Article 43

 

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Welcome

Welcome to article43.com - a memorial to the layed off workers of (PRE SBC MERGER) AT&T, and the disappearing MIDDLE CLASS citizens of America.  It is NOT endorsed or affiliated with AT&T or the CWA in any way.

This sticky post was written the day we appeared on the internet in 2004.

In addition to INFORMATION, resources and opinion for former AT&T workers DEALING WITH the EFFECTS OF LAYOFF and looking for meaningful employment, some articles here are meant to bring into awareness the LARGER PICTURE of corporate dominance of the UNITED STATES’ political and economic policies which brazenly DISREGARDS, disrespects and EXPLOITS worker, citizen and HUMAN RIGHTS under masks like FREE TRADE and the PATRIOT ACT - resulting in a return to a society of very rich and very poor dominated by a few very rich and powerful - whose voices are anything but - for the people. If left UNCHALLENGED, the self-serving interests of those in control may result in the end of DEMOCRACY, the end of the middle class, irreversible ENVIRONMENTAL damage to the planet, and widespread global poverty brought on by exploitation and supression of the voices of common people EVERYWHERE, while the United States turns into a REINCARNATION of the ROMAN EMPIRE.  Author Thom Hartmann shares some history and outlines some basic steps to return our country to “The People” in his two articles TEN STEPS TO RETURN TO DEMOCRACY and SAVING THE MIDDLE CLASS. I support CERNIG’S idea for a new POLITICAL MOVEMENT - if not a revolution to cleanse our country of the filth ruling it - as we EVOLVE into a GLOBAL community - assuming we learn the THE LESSONS OF OUR TIME and don’t DESTROY CIVILIZATION first.

Everything here can be viewed anonymously.  Inserting or commenting on articles requires a free user account (for former AT&T employees with a real, non throw-away, email address.) Requests to the new user registration page are redirected to BLOGGED DOT COM’S site because most new signups I get are from COMMENT SPAMMERS and their ilk, so if you want to contribute, contact me through email, phone, or some other way.

There’s no third-party scripts here like privacy-eroding WEB COUNTERS, hidden datamining widgets like Pay-Pal donation boxes, or AMAZON DOT COM tracking stuff.  The RSS feeds are pulled by the server, and have no relation to anything you may be doing here.  Standard Apache WEB LOGS of info like IP, and pages visited are rotated every few days, and used internally to check the web server’s performance.  Logs of suspicious activity may be shared with law enforcement, or other ISPs, to deal with troublemakers.  Nothing here is for sale, and donations are not solicited.

If you get an email that claims to be from somebody here that’s anything but a request to post your article, or report suspicious activity (like logs sent to an ISP to report an attack) - it’s SPAM. I do not, and will not - ever - join the junk mail sender community. There are no mechanisms to prevent anyone from forging anyone elses email address in a “from” or “reply-to” mail header. For those of us whose email addresses are fraudently used, the best we can do is filter out NDR REPORTS.

Per U.S.C. COPYRIGHT LAW - TITLE 17, SECTION 107, this not-for-profit site may reproduce copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such articles will either have a web link to the source, home page, and/or show credit to the author.  If yours is here and you have a problem with that, send me an EMAIL, and I’ll take it off. Stuff I wrote carries a CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE permitting non-commercial sharing. In addition, this site’s owner forbids insertion and injecting data of any kind - especially advertisements - into ours by any person or entity.  Should you see a commercial ad that looks like it’s from here, please report it by sending me a tcpdump and/or screenshot in an EMAIL, then READ UP about how the PARTNERING OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS and companies like NEBUAD are DESTROYING INTERNET PRIVACY

Resumes of layed off AT&T workers are posted for free HERE.

Information on the Pension Class Action Lawsuit against AT&T is HERE.  More pension-related articles are HERE.

Links to some Telecom companies’ career pages are HERE.

Click HERE to learn a little about Article 43 and why I loathe the CWA.
Click HERE or HERE to learn what the CWA did when given a chance to do the right thing.
Click HERE for a glimpse of undemocratic and hypocritical CWA practices.
Click HERE for an article on Corporate Unionism.
Click HERE for an article of AFL-CIO’s undemocratic history.

If you’re looking for telco nostalgia, you won’t find it here.  Check out THE CENTRAL OFFICE, BELL SYSTEM MEMORIAL, MUSEUM OF COMMUNICATIONS, TELEPHONE TRIBUTE, and THE READING WORKS websites instead.

This site can disappear anytime if I run out of money to pay for luxuries like food, health care, or internet service.

Discernment of truth is left to the reader - whose encouraged to seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible - and pass them through his/her own filters - before believing anything.

...the Devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men…
- Fox Mulder, X Files

No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.
- John F. Kennedy

Today my country, your country and the Earth face a corporate holocaust against human and Earthly rights. I call their efforts a holocaust because when giant corporations wield human rights backed by constitutions and the law (and therefore enforced by police, the courts, and armed forces) and sanctioned by cultural norms, the rights of people, other species and the Earth are annihilated.
- Richard L. Grossman

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
- Albert Einstein

He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.
- Aquinas

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin

We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war.
- Albert Einstein

Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.
- Thomas Palley

As we head into the next depression, fueled by selfish corporate greed, and a corrupt, SOCIOPATHIC US government, MIKE WHITNEY wrote a solution in 2007 that makes a lot of sense to me :

The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.

Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous sufbsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.

