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Last post Author Topic: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.  (Read 145961 times)

IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Google so transparent that they are opaque?
« Reply #650 on: April 09, 2015, 01:02:41 AM »
Following this comment: (my emphasis)
Potentially relevant to this thread - I just received this email (follows) from Google:
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images, but I have given just the basic links without all the concealed Google/NSA ID coding that was in the hyperlinks.)
Quote
From: no-reply@takeaction.withgoogle.com
Google regularly receives requests from governments and courts around the world to hand over our users' data. When we receive government requests for users' personal information, we follow a strict process to help protect against unnecessary intrusion.

Since 2010, we have regularly updated the Google Transparency Report with details about these requests. As the first company to release the numbers, as well as details of how we respond, we've been working hard for more transparency.
...

- whilst at the time I regarded it skeptically as probably loaded with BS and corporate doublespeak, there was no indication that I just may have been right - that is, until I read with interest today this rather long and apparently well-researched and informative article by Ben Edelman:
(Copied below sans the many embedded hyperlinks and cross-references.)
Quote
Beyond the FTC Memorandum: Comparing Google's Internal Discussions with Its Public Claims

April 1, 2015

Disclosure: I serve as a consultant to various companies that compete with Google. That work is ongoing and covers varied subjects, most commonly advertising fraud. I write on my own—not at the suggestion or request of any client, without approval or payment from any client.

Through a FOIA request, the Wall Street Journal recently obtained--and generously provided to the public--never-before-seen documents from the FTC's 2011-2012 investigation of Google for antitrust violations. The Journal's initial report (Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google) examined the divergence between the staff's recommendation and the FTC commissioners' ultimate decision, while search engine guru Danny Sullivan later highlighted 64 notable quotes from the documents.

In this piece, I compare the available materials (particularly the staff memorandum's primary source quotations from internal Google emails) with the company's public statements on the same subjects. The comparison is revealing: Google's public statements typically emphasize a lofty focus on others' interests, such as giving users the most relevant results and paying publishers as much as possible. Yet internal Google documents reveal managers who are primarily focused on advancing the company's own interests, including through concealed tactics that contradict the company's public commitments.

About the Document

In a 169-page memorandum dated August 8, 2012, the FTC's Bureau of Competition staff examined Google's conduct in search and search advertising. Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the WSJ sought copies of FTC records pertaining to Google. It seems this memorandum was intended to be withheld from FTC's FOIA request, as it probably could have been pursuant to FOIA exception 5 (deliberative process privilege). Nonetheless, the FTC inadvertently produced the memorandum – or, more precisely, approximately half the pages of the memorandum. In particular, the FTC produced the pages with even numbers.

To ease readers' analysis of the memorandum, I have improved the PDF file posted by the WSJ. Key enhancements: I used optical character recognition to index the file's text (facilitating users' full-text search within the file and allowing search engines to index its contents). I deskewed the file (straightening crooked scans), corrected PDF page numbering (to match the document's original numbering), created hyperlinks to access footnotes, and added a PDF navigation panel with the document's table of contents. The resulting document: FTC Bureau of Competition Memorandum about Google – August 8, 2012.

AdWords API restrictions impeding competition

In my June 2008 PPC Platform Competition and Google's "May Not Copy" Restriction and July 2008 congressional testimony about competition in online search, it seems I was the first to alert policy-makers to brazen restrictions in Google's AdWords API Terms and Conditions. The AdWords API provided full-featured access to advertisers' AdWords campaigns. With both read and write capabilities, the AdWords API provided a straightforward facility for toolmakers to copy advertisers' campaigns from AdWords to competing services, optimize campaigns across multiple services, and consolidate reporting across services. Instead, Google inserted contractual restrictions banning all of these functions. (Among other restrictions: “[T]he AdWords API Client may not offer a functionality that copies data from a non-AdWords account into an AdWords account or from an AdWords account to a non-AdWords account.”)

Large advertisers could build their own tools to escape the restrictions. But for small to midsized advertisers, it would be unduly costly to make such tools on their own – requiring more up-front expenditure on tools than the resulting cost-savings would warrant. Crucially, Google prohibited software developers from writing the tools once and providing them to everyone interested – a much more efficient approach that would have saved small advertisers the trouble and expense of making their own tools. It was a brazen restriction with no plausible procompetitive purpose. The restriction caused clear harms: Small to midsized advertisers disproportionately used only Google AdWords, although Microsoft, Yahoo, and others could have provided a portion of the desired traffic at lower cost, reducing advertisers' overall expense.

Historically, Google staff disputed these effects. For example, when I explained the situation in 2008, AdWords API product manager Doug Raymond told me in a personal email in March 2008 that the restrictions were intended to prevent “inaccurate comparisons of data [that] make it difficult for the end advertiser to understand the performance of AdWords relative to other products.”

