The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Posts Tagged ‘Google

Don’t Be Evil – Google’s Hypocrisy

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Larry Page as Dr EvilHas Google become something it once told us never to be?

Anti-trust regulators say Google unfairly and illegally used its dominance in search to promote its own products over those of competitors paying for ads and placement in its search engine.

Then there’s the company’s repeatedly defensive and dishonest responses to charges that its specially equipped street-view cars collected private internet communications — including emails, photographs, passwords, chat messages, and postings on websites and social networks.

Next we learn of Google’s plan to work with China to develop a search engine that will censor websites and search terms on human rights, religion, protests, and democracy. Something called Project Dragonfly, which brings us to the multi-billion dollar question, is Google testing this censorship technology in the U.S. for political and corporate gain?

Political conservatives would quickly say yes, from experience.

Google’s internal culture has been laid bare by James Damore’s lawsuit alleging employment discrimination. The picture we get is a corporate culture of lockstep ideological uniformity, enforced by censorship, badgering, and blacklisting. Damore provides, in his evidence, a note from a Google manager in 2015, addressed to “hostile voices.”

I will never, ever hire/transfer you onto my team. Ever. I don’t care if you are perfect fit or technically excellent or whatever. I will actively not work with you, even to the point where your team or product is impacted by this decision. I’ll communicate why to your manager if it comes up. You’re being blacklisted by people at companies outside of Google. You might not have been aware of this, but people know, people talk. There are always social consequences.

In other words , “you will think and act like us or you will be turned into a pariah.” How open-minded and free-thinking.

But the laundry list goes on…

  • There’s the ill-conceived launch of Google-Buzz which made all of your contacts in Gmail viewable to the public. A huge privacy issue that ticked off pretty much everyone.
  • Google’s tendency to buy up companies and sunset them without any notice, even if they are turning a profit like Jetpac and Picnik, leaving company employees looking for work.
  • Is Android an open platform? That may be more lip-service than reality. In a lawsuit by Skyhook Wireless, Google was accused of forcing Motorola to cancel a deal with Skyhook to provide location-based services for Motorola phones because Google wanted them to use their location services instead. Big boot squashing little company…
  • Then there’s the time Google got caught “tricking” Apple’s Safari browser into letting Google monitor Apple users’ web-surfing behavior.

But perhaps the biggest reason Google has become what it told us never to be is their total lack of respect for your privacy. Google built its reputation and empire on the idea that it would always put users first and build its products on the premise that they would always function in the user’s best interest, not their own, hence the motto “Don’t Be Evil.” Google built a lucrative company on a reputation and model of mutual respect. That was reversed in 2012 when Google announced their new privacy policy and the “cross-pollination” with regard to your private information being pulled and shared through multiple Google products and services. Bottom line: everything they told us prior to this change was a load of crap.

Google began as a unique and superior search engine that was very much a model of free enterprise and free market principles. But as the phrase “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” reminds us, those who grow into a position of control and dominance too often take their advantage to extremes, whether by intent or by losing control of the giant they’ve created.

Still millions of people use Google products every day either due to ignorance or because convenience and ease of use has chipped away at our resistance to losing our privacy online.

Google, it seems, has become one of two things. The modern technological version of Frankenstein’s monster or something much worse. Either way, growing public opinion suggests Google has become something it once told us never to be.

Evil.

Note: I will continue to add article links to this post as Google does more evil stuff.

townhall.com – John Stossel discusses censorship by Google and social media giants.

How Google Tracks Your Personal Information – An insider’s account of the dark side of search engine marketing

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Written by DCL

November 19, 2018 at 10:05 am

Posted in News, News Media

Tagged with ,

Your Government Wants Your Passwords

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big brother wants your passwordsThe federal government has demanded that major internet companies turn over users’ stored passwords, according to CNet, a highly respected tech website.

CNet is calling this an “escalation” in internet surveillance by the federal government.

So what does this escalation mean exactly?

“If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user,” the report says. “Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.”

If that’s not concerning enough your government not only wants your passwords, but it also wants algorithms and security questions regarding those passwords.

Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.

So far these have only been requests and so far the companies receiving the requests are fighting them. But most of the big internet companies like Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo declined to comment in the CNet article or provide any specifics concerning the requests.  Apple, Facebook, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast did not respond to queries about whether they have received requests for users’ passwords and how they would respond to them.

The FBI declined to comment.

The question is can you protect your private communications and information if the Feds do get access? The CNet author seemed to provide a little bit of advice, whether intentional or not is hard to say. He said longer passwords that contain odd characters are much harder to discover even with an algorithm.

One popular algorithm, used by Twitter and LinkedIn, is called bcrypt. A 2009 paper (PDF) by computer scientist Colin Percival estimated that it would cost a mere $4 to crack, in an average of one year, an 8-character bcrypt password composed only of letters. To do it in an average of one day, the hardware cost would jump to approximately $1,500.

But if a password of the same length included numbers, asterisks, punctuation marks, and other special characters, the cost-per-year leaps to $130,000. Increasing the length to any 10 characters, Percival estimated in 2009, brings the estimated cracking cost to a staggering $1.2 billion.

There are times where law enforcement may need this kind of information when investigating a crime, however those instances should be handled case by case and only in accordance with local, state, and federal law.  I’m of the opinion that once you break the law you begin to lose privileges.  That’s by choice.  This situation ignores choice, rights, and the freedoms of law abiding citizens if indeed blanket access to passwords is provided.

If you’re uncomfortable with this story, and I think everyone should be, call your congressional representatives and senators and let them know this is unacceptable.  Ask them if they are aware of these requests.  Ask them to explain the depth and detail if indeed they are aware.  But most of all let them know YOU’RE AWARE.