The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.

Posted by Admin on 09/05/04 •

Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Friday, February 14, 2020

Just Married T-Mobile and Sprint

How the T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Legitimizes Monopoly
A federal judge has just deepened Americas corporate concentration crisis.

By Sandeep Vaheesan
Washington Monthly
February 11, 2020

Judge Victor Marreros Tuesday ruling that let T-Mobile take over Sprint just deepened America’s already dire CORPORATE CONCENTRATOIN crisis. By allowing the nations third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers to combine, Marrero has dealt a clear blow to competition in the wireless market and empowered all corporations seeking dominance through mergers and acquisitions.

The Obama administration wisely said no to consolidation that would reduce the number of national wireless carriers to just three. Indeed, the deal will effectively create a new carrier with more than 100 million users. As the states in the case argued, that will likely cost subscribers roughly $4.5 billion annually, as the market will effectively be concentrated between just T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration - and now a federal judge - have rejected the Obama-era policy and permitted a dangerous new level of CONCENTRATION. Tuesday’s decision underscores the need for bright-line rules that deter harmful mergers and acquisitions and instead direct business strategies toward product improvement and investment in new capacity.

Equally disconcerting, the judges decision subverts the Clayton Act, the principal federal anti-merger statute. Passed in 1914 and strengthened in 1950, the law expanded the scope of business activities covered by the Sherman Antitrust Act and outlawed mergers that threaten to reduce competition or tend to create a monopoly.

Judge Marrero’s ruling permits otherwise illegal mergers if the merging corporations can establish productive efficiencies or show that one of the corporations involved is a weakened competitor.

But the Supreme Court clearly rejected these defenses in a series of rulings in the 1960s because they are contrary to the text and purpose of the Clayton Act. While there is a limited failing firm defense - which allows a merger that would create a less competitive market if the company is in danger imminent business failure - Sprint didn’t satisfy its requirements, nor did Marrero purport to apply it. Sprint may not be doing as well as its executives and shareholders would like, but it is not on the verge of collapse or insolvency.

Marrero’s ruling, therefore, leaves it to state attorneys general to keep anti-merger law alive and protect the public. Theyre now the best positioned to take a stand and appeal this decision to the Second Circuit - the most important thing they can do. It is critical they send a strong message to all corporations that they will uphold the law. Powerful firms in concentrated markets shouldn’t be allowed to consolidate even further.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/14/20 •
Section Dying America
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Friday, February 07, 2020

Bad Moon Rising Part 80 - Infrastructure Cyber-Threat IV

image: computer chip

Researcher says millions of IoT and surveillance devices that use HiSilicon chips have a trivial backdoor
The Chinese giant has another hot potato on its hands

By Adrian Potoroaca
Techspot
February 7, 2020

In brief: Huawei is mostly known for its mobile products and telecom equipment, but its HiSilicon subsidiary produces chips that end up in many IoT products, including surveillance systems. A Russian researcher found that most of the companies that use HiSilicon chips use firmware that makes it trivial to take complete control of millions of DEVICES that are currently in use around the world.

Back in December, Huawei SAID it had reached record revenues of $122 billion, even as the US greatly restricted its ability to do business with American companies. Between the optimistic lines in its report, the Chinese giant warned that 2020 would be a challenging year, with lots of bumps in the road.

However, the company probably didn’t expect to see yet another security vulnerability affecting one of its products be disclosed just as it’s tackling CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS.

Recently, Russian security researcher Vladislav Yarmak published a worrying analysis of backdoor mechanism discovered in Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology firmware, which makes it trivial to take control of millions of security cameras, DVRs, NVRs, and other IoT devices using HiSilicon chips.

For those of you who don’t know, HiSilicon is a Huawei subsidiary that makes the chips that go in all of its products, including the fancy foldable Mate X smartphone that costs $2,400 and is reportedly selling better than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. To put things in context, HiSilicon is the largest of the Chinese silicon giants, with many companies relying on its integrated circuits for their various products.

Yarmak says the backdoor mechanism is actually using a mix of exploits that take advantage of bugs that were discovered years ago, in 2017 and even as far back as March 2013. And since reporting those previous vulnerabilities led to no actual fix being deployed by HiSilicon, the researcher recommends owners of devices using HiSilicon chips switch as soon as possible to alternative solutions.

You can find a list of known brands affected HERE. If you can’t afford the hardware switch, Yarmak noted you should bolster security by restricting access to device ports 9530/TCP, 9527/TCP, and 23/TCP - all of which can be exploited using the proof of concept code he published on GitHub.

The way it works is that some older versions of the firmware used in products that are based on HiSilicon SoCs rely on access to telnet for remote connections. Telnet is enabled by default on these, so an attacker can get full access to these devices by using “a static root password which can be recovered from the firmware image with relatively little computation effort.”

Newer versions of the firmware come with telnet access disabled by default, but also have TCP port 9530 open for special commands, a feature which Yarmak says was intentionally baked in by HiSilicon, who didn’t bother to fix the new exploit published for it in 2017. Add to that the questionable practice of keeping a short list of static passwords that act as a backdoor to millions of IoT and surveillance products used worldwide, and you have a security nightmare.

To be fair, HiSilicon isn’t directly responsible here, as the vulnerability only affects products that use firmware developed by Xiongmai Technology and XMtech. The Huawei subsidiary published a security notice explaining that its SDKs don’t have the vulnerability presented by Yarmak in his report. The company noted that “Huawei (and its affiliates worldwide, including HiSilicon) has long committed that it has not and will never place backdoors nor allow anyone else to do so.”

