Beyond the Cusp

April 16, 2018

Congress to Take On Facebook

 

Actually, Congress will be taking on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and the Internet generally. They are addressing it as the problem that Facebook had the information of thousands of accounts used by another company. But this exact same exchange of personal information had occurred in exactly the same manner with a similar company without any big brouhaha coming about. Why all of a sudden is this an emergency to repair what is being described as a catastrophe? Well, that is easy to explain. The former use of Facebook information by forecasting company who advise political campaigns worked for President Obama and his two Presidential campaigns. This time the company which used the data also worked on a campaign, the wrong kind of campaign, for the campaign of President Trump in the last election. That became a criminal act as it worked to aid a candidate who does not desire to grow government fast enough for the political heavy hitters’ proclivities. These heavy hitters behind our politics do not hold office; they hold the office-holders. These are the people who fund the campaigns of almost every incumbent unless the incumbent did not dance to their music, then they finance the party’s choice in a primary challenge. These are the people whose names many would never recognize unless we sit on the boards of any of the Fortune 500 companies. These are the people that control those boards by the same means that they control our political parties and the Congress and often they have undue influence on the person in the Oval Office. The problem is they have no control over Donald Trump simply because he is the maverick from amongst their group, otherwise he would be one of such people.

 

Congress is now coming to the rescue of the presumed hoards of people demanding that their private information be protected from such misuse as happened when the Facebook information was used in predictions of where the Trump campaign dollars would have the greatest effect and may have assisted his victory. People are absolutely jumping out of their easy-chairs and calling their Congress critters demanding they act. Actually, there are very few people who even care after the initial fabricated uproar over the fact that a Republican used the same methods Democrats use to assist the effectiveness of their campaign. How dare a conservative compete on a level playing-field, do they not know they must campaign in the dark and not use any such predictive information, especially when it came from liberal people’s postings on Facebook. This is the story that Congress is playing out in the media to explain that they are on the case and they will pass legislation which will now protect people’s information on social media, especially Facebook. The Congress is going to do what Facebook had already warned people is something beyond their control. How can Congress pass any law which will make Facebook and other social media perform a function they have already warned is beyond their ability? So, let us take a slightly less cursory look and dive just into the shallow end of this entire situation.

 

Social Media Icons

Social Media Icons

 

Facebook warned people when they opened their account in their use of service contract that there was no guarantee intended or implied that anything you placed on your account, regardless of the level of privacy you may choose, was not secure and could become public and should such occur, Facebook was not liable in any way, shape or form. Hopefully nobody was shocked or surprised by this revelation. We know that the people who wrote the code for every piece of the social media were not idiots. They likely were amongst some of the brighter people in computer coding and their understanding of the internet and networking and all other things related to these fields. They are definitely far more proficient than any member of Congress and probably more knowledgeable than the entirety of Congress combined as well as the bureaucrats who will write the resulting regulations to fulfill the legislation the Congress passes providing President Trump is ill advised and signs the bill. Still, eventually there will be a President who will be more than willing to shackle the Internet and assist any Congressional legislation through which they will actually end freedom of speech on the Internet. Do not mistake the broad and wonderful sounding words about protecting your information and making the Internet safe and your information safe because they are not even able to prevent others from breaking into the most protected networks the government uses and they have been unable to protect your information they collect and have in the multitude of government networks. The breach into the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was one of the seventeen largest computer data compromises in history, and they are going to protect your information on social media, right! From the article The hackers’ access was so extensive that U.S. officials said they think it is “highly likely” that every file associated with an OPM-managed security clearance application since 2000 was exposed. That was twenty-two-million people’s information stolen from a secure government database. We found other Federal Government data breaches with some of the worst being these three Department of Veteran Affairs with over twenty-six-million exposed, U.S. Voter Database where one-hundred-ninety-one-million exposed, and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had seventy-six-million made vulnerable. For a further list of breaches of Federal Government databases including the State Department and the White House can be found here. I feel much better now that the Federal Government means to secure my data and not the Federal Government desires to secure the Internet from information and other items they find troublesome.