But internal discussions among Google staff confirm the effects I alleged. For example, in internal email, Google director of product management Richard Holden affirmed that many advertisers “don't bother running campaigns on [Microsoft] or Yahoo because [of] the additional overhead needed to manage these other networks [in light of] the small amount of additional traffic” (staff memo at p.48, citing GOOGWOJC-000044501-05). Holden indicated that removing AdWords API restrictions would pave the way to more advertisers using more ad platforms, which he called a “significant boost to … competitors” (id.). He further confirmed that the change would bring cost savings to advertisers, noting that Microsoft and Yahoo “have lower average CPAs” (cost per acquisition, a key measure of price) (id.), meaning that advertisers would be receptive to using those platforms if they could easily do so. Indeed, Google had known these effects all along. In a 2006 document not attributed to a specific author, the FTC quotes Google planning to “fight commoditization of search networks by enforcing AdWords API T&Cs” (footnote 546, citing GOOGKAMA-0000015528), indicating that AdWords API restrictions allowed Google to avoid competing on the merits.

The FTC staff report reveals that, even within Google, the AdWords API restrictions were controversial. Holden ultimately sought to “to eliminate this requirement” (key AdWords API restrictions) because the removal would be “better for customers and the industry as a whole” since it would “[r]educe friction” and make processes more “efficient” by avoiding time-consuming and error-prone manual work. Holden's proposal prompted (in his own words) “debate” and significant opposition. Indeed, Google co-founder Larry Page seems to have disapproved. (See staff report p.50, summarizing the staff's understanding, as well as footnote 280 as to documents presented to Page for approval in relaxing AdWords API restrictions; footnote 281 reporting that “Larry was OK with” a revised proposal that retained “the status quo” and thus cancelled the proposed loosening of restrictions.) Hal Varian, Google's chief economist, also sought to retain the restrictions: “We're the dominant incumbent in this industry; the folks pushing us to develop our PAI will be the underdogs trying to unseat us” (footnote 547, citing GOOGVARI-0000069-60R). Ultimately Holden's proposal was rejected, and Google kept the restrictions in place until FTC and EC pressure compelled their removal.

From one perspective, the story ends well: In due course, the FTC, EC investigators, and others came to recognize the impropriety of these restrictions. Google removed the offending provisions as part of its 2013 commitments to FTC (section II) and proposed commitments to the EC (section III). Yet advertisers have never received refunds of the amounts they overpaid as a result of Google's improper impediments to using competing tools. If advertisers incurred extra costs to build their own tools, Google never reimbursed them. And Google's tactics suppressed the growth of competing search engines (including their recruitment of advertisers to increase revenue and improve advertising relevance), thereby accelerating Google's dominance. Finally, until the recent release of the FTC staff report, it was always difficult to prove what we now know: That Google's longstanding statements about the purpose of the restrictions were pretextual, and that Google's own product managers knew the restrictions were in place not to improve the information available to advertisers (as Raymond suggested), but rather to block competitors and preserve high revenue from advertisers that used only Google.

Specialized search and favoring Google's own services: benefiting users or Google?

For nearly a decade, competitors and others have questioned Google's practice of featuring its own services in its search results. The core concern is that Google grants its own services favored and certain placement, preferred format, and other benefits unavailable to competitors – giving Google a significant advantage as it enters new sectors. Indeed, anticipating Google's entry and advantages, prospective competitors might reasonably seek other opportunities. As a result, users end up with fewer choices of service providers, and advertisers with less ability to find alternatives if Google's offerings are too costly or otherwise undesirable.

Against this backdrop, Google historically claimed its new search results were “quicker and less hassle” than alternatives, and that the old “ten blue links” format was outdated. “ [W]e built Google for users,” the company claimed, arguing that the design changes benefit users. In a widely-read 2008 post, Google Fellow Amit Singhal explained Google's emphasis on “the most relevant results” and the methods used to assure result relevance. Google's “ Ten things we know to be true” principles begin with “focus on the user,” claiming that Google's services “will ultimately serve you [users], rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.”

With access to internal Google discussions, FTC staff paint quite a different picture of Google's motivations. Far from assessing what would most benefit users, Google staff examine the “threat” (footnote 102, citing GOOG-ITA-04-0004120-46) and “challenge” of “aggregators” which would cause “loss of query volumes” to competing sites and which also offer a “better advertiser proposition” through “cheaper, lower-risk” pricing (FTC staff report p.20 and footnote 102, citing GOOG-Texas-1486928-29). The documents continue at length: “the power of these brands [competing services] and risk to our monetizable traffic” (footnote 102, citing GOOG-ITA-05-0012603-16), with “merchants increasing % of spend on” competing services (footnote 102, citing GOOG-ITA-04-0004120-46). Bill Brougher, a Google product manager assessed the risks:

    [W]hat is the real threat if we don't execute on verticals? (a) loss of traffic from Google.com because folks search elsewhere for some queries; (b) related revenue loss for high spend verticals like travel; (c) missing opty if someone else creates the platform to build verticals; (d) if one of our big competitors builds a constellation of high quality verticals, we are hurt badly

(footnote 102, citing GOOG-ITA-06-0021809-13) Notice Brougher's sole focus on Google's business interests, with not a word spent on what is best for users.