As far as Huawei is concerned, the Telnet services were deleted on all devices it distributes directly to end users. Also, the overall narrative hasn’t changed - last year, the Chinese giant insisted that backdoors found by Vodafone in critical network equipment were “weaknesses.” To this day, the company is still fighting for the right to supply equipment to rural carriers in the US, even though its chances remain low.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/07/20 •
Section Bad Moon Rising
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

snooping pc

You Are Now Remotely Controlled

By Shoshana Zuboff
NY Times
January 24, 2020

The debate on privacy and law at the Federal Trade Commission was unusually heated that day. Tech industry executives argued that they were capable of regulating themselves and that government intervention would be “costly and counterproductive.” Civil libertarians warned that the companies data capabilities posed “an unprecedented threat” to individual freedom. One observed, “We have to decide what human beings are in the electronic age. Are we just going to be chattel for commerce?” A commissioner asked, “Where should we draw the line?” The year was 1997.

The line was never drawn, and the executives got their way. Twenty-three years later the evidence is in. The fruit of that victory was a new economic logic that I call “surveillance capitalism.” Its success depends upon one-way-mirror operations engineered for our ignorance and wrapped in a fog of misdirection, euphemism and mendacity. It rooted and flourished in the new spaces of the internet, once celebrated by surveillance capitalists as THE WORLD’S LARGEST UNGOVERNED SPACE”. But power fills a void, and those once wild spaces are no longer ungoverned. Instead, they are owned and operated by private surveillance capital and governed by its iron laws.

The rise of surveillance capitalism over the last two decades went largely unchallenged. “Digital” was fast, we were told, and stragglers would be left behind. It’s not surprising that so many of us rushed to follow the bustling White Rabbit down his tunnel into a promised digital Wonderland where, like Alice, we fell prey to delusion. In Wonderland, we celebrated the new digital services as free, but now we see that the surveillance capitalists behind those services regard us as the free commodity. We thought that we search Google, but now we understand that Google searches us. We assumed that we use social media to connect, but we learned that connection is how social media uses us. We barely questioned why our new TV or mattress had a privacy policy, but we’ve begun to understand that “privacy policies” are actually surveillance policies.

And like our forebears who named the automobile “horseless carriage” because they could not reckon with its true dimension, we regarded the internet platforms as “bulletin boards” where anyone could pin a note. Congress cemented this delusion in a statute, SECTION 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, absolving those companies of the obligations that adhere to “publishers” or even to “speakers.”

Only repeated crises have taught us that these platforms are not bulletin boards but hyper-velocity global bloodstreams into which anyone may introduce a dangerous virus without a vaccine. This is how Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, could legally REFUSE to remove a faked video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and later DOUBLE DOWN on this decision, announcing that political advertising would not be subject to fact-checking.

All of these delusions rest on the most treacherous hallucination of them all: the belief that privacy is private. We have imagined that we can choose our degree of privacy with an individual calculation in which a bit of personal information is traded for valued services a reasonable quid pro quo. For example, when Delta Air Lines piloted a biometric data system at the Atlanta airport, the company REPORTED that of nearly 25,000 customers who traveled there each week, 98 percent opted into the process, noting that the facial recognition option is saving an average of two seconds for each customer at boarding, or nine minutes when boarding a wide body aircraft.”

In fact the rapid development of facial recognition systems reveals the public consequences of this supposedly private choice. Surveillance capitalists have demanded the right to take our faces wherever they appear - on a city street or a Facebook page. The Financial Times reported that a Microsoft facial recognition training database of 10 million images plucked from the internet without anyone’s knowledge and supposedly limited to academic research was employed by companies like IBM and state agencies that included the United States and Chinese military. Among these were two Chinese suppliers of equipment to officials in Xinjiang, where members of the Uighur community live in open-air prisons under perpetual surveillance by facial recognition systems.

Privacy is not private, because the effectiveness of THESE and OTHER private or public surveillance and control systems depends upon the pieces of ourselves that we give up - or that are secretly stolen from us.

Our digital century was to have been democracy’s Golden Age. Instead, we enter its third decade marked by a stark new form of social inequality best understood as גepistemic inequality. It recalls a pre-Gutenberg era of extreme asymmetries of knowledge and the power that accrues to such knowledge, as the tech giants seize control of information and learning itself. The delusion of Ӕprivacy as private was crafted to breed and feed this unanticipated social divide. Surveillance capitalists exploit the widening inequity of knowledge for the sake of profits. They manipulate the economy, our society and even our lives with impunity, endangering not just individual privacy but democracy itself. Distracted by our delusions, we failed to notice this bloodless coup from above.

The belief that privacy is private has left us careening toward a future that we did not choose, because it failed to reckon with the profound distinction between a society that insists upon sovereign individual rights and one that lives by the social relations of the one-way mirror. The lesson is that privacy is public - it is a collective good that is and morally inseparable from the values of human autonomy and self-determination upon which privacy depends and without which a democratic society logically is unimaginable.

Still, the winds appear to have finally shifted. A fragile new awareness is dawning as we claw our way back up the rabbit hole toward home. Surveillance capitalists are fast because they seek neither genuine consent nor consensus. They rely on psychic numbing and messages of inevitability to conjure the helplessness, resignation and confusion that paralyze their prey. Democracy is slow, and that’s a good thing. Its pace reflects the tens of millions of conversations that occur in families, among neighbors, co-workers and friends, within communities, cities and states, gradually stirring the sleeping giant of democracy to action.

