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+ - DOJ vs. Google: How Google Fights on Behalf of Its Users->

Lauren Weinstein writes: Over the last few days the public has gained an unusually detailed insight into how hard Google will fight to protect its users against government overreaching, even when this involves only a single user's data.

The case reaches back to the beginning of 2011, when the U.S. Department of Justice tried to force Google to turn over more than a year's worth of metadata for a user affiliated with WikiLeaks. While these demands did not include the content of emails, they did include records of this party's email correspondents, and IP addresses he had used to login to his Gmail account.

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+ - Just Say "NON!" - France Demands Right of Global Google Censorship->

Lauren Weinstein writes: I've been waiting for this, much the way one waits for a violent case of food poisoning.

France is now officially demanding that Google expand the hideous EU "Right To Be Forgotten" (RTBF) to worldwide, instead of just applying it to the appropriate localized (e.g. France) version of Google.

And here's my official response as a concerned individual:

To hell with this ...

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+ - Governments of the World Agree: Encryption Must Die!->

Lauren Weinstein writes: Finally! There's something that apparently virtually all governments around the world can actually agree upon. Unfortunately, it's on par conceptually with handing out hydrogen bombs as lottery prizes.

If the drumbeat isn't actually coordinated, it might as well be. Around the world, in testimony before national legislatures and in countless interviews with media, government officials and their surrogates are proclaiming the immediate need to "do something" about encryption that law enforcement and other government agencies can't read on demand.

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+ - Seeking Anecdotes Regarding "Older" Persons' Use of Web Services->

Lauren Weinstein writes: Experiences of the "elderly" in any aspect and how ever you wish to define this would be especially appreciated. I believe this category to be of critical importance. This rapidly growing group increasingly must deal with Web services to conduct routine affairs (for example, email or other Web-based contacts with relatives or businesses, government communications, and so on.) This is also a group that could benefit greatly from calendar systems, person-to-person chat and video systems, search services as memory aids, and social networking environments (particularly given the social isolation that is so typically part and parcel of advancing age) — if and only if these persons are able to use these services effectively.
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+ - Why Consumers Hate Us->

Lauren Weinstein writes: It's not usually an all-encompassing kind of hate. Nor is it typically some form of "I hate you so much I won't have anything to do with you!" category of hate. And rarely is it really a "fear of evil" model of hate.

No, it's much more of a simmering, situationally specific kind of anger. It's mostly (but by no means exclusively) directed at large Internet technology firms, and by proxy at the technologists (like many of you, and certainly me) who either directly or indirectly create, deploy, influence, or otherwise impact the Web and its services as experienced by ordinary, mostly non-techie consumers — who increasingly must use our products whether they really want to or not, at the risk of being left far behind ...

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+ - When Web Experiments Violate User Trust, We're All Victims->

Lauren Weinstein writes: If you ever wonder why it seems like politicians around the world appear to have decided that their political futures are best served by imposing all manner of free speech restrictions, censorship, and content controls on Web services, one might be well served by examining the extent to which Internet users feel that they've been mistreated and lied to by some services — how their trust in those services has been undermined by abusive experiments that would not likely be tolerated in other aspects of our lives ...
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+ - One of the Most Alarming Internet Proposals I've Ever Seen->

Lauren Weinstein writes: You'd think that with so many concerns these days about whether the likes of AT&T, Verizon, and other telecom companies can be trusted not to turn our data over to third parties whom we haven't authorized, that a plan to formalize a mechanism for ISP and other "man-in-the-middle" snooping would be laughed off the Net.

But apparently the authors of IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) Internet-Draft "Explicit Trusted Proxy in HTTP/2.0" (14 Feb 2014) haven't gotten the message.

What they propose for the new HTTP/2.0 protocol is nothing short of officially sanctioned snooping.

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+ - Unintended Consequences: How NSA Revelations May Lead to Even More Surveillance->

Lauren Weinstein writes: "This then may be the ultimate irony in this surveillance saga. Despite the current flood of protests, recriminations, and embarrassments — and even a bit of legal jeopardy — intelligence services around the world (including especially NSA) may come to find that Edward Snowden’s actions, by pushing into the sunlight the programs whose very existence had long been dim, dark, or denied — may turn out over time to be the greatest boost to domestic surveillance since the invention of the transistor."
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+ - Microsoft's Bizarre Anti-Google "Scroogled" Campaign Jumps the Shark -- Again!->

Lauren Weinstein writes: Yet, Microsoft's increasingly bizarre, anti-Google "Scroogled" campaign is doing exactly that, and while we thought Microsoft had "jumped the shark" in the past, their new chapter is even more strange and inexplicable. In fact, when I mentioned this to a few people this morning, I got responses back suggesting that perhaps the new campaign hadn't really been approved, or that the site had been hacked. One person told me they did a WHOIS lookup just to verify that it really was a Microsoft site at all (it is).
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+ - False Attack on Google Highlights the Web's "Idiot Echo Chamber"-> 1 1

Lauren Weinstein writes: This sorry sequence began when Consumer Watchdog breathlessly proclaimed that Google had been caught in a legal brief proclaiming that "Gmail users have no expectation of privacy." RT picked up the story, and sites that we normally would consider to be reasonably reputable started echoing it without further investigation, playing on the current climate of government surveillance furor (and in many cases, related hyperbolic and unjustified paranoia). Unfortunately for the fearmongers, there was a problem ...
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+ - "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the NSA"->

Lauren Weinstein writes: Once upon a time, I knew a spy.

He died long ago, and honestly I don't even remember his name — or at least the name by which I knew him.

He was about as much a polar opposite from James Bond as it would be possible to imagine. He was big and loud, rather vulgar, and frankly quite ugly. He had a loud, annoying laugh that made him an embarrassment to be with in a restaurant or other public places. You wouldn't want to even look at him twice — which of course is exactly what you really want in a spy — not the suave look of the fictional 007.

He was also one of the nicest and most fascinating people I've ever met.

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+ - (Don't) Send in the (Internet Censorship) Clowns!->

Lauren Weinstein writes: Great Britain had two princes to talk about last week. One was the widely celebrated birth of the new Prince George, a joyful occasion indeed.

The other "prince" — actually a "clown prince" named David Cameron to be more precise — was playing the fool somewhat under the radar, and we can excuse the British people for not noticing him as much amid the celebration of George's arrival.

To call Prime Minister Cameron a "clown" at all might reasonably be taken by some as an affront to clowns and jesters reaching back through history. Because Cameron's style of clowning is far more akin to the nightmarish, sneering "clowns" of "B" horror movies, not the bringers of entertainment under the big top.

Cameron, through a series of inane and grandstanding statements and pronouncements both deeply technically clueless and shamelessly politically motivated, has been channeling Napoleon by placing the clown prince crown on his own head.

Laughing at his antics would be a terrible mistake. For his wet dream of Internet censorship poses an enormous risk not only to the UK, but to other nations around the world who might seek comfort in his idiocy for their own censorship regimes (already, calls have been made in Canada to emulate Cameron's proposed model).

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Steve Jobs said two years ago that X is brain-damaged and it will be gone in two years. He was half right. -- Dennis Ritchie