Moreover, the staff report documents Google's willingness to worsen search results in order to advance the company's strategic interests. Google's John Hanke (then Vice President of Product Management for Geo) explained that “we want to win [in local] and we are willing to take some hits [i.e. trigger incorrectly sometimes]” (footnote 121, citing GOOG-Texas-0909676-77, emphasis added). Google also proved willing to sacrifice user experience in its efforts to demote competing services, particularly in the competitive sector of comparison shopping services. Google used human “raters” to compare product listings, but in 2006 experiments the raters repeatedly criticized Google's proposed changes because they favored competing comparison shopping services: “We had moderate losses [in raters' assessments of quality when Google made proposed changes] because the raters thought this was worse than a bizrate or nextag page” (footnote 154, citing GOOGSING-000014116-17). Rather than accept raters' assessment that competitors had high-quality offerings that should remain in search results, Google changed raters' criteria twice, finally imposing a set of criteria in which competitors' services were no longer ranked favorably (footnote 154, citing GOOGEC-0168014-27, GOOGEC-0148152-56, GOOGC-0014649).

Specialized search and favoring Google's own services: targeting bad sites or solid competitors?

In public statements, Google often claimed that sites were rightly deprioritized in search results, indicating that demotions targeted “low quality,” “shallow” sites with “duplicate, overlapping, or redundant” content that is “mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators … so that individual pages or sites don't get as much attention or care.” Google Senior Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg chose the colorful phrase “faceless scribes of drivel” to describe sites Google would demote “to the back of the arena.”

But when it came to the competing shopping services Google staff sought to relegate, Google's internal assessments were quite different. “The bizrate/nextag/epinions pages are decently good results. They are usually well-format[t]ed, rarely broken, load quickly and usually on-topic. Raters tend to like them. …. [R]aters like the variety of choices the meta-shopping site(s) seem… to give” (footnote 154, citing GOOGSING-000014375).

Here too, Google's senior leaders approved the decision to favor Google's services. Google co-founder Larry Page personally reviewed the prominence of Google's services and, indeed, sought to make Google services more prominent. For example: “Larry thought product [Google's shopping service] should get more exposure” (footnote 120, citing GOOG-Texas-1004148). Product managers agreed, calling it “strategic” to “dial up” Google Shopping (footnote 120, citing GOOG-Texas-0197424). Others noted the competitive importance: Preferred placement of Google's specialized search services was deemed important to avoid “ced[ing] recent share gains to competitors” (footnote 121, citing GOOG-Texas-0191859) or indeed essential: “most of us on geo [Google Local] think we won't win unless we can inject a lot more of local directly into google results” (footnote 121, citing GOOGEC-0069974). Assessing “Google's key strengths” in launching product search, one manager flagged Google's control over “Google.com real estate for the ~70MM of product queries/day in US/UK/De alone” (footnote 121, citing GOOG-Texas-0199909), a unique advantage that competing services could not match.

Specialized search and favoring Google's own services: algorithms versus human decisions

A separate divergence from Google's public statements comes in the use of staff decisions versus algorithms to select results. Amit Singhal's 2008 post presented the company's (supposed) insistence on “no manual intervention”:

    In our view, the web is built by people. You are the ones creating pages and linking to pages. We are using all this human contribution through our algorithms. The final ordering of the results is decided by our algorithms using the contributions of the greater Internet community, not manually by us. We believe that the subjective judgment of any individual is, well ... subjective, and information distilled by our algorithms from the vast amount of human knowledge encoded in the web pages and their links is better than individual subjectivity.

2011 testimony from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (written responses to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights) made similar claims: “The decision whether to display a onebox is determined based on Google's assessment of user intent” (p.2). Schmidt further claimed that Google displayed its own services because they “are responsive to what users are looking for,” in order to “enhance[e] user satisfaction" (p.2).

The FTC's memorandum quotes ample internal discussions to the contrary. For one, Google repeatedly changed the instructions for raters until raters assessed Google's services favorably (the practice discussed above, citing and quoting from footnote 154). Similarly, Page called for “more exposure” for Google services and staff wanted “a lot more of local directly into search results” (cited above). In each instance, Google managers and staff substituted their judgment for algorithms and user preferences as embodied in click-through rate. Furthermore, Google modified search algorithms to show Google's services whenever a “blessed site” (key competitor) appeared. Google staff explained the process: “Product universal top promotion based on shopping comparison [site] presence” (footnote 136 citing GOOGLR-00161978) and “add[ing] a 'concurring sites' signal to bias ourselves toward triggering [display of a Google local service] when a local-oriented aggregator site (i.e. Citysearch) shows up in the web results” (footnote 136 citing GOOGLR-00297666). Whether implemented by hand or through human-directed changes to algorithms, Google sought to put its own services first, contrary to prior commitments to evenhandedness.

At the same time, Google systematically applied lesser standards to its own services. Examining Google's launch report for a 2008 algorithm change, FTC staff said that Google elected to show its product search OneBox “regardless of the quality” of that result (footnote 119, citing GOOGLR-00330279-80) and despite “pretty terribly embarrassing failures” in returning low-quality results (footnote 170, citing GOOGWRIG-000041022). Indeed, Google's product search service apparently failed Google's standard criteria for being indexed by Google search (p.80 and footnote 461), yet Google nonetheless put the service in top positions (p.30 and footnote 170, citing GOOG-Texas-0199877-906).

The FTC's documents also call into question Eric Schmidt's 2011 claim (in written responses to a Senate committee) that “universal search results are our search service -- they are not some separate 'Google product or service' that can be 'favored.'” The quotes in the preceding paragraph indicate that Google staff knew they could give Google's own services “more exposure” by “inject[ing] a lot more of [the services] into google results.” Whether or not these are “separate” services, they certainly can be made more or less prominent--as Google's Page and staff recognized, but as Schmidt's testimony denies. Meanwhile, in oral testimony, Schmidt said “I'm not aware of any unnecessary or strange boosts or biases.” But consider Google's “concurring sites” feature, which caused Google services to appear whenever key competitors' services were shown (footnote 136 citing GOOGLR-00297666). This was surely not genuinely “necessary” in the sense that search could not function without it, and indeed Google's own raters seemed to think search would be better without it. And these insertions were surely “strange” in the sense that they were unknown outside Google until the FTC memorandum became available last week. In response to a question from Senator Lee, asking whether Google “cooked it” to make its results always appear in a particular position, Schmidt responded “I can assure you, we've not cooked anything”--but in fact the “concurring sites” feature exactly guaranteed that Google's service would appear, and Google staff deliberated at length over the position in which Google services would appear (footnote 138).

All in all, Google's internal discussions show a company acutely aware of its special advantage: Google could increase the chance of its new services succeeding by making them prominent. Users might dislike the changes, but Google managers were plainly willing to take actions their own raters considered undesirable in order to increase the uptake of the company's new services. Schmidt denied that such tampering was possible or even logically coherent, but in fact it was widespread.

Payments to publishers: as much as possible, or just enough to meet waning competition?

In public statements, Google touts its efforts to “ help… online publishers … earn the most advertising revenue possible.” I've always found this a strange claim: Google could easily cut its fees so that publishers retain more of advertisers' payments. Instead, publishers have long reported – and the FTC's document now explicitly confirms – that Google has raised its fees and thus cut payments to publishers. The FTC memorandum quotes Google co-founder Sergey Brin: “Our general philosophy with renewals has been to reduce TAC across the board” (footnote 517, citing GOOGBRIN-000025680). Google staff confirm an “overall goal [of] better AFS economics” through “stricter AFS Direct revenue-share tiering guidelines” (footnote 517, citing GOOGBRAD-000012890) – that is, lower payments to publishers. The FTC even released revenue share tiers for a representative publisher, reporting a drop from 80%, 85%, and 87.5% to 73%, 75%, and 77% (footnote 320, citing GOOG-AFS-000000327), increasing Google's fees to the publisher by as much as 84%. (Methodology: divide Google's new fee by its old fee, e.g. (1-0.875)/(1-0.77)=1.84.)

The FTC's investigation revealed the reason why Google was able to impose these payment reductions and fee increases: Google does not face effective competition for small to midsized publishers. The FTC memorandum quotes no documents in which Google managers worry about Microsoft (or others) aggressively recruiting Google's small to midsized publishers. Indeed, FTC staff report that Microsoft largely ceased attempts in this vein. (Assessing Microsoft's withdrawal, the FTC staff note Google contract provisions preventing a competing advertising service from bidding only on those searches and pages where it has superior ads. Thus, Microsoft had little ability to bid on certain terms but not others. See memorandum p.106.)

The FTC notes Microsoft continuing to pursue some large Google publishers, but with limited success. A notable example is AOL, which Google staff knew Microsoft “aggressively woo[ed] … with large guarantees” (p.108). An internal Google analysis showed little concern about losing AOL but significant concern about Microsoft growing: “AOL holds marginal search share but represents scale gains for a Microsoft + Yahoo! Partnership… AOL/Microsoft combination has modest impact on market dynamics, but material increase in scale of Microsoft's search & ads platform” (p.108). Google had historically withheld many features from AOL, whereas AOL CEO Tim Armstrong sought more. (WSJ reported: “Armstrong want[ed] AOL to get access to the search innovation pipeline at Google, rather than just receive a more basic product.”) By all indications Google accepted AOL's request only due to pressure from Microsoft: “[E]ven if we make AOL a bit more competitive relative to Google, that seems preferable to growing Bing” (p.108). As usual, Google's public statements contradicted their private discussions; despite calling AOL's size “marginal” in internal discussions (p.108), a joint press release quotes Google's Eric Schmidt praising “AOL's strength.”

A Critical Perspective

The WSJ also recently flagged Google's “close ties to White House,” noting large campaign contributions, more than 230 meetings at the White House, high lobbying expenditures, and ex-Google staff serving in senior staff positions. In an unusual press release, the FTC denied that improper factors affected the Commission's decision. Google's Rachel Whetstone, SVP Communications and Policy, responded by shifting focus to WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch personally, then explaining that some of the meetings were industry associations and other matters unrelated to Google's competition practices.

