalists. As we shall show in future parts of this series, the Surveillance Capitalists can also be banks looking to benefit some military interests. Companies love telling us that the sole risk to one’s privacy is “advertisers”; they don’t talk about nations and armies that leverage data (“intelligence”) for manipulation and blackmail. That would kind of freak/creep out some people.

10.07.19

EFF Should Protect or Represent Geeks, Not ‘Hipsters’

Posted in EFF, Google, Microsoft at 3:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hipster

Summary: The EFF’s reliance on some corporate cash (sometimes billionaires) raises important questions about adherence to said goals

Some people, including longtime readers, have responded to what we wrote last night about the EFF (we said more this morning). Several people believe that what they dub “hipsters” are ruining the EFF as insiders or as members (supporters). One person responded to our article "Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person" by saying that “it would be like something from the Microsoft playbook: join something and subvert it from the inside, there’s a Microsoft quote in the Comes docs about that.” (that means Comes v Microsoft)

It would be nice if the EFF spoke about EPO abuses and quit taking 'surveillance capitalism' money (a newer example of it was covered here this morning).

“…it would be like something from the Microsoft playbook: join something and subvert it from the inside, there’s a Microsoft quote in the Comes docs about that.”
      –Anonymous
From what we’re able to gather, based on the EFF’s IRS filings (these are publicly available), the EFF saw a boost in budget after the Snowden leaks but it went almost ‘downhill’ from there (further analysis might show members not renewing); they must get leaner rather than pursue corporate cash. They need to always ensure principles of integrity are at the forefront. Taking money from surveillance companies and giving these companies EFF awards isn’t the way to achieve this.

We’ve examined the latest IRS filing from the EFF. It says that the EFF receives about 4 million dollars a year from members, which leaves one wondering where the remainder (about twice that amount) comes from. The salaries aren’t totally crazy; the chief nets just over $250,000 a year. SF/Bay Area is expensive, but maybe $100,000 would suffice.

But here’s our biggest issue: The main concern here is that the EFF might become a “hush organisation”, attracting corporate funding in exchange for leaving these corporations alone (no criticism) or worse — lobby for their agenda. Is this already happening subconsciously? Is there self-censorship as opposed to spiking and threats to staff? The bottom line is, the EFF needs to reject all corporate money or risk becoming another Linux Foundation.

It’s difficult to forget how the EFF badmouthed E-mail encryption, partly based on misinformation, while promoting “phone stuff” (with back doors) as a viable alternative. If many EFF members and staff just loosely value privacy but mostly use Apple’s ‘i’ things, what does that say about the EFF’s orientation? Months ago and as recently as weeks ago the EFF also helped Apple’s and Microsoft’s “privacy” propaganda. At one point or another these ‘gaffes’ become too difficult and too frequent to overlook or ignore. It’s part of a pattern. Their main “free speech” staff (York) blocked me in Twitter for merely retweeting something.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts