03.15.21

Why You Should Avoid DuckDuckGo (DDG) 2021 Edition, Now Microsoft-Hosted and With Extra Privacy Risks

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Search at 9:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reddit seems to be censoring such revelations right now (even a year after publication), as if sponsors are more important than facts


There are substantial privacy and civil liberty issues with DuckDuckGo. Here they are spotlighted:

  1. Nefarious History of DDG founder & CEO:

    1. DDG’s founder (Gabriel Weinberg) has a history of
      privacy abuse, starting with his founding of Names DB,
      a surveillance capitalist service designed to coerce naive users
      to submit sensitive information about their friends. (2006)

      (expand related trivia on Reddit censorship)

      The “history” link above refers to a Reddit post rich in
      accurate facts– verifiable facts. The moderator (trai_dep)
      added flair to falsely flag the content as
      “speculative” to cast doubt (to create FUD whilst falsely
      accusing the other of just that – to project.
      The pot is calling the kettle black). No counter
      evidence was given.

      Then over a year later Reddit censored the post in a manner that
      suggests a rogue/buggy robot “automatically” filtered it as “spam”.
      They duck accountability by blaming the bot. Obviously nothing
      in the post could even remotely be construed as spam. Are we to
      believe that a robot would censor an old archived post, and no
      human reviews censorship by some unleashed bot loose in the
      wild? Anyway, this is why the link is a mirrored WaybackMachine
      document.

    2. Weinberg’s motivation for creating DDG was not
      actually to “spread privacy”; it was to create something big,
      something that would compete with big players, according to an
      interview between Weinberg and Susan Adams. As a privacy abuser
      during the conception of DDG (Names Database), Weinberg sought to
      become a big-name legacy. Privacy is Weinberg’s means (not ends)
      in that endeavor. Clearly he doesn’t value privacy — he values
      perception of privacy.

  2. Direct Privacy Abuse:

    1. DDG was caught violating its own privacy policy
      by issuing tracker cookies, according to Alexander Hanff
      (CEO of Think Privacy and a data security and
      ethics expert on staff at Singularity University).

    2. DDG was again caught violating its own privacy policy by
      fingerprinting browsers. DDG responded not
      with counter evidence, but simply a plea to trust them.

    3. DDG’s third violation (2021): Microsoft hosts DDG’s service and
      also supplies Bing search results for the same
      transaction. This means Microsoft sees both sides of the
      transaction
      and can link your IP address (i.e. identity) to
      your search query that Bing processes. DDG makes this
      false statement: “we never share any personal information with
      any of our partners. The way it works is when we call a partner
      for information, it is proxied through our servers so it stays
      completely anonymous. That is, any call to a partner looks to
      the partner as it is from us and not the user itself, and no
      user personal information is passed in that process (e.g. their
      IP address). That way we can build our search result pages using
      these 100s of partner sources, while still keeping them
      completely anonymous to you
      (emphasis added). While it may
      be true that DDG doesn’t transmit users’ IP addresses to
      Microsoft, Microsoft has already seen users’ IP addresses via
      Azure. That combination of data given to Microsoft makes DDG’s
      statement a lie. The MS Azure privacy policy refers
      us to the general MS privacy policy, which confirms that
      Microsoft collects IP addresses.

      DDG can change their hosting provider at any time. And they
      have– they migrated from Amazon AWS to Microsoft. As of the
      drafting of the article herein, DDG is still MS-hosted. To
      verify for yourself that DDG is still MS-hosted as you read
      this, Linux Tor users can run: torsocks whois "$(torsocks dig +tcp +short +time=4 +tries=1 duckduckgo.com @resolver1.opendns.com)"; web users can verify by obtaining
      DDG’s IP address from digweb and then visit
      https://ipinfo.io/ <IP address from digweb>.

    4. DDG’s app sends every URL you visit to DDG
      servers. (discussion).

    5. DDG is currently collecting users’ operating systems and
      everything they highlight in the search results. (to verify
      this, simply hit F12 in your browser and select the “network”
      tab. Do a search with JavaScript enabled. Highlight some text on
      the screen. Mouseover the traffic rows and see that your
      highlighted text, operating system, and other details relating to
      geolocation are sent to DDG. Then change the query and submit.
      Notice that the previous query is being transmitted with the new
      query to link the queries together)

    6. When clicking an ad on the DDG results page, all data available
      in your session is sent to the advertiser, which is why the Epic
      browser project refuses to set DDG as the default
      search engine.

    7. DDG blacklisted Framabee, a search engine for the
      highly respected framasoft.org consortium.

  3. Censorship:
    Some people replace Google with DDG in order to avoid censorship. DDG is not the answer.

    1. DDG is complying with the “celebrity threesome
      injunction”.
  4. Harmful impact on net neutrality:

    1. DDG attempts to play both sides of the network neutrality fight.
      DDG donated $50k (as of 2020) to an
      opponent of net neutrality who ironically
      calls themselves “TechFreedom”. Then DDG also
      donated $50k to an opponent of TechFreedom, “Public
      Knowledge”, who actually calls for “NO rules
      preventing blocking of website”, yet Public Knowledge blocks Tor
      users from their own website by issuing a “403 forbidden” error.
      Public Knowledge intends to coach Congress
      on “How Interoperability Can Rein In Big Tech”, yet they
      themselves have broken interoperability with Tor as they make
      themselves electronically unreachable outside of Facebook,
      Twitter, Youtube, and Gmail.
  5. CloudFlare: DDG promotes one of the most pernicious
    privacy abusing tech giants and adversary to the Tor
    community: CloudFlare Inc. DDG results give high rankings to
    CloudFlare sites, thus leading users into the largest privacy
    abusing walled garden on the web.

    Supporting CloudFlare compromises privacy, net neutrality,
    democracy, and anonymity:

    1. Anonymity: CloudFlare DoS attacks Tor users, causing substantial
      damage to the Tor network.
    2. Privacy: All CloudFlare sites are surreptitiously MitM’d by design.
    3. Net neutrality: CloudFlare’s attack on Tor users causes access
      inequality, the centerpiece to net neutrality.
    4. DDG T-shirts are sold using a CloudFlare site, thus
      surreptitiously sharing all order information (name, address,
      credit card, etc) with CloudFlare despite their statement at the
      bottom of the page saying “DuckDuckGo is an Internet privacy
      company that empowers you to seamlessly take control of your
      personal information online, without any tradeoffs.” (2019)
    5. DDG hired CloudFlare to host spreadprivacy.com (2019)

    DDG also donated over $186k to a series of
    privacy-abusing CloudFlare sites run by “Demand Progress”, “Fight
    for the Future”, and “Access Now”. Despite getting nearly $70k
    from DDG, FFTF continues to expose their own patrons to the very
    evil they claim to be fighting. Demand Progress, who received
    $100k from DDG, posts their claim to “contest concentrated
    corporate power”
    directly on their CloudFlare site,
    as well as the claim that they educate people on
    “the impacts of corporate power over our economy and democracy” as
    they “confront corporate bad actors”
    , all of which is bluntly
    unaligned with their CloudFlare patronage. Access Now, who
    received $16k from DDG, also used CloudFlare to block Tor users,
    hypocritically acting against their
    own mission to “fight for a free and open
    internet, advocating for the Net Neutrality principle that internet
    access should be offered to everyone on a nondiscriminatory basis,
    without favoring certain websites, applications, or services.”
    DDG
    apparently does little inspection on those they donate to, as if
    they’re merely selecting recipients with names that promote their
    privacy propaganda strategy to boost user loyalty.

  6. Harmful Partnerships with Adversaries of Privacy Seekers:

    1. DDG gets paid a commission when users visit eBay
      from DDG. Note that eBay has been caught
      sending JavaScript that snoops on their own customers by port
      scanning the LAN and reporting back to eBay. Moreover, eBay
      transactions are impossible without using PayPal, and
      PayPal abuses privacy in countless ways.

    2. DDG gets paid a commission when users visit
      privacy-abuser Amazon.

      image of JavaScript event that runs when clicking a DDG result

      DDG also uses AWS to crawl the web, which Amazon
      profits from. The Amazon partnership triggers substantial
      ethical issues:

      1. Amazon is making an astronomical investment in facial
        recognition which will destroy physical travel privacy
        worldwide.
      2. Amazon uses Ring and Alexa to surveil neighborhoods and the
        inside of homes.
      3. Amazon paid $195k to fight privacy in CA. (also
        see http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1401518&view=late1)
      4. Amazon runs sweat shops, invests in climate denial, etc. The
        list of non-privacy related harms is too long to
        list here.
    3. DDG feeds privacy-abuser Microsoft by patronizing the Bing
      API for search results,
      using Microsoft’s ad network, using Outlook email
      service, hiring Microsoft to host DDG’s search site and host
      DDG’s crawler.