Without records confirming discussion topics or how decisions were made, it is difficult to reach firm conclusions about the process that led the FTC not to pursue claims against Google. It is also difficult to rule out the WSJ's conclusion of political influence. Indeed, Google used exactly this reasoning in critiquing the WSJ's analysis: “We understand that what was sent to the Wall Street Journal represents 50% of one document written by 50% of the FTC case teams.” Senator Mike Lee this week confirmed that the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will investigate the possibility of improper influence, and perhaps that investigation will yield further insight. But even the incomplete FTC memorandum reproduces scores of quotes from Google documents, and these quotes offer an unusual opportunity to compare Google's internal statements with its public claims. Google's broadest claims of lofty motivations and Internet-wide benefits were always suspect, and Google's public statements fall further into question when compared with frank internal discussions.

There's plenty more to explore in the FTC's report. I will post the rest of the document if a further FOIA request or other development makes more of it available.

IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #651 on: April 22, 2015, 06:25:22 AM »
Quote
Met Police Condemn Snapchat
People: Mark Rowley
April 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

police snap

The Met Police’s Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley has condemned tech companies that don’t make it really easy for him to do his job. Speaking at the London Counter Terror Expo, Rawley accused makers of encrypted communication apps of developing software that is “friendly to terrorists.”

Rowley begged technology firms to leave back doors in their products so the police can waltz into our private communications at will:
Quote
   “Technology] can be set up in a way which is friendly to terrorists and helps them and provides all sorts of opportunities for them, ways for them to work and creates challenges for law enforcement intelligence agencies or it can be set up in a way which doesn’t do that and maintains the ability of law enforcement intelligence agencies in different ways to defend their communities.”
Would you be happy with Rowley going through your snap chats?

Of course we would.

Renegade

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #652 on: April 22, 2015, 08:58:24 AM »
Terrorists also use water, air, and brains. I propose we outlaw them all! :P 
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Stoic Joker

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #653 on: April 22, 2015, 11:17:54 AM »
Terrorists also use water, air, and brains. I propose we outlaw them all! :P 

Yes, and their wieners too, because that's where terrorists come from! All people need to do is get everybody together to all cut off their wieners so no more new terrorists can be made.

Yet another problem quickly and easily solved with Occam's Razor..

Renegade

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #654 on: April 26, 2015, 10:21:44 PM »
Kind of off-topic, but still relevant:

http://pando.com/201...k-you-know-for-kids/



Quote
To help spread its message, the NSA has produced a coloring book. You know, for kids

By the time I found the National Security Agency booth on the expo floor at last week’s RSA Conference, all the best shwag was gone. The most prized giveaway was a faux-leather Post-it Note kit bearing the agency’s seal.

“We can’t print enough of those,” the agency rep manning the booth told me. “Next year, we are going to make the seal even bigger. Kids will really like that, like a badge to show their friends at school.”

Is it strange that the NSA, which takes such care to stay out of the public eye, should be so keen to capture the attention and aspirations of the young?

While I wasn’t able to score any government-issue school supplies, and none of the representatives could tell me if the NSA was still operating out of the hermetic former AT&T fiber optic hub down the street at 2nd and Folsom, I did walk away with a copy of the “CryptoKids Fun Book”, images from which you can see below.

Which anthropomorphic Myers-Briggs Type crypto-kid are you? I’m Decipher Dog, always looking for “the hidden messages behind the words, symbols and sounds,” and reading the latest robot news in Cryptobyte Monthly. That said, I don’t condone Dog’s habit of wearing shoes in bed and looking at kitty porn on his laptop. You bad dog you.

 :wallbash:

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IainB

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There is an announcement dated 2015-05-05 on the Google Cloud Platform blog:
Announcing Google Cloud Bigtable: The same database that powers Google Search, Gmail and Analytics is now available on Google Cloud Platform

Amongst the verbiage, it gives a list of "key benefits", which list also makes the classic confusion of features with benefits. One of these "benefits is described thus:
Quote
Security: Cloud Bigtable is built with a replicated storage strategy, and all data is encrypted both in-flight and at rest.

Pretty impressive, eh?
Yes, but it set my BS alarm off. What exactly does "in-flight and at rest" mean? Well, it's using ambiguous clichés, so it could mean anything you wanted, or more probably it means nothing, but the desired implication would seem to be  that everything is safely encrypted and cannot be decrypted or viewed by other parties. So why didn't they just say so? Probably because if they did say that, it would not be true/provable, and they don't want to lie about it because it could not be confirmed in contract, and they know that very well and so just obfuscate instead. Heck, this "announcement" is only a marketing puff, after all.

In other - possibly related - news, it might not have escaped your attention that Dropbox have announced that they are setting up data storage farms in Ireland to house all the data belonging to their business users and other paying customers outside of North America.
Now why would they do that?     ;D

Renegade

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #656 on: May 06, 2015, 09:11:35 AM »
There is an announcement dated 2015-05-05 on the Google Cloud Platform blog:
Announcing Google Cloud Bigtable: The same database that powers Google Search, Gmail and Analytics is now available on Google Cloud Platform

Amongst the verbiage, it gives a list of "key benefits", which list also makes the classic confusion of features with benefits. One of these "benefits is described thus:
Quote
Security: Cloud Bigtable is built with a replicated storage strategy, and all data is encrypted both in-flight and at rest.

Pretty impressive, eh?
Yes, but it set my BS alarm off. What exactly does "in-flight and at rest" mean? Well, it's using ambiguous clichés, so it could mean anything you wanted, or more probably it means nothing, but the desired implication would seem to be  that everything is safely encrypted and cannot be decrypted or viewed by other parties. So why didn't they just say so? Probably because if they did say that, it would not be true/provable, and they don't want to lie about it because it could not be confirmed in contract, and they know that very well and so just obfuscate instead. Heck, this "announcement" is only a marketing puff, after all.

DISCLAIMER: I worked at ESTsoft many moons ago.

ALPass, from ESTsoft, was unforgiving if you forgot your password. It's a password manager where you have a master password for the database. The online version stored your password database in ESTsoft's servers.

The thing there was that all encryption was done client side, so ESTsoft never had your password.

I talked with the director once about it and he said that they didn't ever want to have that password, even for recovery purposes.

Now, how does that relate to the above "in-flight at at rest"?

I take "at rest" to mean that data is stored encrypted, like with ALPass. The "in-flight" part I would take to mean an additional layer of encryption for when data is transferred between a client and server.

But, that's just conjecture on my part.

So, is there some BS going on? Very well could be. Perhaps I'm looking at it the wrong way, i.e. through the eyes of an honest developer. :) :P

In other - possibly related - news, it might not have escaped your attention that Dropbox have announced that they are setting up data storage farms in Ireland to house all the data belonging to their business users and other paying customers outside of North America.
Now why would they do that?     ;D

Heh! :)

I've not kept up with Ireland's data laws, but my guess is that they are very pro strong encryption and privacy.

It would make good business sense for anyone actually interested in serving customers. 8)

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IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #657 on: May 12, 2015, 02:55:30 AM »
I wasn't sure whether this came under the category of "silly humour" or "Snowdengate", but either way it made me smile:
Microsoft Invests In 3 Undersea Cable Projects To Improve Its Data Center Connectivity | TechCrunch

I guess this sort of thing is increasingly likely to happen, as US Cloud-hosting corporations attempt to at least give things a semblance of "wanting to be seen to be not in league with the NSA" and so start planting their data centres offshore of the North Americas.
It will be interesting anyway. There could be far more capacity in those cables than MS would be likely to need...
Maybe MS is about to offer telco services too?    :tellme:
Some people (not me, you understand) might query whether the NSA will be connecting to these cables as they are being laid, or afterwards; however, I couldn't possibly comment.


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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #658 on: June 01, 2015, 10:13:56 AM »

And ... some of the over-reaching provisions are starting to expire and lapse! Yay!

And then someone's spin doctor got the green light, because the following is among the most inflammatory writeups of that event I have ever seen!

>:(

http://news.yahoo.co...fails-070641402.html
"Senate takes up House bill but fails to avoid spying lapse"

(THAT headline?! Really?!)

The rest of the article is more slanted than a snow-resistant roof on a house!


IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #659 on: June 21, 2015, 10:18:39 PM »
This Slashdot item made me wonder "Why is this news?":
Two Years After Snowden Leaks, Encryption Tools Are Gaining Users
Quote
Patrick O'Neill writes:
It's not just DuckDuckGo — since the first Snowden articles were published in June 2013, the global public has increasingly adopted privacy tools that use technology like strong encryption to protect themselves from eavesdroppers as they surf the Web and use their phones. The Tor network has doubled in size, Tails has tripled in users, PGP has double the daily adoption rate, Off The Record messaging is more popular than ever before, and SecureDrop is used in some of the world's top newsrooms.
_____________________________

...and then today, I read this rather interesting post from Lauren Weinstein's Blog:
Lauren Weinstein's Blog: Falling Into the Encryption Trap
(Extracts below copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
...But in some of the attitudes I see being expressed now about "forced" encryption regimes -- even browsers blocking out fully-informed users who would choose to forgo secure connections in critical situations -- there's a sense of what I might call "crypto-fascism" of a kind. ...
...
...Yes, we want to encourage encryption -- strong encryption -- on the Net whenever possible and practicable. Yes, we want to pressure sites to fix misconfigured servers and not purposely use weak crypto.

But NO, we must not permit technologists (including me) to deploy Web browsers (that together represent a primary means of accessing the Internet), that on a "security policy" basis alone prevent users from accessing legal sites that are not specifically configured to always require strongly encrypted connections, when those users are informed of the risks and have specifically chosen to proceed.

Anything less is arrogantly treating all users like children incapable of taking the responsibility for their own decisions.

And that would be a terrible precedent indeed for the future of the Internet.
_____________________________

This thought had struck me a few months back, in the form of: "If everybody is obliged to have, or is persuaded that it is a "Good Thing" and that they need to have highly secure and encrypted communications, then this could effectively be a de facto way of censoring sites deemed officially as being "undesirable" or "risky", and before we knew it we would have embraced the Corporate State's control of our Internet freedoms.

I had dismissed this idea as being too paranoid and unlikely, but now I'm not so sure.
So, the first supposed "news" quote - Two Years After Snowden Leaks, Encryption Tools Are Gaining Users - could just be part of a steady drip, drip of propaganda that may become a torrent...
This could mean that we're likely to be forcefully and fully censored and have our communications spied upon by the proprietary gatekeepers - by an "iron fist in a velvet glove" approach - whether we want it or not.

I'm sure it'll all be in our best interests.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #660 on: June 22, 2015, 12:22:36 AM »

It's all a little beyond me!

They're gonna try to censor and control stuff, anyway.

So it seems a little unnerving that just like anything can be a weapon, "anything can be abused into propaganda" just by the arts of altering an otherwise rational premise.

On another shard of the crystal, the agencies are busy hollering "but ... encryption is used by terrorists! So put in backdoors that we know about and that they'll never find (until they do, at which point it's the dev's fault!)."


Renegade

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #661 on: July 29, 2015, 03:10:14 PM »
Soooooooooo... A couple years later, the WH finally manages to say, "Piss off."

https://petitions.wh...ardon-edward-snowden

Quote
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO

Pardon Edward Snowden

A Response to Your Petition on Edward Snowden

Thanks for signing a petition about Edward Snowden. This is an issue that many Americans feel strongly about. Because his actions have had serious consequences for our national security, we took this matter to Lisa Monaco, the President's Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Here's what she had to say:

"Since taking office, President Obama has worked with Congress to secure appropriate reforms that balance the protection of civil liberties with the ability of national security professionals to secure information vital to keep Americans safe.

As the President said in announcing recent intelligence reforms, "We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals and our Constitution require."

Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.

If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and -- importantly -- accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers -- not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions.

We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home."

Follow @WeThePeople on Twitter all day long for a series of Q+As with various Administration officials on the petition responses we released today.

Tell us what you think about this response and We the People.

At absolute best, it is dishonest and egregiously ignorant. Snowden doesn't get any right to any defense because of the national secrets act (or whatever it's called). He literally would not be allowed to defend himself in court. And they want him to come back to a kangaroo court where he'd be hanged before the sun set? Right.

It took over 2 years for them to vomit that nonsense onto the screen. Shameful.
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IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #662 on: July 29, 2015, 06:29:28 PM »
@Renegade: ^^ Amazing. Some people (not me, you understand) might say that that does seem to be a barely concealed, arrogant, "Piss off and there's nothing you can do about it", but I couldn't possibly comment. Those same people might go on to suggest that, when a government puts out apparently slanted propaganda BS like that, then it's arguably a sign that it is well past time to change the government, but again I couldn't possibly comment.

Reminds me of this American cartoon:

Assad-ISIS-US - Syria venemous reptile (snake) cartoon.jpg

IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #663 on: November 08, 2015, 03:06:48 AM »
I wasn't sure whether this came under the category of "silly humour" or "Snowdengate", but either way it made me smile:
Microsoft Invests In 3 Undersea Cable Projects To Improve Its Data Center Connectivity | TechCrunch

I guess this sort of thing is increasingly likely to happen, as US Cloud-hosting corporations attempt to at least give things a semblance of "wanting to be seen to be not in league with the NSA" and so start planting their data centres offshore of the North Americas.
It will be interesting anyway. There could be far more capacity in those cables than MS would be likely to need...
Maybe MS is about to offer telco services too?    :tellme:
Some people (not me, you understand) might query whether the NSA will be connecting to these cables as they are being laid, or afterwards; however, I couldn't possibly comment.
_____________________________

Rather dryly, The Inquirer posts:
Quote
AWS announces UK region offering local cloud storage in wake of Safe Harbour ruling- The Inquirer
But what effect is May to December?
By Chris Merriman
Fri Nov 06 2015, 15:19

AWS announces UK region offering local cloud storage in wake of Safe Harbor ruling

AMAZON WEB SERVICES (AWS) has announced a new UK region for its cloud services. It is expected that the UK operation will be complete by the end of 2016, and that the facility will bolster the current AWS regional offerings in Dublin and Frankfurt.

The news has a double impact for customers in the UK. On an operational level, it will create a lower latency, higher speed offering for customers that will significantly affect organisations such as Channel 4 which uses AWS as the backbone of its All 4 service.

The second aspect comes from the continuing controversy surrounding the Safe Harbour ruling. UK companies will now be able to store data in the UK, thus avoiding any unpleasant laws governing access to files that may exist in other countries.

Of course, the news comes in the same week that the so-called Snoopers' Charter was revealed, which includes a number of clauses that will make UK-based storage less appealing.

Government CTO Liam Maxwell was glowing in his praise of Amazon's decision and referred to the need for onshore data storage.

"It’s great to see that AWS will provide commercial cloud services from data centres in the UK. Not only will this mean a significant investment in the UK economy, but more healthy competition and innovation in the UK data centre market.

"This is good news for the UK government given the significant amount of data we hold that needs to be kept onshore,” he said.

The announcement of a UK region comes just a day after Amazon revealed a string of new data centres in South Korea. Jeff Barr, one of the main cloud evangelists at AWS, said in a blog post: “We have always believed that you need to be able to exercise complete control over where your data is stored and where it is processed.”