These conversations are occurring now, and there are many indications that lawmakers are ready to join and to lead. This third decade is likely to decide our fate. Will we make the digital future better, or will it make us worse? Will it be a place that we can call home?

Epistemic inequality is not based on what we can earn but rather on what we can learn. It is defined as unequal access to learning imposed by private commercial mechanisms of information capture, production, analysis and sales. It is best exemplified in the fast-growing abyss between what we know and what is known about us.

Twentieth-century industrial society was organized around the “division of labor,” and it followed that the struggle for economic equality would shape the politics of that time. Our digital century shifts society’s coordinates from a division of labor to a division of learning, and it follows that the struggle over access to knowledge and the power conferred by such knowledge will shape the politics of our time.

The new centrality of epistemic inequality signals a power shift from the ownership of the means of production, which defined the politics of the 20th century, to the ownership of the production of meaning. The challenges of epistemic justice and epistemic rights in this new era are summarized in three essential questions about knowledge, authority and power: Who knows? Who decides who knows? Who decides who decides who knows?

During the last two decades, the leading surveillance capitalists Google, later followed by Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft - helped to drive this societal transformation while simultaneously ensuring their ascendance to the pinnacle of the epistemic hierarchy. They operated in the shadows to amass huge knowledge monopolies by taking without asking, a maneuver that every child recognizes as theft. Surveillance capitalism begins by unilaterally staking a claim to private human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Our lives are rendered as data flows.

Early on, it was discovered that, unknown to users, even data freely given harbors rich predictive signals, a surplus that is more than what is required for service improvement. It isn’t only what you post online, but whether you use exclamation points or the color saturation of your photos; not just where you walk but the stoop of your shoulders; not just the identity of your face but the emotional states conveyed by your “microexpressions;” not just what you like but the pattern of likes across engagements. Soon this behavioral surplus was secretly hunted and captured, claimed as proprietary data.

The data are conveyed through complex supply chains of devices, tracking and monitoring software, and ECOSYSTEMS OF APPS and COMPANIES that specialize in niche data flows captured in secret. For example, TESTING BY THE WALL STREET JOURNAL SHOWED that Facebook receives heart rate data from the Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, menstrual cycle data from the Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, and data that reveal interest in real estate properties from Realtor.com - all of it without the users’ knowledge.

These data flows empty into surveillance capitalists; computational factories, called “artificial intelligence,” where they are manufactured into behavioral predictions that are about us, but they are not for us. Instead, they are sold to business customers in a new kind of market that trades exclusively in human futures. Certainty in human affairs is the lifeblood of these markets, where surveillance capitalists compete on the quality of their predictions. This is a new form of trade that birthed some of the richest and most powerful companies in history.

In order to achieve their objectives, the leading surveillance capitalists sought to establish UNRIVALED DOMINANCE over the 99.9 PERCENT of the world’s information now rendered in digital formats that they helped to create. Surveillance capital has built most of the world’s LARGEST COMPUTER NETWORKS, data centers, populations of servers, undersea transmission cables, ADVANCED MICROCHIPS, and frontier machine intelligence, igniting AN ARMS RACE FOR THE 10,000 or so specialists on the planet who know how to coax knowledge from these vast new data continents.

With Google in the lead, the top surveillance capitalists seek to control labor markets in critical expertise, including data science and ANIMAL RESEARCH, elbowing out competitors such as start-ups, universities, high schools, municipalities, established corporations in other industries and less wealthy countries. In 2016, 57 percent of American computer science Ph.D. graduates took jobs in industry, while only 11 percent became tenure-track faculty members. It’s not just an American problem. In Britain, university administrators CONTEMPLATE a “missing generation” of data scientists. A Canadian scientist laments, “the power, the expertise, the data are all concentrated in the hands of a few companies.”

Google created the first insanely lucrative markets to trade in human futures, what we now know as online targeted advertising, based on their predictions of which ads users would click. Between 2000, when the new economic logic was just emerging, and 2004, when the company went public, revenues increased by 3,590 percent. This startling number represents the “surveillance dividend.” It quickly reset the bar for investors, eventually driving start-ups, apps developers and established companies to shift their business models toward surveillance capitalism. The promise of a fast track to outsized revenues from selling human futures drove this migration first to Facebook, then through the tech sector and now throughout the rest of the economy to industries as disparate as insurance, retail, finance, education, health care, real estate, entertainment and every product that begins with the word “smart” or service touted as “personalized.”

Even Ford, the birthplace of the 20th-century mass production economy, is on the trail of the surveillance dividend, proposing to meet the challenge of slumping car sales by reimagining Ford vehicles as a TRANSPORTATION OPERATING SYSTEM. As one analyst put it, Ford “could make a fortune monetizing data. They won’t need engineers, factories or dealers to do it. It’s almost pure profit.”

