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Man forecloses on Wells Fargo and wins

Repugs Block [or hack] Pro-Union Website

Pro-Union Website 'Defend Wisconsin' Blocked In Capitol

~It's not just the capital. HuffPo commenters everywhere are reporting a 404 'Forbidden'.

EDIT: Back up as of 2:00pm PST


From Daily Kos.

UPDATED: The HB Gary Email That Should Concern Us All
Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 10:56 PM EST

As I  wrote yesterday , there is a leaked email that has gotten surprisingly little attention around here. It's the one where Aaron Barr discusses his intention to post at Daily Kos - presumably something negative about Anonymous, the hacking group. But that's not the email I'm talking about here.
As I also mentioned yesterday, in some of the emails, HB Gary people are talking about creating "personas", what we would call sockpuppets. This is not new. PR firms have been using fake "people" to promote products and other things for a while now, both online and even in bars and coffee houses.
But for a defense contractor with ties to the federal government, Hunton & Williams, DOD, NSA, and the CIA - whose enemies are labor unions, progressive organizations, journalists, and progressive bloggers, a persona apparently goes far beyond creating a mere sockpuppet.Collapse )
Never has my calling sockpuppets, trolls, and mission posters acting on behalf of an organization "Agents" been so literal. Time to break out the Matrix references.


...to Westboro Baptist Church

~I say leave them alone. Goddess Knows I despise them quite thoroughly, but to quote myself, "WBC serves a very important function. It is a clear and direct rebuke to anyone who says Christians in America are persecuted. If such were true, Fred and his clan - it's a family op - would have been crushed years ago."

Right-wing political trolls on Facebook

Addicting Info: When Republican Trolls Attack
By Stephen Foster. Jr.

Ever been attacked by a Republican troll on Facebook? I’ve been posting and commenting on political pages on Facebook since March 2010, and one thing that has been a constant is the hate, the lies, the personal attacks, and the threats that come from the mouths of these horrible people we refer to as “trolls”. And I refuse to take it anymore and I refuse to let them get away with it. Many of my friends have been personally targeted and threatened. I’ve always done my best to stand against them and use facts and irrefutable sources to counter them. But the problem I have encountered is that these nut jobs don’t care what you have to say. To them, I am just another liberal that needs to be shot dead. So, I want to introduce you all to the trolls I deal with everyday and perhaps many of you have dealt with people like them.Collapse )

The lusers described in this article are as nasty as the worst kooks I've ever run into on Usenet.  Trust me, I've seen some real nasty real-lifing fuckheads there, and they weren't even politically motivated.
by Chris in Paris on 2/03/2011 05:52:00 PM

This is definitely a victory, but don't be surprised if we see more attempts in the future, on either side of the border.

A controversial CRTC decision that effectively imposed usage-based Internet billing on small service providers will be reversed, the Toronto Star has learned.

“The CRTC should be under no illusion — the Prime Minister and minister of Industry will reverse this decision unless the CRTC does it itself,” a senior Conservative government official said Wednesday.

“If they don’t reconsider we will reverse their decision.”
From Ars Technica
| Last updated 2 days ago

Metered Internet usage (also called "Usage-Based Billing") is coming to Canada, and it's going to cost Internet users. While an advance guard of Canadians are expressing creative outrage at the prospect of having to pay inflated prices for Internet use charged by the gigabyte, the consequences probably haven't set in for most consumers. Now, however, independent Canadian ISPs are publishing their revised data plans, and they aren't pretty.

"Like our customers, and Canadian internet users everywhere, we are not happy with this new development," wrote the Ontario-based indie ISP TekSavvy in a recent e-mail message to its subscribers.

But like it or not, the Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved UBB for the incumbent carrier Bell Canada in September. Competitive ISPs, which connect to Canada's top telco for last-mile copper connections to customers, will also be metered by Bell. Even though the CRTC gave these ISPs a 15 percent discount this month (TekSavvy asked for 50 percent), it's still going to mean a real adjustment for consumers. 

