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VOLUME 16 NO.4

EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

NOVEMBER, 2016

©2016 Ski

Words, Cartoons & Illustrations

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THE ROUND UP SEARCH FOR PRIVACY

Recent news reports state that Yahoo has been complying with a U.S. government request to copy, store and give its customers emails to government officials. It is thought that it is under the guise of a blanket security order granted outside the normal scope of search warrants.

The company complied with a classified US government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events. Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a US Internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency's request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time, according to Reuters in its first report on the story.

Reuters could not confirm what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified. Reuters was unable to determine what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any, and if intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo with this kind of request.

In a follow-up in the New York Times, it appears that a Yahoo system intended to scan emails for child pornography and spam helped Yahoo satisfy a secret court order requiring it to search for messages containing a computer “signature” tied to the communications of a state-sponsored terrorist organization, several people familiar with the matter told The Times. Sources said the Justice Department obtained an individualized order from a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year. Yahoo was barred from disclosing the matter. To comply, Yahoo customized an existing scanning system for all incoming email traffic, which also looks for malware, according to one of the officials and to a third person familiar with Yahoo's response. With some modifications, the system stored and made available to the Federal Bureau of Investigation a copy of any messages it found that contained the digital signature. The collection is no longer taking place, those two people said. The order was unusual because it involved the systematic scanning of all Yahoo users’ emails rather than individual accounts; several other tech companies said they had not encountered such a demand.

Under American constitutional law, general or blanket warrants or subpoenas are not allowed to enforced by police authorities. An agency needs to file an affidavit to support a court order to search and seize a citizen's property or privacy. The agency needs probable cause to request the warrant - - - the need to search to obtain and preserve evidence of a crime.

But under the NSA and other federal agencies, the idea of individual warrants is fruitless under the new technology and communications of the internet age. These agencies want blanket authority to capture all Internet traffic and sort it through later. It is the largest fishing expedition in American history. And Internet users have no notice that their personal privacy is being violated by secret search warrants.

Search warrants need to be specific as to the person and the evidence to be gathered against a person. The vagueness of capturing in real time any email with a common word or expression is disturbing overreach.

Civil libertarians are aghast at the latest news. Major technology companies like Apple have fought requests to obtain customer data. Tim Cook has pledged that customer privacy and encryption are necessary for society. It is also important because one of Apple’s growing revenue sources is Apple Pay, which relies upon privacy and security features.

Part of the troublesome Yahoo story is that Yahoo itself is under a gag order not to discuss it with the press , public or its own users. This puts the entire process under the guise of being a rogue Star Chamber. Without First Amendment privacy rights, any government agency can abuse individuals without any recourse or justice or due process. The reason for the intrusion has been that it necessary for “national security.”

But in most respects, information gathering in this scale is like finding a needle in a haystack the size of Nebraska. So the analysts want to capture and preserve the haystack instead of looking for the needle. In the process, everyone's personal information is being stored by a third party no one can control. Under servers which may not be secure. And under the ability to use, manipulate and data mine the information for evil or political purposes, critics charge.

It is the same cry and hue that politicians use to raise taxes for pork projects by invoking “it is for the children.” Government officials have been beaten back when these cases actually land before a federal judge applying constitutional law and precedent. But the problem is that no one really knows how many secret warrants or information gathering nets the government is running on its citizens. And no one knows what the officials are doing with all this information. If the Wikileaks emails on the Clinton campaign and Democratic party are any indication of how elected officials view and treat the average citizen, then the public is in serious trouble.

The Internet is no longer a Wild West frontier of free thinkers and content creators. It is now viewed as a potential global battlefield where information are atomic bombs. Governments are putting more controls on Internet use to become the gatekeepers. Anyone who controls the information gates controls the free flow of information. Anyone who puts up a gate can easily convert it into a toll gate. (As you can tell, there are conspiracy theories of nefarious government activities with the use of the net.)

 

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DROP KICK APPLE REVERSES CAR PLANS

It was no surprise that Apple gave up on the rumored Apple iCar (or whatever moniker the press gave it over the years). Building automotive vehicles is a difficult task. The amount of parts, regulations, logistics and manpower to design, develop and build a car is staggering even for established car companies. Before General Motors went bankrupt, word on the street was that GM was really a health benefits company that made vehicles on the side. Union contracts and benefit obligations sucked the life out of the company to the point of unprofitability in a world where non-union labor vehicles made in the Southern US or imported from Asia were just as good as domestic cars.

Most people do not realize how difficult it is to create a new business. There are federal, state and local regulations. If you want to create a factory, you need experts in environmental, zoning and legal matters before you hire one employee. And there is no guarantee that you will get all the required approvals. Apple has the financial resources to do anything it wants to do. It currently has $235 billion in cash (most of it held overseas).

Wall Street analysts, most of whom never ran a business in their lives, kept pressing the tech giant for new, innovative, disruptive game changing product. Active investors pushed Apple into new tech lines, such as the smart watch when there was really no pressing need or market for a tethered wrist device. Active investors demand growth over steady profits. They believe that Apple's reliance on the iPhone (with 63 percent of income from overseas) is a big balloon that could burst.

Apple just reported its first year over year profit decline in 15 years. Apple is still a premium brand. Its products function well. It has a loyal customer base. But there is constant new competition in its core fields. The problem with growth models is that the average consumer with a smart phone does not need a new one every two years. The same consumer who relies on their smart phone really does not need to own either a laptop or a tablet because the phone connects to the Internet and social media platforms with easy apps.

So the huge potential growth engine for Apple was claimed to be its own smart car. The false assumption is that this project is something the late Steve Jobs would want to do. But no one can define what that would be; no one could point to a need for one. Tesla's self driving cars (which are not really self driving cars) and Google’s software adventures in the automotive space were supposed to spark Apple's creative solutions.

But most people who buy cars want to drive them. If they want to be chauffeured around town, they can call a taxi. And the younger generation (under 30) have little interest in owning cars. They get their public transportation fix with Uber and subway trains.

Millennials by their nature are not on the same material track as their parents. They are not going to stay with their first employer for life. They are going to have slash/careers of multiple jobs. They may not want to get in debt with mortgage or car payments. They want to live an untethered life style away from a corporate 24/7 grind. All car companies know these disturbing trends. You are officially old in America if you are over 38 years old. More than half the US population is under 38. That means that is the economic engine for the future. A future where individual car ownership is not a priority. Now Apple will probably continue to engineer product solutions to make cars more tech savvy. Apple has already started the integration of Siri, GPS, search and iTunes into the dashboard.

Even though fan boys wanted Apple to do something super cool in the auto space, a better version of the DeLorean (above), it would have been an expensive sinkhole. The DeLorean's claim to fame is being the show piece in the Back to the Future movie franchise. It was chosen as a running joke by the film producers.

 

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FOUND BUT NOT LOST ON THE INTERNET

In Japan, you can hire a Haunted Taxi for Halloween.

Gruesome fun.

Bentley has a new feature on its luxury cars. It is the self-washing headlight mechanism.

We guess only the rich need to know where they are going on dusty roads.

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THE WHETHER REPORT

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STATUS

Question: Whether electronic voting irregularities will turn up in the US election?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether professional sports leagues push to pull their fans to the league's own network or Internet streaming apps will hurt overall viewership?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether Elon Musk's big car dreams will turn into the next DeLorean?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

 

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EXAMINING THE NET

WAY OF LIFE

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EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE

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