Surveillance capitalismҔs economic imperatives were refined in the competition to sell certainty. Early on it was clear that machine intelligence must feed on volumes of data, compelling economies of scale in data extraction. Eventually it was understood that volume is necessary but not sufficient. The best algorithms also require varieties of data economies of scope. This realization helped drive the җmobile revolution sending users into the real world armed with cameras, computers, gyroscopes and microphones packed inside their smart new phones. In the competition for scope, surveillance capitalists want your home and what you say and do within its walls. They want your car, your medical conditions, and the shows you stream; your location as well as all the streets and buildings in your path and all the behavior of all the people in your city. They want your voice and what you eat and what you buy; your childrenӔs play time and their schooling; your brain waves and your bloodstream. Nothing is exempt.

Unequal knowledge about us produces unequal power over us, and so epistemic inequality widens to include the distance between what we can do and what can be done to us. Data scientists describe this as the shift from monitoring to actuation, in which a critical mass of knowledge about a machine system enables the remote control of that system. Now people have become targets for remote control, as surveillance capitalists discovered that the most predictive data come from intervening in behavior to tune, herd and modify action in the direction of commercial objectives. This third imperative, economies of action,ғ has become an arena of intense experimentation. We are learning how to writethe music,ԓ one scientist said, and then we let the music make them dance.ԓ

This new power to make them danceԓ does not employ soldiers to threaten terror and murder. It arrives carrying a cappuccino, not a gun. It is a new instrumentarianԓ power that works its will through the medium of ubiquitous digital instrumentation to manipulate subliminal cues, psychologically target communications, impose default choice architectures, trigger social comparison dynamics and levy rewards and punishments all of it aimed at remotely tuning, herding and modifying human behavior in the direction of profitable outcomes and always engineered to preserve usersԗ ignorance.

We saw predictive knowledge morphing into instrumentarian power in Facebooks contagion experiments published in 2012 and 2014, when it planted subliminal cues and manipulated social comparisons on its pages, first to influence users to vote in midterm elections and later to make people feel sadder or happier. Facebook researchers celebrated the success of these experiments noting two key findings: that it was possible to manipulate online cues to influence real world behavior and feelings, and that this could be accomplished while successfully bypassing usersҒ awareness.

In 2016, the Google-incubated augmented reality game, Pokmon Go, tested economies of action on the streets. Game players did not know that they were pawns in the real game of behavior modification for profit, as the rewards and punishments of hunting imaginary creatures were used to herd people to the McDonalds, Starbucks and local pizza joints that were paying the company for ҩғfootfall, in exactly the same way that online advertisers pay for ԓclick through to their websites.

In 2017, a leaked Facebook documentacquired by The Australian exposed the corporationԒs interest in applying psychological insightsӔ from internal Facebook dataӔ to modify user behavior. The targets were 6.4 million young Australians and New Zealanders. By monitoring posts, pictures, interactions and internet activity in real time,Ӕ the executives wrote, Facebook can work out when young people feel ӑstressed, ґdefeated, ґoverwhelmed, ґanxious, ґnervous, ґstupid, ґsilly, ґuseless and a ґfailure.Ҕ This depth of information, they explained, allows Facebook to pinpoint the time frame during which a young person needs a confidence boostӔ and is most vulnerable to a specific configuration of subliminal cues and triggers. The data are then used to match each emotional phase with appropriate ad messaging for the maximum probability of guaranteed sales.

Facebook denied these practices, though a former product manager accused the company of lying through its teeth.Ӕ The fact is that in the absence of corporate transparency and democratic oversight, epistemic inequality rules. They know. They decide who knows. They decide who decides.

The public’s intolerable knowledge disadvantage is deepened by surveillance capitalists’ perfection of mass communications as gaslighting. Two examples are illustrative. On April 30, 2019 Mark Zuckerberg made a dramatic announcement at the company’
s annual developer conference, declaring, “The future is private.” A few weeks later, a Facebook litigator appeared before a federal district judge in California to thwart a user lawsuit over privacy invasion, arguing that the very act of using Facebook negates any reasonable expectation of privacy ԓas a matter of law. In May 2019 Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, wrote in The Times of his corporationsԒs commitment to the principle that privacy cannot be a luxury good.Ӕ Five months later Google contractors were found offering $5 gift cards to homeless people of color in an Atlanta park in return for a facial scan.

Facebooks denial invites even more scrutiny in light of another leaked company documentappearing in 2018. The confidential report offers rare insight into the heart of FacebookҒs computational factory, where a prediction engineӔ runs on a machine intelligence platform that ingests trillions of data points every day, trains thousands of modelsӔ and then deploys them to the server fleet for live predictions.Ӕ Facebook notes that its prediction serviceӔ produces more than 6 million predictions per second.Ӕ But to what purpose?

In its report, the company makes clear that these extraordinary capabilities are dedicated to meeting its corporate customers ғcore business challenges with procedures that link prediction, microtargeting, intervention and behavior modification. For example, a Facebook service called ԓloyalty prediction is touted for its ability to plumb proprietary behavioral surplus to predict individuals who are ԓat risk of shifting their brand allegiance and alerting advertisers to intervene promptly with targeted messages designed to stabilize loyalty just in time to alter the course of the future.

That year a young man named Christopher Wylie turned whistle-blower on his former employer, a political consultancy known as Cambridge Analytica. ԓWe exploited Facebook to harvest millions of peoples profiles,Ҕ Wylie admitted, and built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.Ӕ Mr. Wylie characterized those techniques as information warfare,Ӕ correctly assessing that such shadow wars are built on asymmetries of knowledge and the power it affords. Less clear to the public or lawmakers was that the political firms strategies of secret invasion and conquest employed surveillance capitalismҒs standard operating procedures to which billions of innocent usersӔ are routinely subjected each day. Mr. Wylie described this mirroring process, as he followed a trail that was already cut and marked. Cambridge Analyticas real innovation was to pivot the whole undertaking from commercial to political objectives.

In other words, Cambridge Analytica was the parasite, and surveillance capitalism was the host. Thanks to its epistemic dominance, surveillance capitalism provided the behavioral data that exposed the targets for assault. Its methods of behavioral microtargeting and behavioral modification became the weapons. And it was surveillance capitalism’s lack of accountability for content on its platform afforded by Section 230 that provided the opportunity for the stealth attacks designed to trigger the inner demons of unsuspecting citizens.

Its not just that epistemic inequality leaves us utterly vulnerable to the attacks of actors like Cambridge Analytica. The larger and more disturbing point is that surveillance capitalism has turned epistemic inequality into a defining condition of our societies, normalizing information warfare as a chronic feature of our daily reality prosecuted by the very corporations upon which we depend for effective social participation. They have the knowledge, the machines, the science and the scientists, the secrets and the lies. All privacy now rests with them, leaving us with few means of defense from these marauding data invaders. Without law, we scramble to hide in our own lives, while our children debate encryption strategies around the dinner table and students wear masks to public protests as protection from facial recognition systems built with our family photos.

In the absence of new declarations of epistemic rights and legislation, surveillance capitalism threatens to remake society as it unmakes democracy. From below, it undermines human agency, usurping privacy, diminishing autonomy and depriving individuals of the right to combat. From above, epistemic inequality and injustice are fundamentally incompatible with the aspirations of a democratic people.

We know that surveillance capitalists work in the shadows, but what they do there and the knowledge they accrue are unknown to us. They have the means to know everything about us, but we can know little about them. Their knowledge of us is not for us. Instead, our futures are sold for othersҒ profits. Since that Federal Trade Commission meeting in 1997, the line was never drawn, and people did become chattel for commerce. Another destructive delusion is that this outcome was inevitable an unavoidable consequence of convenience-enhancing digital technologies. The truth is that surveillance capitalism hijacked the digital medium. There was nothing inevitable about it.

American lawmakers have been reluctant to take on these challenges for many reasons. One is an unwritten policy of דsurveillance exceptionalism forged in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when the governmentԒs concerns shifted from online privacy protections to a new zeal for total information awareness.Ӕ In that political environment the fledgling surveillance capabilities emerging from Silicon Valley appeared to hold great promise.

Surveillance capitalists have also defended themselves with lobbying and forms of propaganda intended to undermine and intimidate lawmakers, confounding judgment and freezing action. These have received relatively little scrutiny compared to the damage they do. Consider two examples:

The first is the assertion that democracy threatens prosperity and innovation. Former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt explained in 2011, we took the position of “hands off” the internet. You know, “leave us alone.” The government can make regulatory mistakes that can slow this whole thing down, and we see that and we worry about it. This propaganda is recycled from the Gilded Age barons, whom we now call “robbers.” They insisted that there was no need for law when one had the law of survival of the fittest,” the “laws of capital” and the “law of supply and demand.”

Paradoxically, surveillance capital does not appear to drive innovation. A promising new era of economic research shows the critical role that government and democratic governance have played in innovation and suggests a lack of innovation in big tech companies like Google. Surveillance capitalism’s information dominance is not dedicated to the urgent challenges of carbon-free energy, eliminating hunger, curing cancers, ridding the oceans of plastic or flooding the world with well paid, smart, loving teachers and doctors. Instead, we see a frontier operation run by geniuses with vast capital and computational power that is furiously dedicated to the lucrative science and economics of human prediction for profit.

The second form of propaganda is the argument that the success of the leading surveillance capitalist firms reflects the real value they bring to people. But data from the demand side suggest that surveillance capitalism is better understood as a market failure. Instead of a close alignment of supply and demand, people use these services because they have no comparable alternatives and because they are ignorant of surveillance capitalism’s shadow operations and their consequences. Pew Research Center recently reported that 81 percent of Americans believe the potential risks of companies’ data collection outweigh the benefits, suggesting that corporate success depends upon coercion and obfuscation rather than meeting peoples real needs.

In his prizewinning history of regulation, the historian Thomas McCraw delivers a warning. Across the centuries regulators failed when they did not frame strategies appropriate to the particular industries they were regulating. Existing privacy and antitrust laws are vital but neither will be wholly adequate to the new challenges of reversing epistemic inequality.

These contests of the 21st century demand a framework of epistemic rights enshrined in law and subject to democratic governance. Such rights would interrupt data supply chains by safeguarding the boundaries of human experience before they come under assault from the forces of datafication. The choice to turn any aspect of oneӔs life into data must belong to individuals by virtue of their rights in a democratic society. This means, for example, that companies cannot claim the right to your face, or use your face as free raw material for analysis, or own and sell any computational products that derive from your face. The conversation on epistemic rights has already begun, reflected in a pathbreaking report from Amnesty International.

On the demand side, we can outlaw human futures markets and thus eliminate the financial incentives that sustain the surveillance dividend. This is not a radical prospect. For example, societies outlaw markets that trade in human organs, babies and slaves. In each case, we recognize that such markets are both morally repugnant and produce predictably violent consequences. Human futures markets can be shown to produce equally predictable outcomes that challenge human freedom and undermine democracy. Like subprime mortgages and fossil fuel investments, surveillance assets will become the new toxic assets.

In support of a new competitive landscape, lawmakers will need to champion new forms of collective action, just as nearly a century ago legal protections for the rights to organize, to strike and to bargain collectively united lawmakers and workers in curbing the powers of monopoly capitalists. Lawmakers must seek alliances with citizens who are deeply concerned over the unchecked power of the surveillance capitalists and with workers who seek fair wages and reasonable security in defiance of the precarious employment conditions that define the surveillance economy.

Anything made by humans can be unmade by humans. Surveillance capitalism is young, barely 20 years in the making, but democracy is old, rooted in generations of hope and contest.

Surveillance capitalists are rich and powerful, but they are not invulnerable. They have an Achilles heel: fear. They fear lawmakers who do not fear them. They fear citizens who demand a new road forward as they insist on new answers to old questions: Who will know? Who will decide who knows? Who will decide who decides? Who will writethe music, and who will dance?

Shoshana Zuboff (@ShoshanaZuboff) is professor emerita at Harvard Business School and the author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: .

Follow @privacyproject on Twitter and The New York Times Opinion Section on Facebook and Instagram.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/28/20 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Dying America
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Screwed By Charter

image cable company monopoly

I got a home security system managed by (Charter) the local cable company.

For the service I had to buy their ZIGBEE sensors up front, and pay a monthly fee for monitoring.

The system worked well for years.

What I’m just learning now - is the sensors are firmware locked to Charter’s system, and can’t be reused by any other monitoring company.

Charter is GETTING OUT OF THE HOME SECURITY BUSINESS leaving me with over a thousand dollars of perfectly good sensors that will soon be worthless and thrown in the garbage.

---

Spectrum Kills Home Security Business, Refuses Refunds for Owners of Now-Worthless Equipment

By Dell Cameron
Gizmodo
January 9, 2020

Spectrum customers who are also users of the company’s home security service are about a month away from being left with a pile of useless equipment that in many cases cost them hundreds of dollars.

On February 5, Spectrum will NO LONGER SUPPORT customers who’ve purchased its Spectrum Home Security equipment. None of the devices the cameras, motion sensors, smart thermostats, and in-home touchscreens - can be paired with other existing services. In a few weeks, itll all be worthless junk.

While some of the devices may continue to function on their own, customers will soon no longer be able to access them using their mobile devices, which is sort of the whole point of owning a smart device.

On Friday, California’s KSBY News INTERVIEWED one Spectrum customer who said that he’d spent around $900 installing cameras and sensors in and around his Cheviot Hills home. That the equipment is soon-to-be worthless isn’t even the worst part. Spectrum is also running off with his money.

The customer reportedly contacted the company about converting the cost of his investment into credit toward his phone or cable bill. The company declined, he said.

Spectrum is owned by Charter Communications, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the U.S. It acquired the home security business in 2016 during its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Charter discontinued the marketing of the home security products shortly after the merger, indicating its plan to exit the business has been in the works for some time. Nevertheless, Spectrum customers were only notified that the service would be ended last month.

A Charter official told Gizmodo on Friday that the company was aiming for a smooth “transition” and claimed only a small percentage of customers would be affected.

Spectrum is hoping to smooth things over with exclusive “offers” from other home security companies, including Ring, which is owned by Amazon. The Ring deal includes a free alarm security kit, but will require Spectrum customers to purchase a year of professional monitoring at a cost of $340.

Rings kit INCLUDES an alarm base station, keypad, three contact sensors, one motion sensor, and one range extender, plus installation at no additional charge. The deal does not include security cameras, but customers will receive 25 percent off any Ring camera or doorbell over $100.

Spectrum is offering a similar deal through Abobe at a cost of $179 per year. The deal INCLUDES one gateway, three mini-door or windowsensors, one motion sensor, a key fob, a keypad, a streaming camera, and a “Secured by Abode” sticker.

The offers notwithstanding, many Spectrum Home Security users will soon find themselves out hundreds of dollars. Spectrum apparently believes it can afford to aggravate these customers, some if not most of whom will have no choice but to continue paying Spectrum for internet service.

Adding insult to injury, Charter and other major internet service providers have enjoyed a massive windfall under the Trump administration thanks to the sweeping 2017 tax breaks passed by the 115th Congress, not to mention the deregulatory efforts of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Ajit Pai.

Since 2017, the FCC has worked to roll back numerous consumer protections implemented under the former administration, arguing that a “light-touch” regulatory regime will spur new investments, jobs, and inevitably lower costs for consumers. Those promises, however, have largely failed to materialize.

AT&T, one of the country’s largest ISPs, enjoyed a round of positive press for doling out $1,000 bonuses to employees after receiving a $3 billion tax break, is now engaged in sweeping layoffs and is reportedly forcing American workers to train their own foreign replacements.

The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

SOURCE

I called the folks at Charter and asked them to unlock the sensors.

The representative may have flat out lied to me.  He said they are reusable by any zigbee aware system, and all I need to do is pop out the battery or wait until service is turned off.  I called a week later and told the same thing by a different rep.

I also called at least a dozen alarm companies, some local and and few of the big companies like ADT to take over monitoring.

They all say the sensors are unusable by anyone but Charter, and I need to buy a whole new system.

Next I instant messaged the Charter folks over at Twitter.