Which is all very noble, but Amazon probably hadn't bet on Theresa May.

We reported last month on an Australian university that had made the decision to switch from Google Apps to Microsoft Office 365 specifically to ensure that its data would be stored in Europe rather than the US. It's an illustration of what's at stake when planning a cloud infrastructure.

Presumably AWS don't realise that people read the news on the Internet...

IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage - or murder?
« Reply #664 on: November 15, 2015, 10:16:40 AM »
Ahh, now it all makes sense - it seems that it was because of Snowden that all those people in Paris were massacred yesterday: Edward Snowden and spread of encryption blamed after Paris terror attacks

Oh, but wait, maybe that was a bit hasty:

I can't believe that the French security services would have known for some time that the Bataclan was a defined prime Islamic terrorist target and yet apparently have done nothing to anticipate it and protect French citizens...

Nah, it must have been Snowden's fault.
Maybe French citizens should start pressing for the right to carry arms, to avert such "workplace accidents" as this?

IainB

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #665 on: November 15, 2015, 10:29:46 AM »
Then there's this interesting clarification from the FCC:
Quote
Clearing the Air on Wi-Fi Software Updates
by: Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering & Technology
November 12, 2015 - 12:09 PM

This week marked the closing of the reply comment period in the Commission’s radio device approval modernization rulemaking. The comments and replies are largely supportive of the Commission’s proposals, but one particular element generated thousands of comments from individuals concerned that the proposal would encourage manufacturers to prevent modifications or updates to the software used in devices such as wireless local area networks (e.g., Wi-Fi routers). I’m pleased that this issue attracted considerable attention and thoughtful submissions into the record and would like to make it clear that the proposal is not intended to encourage manufacturers to prevent all modifications or updates to device software.

As I wrote last month, this proceeding has taken on a significance beyond the Commission’s original intent. One of our key goals is to protect against harmful interference by calling on manufacturers to secure their devices against third party software modifications that would take a device out of its RF compliance. Yet, as the record shows, there is concern that our proposed rules could have the unintended consequence of causing manufacturers to “lock down” their devices and prevent all software modifications, including those impacting security vulnerabilities and other changes on which users rely. Eliciting this kind of feedback is the very reason that we sought comment in an NPRM and we are pleased to have received the feedback that will inform our decision-making on this matter.

In my last post I recognized the need to work with stakeholders – particularly the user community – to address these concerns in a way that still enables the Commission to execute its mandate to protect users from harmful interference. I’m happy to say that the OET staff and I have spoken directly with some of these stakeholders in the last few weeks.

One immediate outcome of this ongoing dialogue is a step we’ve taken to clarify our guidance on rules the Commission adopted last year in the U-NII proceeding. Our original lab guidance document released pursuant to that Order asked manufacturers to explain “how [its] device is protected from ‘flashing’ and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT”. This particular question prompted a fair bit of confusion – were we mandating wholesale blocking of Open Source firmware modifications?

We were not, but we agree that the guidance we provide to manufacturers must be crystal-clear to avoid confusion. So, today we released a revision to that guidance to clarify that our instructions were narrowly-focused on modifications that would take a device out of compliance. The revised guidance now more accurately reflects our intent in both the U-NII rules as well as our current rulemaking, and we hope it serves as a guidepost for the rules as we move from proposal to adoption.

There is more hard work ahead of us as we finalize rules, and we welcome continued input from manufacturers, users, technologists, and others.
 
Updated: November 12, 2015 - 12:09 PM
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Roughly translated: "Whoops! Ha-ha. Oh you spotted that did you? Silly me."

Renegade

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #666 on: November 15, 2015, 11:49:39 AM »
Ahh, now it all makes sense - it seems that it was because of Snowden that all those people in Paris were massacred yesterday: Edward Snowden and spread of encryption blamed after Paris terror attacks

Reading some of the accusations was rather amusing.

But really, they're off-base. They should be blaming elementary school teachers that start children down the dark path to literacy and education by teaching them the alphabet and how to read. Damn teachers, I tell you! Kill 'em all before we have a total collapse of civilisation~! :P

I can't believe that the French security services would have known for some time that the Bataclan was a defined prime Islamic terrorist target and yet apparently have done nothing to anticipate it and protect French citizens...

I can. :P

Nah, it must have been Snowden's fault.


Nope. It all started with those dastardly pre-school and kindergarten teachers and their damn alphabets & stuff!


Maybe French citizens should start pressing for the right to carry arms, to avert such "workplace accidents" as this?

I've heard that argument made in quite a few places, and I've not really read much on the event. It seems to be gaining momentum.

Roughly translated: "Whoops! Ha-ha. Oh you spotted that did you? Silly me."


HAHAHAHA~! ;D

Nicely put!  :Thmbsup:

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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Ath

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #667 on: November 15, 2015, 01:42:12 PM »
I really like the fact that Reply #666 is written by, of all forummembers, Renegade.  ;D ;D ;D

Renegade

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Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage.
« Reply #668 on: November 15, 2015, 02:37:03 PM »
^ Heh! But don't forget... 667 is the neighbour of the Beast! :P
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker