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. 😉

Easily Use Protonmail with Your Own Domain Name and Siteground Hosting

How does it make you feel to know that in your ‘user data’ that a company stores likely takes many gigabytes? check yours here

What is your reaction to the knowledge that each of your personal emails with a certain company has been inspected, analyzed, and preserved in order to better create a profile of your personality and to document the changes in your priorities and interests over time?

Do you approve of the fact that the same company presents modified search results to you based on the profile it has crafted for you?

Does a person that wants privacy from strangers have something to hide? 

Is it ok for a company to cooperate with a tyrannical government in silencing and oppressing its citizens?

The Creepy Line Trailer

The time is now to ditch Google.

Perhaps it is due to just how good capable Google’s software is that has brought me to this point. A fairly recent update to the email service reveals options for quick replies to emails that are creepily context aware. The thought of every email that I write being read, analyzed, understood, and saved forever really popped to the forefront of my thoughts when I saw that feature. The uneasiness that feature gave me combined with news of Project Dragonfly directs me to find an alternative for email, calendars, alternate phone numbers, and many more services that Google provided so well.

As luck would have it, a suitable and awesome competitor presented itself for email: Protonmail.

“ProtonMail uses Zero-Access Encryption, which means it is technically impossible for us to decrypt user messages. Zero-Access Encryption applies to all messages in your mailbox, even messages which did not come from other ProtonMail users.” This ensures the emails are not read by bots and then analyzed for ways to manipulate you into buying goods and services. Because of this, there is a charge to store anything over 500MB of data in your emails, Protonmail’s product is not you.

Protonmail also has a neat feature that allows you to use your own domain name for your email address and it works very much like Google Apps does. 

You will need your own domain name to do this. This tutorial uses SiteGround.

  • Purchase your domain name if you don’t already have one.
  • Purchase at least a Plus plan with Protonmail.
  • Click on Settings (gear icon on the top bar menu)
  • Click on Domains (globe icon on the side menu)
  • Now you will need to enter information about your domain, verify ownership, and configure your email security settings.
  • Protonmail has a wizard that will guide you through these steps, the icon is a magic wand.
  • see below:
the wizard is available by pressing the magic wand under the ‘Actions’ menu
  • Work your way through the menu, each tab has specific instructions provided by Protonmail.
  • see below:
each tab, as you click on it, will present instructions to setup your various email settings and security
  • To add a DNS record in Siteground, enter the cPanel and select ‘Advanced DNS Zone Editor’
  • see below:
select this in the cPanel
  • For the hostname field, just enter your domain name, this is a little unclear in the instructions as it varies for each hosting provider.
  • see below:
Siteground’s cPanel area to add a DNS record
  • To edit your MX records, select ‘Advanced MX Editor’ in the cPanel
  • see below:
select this in the cPanel
  • Select ‘Remote Mail Exchanger’ as shown below
  • see below:
select ‘Remote Mail Exchanger’ and enter the record as instructed by Protonmail’s wizard

At the end of this process you will soon be able to receive Protonmail’s encrypted emails at your domain name email address!

Donate to Protonmail to help them in their mission:

Donate to Protonmail.