      1. The Dutch government commissioned a study which
        found Microsoft Office products to have
        several GDPR violations.
      2. Microsoft finances AnyVision to equip the Israeli military
        with facial recognition to be used against the Palestinians
        who they oppress.
      3. Microsoft paid
        $195k to fight privacy in CA. (also see
        http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1401518&view=late1)
      4. DDG hires Microsoft for email service: torsocks dig @8.8.8.8 mx duckduckgo.com +tcp | grep -E '^\w' ==>
        “…duckduckgo-com.mail.protection.outlook.com”
    4. (historic) DDG is was previously partnered
      with Yahoo (aka Oath; plus Verizon and AOL by
      extension).

      (click to expand details)

      DDG helped Yahoo profit for several years by patronizing Yahoo’s
      API for search results, and also through advertising. Mention of
      Verizon, Yahoo, and Oath have been quietly scrubbed from DDG’s
      disclosures. There was no official announcement, so we cannot
      confirm whether there are still ties to Verizon et al.

      The Verizon corporate conglomerate is evil in many ways:

      1. Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL all supported CISPA (unwarranted surveillance bills)
      2. Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL all use DNSBLs to block individuals
        from running their own mail servers, thus forcing an
        over-share of e-mail metadata with a relay.
      3. Verizon and AOL both drug test their employees, thus intruding
        on their privacy outside of the workplace.
      4. Verizon is was an ALEC member (a powerful superPAC
        designed to put corporate political interests ahead of human
        beings). (edit: Verizon dropped ALEC membership in 2018)
      5. Verizon supports the TTP treaty.
      6. Yahoo voluntarily ratted out a human rights journalist (Shi
        Tao) to the Chinese gov w/out warrant, leading to his
        incarceration.
      7. Yahoo recently recovered “deleted” e-mail to convict a
        criminal. The deleted e-mail was not expected to be
        recoverable per the Yahoo Privacy Policy.
      8. Verizon received $16.8 billion in Trump tax breaks, then
        immediately laid off thousands of workers.
      9. (2012) Will block or degrade calls to disrupt customer use, at
        the request of law enforcement, with
        no court oversight.
      10. (2014) Verizon fined $7.4 million for violating customers’ privacy
      11. (2016) Verizon fined $1.35 million for violating customers’ privacy
      12. (2018) Verizon paid $200k to fight privacy in CA. See also California records.
      13. (2018) Verizon apparently caught taking voice prints
      14. unfavorable record retention policy (scroll down to Verizon)
      15. (2015) Only 2 stars on EFF transparency report
      16. (2016) Yahoo was caught surreptitiously monitoring
        Yahoo Mail messages for the NSA, resulting in EFF lawsuit
  7. Advertising Abuses & Corruption:

    1. DDG exploited a room at FOSDEM for commercial gain, to
      deliver a sales pitch despite its proprietary non-free server
      code, then dashed out without taking questions. Shame on FOSDEM
      organizers for allowing this corrupt corporate abuse of precious
      resources.
    2. Tor Project accepts an annual $25k “contribution
      (read: bribe) from DDG, so you’ll find that DDG problems are
      down-played by those close to the Tor Project (e.g. EFF). This
      is likely why Tor Browser always defaults to using DDG (which
      DDG conceals from their disclosure) and why Tor
      Project endorses DDG over Ss — ultimately against the
      interests of the privacy-seeking Tor community. This default
      search engine exploits
      The Tyranny of Convenience. The EFF also pimps
      DDG — a likely consequence of EFF’s close ties to Tor Project.

      (click to expand details on how Tor Project responds to criticism about their loyalty toward DuckDuckGo [their benefactor] in IRC)
      18:20 < psychil> if torbrowser is going to be recommended, it should also be open to scrutiny.  in the absence of that transparency, you create an untrustworthy forum.
      18:20 < psychil> we've seen a loyalty from TB toward duckduckgo, but DDG is in partnership with Verizon, Yahoo, AOL et. al.
      18:21 < psychil> all CISPA-sponsoring companies
      18:22 < psychil> if ppl choose to trust them fair enough, but this trust shouldn't be pushed on every user weighing their choice of browsers
      18:26 -!- mode/#tor [-b psychil@*!*@*] by ChanServ
      18:27 < YY_Bozhinsky> psychil: i am using Tor (thanks to Tor Devs)... PLUS brain - good bundle. I am happy. And please, don't rush to change Reality (do it slowly with love and respect). Because it's home for many ppl. They construct their lives in it. Think twice before ruining that. Please.
      18:27 -!- mode/#tor [+b psychil!*@*] by ChanServ
      18:27 -!- psychil was kicked from #tor by ChanServ [wont stop the FUD]
      

      Tor Project is notoriously fast to censor any discourse (no matter how civil) when it supports a narrative that doesn’t align with their view / propaganda.


Editor’s note: We published a (now-outdated) version before. The author notes: “The significant changes are: DDG is now MS-hosted (2.3), DDG gets commission when Amazon or eBay links are followed, Verizon-Yahoo is no longer a partner, and there’s more dirt on DDG donees (TechFreedom, “Public Knowledge”, “Demand Progress”, “Fight for the Future”, and “Access Now”)”

02.19.21

Introduction to Web Proxies or Gateways Into Gemini Space and Gemini Search (Gemini Protocol Over HTTP/HTML)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Search, Servers, Standard at 7:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Today we explore how to surf Gemini space, how to search Gemini space, and basically do everything through any Web browser, albeit indirectly; we demonstrate this using the Falkon Web browser

THE GEMINI space (or capsules accessible over Gemini, the protocol) is expanding fast. Over the past 6 months it saw astronomical growth and there are good reasons for it. Many sites do not require advanced features such as login, JavaScript, and multimedia. Those can be supported indirectly, even in Gemini, albeit they’re rarely needed. Where they become necessary, however, it’s possible to have canonical URLs for WWW/HTML/HTTP, wherein those more advanced uses can be facilitated.

“One can maintain both a Web site and Gemini presence, wherein one is accessible through the other (but not necessarily so).”Gemini isn’t “small Web” or “dark Web”. It’s not even the Web. It’s separate from it. But it’s possible to access everything in Gemini right from the Web browser, no matter where you are or what browser you use (even an old and primitive one would do). At the moment there are 3 prominent Web proxies [1, 2, 3], as demonstrated above, and there’s also Free software one can install on one’s own Web site/server to facilitate access to one’s Gemini capsule, as demonstrated here. So in a sense, the duality between the Web and Gemini is another selling point. One can maintain both a Web site and Gemini presence, wherein one is accessible through the other (but not necessarily so).

A sceptic might ask, why have both then? Why not just a Web site?

“Those aren’t just proxies or technically gateways but also a ‘gateway drug’ towards Gemini itself (the real thing, direct access over the Gemini protocol).”For those who are complacent and perfectly happy with what Web browsers have become (extending Web standards to include DRM and lots of bloat) it would be harder to make the case for Gemini compelling enough. However, some of the more technical people know enough about the Web (and about Web browsers; some even developed their own) to realise the threat they pose, either through disinformation, privacy violations (not just for marketing), and planned obsolescence. Technical people aren’t Luddites; they’re just harder for marketing people to fool and they’re always the one who warn most loudly about “voting machines” or electronic votes. In the case of the Web (and Web browsers’ oligopolies that dictate the ‘standard’ and its devolution), geeks can see where we’re going and they resist oppressive software/networks. Gemini is a response — perhaps one among several — that’s potent and enjoys big momentum. IPFS tackles another kind of issue, notably scale and free speech. It makes it possible to store large files or large numbers of files in a distributed fashion. In the process, owing to redundancy, it also enhances free speech and stifles censorship.

The video above shows how to try out Gemini without SSH (as shown yesterday) and only with any Web browser. Those aren’t just proxies or technically gateways but also a ‘gateway drug’ towards Gemini itself (the real thing, direct access over the Gemini protocol).

12.22.20

Microsoft Windows/IIS Down Again (Across All Server Categories), Merely Living/Surviving on ‘Borrowed Time’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Search, Security, Windows at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It won’t be financially sustainable for much longer and Microsoft admits to us (in IRC) that there were also Azure layoffs this year (and Azure has just been cracked)

Microsoft IIS share

Summary: When it comes to Web servers (World Wide Web as assessed by pertinent sites), Microsoft is already a goner living its last days (months or years)

THROUGHOUT the year we wrote nearly half a dozen posts about IIS, seeing that it’s nose-diving in terms of usage during the pandemic (both in absolute and relative terms). According to this latest report, which is the most comprehensive of its kind, only 3.87% of Web sites use Windows/IIS. This share is rapidly declining.

“…the trends are telling… Windows servers are a dying breed.”The latest report is, as usual, a bunch of graphs preceded by (foreword with text) explanatory notes. The name Microsoft is repeated at least 3 times and it says “Microsoft lost 14,700 computers”. To quote just 3 paragraphs:

Microsoft, Apache and nginx each suffered losses in their total number of domains, although nginx’s loss was small enough that its market share increased slightly. 30.3% of the world’s domains are now powered by nginx, compared with 26.4% powered by Apache. Despite losses affecting each major webserver vendor, the causes were independent in each case; for example nginx’s 34,000 loss resulting from a drop of 387,000 domains at Freenom.

OpenResty is continuing to show strong growth, with GoDaddy’s use of the web server for its parked domains. It now powers 71.3 million sites across 36.9 million domains and 84,680 web-facing computers.

The number of web-facing computers running nginx, Apache and Microsoft web server software also fell this month. The largest loss was 38,600 web-facing computers for nginx, which took its total down to 3.63 million and its share down by 0.33 percentage points to 34.4%, leaving it just over one percentage point ahead of Apache. Microsoft lost 14,700 computers, while Apache lost 5,820.

This is the kind of story that Microsoft-funded (e.g. bribed through ad-buying) corporate media never covers.

NetcraftInstead, media will talk about “clown” (not servers) and hail it as a revolution like never before — one that you mustn’t miss out on or else you won’t be “smart”. They give the false impression (delusion/illusion) that Microsoft is at the cutting “edge” of things, the “recency” perception, e.g. having “secure” chips while putting NSA back doors in virtually everything.

As we said earlier this year (when the declines in Microsoft’s share were considerably bigger), it won’t be long before the cost of maintaining IIS outweighs the financial benefits. That’s when Microsoft starts rebranding and speaking about “reorg” (to avoid words like “layoffs” or “product termination”).

GNU/Linux and Free/libre Web server software is becoming very dominant; one might say it has become the norm, so all those sites that claim to compare “Windows hosting versus Linux hosting” are terribly outdated because they give the illusion of parity; the trends are telling… Windows servers are a dying breed.

As for Windows in general, it’s a mess. Microsoft cannot maintain it anymore, so it breaks itself again. Not that Red Hat or Canonical will take advantage of it to promote GNU/Linux

07.02.20

Why People Should Never Ever Use DuckDuckGo

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Search at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Credit to Lemmy for the detailed yet very concise list

A model factory

Summary: DuckDuckGo is another privacy abuser in disguise; the above forum thread enumerates key reasons

TThere are substantial privacy and civil liberty issues with DuckDuckGo. Here they are spot-lighted:

  • Nefarious History of DDG founder & CEO:
    • DDG’s founder (Gabriel Weinberg) has a history of privacy abuse, starting with his founding of Names DB, a surveillance capitalist service designed to coerce naive users to submit sensitive information about their friends. (2006)
    • Weinberg’s motivation for creating DDG was not actually to “spread privacy”; it was to create something big, something that would compete with big players. As a privacy abuser during the conception of DDG (Names Database), Weinberg sought to become a big-name legacy. Privacy is Weinberg’s means (not ends) in that endeavor. Clearly he doesn’t value privacy – he values perception of privacy.
  • Direct Privacy Abuse:
    • DDG was caught violating its own privacy policy by issuing tracker cookies.
    • DDG’s app sends every URL you visit to DDG servers. (reaction).
    • DDG is currently collecting users’ operating systems and everything they highlight in the search results. (to verify this, simply hit F12 in your browser and select the “network” tab. Do a search with javascript enabled. Highlight some text on the screen. Mouseover the traffic rows and see that your highlighted text, operating system, and other details relating to geolocation are sent to DDG. Then change the query and submit. Notice that the previous query is being transmitted with the new query to link the queries together)
    • DDG is accused of fingerprinting users’ browsers.
    • When clicking an ad on the DDG results page, all data available in your session is sent to the advertiser, which is why the Epic browser project refuses to set DDG as the default browser.
    • DDG blacklisted Framabee, a search engine for the highly respected framasoft.org consortium.
  • Censorship:
    Some people replace Google with DDG in order to avoid censorship. DDG is not the answer.

    • DDG is complying with the “celebrity threesome injunction”.
  • CloudFlare: DDG promotes one of the largest privacy abusing tech giants and adversary to the Tor community: CloudFlare Inc. DDG results give high rankings to CloudFlare sites, which consequently compromises privacy, net neutrality, and anonymity:
    • Anonymity: CloudFlare DoS attacks Tor users, causing substantial damage to the Tor network.
    • Privacy: All CloudFlare sites are surreptitiously MitM’d by design.
    • Net neutrality: CloudFlare’s attack on Tor users causes access inequality, the centerpiece to net neutrality.
    • DDG T-shirts are sold using a CloudFlare site, thus surreptitiously sharing all order information (name, address, credit card, etc) with CloudFlare despite their statement at the bottom of the page saying “DuckDuckGo is an Internet privacy company that empowers you to seamlessly take control of your personal information online, without any tradeoffs.” (2019)
    • DDG hired CloudFlare to host spreadprivacy.com (2019)
  • Harmful Partnerships with Adversaries of Privacy Seekers:
    • DDG patronizes privacy-abuser Amazon, using AWS for hosting.
      • Amazon is making an astronomical investment in facial recognition which will destroy physical travel privacy
        worldwide.
      • Amazon uses Ring and Alexa to surveil neighborhoods and the inside of homes.
      • Amazon paid $195k to fight privacy in CA. (also see http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1401518&view=late1)
      • Amazon runs sweat shops, invests in climate denial, etc… the list of non-privacy related harms is too long to list here.
    • DDG feeds privacy-abuser Microsoft by patronizing the Bing API for search results and uses Outlook email service.
      • Microsoft Office products violate the GDPR (the Dutch government discovered numerous violations)
      • Microsoft finances AnyVision to equip the Israeli military with facial recognition to be used against the Palestinians who they oppress.
      • Microsoft paid $195k to fight privacy in CA. (also see http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1401518&view=late1)
      • DDG hires Microsoft for email service: torsocks dig @8.8.8.8 mx duckduckgo.com +tcp | grep -E '^\w' ==> “…duckduckgo-com.mail.protection.outlook.com”
    • DDG is partnered with Yahoo (aka Oath; plus Verizon and AOL by extension). DDG helps Yahoo profit by patronizing Yahoo’s API for search results, and also through advertising. The Verizon corporate conglomerate is evil in many ways:
      • Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL all supported CISPA (unwarranted surveillance bills)
      • Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL all use DNSBLs to block individuals from running their own mail servers, thus forcing an over-share of e-mail metadata with a relay.
      • Verizon and AOL both drug test their employees, thus intruding on their privacy outside of the workplace.
      • Verizon supports the TTP treaty.
      • Yahoo voluntarily ratted out a human rights journalist (Shi Tao) to the Chinese gov w/out warrant, leading to his incarceration.
      • Yahoo recently recovered “deleted” e-mail to convict a criminal. The deleted e-mail was not expected to be recoverable per the Yahoo Privacy Policy.
      • Verizon received $16.8 billion in Trump tax breaks, then immediately laid off thousands of workers.
      • (2014) Verizon fined $7.4 million for violating customers’ privacy
      • (2016) Verizon fined $1.35 million for violating customers’ privacy
      • (2018) Verizon paid $200k to fight privacy in CA. See also this page
      • (2018) Verizon caught taking voice prints?
      • more dirt (scroll down to Verizon)
      • (2016) Yahoo caught surreptitiously monitoring Yahoo Mail messages for the NSA.
  • Advertising Abuses & Corruption:
    • DDG consumed a room at FOSDEM 2018 to deliver a sales pitch despite its proprietary non-free server code, then dashed out without taking questions. Shame on FOSDEM organizers for allowing this corrupt abuse of precious resources.
    • Tor Project accepted a $25k “contribution” (read: bribe) from DDG, so you’ll find that DDG problems are down-played. This is why Tor Browser defaults to using DDG and why Tor Project endorses DDG over searxes.eu.org – and against the interests of the privacy-seeking Tor community. The EFF also pimps DDG – a likely consequence of EFF’s close ties to Tor Project.

    Credit: Lemmy

02.13.20

What’s Evil is Forcing People to Use Something They Don’t Want and Typically Dislike

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Search at 8:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like putting Windows on every computer sold (and forcing people to pay for it)

Evil because many choose it. Benign because Microsoft imposes it on many?

Summary: The difference between Google Search and Microsoft is that many people actually want to use Google (and don’t have to)

2020: The Year Microsoft Became Honest… About Being Corrupt and Criminal

Posted in Microsoft, Search at 8:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New year, still no “new Microsoft”

Steve Ballmer

Satya Ballmer

Summary: Microsoft is destroying any past attempts to portray itself as a reformed company or ‘recovering criminal’; nothing is really changing and everyone has noticed

LAST year we saw Microsoft convicted for very serious crimes [1, 2] and as soon as this year started we saw not one but several major scandals associated with Microsoft force-feeding people, e.g. “Bing!”

We’re going to assume our readers already heard about at least one among several such scandals (at least three separate such scandals were reported).

“The company is transparently corrupt, openly dishonest, and as criminal as ever.”We’ve included several examples of this in our Daily Links and we also discuss this routinely in IRC.

We, for once, appreciate Microsoft’s transparency. The company is transparently corrupt, openly dishonest, and as criminal as ever. We can only joke about the likes of the Linux Foundation and OSI treating the company as a trustworthy party.

It’s not.

Please carry on, Microsoft.

“In the next few days we expect to have an update, as per promises from Seattle’s police, about the arrest for pedophilia at the home of Bill Gates.”Do what you do. Make it easier for us. Your worst enemy is your own actions. You cannot help breaking the law and once there’s public backlash you drop these plans or undo these actions (after the damage has already been done).

In the next few days we expect to have an update, as per promises from Seattle’s police, about the arrest for pedophilia at the home of Bill Gates. We have not forgotten about it and we’ll keep chasing.

Pedophile working for Bill Gates

01.23.20

Confirmation: System1/Startpage Offered Pay to People Who Pushed for (Re)Listing in Privacy Directories

Posted in Deception, Search at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pull request or pulling a stunt/fast one? Because we value privacy we shall name nobody in this article.

EPIC privacy

Summary: The debate is now settled; those arguing in favour of listing Startpage as privacy-respecting are in fact secretly ‘compensated’ by Startpage (in other words, they’re Startpage ‘shills’)

OVER the past few days we wrote a number of articles about Startpage and about mischievous things that it had done (except selling out to a surveillance giant, System1). We still prefer not to name any people, but we will, instead, present their confessions.

“An open admission, a face-saving PR, was issued by him half a day ago.”While communicating about the unanswered Startpage questions and delisting of Startpage someone was approached by Startpage.

An open admission, a face-saving PR, was issued by that someone half a day ago. That someone confessed only after being asked questions which that someone cannot answer and having repeatedly attacked those who asked these questions, sometimes with vacuous projection tactics, hence becoming too big a liability even to Startpage. It’s a total cock-up because of that. Here’s the full confession:

Alright, I want to address the comments on this pull request.

I am going to give a lot of detail here in the hopes of clarifying this.

When the System1 investment into Startpage went down and the CEO contacted both Jonah and I to help answer the questions the privacy community had. Through those discussions and subsequent emails about how Startpage could have better handled the situation and why the privacy community was so alarmed, it was revealed that my professional background is in marketing and communications. Coupled with my experience and knowledge in the privacy community, I was offered a meeting w/ some of the Startpage team.

That meeting led to them offering me a contract to do 2 things.

1. To write a handful of blog posts for their blog related to their search engine, but also to privacy in general. This is something I already do professionally as a columnist, blogger, and author. Guest blogging is nothing new to me.

2. To meet with their team as a consultant and share my marketing/communications/privacy related experience with them.

As a professional marketer and writer, this is what I do. I will not be a Startpage employee or on their payroll.

That’s it. Any compensation being given to me will be for these services, which are part of my professional expertise.

The moment I got off the call with Startpage, I alerted the PrivacyTools team about the potential offer and that I believed this could cause a conflict of interest and since this has not happened to any other member, I wanted to make them aware so we could decide how to best handle the potential conflict. Did that mean I would have to leave the team? I was not sure, but I was willing to do so if asked. The integrity of the site is important to me, regardless of my status as a team member. While we are still discussing it now, we all agree some guidelines should be put in place. I asked that the team not go public until we had internal discussions and that I was sure I was even going to accept or decline the offer.

When it comes to this pull request to relist Startpage, it should be noted that:

1. It is a PR in response to an issue opened by another team member who agreed that Startpage should be relisted based on the answers we got from those questions. The PR cannot be pushed live by me without multiple team member approval. This ensures that even if I had not notified the team of the pending contract, that I could not just re-list a service on my own. Not only would I have to convince them it was the right thing to do, but also the community. This is one of the great features of PrivacyTools.

2. The issue and PR predates the meeting I had with Startpage and I only created the PR to satisfy the issue, as you have seen done many times before on our Github.

Startpage has not asked me to relist their service even though I am sure they would love to be. What service wouldn’t want to be? It’s a fantastic resource privacy tools and is well respected by users, organizations, and companies.

I hope this helps clarify things.

The above is pretty significant for a number of distinct reasons. First of all, anyone who still defends Startpage can be more easily accused of being either a Startpage employee or someone who was offered money by Startpage (or courting Startpage for money).

We’ve covered similar examples over the years; Microsoft is a common culprit (rewarding people with jobs in exchange for OOXML advocacy, among other things).

In the above case, it took a lot of pressure to extract the confession. “The offer could be an attempt to influence the relisting,” one person told us, “or it could be very bad judgment on the part of Startpage/System1.”

Regardless of this judgment, and irrespective of the listing, the above person was putting Startpage as a top pick for a search engine (at the same time). Is this a marketer? Seems so…

At the time the person was suddenly retweeting Startpage tweets.

Lastly, the person suddenly changed the business model and the title to “privacy consultant.”

This brings to mind this quote from Microsoft [PDF]: “”Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour).”

We still don’t know just how much money was offered.

Fake privacy isn’t “consultation” but corruption of groups. Thankfully this one managed to call out the mole before its reputation was harmed severely.

“Why aren’t so-called private search engines DuckDuckGo or Startpage offered in Epic? Why are you unable to trust them?”Epic Browser

01.21.20

Startpage/System1 Almost Definitely Pay for People to Lie About Their Surveillance

Posted in Deception, Search at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Startpage/System1 lacking a sense of humility. They even exploit MLK, whom the FBI spied on very heavily (this is well documented) until his death.

Startpage/System1 on MLK

Summary: A longterm investigation suggests that there are forces in the debate that aren’t objective and are being super evasive and dodgy; this typically happens only when somebody has much to hide

AS WE pointed out in two separate articles recently [1, 2] (lots of research went into them, even if they’re short) Startpage is going very dark, very malicious. It’s still a surveillance company disguised as a privacy-respecting shelter. It spends a lot of money on media campaigns (to maintain the ‘cover’). System1 is a very large “Sugar Daddy”, so it can spare a buck or two (or even a million bucks) to glue/affix/attach some false labels. This has gone on for more than a year and the cover was secured for nearly a year.

“It’s still a surveillance company disguised as a privacy-respecting shelter.”Having inquired and reached out to people, including those whom we suspect to be working for Startpage/System1 (no response since we last mentioned it two days ago), we almost must conclude that there’s a business relationship. Its nature, however, is unknown to us (courting, employing, contracting). There’s an opportunity for the accused to issue a response; but they don’t exercise the right of defense. Does that mean there’s no valid defense? Running away is not a potent form of defense.

We suppose our readers now wonder, who is this all about and what was it all along? There are clues in our IRC channels, but not names… (we often redact names in the pursuit/interests of privacy).

“People who believe they enjoy discreetness online are in fact spied on by a surveillance giant. In some contexts or in oppressive nations this can lead to death.”Well, we don’t wish to name the culprits or divulge the proof just yet (as the names would inevitably become apparent). We are definitely not done and we shall ‘drill on’. Eventually, the whole world needs to know what Startpage (or StartPage or ixquick) became. As a former user — for about half a decade! — I have much at stake too. I know a lot about this company. As they’re pouring money into disinformation campaigns it is growingly important to refute them. People who believe they enjoy discreetness online are in fact spied on by a surveillance giant. In some contexts or in oppressive nations this can lead to death.

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