 

The Federal Government has desired to sink their claws into the Internet and grab it by the throat and throttle it such that they can have control over what is allowed onto the Internet. The United States bureaucracy has salivated at each time there came discussions over perhaps finding some means of controlling the Internet which most often took the form of some form of net neutrality for the Internet. This was the idea that every source on the Internet would be required to present both sides of every subject and if they had articles or editorials which preferred right or left wing ideas, then they would be required to have a near equal number of the opposing side or they would be prevented from posting any more articles. This was to be something they were going to force the Internet providers to monitor and enforce. The main means which was often suggested was that the providers were to respond to complaints of lacking objectivity or too heavy a preference for one-sided political commentary. The reason for the enforcement based on complaint was simple and obvious, there would be more complaints against conservative bias than liberal bias which has been proven through previous imposing of net neutrality styled requirements which resulted in liberal imposed censoring. These previous discussions in Congress were heavily opposed by the Internet providers who simply all made the same claim, such an imposition would be onerous and result in their refusing service to all forms of societal and political opinion and news coverage in the Internet simply because otherwise they would need to hire an inordinate number of people to handle such requirements and simply refusing to carry such sites would be the only result. This, they claimed, would rob them of much of their paid usage and virtually all of their free sites. We will now admit out of fairness, BTC would be one of the sites which would be considered problematic and our ability to post and be carried in the United States would be terminated, and since our service provider is in the United States, we would be refused service under the ideas Congress has previously discussed. This discussion in the Congress, they will claim, will be different, they are simply going to make sure that social media will secure your information.

 

So, how can the government, particularly the Federal Government, guarantee to make your information on social media secure? Well, that is what is the interesting item, because the Federal Government does not do anything, they require other people, organizations or businesses to do things. The only thing the Federal Government produces are vague pieces of legislation which begets thousands of regulations produced by a myriad of bureaucrats. This is where we need to investigate what any Federal Government action to guarantee the security of your private information on social media would produce. First, it would put a scare across the Internet with many falling into a great panic with much hyperventilating and excessive flailing of arms while running around screaming, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Then there would come the glum predictions of horrific changes and possibly the death of the Internet or at least social media. Eventually the screaming and running would end if for no other reason, people do eventually tire. Now would come the calmer and reasoned discussions with the wisest heads saying that the best approach would be to try to influence the regulations through lobbying and other means. As the regulations would be presented, the most important reactions would come from the Internet providers and the stockholders of the numerous social media providers. As the reactions to the regulations came in to the different agencies and pressures were applied to members of Congress and the department heads, then the different regulations would be adjusted, revised, retracted or doubled-down telling those complaining to just live with it. When each regulation was hammered out and reached the just live with it point, then the Internet providers and social media providers would have to find some means of meeting these requirements or closing up shop and thus avoiding culpability. Depending on what the consequences are for any and every data breach will be applied, some Internet providers and social media providers would choose to simply pay the price for such breaches and adjust the cost to their advertisers and members accounts which would very likely result in the end of free web sites and social media accounts. This would result in Facebook and the other social media providers losing much of their membership and people would be resorting to e-mail or even turning to some new system which uses radio networks which replace the Internet thus getting around the regulations being imposed on the Internet. There also is the long rumored Internet II which has had whispers for years about it being used by a limited privileged people who received invitations for Beta-testing and has thusfar not been brought to the general public. Even if there is no actual Internet II, should the Internet we currently utilize be overly regulated, then one can bet that a second Internet styled web will be developed and brought into direct competition.

 

Now for what is the most probable result of Congress deciding to make the Internet safe for the people and with guarantees that your information will be kept safe. First item is that no matter what regulations are pressed on Internet providers or social media providers, there will be very little actual changes as business is business and business has always found a means to minimize the problems, interruptions, complications and costs of regulations by some means as business only succeeds by providing their service or merchandise at the lowest possible price and with the minimalist imposition on their target customers. The quickest and easiest means for any business concerning the Internet to minimize the effect and interference of regulations will be altering their terms of service such that they warn that they will not be held responsible to protect you the customer or the advertiser from whatever ills the regulations try to make them be held responsible. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social media already indemnify themselves from being legally responsible for protecting the information which you post to their service. They will probably need to adjust the wording and may even need to have every user actually check the box claiming that the new agreement has been read and understood and found to be completely acceptable. That done, they will continue with business as usual until the next time there is an uproar over some conservative leaning company, institution or candidate utilizing the personal information gleaned from social media sites demands that such an unforgivable usage of liberals’ information for political use other than those which they agree with politically. For those who claim that an equal uproar would come from the right or conservatives over liberal or left wing political entities had used stolen Facebook personal information, allow us to point out that the reason that there was a need to use presumed hacked information was because the left has been having access to just this information and was used by Barack Obama in his Presidential campaigns and there was no screaming. Perhaps there is only one regulation to end this entire potential invasion on the Internet, make the information available to all who request such and not just to those with whose politics those controlling the information agree. The only problem with that idea is that it would cause even louder screaming, as that would permanently level the playing field. Actually, it would cause quite a deal of lawsuits demanding access to information and long drawn-out appeals such that the case continues until the election has passed. People controlling information will always do whatever it takes to make sure that only those with whom they agree politically have access to said information as information is power and those holding power wield it to their own advantage, and that is life.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 23, 2017

Was Andrew Napolitano Correct?

 

Was Andrew Napolitano Correct when on “Fox & Friends” he claimed that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump? We know one thing, he was definitely wrong to have said so without having run the idea past Fox News’s law department, the “Fox & Friends” show’s writers, any managers related to both the “Fox & Friends” show and those responsible for Judge Napolitano and perhaps anyone else he could have found even to include the people behind each of the three cameras shooting the show and perhaps the microphone grip just for good measure. Apparently he also needed to include our friends, the British, into the mix of the Trump accusation his phones in Trump Tower were tapped by the Obama Administration. Of course any allegation which includes the Russians with the election victory by Donald Trump is perfectly within bounds as with the Russian allegations the target is President Trump and with Judge Napolitano’s British accusation the target is President Obama. The difference is more than obvious, it is also very revealing. In American media, even the presumed conservative darling Fox News, any accusation against President Trump can spread guilt to any target and still be acceptable while accusations against President Obama may not apply guilt to other targets because expressing potential for guilt of President Obama is what was not permissible and thus also the British. But perhaps delving deeper might be an interesting exercise and be quite revealing.

 

Judge Andrew Napolitano

Judge Andrew Napolitano

 

We need to go back to the era of PRISM or before that Echelon as well as whatever the code name was back to the mid-1950’s which was finally revealed to the public in the mid-2000’s and was simply the latest data gathering system used by the National Security Agency (NSA) in coordination with the data collection abilities of the other Anglo-nations, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand with the United States in order to be capable of collecting, through coordination, the maximized capabilities of their systems. Their coordinating their systems meant that they could prevent duplicating each other’s efforts. In order to guarantee that each nation would still have access to whatever data they needed there was an agreement. The initial agreement was called the UKUSA Agreement, or the United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement. The actual agreement upon full ratification included all the Anglo-nations mentioned above. This agreement also permitted each nation to have total access to the information of the other nations. Now as it was easiest for each member nation to collect complete and total accumulation and compilation of their own population’s data, each nation was assigned with the collection of all electronic communication including phones of all varieties, internet, wireless and any other variety of communication which lent to interception. Obviously ground mail was still safe from this collection processes though e-mail was not and was also collected along with all else.

 

The fact that each nation in the group, the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada all have laws which do not permit spying on their own citizens without first having a judge issue a warrant; this made it such a tedious and limiting requirement that each country desired some means of getting around this nasty limitation. Unsurprisingly, leaks revealed that they found just the means by which to collect what was their hearts, and snooping, desires without the needless waste of finding some judge to issue a warrant, even after the The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and the accompanying FISA Courts where warrants could be granted in complete and total secrecy. But what if your target was somebody who you did not believe that even a FISA Court would issue a warrant? Well, one could always resort to the “old school” method for such situations. The five nations which finally entered the UKUSA Agreement agreed that when any one deemed they required intercepting, read bugging, anyone of their own citizens, something universally illegal under several laws, they would simply request a surveillance report covering the individuals phone numbers, their internet e-mail address and internet entrance and other electronic identifiers using all the direct alpha-numeric identifiers such that no names were ever exchanged. The nation receiving the request would then query all five nations’ data collection systems and compile their report simply listing all communications by the target accounts and thus the individual of interest. This report was then presented to the nation unable to actually collect such information themselves legally without making legal requests at some level. This was the method, as we pointed out, back in the day. Now, all those out there who believe that this method of data acquisition has fallen by the wayside and is no longer accessible, raise your hands. Let’s see, OK George, put your hand down, not funny. So, we all believe that if somebody from the political, law enforcement, foreign intelligence collection group or domestic intelligence group desired to gain such information, they could simply contact somebody they could trust from one of the other nations and have all the information they might desire and all without anybody being all the wiser.

 

So, what is the most important concept behind all of this spy vs. spy scenario? Well, it has to be the part that nobody would be any the wiser. Would it be possible for somebody in the government, say the President, or more likely a subordinate, a trusted subordinate with contacts across a border in say New Zealand or perhaps Canada to gather a compiled report which includes all the communications, or simply phone conversations, from a specific set of alphanumerics representing a person of interest even daily? The obvious answer is an obvious “Yes” and all without anybody in either government actually believing anything untoward had taken place. Are such requests made currently? Probably, though nowhere near in the numbers which were likely back twenty or so years ago. Still, this polite gentlemen’s agreement was put in place for just the reason that listening to then candidate Trump’s phone calls was made to produce. Did President Obama actually order or just request such a report from the British? The truth is it is unlikely but did he actually mention that he was wondering what Trump was up to, very likely. Might an overeager subordinate have then issued such a request hoping to have something interesting he or she could then report to the President? You tell me and if you have a name and proof, that would be appreciated as well. We promise not to use such information, well, not without giving you the credit if you desire such as we would not desire taking the heat alone. What is obvious is that the scenario is not beyond possibility.

 

What must be added to this entire scenario is that the new NSA data collection systems currently are capable of collecting every single last piece of electronic data from the United States plus probably Europe and a select dozen additional nations just for fun without taxing their systems which are tied into world-wide communications networks at their sources. Further, when gathering data using the numerical address the actual target remains unidentified in almost every situation as numerical identifiers can be used which disguise the actual target from those collecting the data. Thus, simply using such identifiers one can draw up all the information from any identifier for any period simply by entering a query into the huge data storage complex outside Reno, Nevada. This could even be done directly out of virtually any office of a Congressperson and nothing untoward would ever be suspected. From the White House, well, that might raise some suspicions, but from any agency which is assigned to gather information, nobody would ever suspect anything. Even those who are responsible for guarding that all data acquisition is done all legal and above boards have so much to review that it is very possible that many requests get through never being reviewed as review is probably reserved for such demands made by courts and other persons having a purpose to request such reviews. This means that even had Trump had his file accessed, nobody is likely to have been the wiser and it is entirely possible that the old UKUSA Agreement system of scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours could have been used to make tracing all the more difficult. Whatever the actual situation, Judge Napolitano was hired to give commentary, his best assessments and legal advice. His commentary if presented as fact might have been a bit overly pretentious, but was not entirely out of line. If he presented it as theory, then it was within the assigned duties of a commentator. Whatever the situation proves forth, should the Judge need a part-time, non-paying position, we can always use another commentator here at BTC whose views might be appreciated by our readers and who would add to our broad views of what is, what may be and what we wish would be.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 30, 2016

Restore Honesty to the Mainstream Media and Internet

 

There are constant howls from all sides of the political spectrum about the slanted media. Conservatives rail against the New York Times and MSNBC while the Progressives rant over FOX and the Wall Street Journal. Both sides protest their not getting fair coverage with both sides demanding something be done. Well, we have a plan for making the media into the investigative in depth coverage that both extremes will love. They will look into why the Congress refuses to pass legislation when the nation is demanding that they address the demanding problems of the day. There will be enough meat and gristle for both ends of the spectrum and for a change they will pretty much agree about the problems but still differ about the correct directions the nation should turn. They will stand in agreement throwing shots at Congress at different sides there but will blame the voters and, of course, the White House. There is only one thing which needs to be done to bring about this miracle; elect Donald Trump.

 

That’s correct. Electing Donald Trump will bring the political classes together like never before, well, since Ronald Reagan until Reagan started going to the real power in America, the people. For those of us who were old enough to understand what was happening, Ronald Reagan was not particularly loved by the establishment money of the Republican aristocracy and was hated by the liberal Democrats. Congress was not exactly enamored with his election and probably would have remained gridlocked, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But Reagan had a secret weapon, the American people, even those in flyover country. Reagan made his first address to the nation and a weapon for getting America’s work done was launched. Reagan went to the public whenever it counted and the chips were down as well as when things were going well as he kept the nation involved like few before him. The media was not his greatest fan but slowly he won respect and slowly got some media respect.

 

Is Donald Trump comparable to Ronald Reagan? In a word, no. Well, at least not thus far. Likely Trump will never be Ronald Reagan and there likely will never be another, he was a one off, single model after which they broke the mold. Donald Trump is from a different mold. A really different mold and he is a one off as well. There are other niceties about a Trump White House; it definitely will not be boring. Just watch all the conniption fits the media will have and the near heart failure of the political elites. Of course in a Trump Presidency the Congress will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the nation’s business. But as we pointed out a little earlier, a do nothing Congress might be the best manner for doing the nation’s business in the best interest of the people possible. Of course the people would probably like to see tax cuts and a repeal of Obamacare, not an adjustment, a full repeal and pray the healthcare industry can make a speedy recovery. Beyond that, the American public may have to make their feelings known through the media or through social media which may prove to be the greatest pressure cooker for political change ever invented. Eventually, providing the Internet remains the greatest open forum for free and open discussion, for as long as it lasts, the power brokers will clamp strict rules and controls, very possibly almost invisible to the average users.

 

That could be an angle for a smart politician who could make proposing a Constitutional amendment making the Internet forever the property of private enterprise free of national or international controls for all parts under United States control. That will never happen as long as the two main parties have their lock on power. The two main parties are only likely to leave the Internet alone for as long as it does not challenge their power. As soon as the Internet and social media realized that it can actually cause the media, the political class and any other powers that be up to and especially the United Nations to sit up and pay attention, that will be the instant that the Internet becomes the property of the governments and the power elites and freedom of expressions will be gone in an instant. Blogs will be sanitized or removed and there will be second by second monitoring of all things entered onto social media with anything which crosses their path being nixed. The Internet scares the elites and the power brokers for the same reason Donald Trump scares them. They can be unpredictable and stray from the beaten path into strange fields where otherwise only dreams and nightmares reside. Of course that is the problem with the great unwashed, the public; they are unpredictable and uncontrollable which scares those who believe they control everything the most. They hate unpredictability because they have everything planned out for decades in advance and they just hate surprises, unless they marketed them. Thus far the Internet and social media have not challenged the Man so nobody who is anybody has had their feathers ruffled. If anything, those powers that be have more controlled and used social media as their personal echo chamber serving their purposes and probably plan on doing more of the same far into the future, possibly for perpetuity. But what if that should ever change?

 

The first thing that need be understood by Donald Trump and the people, the people who believe they actually control the world really believe they control the world. They also have their fingers deep into the Internet and social media and have programs to predict what will be the next big thing and what they can expect to be right around the corner. Their programs and geniuses they hire to make things work to their best interests have thus far done a wonderful job. But what happens when they fail and the people finally awaken to the power they have at their keyboards? The one beautiful thing is that when the people decide they have had all they will take; no amount of money or innate political power can win against the will of people with a desire to be free. There is one prerequisite which need be addressed first, people who have never known freedom and do not understand what freedom is or can be must first be educated and shown what it means to have freedom and with any luck, given the feeling of what freedom tastes like. That may be the first and foremost challenge that social media must overcome. When the human race understands and demands freedom to live their lives unfettered by government rules and burdensome taxation then maybe things can change. That will not be something we will see tomorrow, but perhaps in the future.

 

First is the beacon of freedom, the United States needs something to reawaken their spirit and yearning as it has appeared to wane these past ten or so years. The people need to break beyond their self-imposed limitations and believe again. The old must educate the youth as their education system has failed them. The schools have become a jobs program for teachers and administrators primarily and indoctrination centers producing little drones secondarily and lastly they teach enough to produce obedient little workers. What has been forgotten is that parents are responsible for teaching their children but that used to be performed by the schools in generations past, but that has changed as the schools became unionized and began to care more for the employees and electing those who would increase their salaries than about the children. Are there still good teachers who truly care, yes, but nowhere near sufficient to change things from the pitiful state that will only grow worse. Freedom and its loss was actually predicted in a warning given be Ronald Reagan and as I seriously doubt we will hear such profound words and elevating language from Donald Trump unless somebody gets his undivided attention and trust and writes the words for him, please allow a quote from Ronald Reagan.

 

ronald-reagan

 

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

 

Beyond the Cusp

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