Why I care when people with ‘something to hide’ are hacked


“Privacy” by Melanie Feuerer used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 United States License

By Spocko

It’s all about the Privacy.

Do some people deserve it less than others? Who decides?

Online Cheating Site AshleyMadison Hacked
— Brian Krebs, @briankrebs Krebs on Security July 19, 2015

When people who are supposed to protect someone’s privacy fail, what should their responsibility be following the failure? How do you make “someone whole,” as they say in the insurance biz, following a privacy breach?

Hacks of OPM databases compromised 22.1 million people, federal authorities say — Ellen Nakashima, @nakashimae, The Washington Post, July 9, 2015

What are the valid reasons someone’s privacy is violated? National Security? Public safety? Potential violence? Donating to the wrong cause? Who gets permission? Who oversees this?

“I don’t care if the government listens to me, I don’t have anything to hide. If you don’t have anything to hide, what are you worried about?”

— US citizen comment I read in response to Snowden revelations

Are there standards and regulations that organizations should meet? Who enforces them? What are the penalties if they don’t? (more…)

Fighting Evil Corp. There’s an App For That!

“Robot Fight” by Ariel Waldman used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license 2.0 United States

By Spocko

I’m a crappy chess player. This became clear to me when my 8 year-old nephew beat me while explaining, “The horsey piece can only move in an “L” way Uncle Spocko!”

One of the things they say you learn from chess is thinking several moves ahead, anticipating your opponent’s responses and acting accordingly. I learned this skill from life experience.

Right now I’m watching Mr. Robot. They are looking at the personal reasons people fight big institutions, as well as the human cost of those fights. That’s the part people don’t see, and it can be exhausting.

When I went about the process of defunding RW talk radio, I knew I needed to anticipate how they would respond to my actions. Then, how they would respond to my responses.

When I started alerting advertisers to the violent rhetoric, sexism and bigotry coming from the RW radio hosts I knew the radio station would use multiple excuses to keep the advertisers. First they discredited me, and then the information. Next, threats of arrest from law enforcement agencies, then hints of exposure of my identity. Finally legal threats, which they carried out. They threw around phrases like libel, tortuous interference with contract and copyright violation before they settled on a bogus copyright violation action.

I had read some books on the topics to prepare, but the smartest move I made was talking to a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Following that conversation, I made sure what I wrote and posted on my blog would meet the four factors of Fair Use.

Even though I met both the spirit and the letter of the law, ABC/Disney lawyers still sent an cease and desist letter to my ISP, 1&1 Hosting, who folded like a cheap umbrella.

Lawsuits: PR Gifts, Personal Nightmares or Both?

People who have money and power have easy access to lawyers and “fixers.” They see lawsuits and threats of lawsuits all the time. They use them as tools. They know when to dismiss them as “saber rattling” or when to use them as opening shots in a longer game.

But for normal people getting threatened with a lawsuit from one of the largest media corporations in the world is the stuff of stress nose bleeds and very un-Vulcan like floods of tears.

Following my victory over KSFO/ABC/Disney I made sure everyone I talked to who wanted to use the Spocko Method understood the law, how it might be used against them and how to prepare for the attacks. (Right now my friends in #stoprush are seeing personal attacks vs. legal attacks. He doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on so uses other methods. Power players don’t like it when you interfere with their revenue streams. Corporate bullies don’t always back down when they are wrong. They will play dirty.)

The good news is that for advocates who want to use copyrighted material to educate, critique, challenge or parody powerful groups, there are new tools.

Today I spotted a great app, The Fair Use App it was made by an organization called New Media Rights. It helps you figure out if your content meets the four factors of Fair Use.

“The Fair Use App”, by New Media Rights, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States

I would have liked to have had that when I was planning my action and preparing for the reaction, but I still would have needed the help of actual human lawyers.

I thought my case was clear cut fair use, but that didn’t mean I still wouldn’t be threatened with a suit. It means little to them to send a threatening legal letter, but it was a huge deal to me. That is why someone having your back is so important.

Big institutions and ideological groups use multiple tools to stay in power and enforce their will. These days, the corporations use automated tools to protect themselves and take action. It’s hard to reason with a DCMA take down bot. You need to understand its criteria before the fight because if you try to fight it during a hot issue, the opportunity might pass.

Activists need all the help they can get. If you donate to groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation or New Media Rights you might just be helping the next Mr. Spocko battling Evil Corp.

Clowns Who Run for President Vs. Comedians Who Do

Trump Tower Chicago My own shot
Creative Common’s license.
By Spocko

I was in downtown Chicago this week by the river. A woman next to me was taking a photo, of Trump Tower. I asked her, “So are you voting for him?” She burst out laughing, “No!”

Donald Trump running for President is a massive gift to the media, almost as big as his ego. He also is a Trump Tower shaped gift to certain members to the Republican Party running for President.

Sam Seder predicted this months ago on the Majority Report and it’s coming true. Trump is great fun for the press. Look at it from their point of view. Would you rather cover Trump or Ted Cruz? (Cruz makes me feel like his Brylcreem is oozing out of my speakers when he talks)

Watching Rubio makes them thirsty and listening to Jeb Bush makes them sad. But Trump can be treated as both ridiculous AND serious which meets both tabloids and “Very Serious People” needs in the media.

Come for the Guns Stay for the Racism

I watched the GOP candidates speak at the NRA convention. Trump was energetic, funny and pivoted from “I love the 2nd Amendment” to CURRENCY manipulation in his speech!

It actually wasn’t that big of a stretch. Something for the Minutemen on the border in Texas to get pumped up about then for the real audience, the media, talk about global economic manufacturing and monetary policy.

Trump can say wacky and racist things and the other candidates can distance themselves from him to seem more moderate.

Readers of this site know all this. Insiders know all this. But what I found interesting was actually watching the fake hand wringing about how “Trump is going to damage the Republican Party!” and hurt its brand. Ha! As if.

Thanks to The Odious David Brooks™ you can hear first hand how Trump is saving the party, and how he will help the candidate who gets through to the main election to seem more palatable to the rest of the country. Watch as how Brooks distances himself from Trump’s comments as well as list the others who did.

As Marc said, the useful thing about what’s happened is that we have seen this fissure in the Republican Party, where Jeb Bush came out very strongly against Trump, saying he takes it personally, Rubio again very strongly.

It has brought them out. It has brought their ire out, a little passion in rebutting Trump. Ted Cruz, a little more disgraceful, more or less saying he raises good issues and things like that. So we have begun to see a split. The party now has to confront this. And I think most of the leading candidates have, to my mind, come out on the right side.

E.J. Dionne called out the other GOP candidates for not distancing themselves from Trump after his racist remarks.

Brooks gives them cover, “No. It was a matter of days or even hours. They had to formulate things.”

Exactly, because they did the political equivalent of licking their finger and putting it in the air.

Right then I knew that Trump will stay in long enough to allow all the other candidates to separate themselves from his worst remarks. They can choose how to ‘formulate” their response depending on who they want to appeal to when.

At the same time Trump can run long enough to send the dog whistle to the base say, “Yeah, what he said OUT LOUD was wrong. But you can tell where we really stand by how slowly we denounced him.”

People like Brooks will just point to the denouncements, not the speed or the vehemence of the denouncements. That’s the meta-data that tells you more than just the words.

Hearing, “We don’t think all Mexican’s are rapists.” from others right away is different from two days later. (BTW, fun word emphasis exercise. Read the quote above with a different emphasis on each word in turn. Note how the intent of the statement changes each time you read it.)

People joke about “The Clown Car” of GOP candidates that de-legitimizes the runners. The mainstream media choose to take people who announce seriously (or at least pretend to take them seriously) because if they call Trump a clown and joke, they would get hit by the RW media as having a “liberal bias.”

Therefore we see somber faced Judy Woodruff ask The Odious David Brooks™ how Trump could hurt the party’s brand.

What’s the difference between Donald Trump and Pat Paulsen?

One is a funny guy, saying outrageous and nonsensical things while running a presidential campaign with no chance of winning, the other is Pat Paulsen.

“We Can’t Stand Pat!”

– Pat Paulsen for President Supporter’s slogan.

Imagine if the media back in the 1960’s took Pat Paulsen serious as a candidate? He would have kicked serious butt. Look at some of these genius quotes pre-twitter. On immigration:

I don’t want to say too much about illegal immigration. I’m afraid my views will be reported on the Cinco O’Clock News


All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian

He was a head on the drug issue:

Marijuana should be licensed and kept out of the hands of teenagers. It’s too good for them.

He even had thoughts on the rights of criminals and murders that is hot today.

On the Miranda warning:

Why should we tell kidnappers, murderers, and embezzlers their rights? If they don’t know their rights, they shouldn’t be in the business.

Paulsen being dead doesn’t mean we have to take him any less seriously than Donald Trump being alive and orange.

Paulsen’s running would make Marcio Rubio look animated and hydrated. Rick Perry could distance himself from his health care views. “You think Texas’ health care is bad? Well at least I’m still alive. If you were so smart why are you dead?”

The Meet the Press discussion, with a propped up corpse of Paulsen, would break just as much ground with “news makers” as Chuck Todd’s interviews with Jeb Bush.

The MSM media don’t want to call a clown a clown. They love Trump because he’s fun to write about. Even though he has no chance of winning, they get to use him to help other radical RWs seem less bizarrely out of touch.

Also, unlike Trump and other GOP candidates, Paulsen could be honest at the deepest level. His campaign slogan was sheer elegance in its simplicity.

“If elected, I will win.”

Transparency Now! Says former lobbyist

All I know about lobbying I learned from the movie “The American President.” (During which I determined that Mrs. Spocko was more attractive than Annette Bening.)

By Spocko

The movie shows everything people think they know about lobbying: getting the vote count right, educating congress people, making deals, trade offs and pay offs with different groups in exchange for current or future votes, the unusual bed fellows (literally) and finally dealing with the expectations of, and exposure in, the media.

I saw that movie three times, so clearly I’m an expert on what the lobbyists will do next following this current vote on TPP.

Luckily I have some friends who actually were lobbyists and I talk and listen to them to see what really goes on. I wanted to know what they did after a failure and what they think the pro-TPP people will do next.

But first, what do WE do after success? One of my least favorite phrases after a victory or semi-victory is, “Now the hard work begins.” Screw you Negative Nelly! Bite me Pragmatic Patrick! Piss off Realist Rick!

I say, “Give the fighters a pat on the back! Give ’em a raise. Take a bow people who worked so hard to educate!”

Then everyone should hug the helpers and friends. Smile and laugh and drink and tell funny stories. We MUST enjoy and celebrate victories. In the past I didn’t. Post victory I went right into the next project with no down time. Big mistake. My body knew better and usually I’d get the flu.

So now’s the time to look at what worked, what didn’t. What did we do right? What could we do differently next time? How do we build on success? Can we create future barriers for the opposition? What barriers to our success can we bring down now for next time?

I wanted to know, “What do my lobbyists friends do after a losing campaign?”

They regroup. Take a break. Yes they lost, but they still got paid. They explain to the client how this is really a victory. They explain how it sets the stage for the next campaign. They tell the story of how this loss is really an opportunity to change things for success next time, based on what was learned. They just need more money to make it happen.

They determine what the landscape looks like now, then start again.

As we saw from the net neutrality fights, when the people close a door the lobbyists open a window. The second they fail on one front they cry,

“And we would have won too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!”

Then they look for new ways to win.

We can wait around to see what they will do next, or we can ask former lobbyists, ‘What are they going to do next? What can we do to tie them up now? How can we thwart their future plans? What would YOU suggest? Why would it work? Why is nobody doing this? How would they respond?”
So, taking a page from the actual lobbyists vs. the movie ones, I would like to suggest a specific long-term action to take now.

We need a transparency mechanism for international agreements. Time to set up a bill that would have bi-partisian support on this. Prepare a message for each side based on their biases.

For the right:

With the TPP Obama was going to secretly give away the sovereignty of the UNITED STATES to foreign countries and to un-elected tribunals!!

Let’s never let a President have that kind of power again (esp. if Clinton wins). That power needs to remain in congress (which we will control). Congress needs to know what is going on, especially when it comes to deals with foreign powers (who either want to pay us or kill us.) Why did those horrible hackers at WikiLeaks know something our own Congresspeople didn’t?”

For the left:

“The ability of multi-national corporations to hide deals from the government needs to stop, especially when they kill jobs, destroy the environment and taint our food. (Things voters care about)

As a nation we can push for deals that are beneficial for Americans. If the deals are so great, why don’t the corporations want the public knowing? (Companies are really afraid of pissed off consumers, not bought off congresspeople. This bill forces transparency which gives them have no choice but to protect voters.)”

I say transparency because it’s an obvious issue, but I really think the bill should contain more, with transparency just one part of it.

None of the billionaires and their Pet Presidential candidates want transparency, but the people like it. We can ask all the candidates if they are for it (“You won’t be like Clinton and her emails will you?!”) then watch as their lead billionaires tell them to walk back all that transparency stuff.

Maybe get Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson and some Clinton hating presidential candidate to put together a transparency bill. One written my our former lobbyists’ friends to make current lobbyists crazy.

It would be a short term tactical move that could capitalize on the temporary bi-partisan agreement. The left congress people are angry at being locked out of the text, the right’s afraid of the future dictator’s secret FEMA camp contracts. It would provide some long term help for the America people against the concentrated power of the billionaires and their need for secrecy.

I’m not in the beltway loop (Ha! Beltloop!) so maybe this in already in the works, or it was suggested and shot down for a million reasons that a stupid non-insider wouldn’t understand. That is when I throw down the gauntlet to the insiders and ask. “Okay, you are wiser than a tree full of owls, what CAN we do to make some transparency happen?”

Personally I would get Annette Bening to help push a lobbying/trade transparency bill through. Then when I meet her, I’d tell her that I’ve always thought that Mrs. Spocko was prettier than her. But maybe that would be rude.

Frankly I’m tired of being the dirty hippie whom, after the fact, everyone says was right, but during the time when it would have made a difference nobody acts to do the right thing or the strategic thing.

So if pushing for new levels of transparency is the right thing to do, what would it take to make it happen? And if someone is already doing it, what can we do to help?

Now I’m off to watch the beltway’s favorite film starring Annette Bening, The Grifters.