First they dismissed the issue not unlike the phone reps did, then reminded me how much they love their customers:

Me -> @Ask_Spectrum
I understand you guys are getting out of the home security business.  I called a bunch of alarm companies including the big guys like adt and brinks to take over monitoring. They all say they can’t because the sensors are locked to your system.  The folks at STOP THE CAP say the same thing.

I called your company and the rep tells me that’s not correct, that any company can reuse them.  I have over a thousand dollars invested in these sensors. 

Whose telling the truth here?

Ask Spectrum
Thank you for contacting us today. 
As far as another company accepting our equipment, we have no control over that. 
The agent misspoke as it is up to the third party companies whether or not they will utilize our equipment or not. ^JK

Me
The question is are the sensors vendor locked, yes or no?

Ask Spectrum
We don’t have that information. 
It is the choice of the vendor if they want to use them or not. ^JK

Me
It’s all over the internet that Charter is discontinuing home security and leaving customers with bricked sensors because they’re firmware locked to your system so they can’t be reused. 
I called Charter asking to unlock them.  That didn’t work. 
So I’m asking you to please unlock them.

Ask Spectrum
Unfortunately, you would need new equipment.
We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. -AZ

Me
What’s your company’s reason for refusing to unlock them for reuse?

Ask Spectrum
Due to security reasons, our devices are non transferrable to other companies.
This previously helped us keep our service as secure as possible. -AZ

Me
Will you please buy them back?

Ask Spectrum
We will not be buying back any purchased equipment.
We apologize for this inconvenience. -AZ

Me
How about we split the bill 50/50 for the price paid?
Your half can be an account credit?

Ask Spectrum
We are not providing credit for any purchased equipment. -AZ

This is another expression of capitalism at its worst.

Only in America can companies be so brazen, arrogant and get away with stuff like this.

A Slashdot poster POINTS OUT:

No idea. I’ve not read their contracts. But it’s a complicated case. Not all things need to be written in a contract. For example if a contract is completely one sided it can be ruled invalid even if both parties sign. Such would be the case if I bought something with the expectation to have it for a reasonable amount of time, only to have it killed within a few months and not get my money back.

Many countries don’t just rely on contracts, but rather codify this in law. E.g. the Sales of Goods Act in Australia would require something to be fit for purpose or require redress. The classic case that this law is based on was someone (don’t ask me to remember the exact details, I did law 20 years ago) who bought carpet for their office only to have it wear through after 6 months of rolling on it with chairs. They were entitled to get the entire carpet replaced. Or Microsoft’s Xbox365 with it’s red ring. There’s a reason they were forced to replace these units in Australia regardless of if they were out of warranty or not as the expectation for fit for purpose was that a console lasts until the following model is released.

In Europe not only do devices come with 2 year warranty but they need to remain functional, and spare parts available from 2 years from purchase or the customer can get a full refund.

These kinds of consumer protection laws are missing in America, but I’m wondering what a good lawyer could argue.

What other buyer beware lessons are learned here?

Charter also has a mobile phone service.  You can BUY AN IPHONE FROM THEM, and pay monthly for service.

No thanks.  I’m AFRAID they can just as easily pull the same stunt with the phone so it can’t be used by another carrier, if/when they decide to pull out of THAT BUSINESS

Fool me one shame on me.
Fool me twice shame on you.

And - about the cloud:

Slashdot AGAIN:

There’s a good side to this. We need several high profile stories like this. Best buy killed their cloud service for insignia products last fall and now this.

Maybe a few more repeats and enough people getting burned this way and people will start to understand how stupid it is to buy hardware that relies on somebody’s cloud service that can be shut down at any time.

To add insult to injury - after they’re done screwing customers with this move, THEY MAY:

Dubbed “Spectrum Home Security powered by Ring,” the company would charge a $190 up-front cost for equipment, feature DIY installation and carry a $10 per month monitoring solution fee

AND:

it remains active in other aspects of the smart home. Last November, Charter announced it had adopted OpenSync, an open source framework originating with Plume, that is being used to power a new in-home WiFi management service initially introduced in Austin, Texas. Charter has also teamed with (and invested in) Cujo AI on products that will center on in-home network monitoring and security services

I’m sure they realize that no way, no how - will I sign up for their replacement service. 

Or an iPhone.

Or whatever else they decide to market.

What really burns me up after this is Charter’s a monopoly for high speed internet service in my town, so even though I’m dying to take that business elsewhere - I can’t.

Damn.

Government Slaves Article

Channel 7 Syracuse Video

Help me out and write the Charter big shots

READ MORE...
Posted by Elvis on 01/12/20 •
Section Dying America
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home
Page 1 of 643 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »

Statistics

Total page hits 9581268
Page rendered in 5.9397 seconds
39 queries executed
Debug mode is off
Total Entries: 3215
Total Comments: 337
Most Recent Entry: 02/14/2020 06:06 am
Most Recent Comment on: 01/02/2016 09:13 pm
Total Logged in members: 0
Total guests: 21
Total anonymous users: 0
The most visitors ever was 172 on 12/25/2019 07:40 am


Email Us

Home

Members:
Login | Register
Resumes | Members

In memory of the layed off workers of AT&T

Today's Diversion

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. - Anonymous

Search


Advanced Search

Sections

Calendar

February 2020
S M T W T F S
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Must Read

Most recent entries

RSS Feeds

Today's News

ARS Technica

External Links

Elvis Picks

BLS Pages

Favorites

All Posts

Archives

RSS


Creative Commons License


Support Bloggers' Rights