Saturday, November 08, 2014

Fibbies strike at TOR and Dark Web, shortly after Facebook allows it; do smart TV's compromise privacy?

I’ll start today’s discussion with privacy with mention of a story about a “smart TV”, a story by Michael Price, “I’m Terrified of my new TV: I’m scared to turn this thing on, and you should be too,” link here.  That’s because of the webcam and Internet capabilities, and possible tracking.  I haven’t tried to use my Insignia that way. 

But the big story today on the front page of the Washington Post is “U.S., European authorities strike against Internet’s black markets”, by Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima, link here. The law enforcement action was called “Operation Dark Web” or “Operation Onymous” (the antonym of “anonymous”).  Over 400 site were shut down Friday, with 17 people arrested, for selling drugs, weapons, prostitution and sex trade, or counterfeit goods, on site supposedly protected by TOR and relying on bitcoin.  TOR (“The Onion Router”) has been touted as something everyone had a moral obligation to learn to use.  The NSA has been particularly active with breaking TOR.
No doubt, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will question these takedowns, and investigate whether legitimate businesses were affected with them.  That has been the case before with counterfeit goods and piracy (and some notorious ICE seizures). 

I checked all my sites Saturday morning and found everything working normally (one of the service providers had warned of unusual scheduled maintenance for security).  But in 2006, I found that on an older site where I had placed an “opposing viewpoints” database on MySQL, the “java” access failed with internal server errors, and, unlike the outages previously, it was never restored.  (PHP continued to work.)  Later I would learn that the smaller ISP, housed in Florida and then New Jersey, was in legal trouble.  I wonder if my stuff got caught in this kind of operation.  I have not restored it, since it had become clumsy to work this way – in the days before modern social media and blogging platforms.
But just on November 4, according to another Post story by Justin Meyer, Facebook had given some overseas users access to TOR (link  as a way to help them counter oppressive regimes, in contradiction to its usual “real names” identity policy which Mark Zuckerberg has always said was essential to integrity. .  

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