from March 20, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) and about
the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and
by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will
continue with it.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from March 20, 2018
1. Facebook’s Surveillance Machine
2. Facebook Leaves Its Users’ Privacy Vulnerable
Facebook 'Likes' Could Profile Voters for
4. The Buyback Boondoggle Is Beggaring America
5. Digital Privacy Groups Issue Urgent Warning Over CLOUD Act
items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at
every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
This article is by Zeynep Tufekci on The New York Times. It starts as
Yes indeed - and I say
that each and every of these 50 million "dumb fucks - they
trust me" (in Mark Zuckerberg's own words) has been deceived in horrible
Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling company that would later provide
services for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, reached out
with a request on Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” platform, an online
marketplace where people around the world contract with others to
perform various tasks. Cambridge Analytica was looking for people who
were American Facebook users. It offered to pay them to download and
use a personality quiz app on Facebook called thisisyourdigitallife.
people installed the app in return for $1 to $2 per download. The app
“scraped” information from their Facebook profiles as well as detailed
information from their friends’ profiles. Facebook then provided all
this data to the makers of the app, who in turn turned it over to
A few hundred thousand people
may not seem like a lot, but because Facebook users have a few hundred
friends each on average, the number of people whose data was harvested
reached about 50 million.
Here is more, with one of Facebook's many professional liars Paul
This weekend, after
this was all exposed by The New York Times and The Observer of London,
Facebook hastily made a public announcement that it was suspending
Cambridge Analytica (well over a year after the election) and
vehemently denied that this was a “data breach.” Paul Grewal, a vice
president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, wrote that “the claim
that this is a data breach is completely false.” He contended that
Facebook users “knowingly provided their information, no systems were
infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were
stolen or hacked.” He also said that “everyone involved gave their
I say Grewal is a
professional liar for Facebook because (i) it was a “data breach” if no less than 270,000
members have been deceived
into not knowing that they had
the privacies of their 50 million
"friends" scraped up
by Cambridge Analytica; because (ii) I doubt any of the 50 million whose
privacies were plundered did
really know this was happening to them
- and see below; and also because it seems to
me (iii) no one gave their consent for
things Cambridge Analytica did.
Also, since I am a psychologist, let me ask Paul Grewal this:
Are you perhaps a sadist?
I leave this open for the moment and turn to more about Facebook:
Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and
then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others.
These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.
Precisely. And as "advertisers, political actors and others" are the real
Facebook, the members of Facebook function as dumb slaves whose privacies can be endlessly inter- connected by
Facebook's AI, all to make as much money as possible out of them,
for the owner of Facebook, that is.
Here is more of what the glib criminals - in my
opinion - of Facebook do:
doesn’t just record every click and “like” on the site. It also
collects browsing histories. It also purchases “external” data like
financial information about users (though European nations have some
regulations that block some of this). Facebook recently announced its
intent to merge “offline” data — things you do in the physical world,
such as making purchases in a brick-and-mortar store — with its vast
creates “shadow profiles” of nonusers. That is, even if you are not on
Facebook, the company may well have compiled a profile of you, inferred
from data provided by your friends or from other data. This is an
involuntary dossier from which you cannot opt out in the United States.
Facebook ever since I know of it (and see this piece from 2011) and also before
I knew that they make enormous profits by deceiving the
naive, the ignorant
and the stupid
into "sharing" their private information with Facebook.
I do not know that Facebook has a shadow profile of me, in case
I do know I will get extremely offensive about Mark
Zuckerberg, who is one of the worst
human beings I know that ever existed. (I suppress the
Facebook’s claims to the contrary, everyone involved in the Cambridge
Analytica data-siphoning incident did not give his or her “consent” —
at least not in any meaningful sense of the word.
As I said above, "I doubt any of the 50
million whose privacies were plundered did really know this was
happening to them" and I completely
agree with the NYT that it seems as if absolutely no one
gave their consent with any idea of what that involved, nor with
any idea that the privacies of all their
"friends" would also be stolen by
Should we all
just leave Facebook? That may sound attractive but it is not a viable
solution. In many countries, Facebook and its products simply are
am sorry, but it is utter bullshit that "[i]n many countries, Facebook and its
products simply are
the internet." You need an
operating system, and each and every operating system these
days comes with many free applications that are not involved
second, this sounds very much like some German ca. 1935 saying "Well,
know that some learned men say this is a fascistic government, but we
do not believe it: We are not learned persons and we love
you ought to leave Facebook if
you do not want that your personal data is abused.
And in fact
Tufecki does give a good argument in the ending of the article:
model based on vast data surveillance and charging clients to opaquely
target users based on this kind of extensive profiling will inevitably
be misused. The real problem is that billions of dollars are being made
at the expense of the health of our public sphere and our politics, and
crucial decisions are being made unilaterally, and without recourse or
and each of these reasons - it will be misused; billions of dollars are
made "at the expense of
the health of our public sphere and our politics"; and "crucial
decisions are being made unilaterally, and without recourse or
accountability" - should be
sufficient for any intelligent
person to get rid of Facebook as fast as they can.
Leaves Its Users’ Privacy Vulnerable
This article is by The Editorial Board on The New York
Times. This is from near the beginning:
What is particularly
disturbing about this case is that Facebook has not yet identified and
alerted users whose profile information was vacuumed up by the app,
most of whom had never used it but were friends with somebody else who
had. Further, Facebook did not verify that Cambridge Analytica and Mr.
Kogan deleted the data after the social media company told them to in
2015. The Times reported that Cambridge still had most or all of the
Yes indeed - and for more
see above, below and yesterday. And there is this on the proud
morality of Cambridge executives, who use bribes and prostitutes:
On Monday, Channel
4 News in Britain released hidden-camera tapes in which Cambridge
executives said that their company used bribes and prostitutes to
entrap politicians. The company denies engaging in corruption and
extortion. Robert Mercer, the hedge fund billionaire who is a big
supporter of Mr. Trump, owns a controlling stake in Cambridge, and
Stephen Bannon, the former chief strategist for the president, is a
former company board member.
Yes indeed - and this
introduces another question, which I did not see
treated in any way in the materials I read on the NYT (it may
be, but if so, I did not see it).
Here is the question, with an assertion before it:
I never believed in "Russia-gate", and not because the
things alledged to have happened there are beyond Putin or Russia (or
indeed almost anybody else), but quite simply because (i) there
never was delivered any evidence
that Putin or Russia did these
things, while also (ii) in so far as Russia did do something, the
available evidence limits this to $115,000, which seems far
too little to influence presidential elections in which considerably
more tha a billion dollars were used in advertisements etc.
Then again, I do
believe that a case where "a
supporter of Mr. Trump",
the billionaire Mercer, with a controlling interest in
Cambridge Analytica, and with Steve Bannon (Trump's former chief
strategist) a former board member of Cambridge Analytica, while Cambridge
Analytica successfully stole the private data of no less than 50 million Americans,
is a case by which Trump may have won the
elections, given that 50 million Americans could have been sent all
kinds of stuff based on their stolen private data.
I think this is rather credible but as I said, I have (so far) not
seen any evidence that the NYT is more concerned about
Cambridge Analytica + Facebook (and 50 million Americans) than
it is about "Russia-gate" that is wholly unproven, accept perhaps for
$115,000 spent on Facebook.
I am merely asking here, but will follow this up, for my
question does seem well based.
Then there is this in the article:
regulators also ought to investigate Facebook’s response. For starters,
they need to take a close look at whether the company is in violation
of a 2011 consent decree with the Federal
Trade Commission, which had accused it of deceiving users by
telling them their information would be kept private and then allowing
it to be shared and made public. They also need to force the company to
quickly identify and alert the tens of millions of people whose
information might have been disclosed to Cambridge.
Yes indeed (although my guess is
that Facebook will deal with this by saying as little as possible about
Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
In the longer
term, Congress clearly needs to strengthen privacy laws to give people
more control over private information and prevent businesses and
political campaigns from harvesting personal data under false
says it takes this case seriously. But it is clear that lawmakers
cannot rely on the company to police itself.
yes and no: I think Congress needs to do something, but I don't think
the right way ("in the longer term") is "to strengthen privacy laws", and namely not for the simple
reasons that fewer than 1% of computer users are decent
and fewer than 5% of computer users know much about the law.
think should be done is to make it impossible
people and government paid spies to see any of the private
of persons, namely by making it a law that all private
information that people do not want others to see should be
safely encrypted (and specific- ally: at least all
e-mails, all browsing that people do, and all financial
information and all health information on line should all
since this can be done now, it
should be done now.
(Unfortunately, I also think this also will be quite improbable, were
it only for the reason that most of one's elected representatives,
especially in the USA, will be bought by the rich to do what
which is the opposite of what I say.)
'Likes' Could Profile Voters for Manipulation
This article is by Barbara Ortutay and Anick Jesdanun on
Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Facebook likes can
tell a lot about a person. Maybe even enough to fuel a
voter-manipulation effort like the one a Trump-affiliated data-mining
firm stands accused of — and which Facebook may have enabled.
Yes indeed - and
incidentally: This is the first article I have read about
Cambridge Analytica that makes the suggestion that it was not
through Russia-gate that Trump won the elections, but through Cambridge
Analytica (and see above).
The social network is now
under fire after The New York Times and The Guardian newspaper reported
that former Trump campaign consultant Cambridge Analytica used data,
including user likes, inappropriately obtained from roughly 50 million
Facebook users to try to influence elections.
Facebook’s stock plunged 7
percent Monday in its worst one-day decline since 2014.
Here is some more:
Researchers in a 2013 study
found that Facebook likes on hobbies, interests and other attributes
can predict personal attributes such as sexual orientation and
political affiliation. Computers analyze such data to look for patterns
that might not be obvious, such as a link between a preference for
curly fries and higher intelligence.
Chris Wylie, a Cambridge
co-founder who left in 2014, said the firm used such techniques to
learn about individuals and create an information cocoon to change
their perceptions. In doing so, he said, the firm “took fake news to
the next level.”
“This is based on an idea
called ‘informational dominance,’ which is the idea that if you can
capture every channel of information around a person and then inject
content around them, you can change their perception of what’s actually
happening,” Wylie said Monday on NBC’s “Today.”
And once again: It
seems quite unlikely to me that Trump won the presidential
elections through Russian manipulations, but it seems quite
likely that Trump may have won the presidential elections through
the help of Cambridge Analytica (that is also mostly owned by the conservative billionaire Richard Mercer, and
that had Trump's chief strategist Steven Bannon on its board).
Cambridge was backed by the
conservative billionaire Richard Mercer, and at one point employed
Stephen Bannon — later President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and
White House adviser — as a vice president. The Trump campaign paid
Cambridge roughly $6 million, according to federal election records,
although officials have more recently played down that work.
That seems a much more likely
explanation than "Russia-gate".
4. The Buyback Boondoggle Is Beggaring America
is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Trump and Republicans
branded their huge corporate tax cut as a way to make American
corporations more profitable so they’d invest in more and better
But they’re buying
back their stock instead. Now that the new corporate tax cut is
pumping up profits, buybacks are on track to hit a record $800 billion
For years, corporations
most of their profits on buying back their own shares of stock, instead
increasing the wages of their employees, whose hard work creates these
Stock buybacks should be
illegal, as they were before 1983.
Quite so. Here
Precisely. And here is Reich's
Stock buybacks are
artificial efforts to interfere in the
so-called “free market” to prop up stock prices. Because they create an
artificial demand, they force stock prices above their natural level.
fewer shares in circulation, each remaining share is worth more.
Buybacks don’t create more
or better jobs. Money spent on
buybacks isn’t invested in new equipment, or research and development,
factories, or wages. It doesn’t build a company. Buybacks don’t grow
So why are buybacks so
popular with Corporate CEOs?
Because a bigger and bigger
portion of CEO pay has been in
stocks and stock options, rather than cash. So when share prices go up,
executives reap a bonanza.
And again I quite agree,
although I also have two remarks. The first is that this very probably
will not work until the Democrats have the majority in the
House, and the second is that it also may not work after it, because
many of the Democrats voting behaviors can be and are being bought.
Buybacks were illegal until
Ronald Reagan made them legal in
1982, just about the same time wages stopped rising for most Americans.
then, a bigger percentage corporate profits went into increasing
But since corporations were
already using their profits for stock
buybacks, there is no reason to believe they’ll use their tax windfall
anything other than more stock buybacks.
Let’s not compound the
error. Make stock buybacks illegal, as
they were before 1982.
Privacy Groups Issue Urgent Warning Over CLOUD Act
This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
Civil libertarians and
digital rights advocates are alarmed about an "insidious"
piece of federal legislation that the ACLU warns "threatens
activists abroad, individuals here in the U.S., and would empower
Attorney General Sessions in new disturbing ways."
The Clarifying Lawful
Overseas Use of Data or CLOUD Act (S.
2383 and H.R.
4943), as David Ruiz at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) explains,
would establish a "new backdoor for cross-border data [that] mirrors another backdoor
702 of the FISA
Amendments Act, an invasive NSA surveillance authority for foreign
intelligence gathering" recently reauthorized by
Yes indeed. This is the
background, and here is more:
Ruiz outlines how the
legislation would enable U.S. authorities to bypass Fourth Amendment
rights to obtain Americans' data and use it against them:
The CLOUD Act allows the
president to enter an executive agreement with a foreign nation known
for human rights abuses. Using its CLOUD Act powers, police from that
nation inevitably will collect Americans' communications. They can
share the content of those communications with the U.S. government
under the flawed "significant harm" test. The U.S. government can use
that content against these Americans. A judge need not approve the data
collection before it is carried out. At no point need probable cause be
shown. At no point need a search warrant be obtained.
The EFF and ACLU are among
two dozen groups that banded together earlier this month to pen a letter
to Congress to express alarm that the bill "fails to protect the rights
of Americans and individuals abroad, and would put too much authority
in the hands of the executive branch with few mechanisms to prevent
I think this is in fact
plan (and in case you did not read my definitions, I linked them in -
and I made them, because I do not know any better, while I so
far - in a mere 22 years of reading internet - have not found any
journalist who really seems to know what they are talking about when
they talk about "fascism"), for it implies that (i) each and every
American may be prosecuted for helping dissidents in - say - Russia
or China, while (ii) none of them will know anything about the
fact that their data have been used, until they get prosecuted.
In brief, this is a
sick and degenerate law
with Greer, but should add that I certainly stopped believing in
American democracy on the level of the Senate and Congress: It seems to
me most members of either institution have been bought (by the
legislation would be a poison pill for the omnibus spending bill," declared
Fight for the Future's deputy director, Evan Greer. "Decisions like
this requires rigorous examination and public debate, now more than
ever, and should not be made behind closed doors as part of back room
The group also pointed out
big tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Google are among those
lobbying lawmakers to include the CLOUD Act in the spending bill (..)
And I add that I consider Apple, Facebook and Google three neofascistic
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Although Sen. Ron
Wyden (D-Ore.) is among those opposing the bill in
the Senate—including any attempt to tie it to this week's government
spending bill—if the vote
reauthorizing is any indication, several Democrats could
join with the Republican majority to push it through.
Yes indeed, and as I
said above. This is a recommended article.
have now been
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).