This is going to hurt

Starting on March 1, Ontario TekSavvy members who subscribed to the 5Mbps plan have a new usage cap of 25GB, "substantially down from the 200GB or unlimited deals TekSavvy was able to offer before the CRTC's decision to impose usage based billing," the message added.

By way of comparison, Comcast here in the United States has a 250GB data cap. Looks like lots of Canadians can kiss that kind of high ceiling goodbye. And going over will cost you: according to TekSavvy, the CRTC put data overage rates at CAN $1.90 per gigabyte for most of Canada, and $2.35 for the country's French-speaking region.

Bottom line: no more unlimited buffet. TekSavvy users who bought the "High Speed Internet Premium" plan at $31.95 now get 175GB less per month. 

"Extensive web surfing, sharing music, video streaming, downloading and playing games, online shopping and email," could put users over the 25GB cap, TekSavvy warns. Also, watch out "power users that use multiple computers, smartphones, and game consoles at the same time."

You need "protection"

Here's the "good" news: TekSavvy users can now buy "insurance," defined as "a recurring subscription fee that provides you with additional monthly usage." For Ontario it's $4.75 for 40GB of additional data (sorry, but the unused data can't be forwarded to the next month).

There are also "usage vault" plans—payments made in advance for extra data. Consumers can buy vault data for $1.90/GB up to 300GB in any month.

Where once TekSavvy consumers could purchase High Speed Internet Premium at a monthly base usage of 200GB for $31.95 a month, now they can get about half of that data (if they buy two units of insurance) at $41.45 a month.

TekSavvy's DSL rates: now and after March 1

Very questionable

Starting to hate this? TekSavvy hates it, too.

"The ostensible, theoretical reason behind UBB is to conserve capacity, but that issue is very questionable," noted the ISP's CEO Rocky Gaudrault on TekSavvy's news page. "One certain result though, is that Bell will make much more profit on its Internet service, and discourage Canadians from watching TV and movies on the internet instead of CTV, which Bell now owns."

Given these dramatic changes, and the fact that ISPs around the world have made clear they wouldn't mind implementing similar schemes, it's no wonder that high-bandwidth businesses are fighting back. Last week, for instance, Netflix started publishing graphs of ISP performance in both the US and Canada, and it plans to update them monthly.

Netflix is also stepping up the war of words against ISPs who try to implement low caps and high overage fees:

"Wired ISPs have large fixed costs of building and maintaining their last mile network of residential cable and fiber. The ISPs' costs, however, to deliver a marginal gigabyte, which is about an hour of viewing, from one of our regional interchange points over their last mile wired network to the consumer is less than a penny, and falling, so there is no reason that pay-per-gigabyte is economically necessary. Moreover, at $1 per gigabyte over wired networks, it would be grossly overpriced."

The big question now is how these kind of billing changes will impact 'Net consumption patterns. Many subscribers use minimal data, but that's changing as Internet video becomes the norm. If these new plans simply discourage data hogs from backing up their 120GB pirated movie collection over the 'Net every night, there's no sleep to be lost. But if they scare consumers away from legitimate non-ISP affiliated movie and content sharing sites, that should be a firebell concern to consumers, entrepreneurs, and regulators.

And not only in Canada.

Wikileaks-inspired phone scam


"A caller reported she received an automated phone call telling her that her computer and IP address had been noted as having visited the Wikileaks site, and that there were grave consequences for this, including a $250,000 or $25,000 fine, perhaps imprisonment. It left an option for leaving a message as to how she was going to handle this and the fine payment."—A Better Business Bureau advisory on a new telephone scam making the rounds.
Posted by Kevin Lovelace on January 9th, 2011 in identity

Friday, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt spoke at a Stanford Policy Institute conference regarding the development of the US’s proposed National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace project.  During the conference Schmidt
confirmed that the US Commerce Department beat out the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to administer the initiative.

