Hopefully reality has set in. Donald Trump seems to be coming more irrelevant with every passing days of angry tweets and political posturing. He really doesn’t know how to play this game! What has he really accomplished? So November is slowly approaching and now he is talking about bombing North Korea? Maybe this will save his presidency, but God help us all. And now to world affairs and how squelching internet freedom from our friends in China and Russia will make us all better world citizens.
Let’s just talk about China as an example, but I know Trump has great friends in Russia as well, but that may evolve into a more continuing geopolitical saga (can’t get enough of that Vladimir Putin!). “China’s great firewall, a massive system of Internet filters and blocking, has long had a crack in it. The firewall prevents most users inside China from accessing platforms outside the country, such as Facebook, Google and Netflix. In keeping with China’s desire to censor what can be seen and read. But popular software known as virtual private networks, or VPNs permit a user within China to tunnel through the firewall. Now the crack is gradually being cemented up.”
Unfortunately, I believe Trump wants to emulate these totalitarian laders, and make Internet freedom a nostalgic fantasy in the U.S. Please don’t let this happen!
Ain’t democracy great? You too can become President of the United States. Just get yourself a Twitter account and start hurling insults at whomever you like and, if you are running for President, just direct most of them at your opponents and see what happens. If you saw my Twitter/blog post of October 26th, you may remember my commentary on the two pages of the “A” section of The NY Times that was devoted to cataloging some of Mr. Trump’s insults/lies directed at political opponents. Of course, Hillary was his primary target, almost exclusively during the last two months of the campaign. Why spend all that money on political campaigning? Twitter can help you “reach out” to all of your eager followers. Tech has made it so.
Is this what technology is all about? The ability to say anything you want in 140 characters, and not worry about the accuracy or veracity of what you say. Someone else can do that if they want, but maybe that is the most dangerous part of all. Why take the time? Tell your followers what they want to hear, and make it quick. And the more you tweet, the more they want to hear. I also think it has a very addictive appeal. They can take a glance at their mobile devices, and get a quick fix of pithy put-downs of any opposing view or person. In this case, go on the attack against your political rival who is trying to explain her future plans and priorities as President of the United States in a more comprehensive (traditional) way.
May we never see a campaign like this again. But maybe it’s all about free speech, but I don’t think so. We all have a reponsibilty to be truthful in whatever communication mode we choose. And that includes messages of 140 characters on your Twitter account.
P.S. I will be posting “Summer Reruns” through the remainder of the summer months. And if you are a big fan of the so-called President and his family, please continue to follow. I also think that the “real or fake news” (take your pick) about the Trump family will be very interesting over the next few months.
So-called President Trump continues to play the role of Big Brother allowing big business interests to have their way in finding out more about the lives of everyday Americans. As reported in the New York Times (NOT fake news or alternative facts) recent changes in rulings by the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) will now allow broadband internet service providers, such as cable and telecommunications companies, to track and sell a customer’s online information with greater ease. I think the operative word here is “sell.” What a deal for our internet service providers. You pay them for a service and they, in turn, can sell your personal data to whomever they want. So this is what “Making America Great Again” is all about? Sounds a little more like how they might do it, say, in Russia!
“Some technology policy experts said that jettisoning the rules would allow broadband providers to collect customers’ internet browsing histories and other personal data and sell them to advertisers with little government oversight or fear of enforcement. Self-regulation and market competition, they said, may not sufficiently protect consumers.” So as Joe Biden might say, this is a “big f#*%+^~ deal.” It’ pretty difficult today to walk away, or live without, Internet service altogether.
But why should I worry? I am really not online that much of the time, but I still have this suspicious feeling that somebody just wants to know more about my online life so they can sell me something? And I hope that’s all it is.
Unfortunately, the censorship of apps on the Internet is a much easier tool for repressive governments to apply. In countries such as China and Russia, it is like a return to the “good old days” when books were banned by totalitarian governments or local authorities and other self-appointed censors. It seems like censoring apps can be done in a very effective and efficient way if any government so chooses. Banning an app from an App Store is like shutting down the printing press before the book is ever published. If the app isn’t in a country’s App Store, it effectively doesn’t exist. The censorship is nearly total and inescapable.
In the last few weeks, the Chinese government compelled Apple to remove the New York Times apps from the Chinese version of the App Store. Then the Russian government had Apple and Google pull the app for LinkedIn, the professional social network, after the networks declined to relocate its data on Russian citizens to servers in that country. Finally, two weeks ago, a Chinese regulator asked App Stores operating in the country to register with the government, an apparent precursor to wider restrictions on app marketplaces.
Decentralized communications was once a central promise of the Internet. Not any more. Big brother may be watching, and blocking.
That Vladimir Putin is one “wild and crazy” guy as Steve Martin used to say. I know that he is not responsible for everything that happens in Russia (just ask President-elect Trump), but his name just keeps popping up when certain technological “malfunctions” occur inside Russia. Maybe I just have to get over my suspicions. Relax, comrade, Vladimir and the Donald will take care of all this and you will have access to all the Internet activities you want, just like in China (NOT!)
Well, for what it’s worth, the banned downloads of LinkIN are limited to Russian smartphones (several million users) which seem to be the most popular mobile technology devices in the world today. In addition, LinkedIN’s website has also been blocked in Russia, so just get over it, at the same time you’re trying to get over the recent U.S. presidential election. Fortunately, I am not alone in my concern (paranoia?). Robert McDowell, a former member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stated: “Internet free speech and internet freedom are increasingly under attack all over the globe, and not just from authoritarian regimes. It appears to be a one-way ratchet with speech control getting tighter.”
But why should I worry? Only a few days left. We will soon have a president who has a good friend in Moscow, who can help us get all of these Internet freedom issues cleared up.
Oh, the irony. “Apple, which has been criticized in recent years for failing to pay outside hackers who report bugs in its products, said on Thursday that it would begin offering a so-called bug bounty to technologists who alert the company to flaws.” As you might remember, the lack of an Apple bug bounty program made headlines earlier this year when the F.B.I. announced that it had paid hackers more than $1 million for a back-door into Apple’s iPhone. If you are a hacker you may be happy to learn that Apple will pay as much as $200,000 to flag critical problems. I know that’s down from the $1 million that they paid to solve the iPhone problem, but maybe there are just more hackers out there now to make it a more competitive?
Hackers have now entered the political arena. “Hackers for Hillary” recently held a fund-raiser where tickets were going from $100 to $2,700. According to event organizers, the fund-raiser focused on “cyber policy issues the next administration faces.” A number of researchers recently suggested that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by two Russian intelligence groups in what they believed was a campaign aimed at hurting Mrs. Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
I guess you could call all this “hacking for dollars” or “hacking for political power.” But this hacking of our tech industry and our political processes has enormous consequences world-wide.