10.18.21

How (Simple Technical Steps) to Convince Yourself That DuckDuckGo is Just Spyware Connected to Microsoft, Falsely Advertised as ‘Privacy’

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Search at 2:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere | DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment | Why You Should Avoid DuckDuckGo (DDG) 2021 Edition, Now Microsoft-Hosted and With Extra Privacy Risks | The EFF Attacks Software Freedom and Promotes Fake Privacy Linked to Microsoft

DuckDuckGo scam
Read on here

Summary: In recent days we published or republished some bits and pieces about what DuckDuckGo really is; the above reader dropped by to enlighten us and demonstrate just how easy it is to see what DuckDuckGo does even at the client side (with JavaScript); more people need to confront DuckDuckGo over this and warn colleagues/friends/family (there’s more here)

10.16.21

EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Search at 7:50 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

DDG meme

I’ve been writing lately about how DuckDuckGo is shady and their business is questionable.

It seems that some donations went the EFF’s way and now they plan on killing off HTTP Everywhere permanently.

$25,000 a year buys them the Tor Project and $150,000 keeps the EFF in their back pocket. But where does the money for this come from, and what does DuckDuckGo get from it?

No company gives out millions of dollars a year and expects to get back nothing.

Is it just DuckDuckGo’s own advertising paying for this?

DuckDuckGo pretends they’re a startup, but that’s not true. They admit that they have been profitable since 2014, have over 105 million searches a day sometimes, and are growing rapidly.

They’re not small. They have very close ties with Microsoft, which also dumps money into these sorts of organizations in order to corrupt them and shield itself from criticism.

(Relatively speaking, the chump change that Microsoft pays off the “Linux Foundation” with corrupted and silenced that organization too.)

In fact, the number one factor in DuckDuckGo’s search results is what Microsoft Bing returns to DuckDuckGo.

So I think it can fairly be said that DuckDuckGo is a way for Microsoft to gain market share with people for whom the Microsoft brand itself is toxic, due to their many decades of law breaking, bad software, spyware, advertising network, and corrupt business practices.

Microsoft itself tries to get away from its own brands too, but even though Edge is named differently than Internet Explorer, and uses a different rendering engine now, they haven’t had much luck in getting people, on Windows, to use it.

This despite malware tactics to steal back default settings and scream at the user that Firefox and Chrome and the others “aren’t safe” (Oh, but Edge is? Well, pardon the hell out of me!). Not that this has stopped their shills from recommending it to people on GNU/Linux, who actually have a choice about what’s on their computers. (Hey, and it ain’t gonna be Edge!)

Anyway, it seems the corruption (the intended effect of DuckDuckGo’s money, which is potentially gleaned from *cough* some other source), is convincing the EFF to shut down its own security applications and pitch DuckDuckGo’s products instead.

DuckDuckGo used to have an application for Android that merely let you search it from your Home screen.

Now, the only app they make for Android is an entire web browser, where DuckDuckGo is in a position to monitor everything you do in it. It’s also not particularly convenient because there’s no desktop version of it to sync with.

But just last year, it was caught tracking its users, and they had an explanation for the tracking when they got caught, like they always seem to. “Just a bug.” Was it?

DuckDuckGo also has a Chrome and Firefox extension called “Privacy Essentials”, and the EFF is also recommending users move from HTTPS Everywhere to DuckDuckGo’s extension.

As HTTPS Everywhere goes into “maintenance mode”, users will have the opportunity to move to DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Essentials or use a browser that has HTTPS by default.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

But DuckDuckGo certainly isn’t a charity. They want all of this software on your computers for a reason, and if that reason was only to bolster their search engine, they’re already in every major web browser, and you can already use them for search that way.

They have other things to be gained from having more of a presence on your computer, or they wouldn’t be writing this stuff in the first place.

It would be better to have nothing of the sort installed on your computer than to replace HTTPS Everywhere with a DuckDuckGo application.

As the corrupt EFF itself points out, Chromium is moving in the direction of HTTPS by default, and Firefox today has an HTTPS-Only Mode (you can make exceptions), without stuffing this ducking nonsense into your computer and letting their “Whoops it’s another bug that lets us track you, but pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” position keep coming up.

(Note: I had to pull that Reddit post about Gabriel Weinberg out of the Internet Archive because Reddit, a platform for censorship from “Conde Nasty”, removed it. Reddit operates with bans and shadowbans and removes posts all the time.)

It’s unlikely that DuckDuckGo keeps getting caught violating their own privacy policy (and these are just the times they get caught) and that it’s “just bugs”. At this point, it is more likely that their privacy policy is bullshit and a lie.

The EFF has gone from being a good cause to not being worth a bag of beans in the span of a few short years.

10.15.21

DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

Posted in Deception, Google, Microsoft, Search at 5:11 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

When I was perusing DuckDuckGo’s corporate website for their explanation of a tracker that they use which my Web browsers block, I found their corporate headquarters address.

The tracker is called Improving DuckDuckGo, and of course they always have explanations for everything they do that’s creepy, and they get caught lying all of the time. And of course, Techrights has pointed out things like this before.

The most concerning facts are that they’re US-based (a Five Eyes country with no decent privacy laws at the state or federal levels), and can be compelled to track you by law enforcement, and that they host on Microsoft Azure and also scrape Bing for your search results. Thus, Microsoft would see your IP address on both transactions and can log your activities on DuckDuckGo quite easily, using nothing else, unless you’re on some sort of a VPN that millions of people use (like I am).

But I googled (to get a Street View image) their address, 20 Paoli Pike Paoli, PA 19301, and it’s basically a small building that they share with a dentist’s office.

Due to copyright restrictions on the images, I can’t reproduce them here, but you have to go see this. Just trust me.

The building is so small that it’s like a one bedroom apartment with some DuckDuckGo images on the side.

I mentioned this to Roy Schestowitz in #techrights on irc.techrights.org and he replied that they don’t have to have much of a physical presence considering that they use Microsoft web hosting and scrape Microsoft Bing (which isn’t a very good search engine, privacy aside).

It was creepy enough when they used Amazon AWS, and it’s creepier now that they use Microsoft for both ends of the transaction.

DuckDuckGo claims that they have their own web crawling bot and that they’re not just Bing with different artwork, but for the most part, if you search both side by side, you see very little difference in what comes back.

DuckDuckGo has recently been advertising heavily on Chicago radio stations, including the rock station saying “The DuckDuckGo for privacy traffic report.”.

I don’t think they’re very private. They may be a little bit better than Google on privacy, but a lot of that certainly isn’t by choice.

Google got as big as it is by dominating search and paying off everyone to default to it, and then propping up other projects with that cash until they stood on their own. Google’s the biggest ad network on the internet, and the only advantages, I think, that DuckDuckGo, gives you, in a major way, vs. that is that they don’t have the scale of Google to insert trackers all over the web and DuckDuckGo doesn’t require you to sign in, in order to use much of anything on it.

Years ago, Richard Stallman mentioned that signing into Google to search with it was a bad idea, and he’s right. One of the reasons Google starts popping up annoying CAPTCHA images if you use a VPN is so you will give up and sign in, and then whenever they put an ad or a beacon on another site, it associates itself with you and your search traffic.

I have a GMail account, but I don’t sign into Google in my browsers. My email clients support signing in via OAuth and then I can pull in my mail without signing in. I also block most of their third party stuff in my adblock settings, and I use a VPN.

But Google still tracks. They and Facebook and Microsoft figure out dozens of ways to track in case you block any of those methods, something will work.

10.12.21

Mozilla Firefox Takes Another Step in the Direction of Being Malware With “Firefox Suggest”

Posted in Deception, Search at 7:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Opening: Yesterday I was surfing the web when I found out that LKML.org, a centralized place to see what’s going on in Linux kernel development, was attempting to load an ad script from a company called “BuySellAds dot com”.

When I investigated the company in more detail, I found that there was an entire page where they plot with some of the titans of the web industry to track and psychologically manipulate people.

One such partnership was Brave. Apparently, this company is pushing Brave’s “ethical ads” from behind the scenes, and another was Mozilla.

“One such partnership was Brave. Apparently, this company is pushing Brave’s “ethical ads” from behind the scenes, and another was Mozilla.”It said that they feed ads into “Pocket”, which is where the “Sponsored Content” (including from Big Oil companies like Exxon) keep popping up in the Firefox New Tab page, and now in your address bar if you live in the US (under the guise of Firefox Suggest).

Well, what I suggest is that Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker does with Firefox Suggest and Pocket is probably anatomically impossible, but that’s outside the scope of this post.

It sickens me, that a great piece of software that I used from its inception in 2002 (pre-releases), and even before that (as Mozilla Suite, and before Mozilla, as the proprietary Netscape suite) has gone and done this as a cash grab on the way down.

Each release, there’s more stuff to turn off, and you have to remember to do all of that every time you install it somewhere.

“Each release, there’s more stuff to turn off, and you have to remember to do all of that every time you install it somewhere.”There’s like 5 different settings (something like that) to fully disable DRM and keep it from coming back on or demanding it. That’s pretty bad when many of the sites using it are using it not for DRM, but as a fingerprinting attack.

Firefox ceased being Free and Open Source Software when distributed according to the Mozilla Trademark policies long ago, when they enabled Google DRM by default and pestered the user if they turned it off and then didn’t do some “about:config fu” to make sure it stayed off and disappeared from the GUI, but with Cloudflare DNS (a privacy hazard that OpenBSD patched to turn off!), Pocket’s Sponsored Crap, and Firefox Suggest, Firefox has not only straddled the line of what I consider to be “malware”, but has finally crossed it.

Perhaps there’s something very wrong with Debian for not going back to calling it “IceWeasel” and patching this stuff out of the source code so that it can’t come on. They are now in abeyance of their Debian Free Software Guidelines all so they can ship malware and call it Firefox.

You can perhaps forgive, under these circumstances, that some GNU/Linux distributions are throwing in the towel with Firefox, which doesn’t perform very well and uses gobs and gobs of RAM to perform the tasks, and are shipping some other browser.

Linux Mint spins are even putting in Vivaldi. And, if you frame it as a choice between Vivaldi and Firefox, I’d say Firefox is even worse than Vivaldi at this point, though Vivaldi doesn’t pretend to be open source like Firefox does, and they don’t beg for donations while they sell you down the river to adtechs like Mozilla does.

“Firefox ceased being Free and Open Source Software when distributed according to the Mozilla Trademark policies long ago, when they enabled Google DRM by default and pestered the user if they turned it off and then didn’t do some “about:config fu” to make sure it stayed off and disappeared from the GUI, but with Cloudflare DNS (a privacy hazard that OpenBSD patched to turn off!), Pocket’s Sponsored Crap, and Firefox Suggest, Firefox has not only straddled the line of what I consider to be “malware”, but has finally crossed it.”What Mozilla fails to understand, obviously, is that by pissing off users into leaving, they not only have less who will stay and drive “ad hits” for them, but they’ll see a further collapse in their search royalty value to Google, and incoming revenue will fall faster than had they just left it alone.

Furthermore, by letting this incompetent twit remain as CEO and firing the engineers while leaving a “Global Chief Diversity Officer” and other dead weight so that they can be a political party, development of the browser’s underpinnings lags while they fritter away valuable capital towards these nutjobs.

Well, enough was enough so….

I finally figured out the dependency matrix to get Debian to allow me to apt purge firefox-esr from my Debian 11 system without trying to take out GNOME metapackages and the X server.

It turns out that I had to give up on using the GNOME Web flatpak from FlatHub, because it collides with the Stable version from Debian. So I backed that out, and deleted its settings and cache under the .var folder hierarchy, and put the epiphany-browser package back in.

“…on a clean install, Firefox Suggest is on by default and doesn’t even ask whether the user wants ads or a keylogger malware in their address bar.”As long as that’s there, and those internationalization and LibreOffice Help Packs and foreign spell checkers and such that I removed the other day are gone, you can remove firefox-esr and the system won’t complain that you need a web browser.

It seems that Apt only wants to remove the gnome metapackages and xorg (Jean-Baptist…Emanuel….Zorg! Sorry.) if epiphany-browser is not already installed. If it is, it’ll shut up and let you get rid of Firefox.

Now you can also reclaim some disk space by removing .mozilla and all of the .mozilla and .firefox stuff under your Home folder (it’s all hidden but unhiding it with Ctrl+H and then using the finder is easy enough). In my case, I don’t use Thunderbird either, so I got rid of its stuff and now it’s just GNOME Web and Evolution.

Mozilla lies and says Firefox Suggest is off by default and that it is opt-in.

In the Bleeping Computer article about Firefox Suggest, which also notes Firefox’s dwindling market share (they went from being almost half of all web users at their peak to being only slightly more popular than Vivaldi, and still falling), they say that in their own tests and user reports, on a clean install, Firefox Suggest is on by default and doesn’t even ask whether the user wants ads or a keylogger malware in their address bar.

I installed the Firefox 93 Flatpak to find out myself. Mozilla even builds it and uploads the builds to Flathub, so they are official. Firefox Suggest was on by default, no message asking me if I wanted it.

When Ubuntu briefly implemented a keylogger that sent your Shell searches to Amazon in their now-abandoned Unity Shell, Richard Stallman called Ubuntu malware.

In its default configuration, Firefox not only sends everything you type into the address bar to Google (even though you can turn that off and split searches into a different box), but also to Mozilla, and Mozilla’s advertisers. This is certainly malware.

“How is it that Debian says the firmware to run my wifi, SSD, and graphics chip isn’t allowed (in the official image, which will lead some people to think Debian is broken and not bother figuring out why….while others have to know there’s a real installer that has firmware that is semi-hidden) but Widevine DRM blobs and a malicious keylogger in Firefox are fine?”How much longer will “Free” operating systems like Debian continue ignoring their own Free Software Guidelines to package this? It already had a grabber that’s on by default to download Google DRM blobs, and now this.

It’s bad enough that Fedora chucked its own Free Software policy out the door when IBM took them over, and started pushing Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Edge.

How is it that Debian says the firmware to run my wifi, SSD, and graphics chip isn’t allowed (in the official image, which will lead some people to think Debian is broken and not bother figuring out why….while others have to know there’s a real installer that has firmware that is semi-hidden) but Widevine DRM blobs and a malicious keylogger in Firefox are fine?

Sounds like someone at Debian should explain this.

As an aside, Mozilla is also considering changing the default search engine to Bing.

Every few years, they come in and decide which crappy privacy-violating mess with worse search results than Google to switch all their users to as part of a cynical ploy to ultimately get Google back to the table for more money.

Microsoft has never offered any browser vendor more money than Google, which is why Google is the default search engine on almost every browser, and the iPhone/Safari, even though Apple pretends they’re bitter enemies (over 60% of Apple iOS apps have Google tracking libraries in them).

I’m not a big fan of Google, but Bing is much worse. Instead of Google violating your privacy, it will be Microsoft, and then the search results often won’t even be usable.

When will Mozilla learn to stop manipulating its remaining users? Never?

04.25.21

Getting Reliable and Multi-Sourced News Summaries in RSS Readers With Multitude of Feeds

Posted in Search at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: It’s a lot better for the mind (reduced clutter) when RSS feeds are relied upon; it’s also a good way to combat censorship and tackle centralisation/monopolisation

THE Web is generally not a good source of information. Social control media is even worse as it doesn’t reward for accuracy, it lacks context, and it is designed to distract (it’s the business model). RSS feeds are the ‘vaccine’ in this situation; they help put people back in control and they weaken points of centralisation. That’s why large companies and especially Internet monopolies do not like RSS feeds and barely advertise the existence of such a thing anymore. They want everyone to just use their portals and “web apps” instead.

“The advantage of the ‘RSS approach’ is that it obliterates distraction, lowers the signal/noise ratio, and gives quick access to a plethora of different sources, not curated by a third party but determined by the list of sites chosen as trustworthy and worth subscribing to.”In the video above I spontaneously show or make a case for RSS readers (no scripting or preparation, but it worked out OK). I give the example of Ubuntu’s release and the University of Minnesota blunder. The advantage of the ‘RSS approach’ is that it obliterates distraction, lowers the signal/noise ratio, and gives quick access to a plethora of different sources, not curated by a third party but determined by the list of sites chosen as trustworthy and worth subscribing to. Yesterday we shared our list of about 460 RSS feeds that cover GNU/Linux and Free software (exclusively or some of the time).

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

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