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This dark concept of total distrust was mostly spread via the Internet because it was what the Internet was built for—sharing ideas. Although the Internet is the most democratic means of communicating, it can be also be misused by governments and other groups.

Does this mean we should accept the concept that the Internet carries more threats than benefits?

The creators of the Internet supported the opposite concept. Unlike Putin, they believed in people and built the global network under the assumption that it would be used for sharing something good. They may look naïve these days, but we have our modern linked-up technological world thanks to their concepts, not Putin’s. These days, we all speak the language of suspicion and threats posed by the Internet. In a way, in means we are speaking Kremlin’s language. Do we really need to?

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Apathy is Political

On Sidney Crosby’s visit with the Penguins to the Trump White House:

Apathetic white people who groan when athletes of colour get political, or who suggest as Crosby did that politics and sports do not mix, are in need of a reminder that for most, political activism isn’t a choice or a hobby. People don’t usually consider it fun or interesting to put their jobs on the line to speak out against a bigger power. The marginalized do not go looking for politics. It seeks them out. In this context, it sought them out when the President of the United States openly flirted with a racist ideology that would very much like to destroy them.

Exactly.

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The Dangers of Political ‘Marketing’

‘Politics’ by Samuel Thorne (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) at https://flic.kr/p/kAgBCR

From n+1:

Given that some of the major players involved in Trump’s campaign effort have obsessions with war tactics and strategy, it’s easy to imagine that weaponized targeting may not only be a pre-election phenomenon. Such efforts could be employed as part of an ongoing campaign to weaken any resistance to the Trump Administration and thwart political opposition through ratcheting up in-fighting and splintering. It’s not an overstatement to suggest that the infrastructure of mass consumer surveillance enables new kinds of actors to take up the work of COINTELPRO on a mass scale. Former Cambridge Analytica employees have said the company internally discusses their operations as psychological warfare.

Cambridge Analytica may not be alone in pursuing these types of psychological warfare tactics. In response to the recent revelations of Russian-bought Facebook ads, Senator Mark Warner told the Washington Post that the aim of the ads was “to sow chaos.” Yet, rather than promoting general chaos, some ads may have been specifically designed to fuel infighting among the Trump opposition. Earlier this year, The Intercept showed that TigerSwan, a shady mercenary firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to combat communities opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline, used knowledge gleaned from surveillance as part of their own strategy to splinter their opponents. A leaked TigerSwan document declared, “Exploitation of ongoing native versus non-native rifts, and tribal rifts between peaceful and violent elements is critical in our effort to delegitimize the anti-DAPL movement.”

What our current digital environment affords are opportunities for efficient, large-scale use of such tactics, which can be refined by data-rich feedback loops. Manipulation campaigns can plug into the commercial surveillance infrastructure and draw on lessons of behavioral science. They can use testing to refine strategies that take account of the personal traits of targets and identify interventions that may be most potent. This might mean identifying marginal participants, let’s say for joining a march or boycott, and zeroing in on interventions to dissuade them from taking action. Even more worrisomely, such targeting could try to push potential allies in different directions. Targets predicted to have more radical inklings could be pushed toward radical tactics and fed stories deriding compromise with liberal allies. Simultaneously, those predicted to have more liberal sympathies may be fed stories that hype fears about radical takeover of the resistance. Such campaigns would likely play off divisions along race, gender, issue-specific priorities, and other lines of identity and affinity.

We’re reaching the pinnacle of what online advertising can do: identify persons of interest, separate specific persons from others to discretely target them, and motivate targets to change their emotional states and act based on those states. It’s bad enough this is done to push products but, now, the same activities are seeping into the political systems and damaging democratic undertakings in the process. Such activity has to be regulated, if not stopped entirely.

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On Minimum Sentences in Canada

Michael Spratt writes:

The evidence on the lack of effectiveness and costs of minimum sentence is clear. In 2016, Wilson-Raybould said that minimum sentences were a priority. After almost a year of inaction, that priority is manifest in a concern about public opinion?

But perhaps this should not be a surprise given that in 2016 The Canadian Press reported that the Liberals were eyeing a “politically viable strategy” to bring changes to minimum sentences.

After a decade of ideological criminal justice policy at the hands of the Harper government, swift and principled action is imperative. Inaction means unjust court results, less safe streets, increased court delays and ballooning costs.

Minimum sentences represent the lowest-hanging fruit for meaningful justice reform. Their counterproductive and negative impacts are well documented.

This is not a matter for debate. The solutions are known and uncomplicated.

All we need now is a justice minister with the principle and conviction to take action. Unfortunately, it seems that piece is still missing.

I heartily agree: these types of sentencing rules must be abolished and discretion returned to the bench.

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The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

As the year draws to a close, it now seems possible that there will be multiple investigations of the Russian hacking — the intelligence review Mr. Obama has ordered completed by Jan. 20, the day he leaves office, and one or more congressional inquiries. They will wrestle with, among other things, Mr. Putin’s motive.

Did he seek to mar the brand of American democracy, to forestall anti-Russian activism for both Russians and their neighbors? Or to weaken the next American president, since presumably Mr. Putin had no reason to doubt American forecasts that Mrs. Clinton would win easily? Or was it, as the C.I.A. concluded last month, a deliberate attempt to elect Mr. Trump?

In fact, the Russian hack-and-dox scheme accomplished all three goals.

This is an absolutely brilliant piece of journalism by Harris, Singer, and Shane. It unpacks the publicly available information about the intrusions into the Democratic National Committee’s systems and how information was subsequently mobilized and weaponized. These sorts of attacks will continue to be effective because all it takes is a single failure on the part of defenders, often in the face of hundreds or thousands of discrete attacks. As a result the remediation process is, today, arguably the most important of a cyber-security event because a dedicated and resourced attacker will eventually penetrate even the best secured networking infrastructure. And the Democratic National Committee, and Democratic Party more generally, still lacks a remediation policy months after the attacks.

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Privacy and Policing in a Digital World

As the federal government holds public consultations on what changes should be made to Bill C-51, the controversial anti-terrorism legislation passed by the Conservative government, various police agencies such as the RCMP and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have petitioned to gain new powers to access telephone and internet data. Meanwhile nearly half of Canadians believe they should have the right to complete digital privacy. The Agenda examines the question of how to balance privacy rights with effective policing in the digital realm.

I was part of a panel that discussed some of the powers that the Government of Canada is opening for discussion as part of its National Security consultation, which ends on December 15, 2016. If you want to provide comments to the government, see: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/defence/nationalsecurity/consultation-national-security.html

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Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America

As a candidate, Trump’s gas lighting was manipulative, as President-elect it is a deliberate attempt to destabilize journalism as a check on the power of government.

To be clear, the “us” here is everyone living under Trump. It’s radical progressives, hardline Republicans, and Jill Stein’s weird cousin. The President of the United States cannot be lying to the American electorate with zero accountability. The threat of deception is not a partisan issue. Trump took advantage of the things that divide this country, pitting us against one another, while lying his way to the Oval Office. Yes, everything is painfully clear in hindsight, but let’s make sure Trump’s win was the Lasik eye surgery we all so desperately needed.

The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we’re not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It’s on every single one of us to stop pretending it’s always been so hot in here.

Teen Vogue has one of the more biting analyses of Trump’s activities in the US media. Teen. Vogue.