Project Dragonfly: Is it Limited to China, or is it a Test Run?

Or……………………….
is censorship by Google already happening all over the globe?

It was Wednesday, July 18, and Gomes was addressing a team of Google employees who were working on a secretive project to develop a censored search engine for China, which would blacklist phrases like “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize.”

theintercept.com

The project is named ‘Project Dragonfly’. It was strictly secretive and guarded at Google and according to whistleblower Yonatan Zunger. Project Dragonfly bypassed the standard inspection by the security and privacy teams. When the privacy team completed its review, the findings revealed important concerns:

Zunger and his colleagues produced a privacy report that highlighted problematic scenarios that could arise once the censored search engine launched in China. The report, which contained more than a dozen pages, concluded that Google would be expected to function in China as part of the ruling Communist Party’s authoritarian system of policing and surveillance. It added that, unlike in Europe or North America, in China it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Google to legally push back against government requests, refuse to build systems specifically for surveillance, or even notify people of how their data may be used.

theintercept.com

This privacy report by Zunger and his colleagues makes two assumptions that may be untrue.

Assumptions

  1. The Chinese government accumulates evidence for prosecutions.
  2. Google is a company that shields it’s users from abuses of governments

Starting with number one: Does the Chinese government think it needs ‘evidence’ of actions against the Chinese state before it will take actions against its citizens or are accusations treated as evidence? To answer that, inspect the reaction to a letter published criticizing the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese government kidnapped relatives of a Chinese blogger after he tweeted a link to the letter:

On Friday, New York-based blogger Wen Yunchao, also known as Bei Feng, said his brother and parents were also taken away in southern Guangdong province, after he tweeted a link to the letter.

Washington Post (sometimes fake news)

Now, is Google a company that will protect its users from overreaching governments? Well, Google previously pulled out of China due to censorship, however, Google headed back to China with a censorship engine and government approved apps. This indicates that the pull out may have been more of a technological setback/limitation than a moral stance.

Google is a corporation made of people of course, and some bravely blew the whistle on the search engine’s unethical practices. However, the project goes forward because a critical mass of managers and employees at Google do not care about the destiny of Chinese citizens.

For me, this is a good enough reason to stop using Google. The company is secretive and unrepentant in its compliance with Chinese authoritarian laws.

There are other reasons to abandon Google and all of its’ services.

  1. Google (and other social media companies) silence American blogger critical of China’s government.
  2. Google complies with demands for user data in 94% of cases.
  3. Did the CIA create Google?

Although most of Google’s services work great and are super convenient, Google is not a passive actor and filters its’ search results in a manipulative way:

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said Pro-Trump articles or content about immigration laws gets flagged as hate speech, and not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of the search results. He called for an independent third-party group to look into the matter.

upi.com

This behavior is unrequested by the user and therefore reduces the utility of the search engine (this is an intentional bug). In a similar way, Google may introduce a ‘bug’ into gmail that flags some users emails as ‘spam’. Because Google has outed themselves as being open to censorship, this next step should be expected from the company.https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-cia-made-google-e836451a959e

Because of the revelations discussed in this post, this authors of this website no longer use Google services.

Instead farawaystars.com authors and contributors use:

  1. Brave Browser
  2. Protomail
  3. Duck Duck Go
  4. iOS mobile devices
  5. Other organic means including social media and forums to drive traffic to farawaystars.com

Because of #5, please bookmark farawaystars.com.

😀

Stop! Police!

Stop, or you may be shot

Just discovered this shortcut for Siri (iPhone users only).

Police

This shortcut has attracted media attention, in fact, here is an article about it.

When the ‘Police’ shortcut is activated, the following things happen:

  • music is paused
  • phone set to ‘Do Not Disturb’
  • phone screen is dimmed
  • your location is determined
  • a text messages is sent to a selected address
  • a video is taken (may select front or rear camera and video quality)
  • the video is saved to a photo album on the phone
  • a text with the video is sent to a selected address
  • there is an option to upload to Dropbox and/or iCloud Drive

Last summer, I took my son to a local fire station. It is less than a half mile from my home, which is in a fairly nice suburb. The station is on the bigger side and had a regular fire truck, a fire engine, and a hazardous material truck. Attached to the fire station is a police station.

In the attached police station garage, one vehicle commanded my attention. It was a flat black (armored?) hummer that looked like it could drive over and through brick walls. I found myself amazed that a vehicle like this could be useful in the community I live in! Apparently, the SWAT teams use that vehicle.

This is an example of the ‘militarization’ of the police.

There is a Lobby for Police Militarization
meme from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

The militarization of the police presents a contradiction for gun rights activists that insist on ‘backing the blue’ (which is a common position). Supporters of the 2A know that guns are needed as a last defense against an oppressive government. Well…the police are going to be the ones that enforce any oppression from the government. So why would one ‘back the blue’ when that is clearly arming a potential threat?

Police militarization highlights a contradiction for gun grabbers, as well, in my opinion. How can one simutaneously be in favor of gun control, acknowledge that the cops are targeting and harrassing minorities, understand that the police are arming themselves like an invading army, and then decide that the best course of action is to just let these people be the only ones with guns?

I believe that in order for police to protect and to serve, as is their stated purpose and motto , the police officers and police departments must be accountable to the citizenry. The Siri shortcut, Police, is a tool that citizens now have to hold police accountable for their actions. 😉

Coinbase and the ‘John Doe’ Summons

Coinbase is a large cryptocurrency service and exchange in the US that has more than 13 million users as of 11/17. It was founded in 2011 and is very popular and easy to use.

Coinbase practices full anti-money laundering and know your customer compliance. This results in some rather intrusive information being requested from the would be cryptocurrency buyer. If you become a Coinbase customer, be prepared to to submit to your computer’s camera taking a photo/video of you and your legal identification document. It is even more intrusive than opening a bank account in the US.

Despite following all these regulations and precautions that put all customer’s private information in a centralized database that increases risk to all customers from bad actors, Coinbase found itself in a battle with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS, despite not having clear rules on how to handle cryptocurrencies, was , nevertheless, concerned that some of Coinbase’s customers may not be paying enough taxes.

Therefore, the IRS, acting in rogue fashion issued a ‘John Doe’ summons. That is, a summons in which the IRS named no particular suspect and no particular crime – just a suspicion that someone, somewhere has interacted with Coinbase’ services in an illegal way. Now, I am no lawyer, but this seems to be a clear violation of the 4th amendment to the United States constitution:

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This is appears to be just another instance that proves to me that the US Constitution is no longer the supreme law of the land.

Coinbase did put up a fight, and I believe did the best they could to protect their customers.

Just be aware that the IRS, although not clear about how people should file earnings on cryptocurrencies does expect these earnings to be filed.

 

To become a Coinbase customer, sign up with the link below (this is an affiliate link).

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