Know Your Tools

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this is a page to collect resources useful to raise awareness in the use of communication tools.

The content is made into a graphic elaboration with Dia. Here are the first prototypes of the flyers, source will follow.

Basic Criteria to analyze the most used media

1: Everything you type will be used against you

Search engines' caches, internet archives and commercial data pools are making every bit of information published on the internet lasting longer and longer,to the point that we can consider something posted on interet could be "forever". This means that every time we do stuff online without taking anonymity precautions, we add data on ourselves to a virtual file that keeps collecting automatically. We can never exclude the possibility that this file could be used against ourselves at some point in the future.

2: Corporate Collaborationism

All the big companies involved in communication have to deal with the constant pressure from Police Departments, Law Enforcement Agencies and Governments from the whole world, asking for intelligence over crime suspects or dissidents. Many of those companies are persuaded or forced to provide users' information, using political leverage, economic compensations, legal threats, business opportunities and so on.

3: Panopticon (Horizontal Surveillance)

When you participare in a social network, you're voluntarily providing information on the whole network of people around you, creating a database of connections that makes anonimity nearly impossible. You can be on Facebook with a pseudonym, but your network of "friends" makes you pretty easily identified anyway. That's why social networks have become a basic tool for Law Enforcement to obtain quick, easy and cheap intelligence over a suspect.

http://philosophyforchange.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/foucault-and-social-media-life-in-a-virtual-panopticon/

4: Content Analysys and Data collection

The communication services you use (as well as browsers, operating systems and internet providers) have the capability to automatically collect and analyze data about users across the Internet, without necessarily asking for specific permissions. This works both at an individual level, providing for example tailored advertisement for the single user or controlling the legitimacy of the contents accessed, and on a bigger scale, collecting huge data pools to elaborate mass marketing strategies or map overall social dynamics.

http://culturedigitally.org/2013/06/we-are-what-we-tweet-the-problem-with-a-big-data-world-when-everything-you-say-is-data-mined/

Corporate services and examples of their evilness

Google

Criterium Example Link
1 Google searches as key evidence:

The number of cases in which google searches have been used as evidence for a crime is raising. ‘How fast does a human body begin to decompose?’ In a recent murder case in UK, the google searches of a suspect provided in fact the key evincence during his trial.

http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Joanna-Yeates-murder-trial-Google-searches/story-13529590-detail/story.html#axzz2TRaVIbRo
Example Example Example

Facebook

Criterium Example Link
1 Employers asking for Facebook passwords to check employees background:

The practice for employers to look at employees and job applicants' social networking profiles is degenerating to next step of privacy invasion. When confronted with a private facebook account your manager or potential employer might in fact ask you to log in into it, without having legal repercussions. As a consequence of this growing trend, more and more poeple have to ethically compromise or loose their jobs because of the content of their account.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/9155368/Companies-asking-for-Facebook-passwords-for-future-employees.html
2 Facebook passepartout sold to Italian Police for investigations:

An agreement has been secretly ratified between the most popular social network and the Italian police force. Thanks to this collaboration the police investigation department would be allowed access to the personal profiles of all 17 million Italian Facebook users, without a Magistrate’s warrant.

http://owni.eu/2010/11/01/the-italian-cyber-police-is-watching-you-on-facebook/
Example Example Example

Skype

Criterium Example Link
2 Skype voluntarily submitted private data without a warrant:

Without a court order or warrant Skype handed over to “global cyber intelligence firm” the personal data of a young dutch hacktivist suspected of being involved in Operation Payback, an Anonymous-endorsed initiative that targeted the servers of PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and others after those companies blocked WikiLeaks from receiving online payment backs in December 2010.

http://rt.com/usa/skype-warrant-dutch-isight-530/
2 Skype, the Internet-based calling service, began its own secret program, Project Chess, to explore the legal and technical issues in making Skype calls readily available to intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/technology/silicon-valley-and-spy-agency-bound-by-strengthening-web.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
4 Microsoft automatically checks links sent on Skype:

Any HTTPS URL transmitted via Skype during a normal chat, is being automatically visited afterwards by Microsofts' servers. The terms and conditions of agreement of Skype state that a control of URLs sent by users can be performed by the company in order to identify spam and phishing sites, but the fact that only https and not http links are being checked seems to obscure this option. More over Microsoft won't reveal what this information is being used for.

http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-sees-all-your-https-links-in-skype-and-you-didnt-know
Example Example Example

Various Corporate Emails

Criterium Example Link
2 Yahoo repeatedly aided the Chinese Governments to gather data against dissidents http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Yahoo!#Outing_of_Chinese_dissidents
Example Example Example

Others

Criterium Example Link
4 Amazon remotely removed books from Kindle devices http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/some-e-books-are-more-equal-than-others/
2 Twitter temporarily blocked accounts of journalists that were posting about the Occupy movement http://www.businessinsider.com/welcome-to-the-united-police-states-of-america-sponsored-by-twitter-2011-12
3 In the aftermath of 2011 London riots, the collaboration of citizens and the authority made possible the identification and arrests of many suspected looters and rioters. Through crowdsourcing of images and footage and the use of social media, the U.K government could benefit from an extended voluntary surveillance network. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/aug/11/david-cameron-rioters-social-media
4 NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data
Example boh

Main substitutes for the specified services

General Tips in the use of the Internets

  • Use HTTPS:// instead of HTTP:// (adds a layer of security by encrypting your traffic to that page) ( https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere )
  • Look for the private/incognito mode on your browser when you don't want to leave traces on your computer of the pages you visit.
  • Prefer Free Open source software and operating systems over proprietary and corporate options.
  • Try and avoid centralized and corporate providers and support autonomous and distributed media and networks

Additional information and useful links