Schmidt claims that the program will be voluntary and will allow for anonymity, however, the exact format of the program is still in the drafting stages.  He was sure to emphasize, however, that he’s not talking about a National ID card.  At least, not a mandatory one:

“We are not talking about a national ID card,” Locke said at the Stanford event. “We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

However, it is clear from previously released documentation, that the plan, if it is initiated is to make moving on the internet as difficult as possible without Trusted ID.

In May of 2009, when President Obama announced the creation of the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator that Schmidt now holds, the “Cyberspace Policy Review” was released.  The document outlined a ten point near-term action list with number ten being:

10.  Build a cybersecurity-based identity management vision and strategy that addresses privacy and civil liberties interests, leveraging privacy-enhancing technologies for the Nation.

What that seems to mean is best summed by io9’s Annalee Newitz:

And here’s where my not-so-wild speculation about Facebook identities comes in. Many companies have turned to Facebook as an “identity management” system (including Gawker Media), allowing people to log into their services using their Facebook identity. The reason is simple: Most people only have one Facebook identity, and they stick with it. There’s a general notion that your Facebook identity is your authentic identity, or at least an identity that you keep over time, and that its characteristics can be traced back to who you are in real life. Therefore, having you log into every web service, from io9 comments to Digg to (possibly in the future) Paypal, is a way of managing your identities. Instead of having a separate identity for each of those services, you have one. Easy to manage, easy to trace.

Why shouldn’t Obama’s cyberczar just cut a deal with Facebook (and maybe a few other social networks like LinkedIn) and turn those profiles into your authentic identities? So you can send mail and buy things using your Facebook ID, and that’s how you’ll be tracked. Hey, you’re already on Facebook right? And you can set your profile to “private.” So it’s easy and “privacy enhancing.” (Never mind how easy it is to get around those privacy settings – pay no attention to that black hat behind the curtain.)

The scenario I’m describing is, in essence, how the Social Security Card became the twentieth century’s identity management system starting in the 1930s. These cards were not originally intended as ID cards, or as a way to authenticate your true identity. They were just a way to manage government assistance to those who needed it. But they became an ID card simply because everyone in the US had been issued one. When the government and businesses needed a way to track people’s identities, it became the easy choice. Showing your social security card meant that you couldn’t just come up with random new names for yourself every time you signed a form or took a job.

Though people in the US now think of the Social Security Card as the “obvious” form of ID, it took years for it to evolve from a simple social assistance card to an “identity management vision.”

This theory is borne out by some of the language in the current draft of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace proposal:

This Strategy is a call to action that begins with the Federal Government continuing its role as a primary enabler, first adopter and key supporter of the envisioned Identity Ecosystem.  The Federal Government must continually collaborate with the private sector, state, local, tribal, and international governments and provide the leadership and incentives necessary to make the Identity Ecosystem a reality.  The private sector in turn is crucial to the execution of this Strategy.  Individuals will realize the benefits associated with the Identity Ecosystem through the conduct of their daily online transactions in cyberspace. National success will require a concerted effort from all parties, as well as joint ownership and accountability for the activities identified

The key terminology there is: “Individuals will realize the benefits associated with the Identity Ecosystem through the conduct of their daily online transactions in cyberspace.”  In short: While it won’t be mandatory, expect to have to do more legwork to do business online. It is very much like using your Facebook account to long into other services on the net.  It is simple, quick, convenient, and even sometimes security enhancing.  (My policy of only logging into Gawker sites with Facebook meant that my data was totally safe during the Great Gawker Password Leak of 2010.)  The downside is that Facebook is now my point of contact with a lot of parts of the web and I’m still using their problematic service.

More from the proposal:

Voluntary participation is another critical element of this Strategy.  Engaging in online transactions should be voluntary to both organizations and individuals.  The Federal Government will not require organizations to adopt specific identity solutions or to provide online services, nor require individuals to obtain high-assurance digital credentials if they do not want to engage in high risk online transactions with the government or otherwise.  The Identity Ecosystem should encompass a range of transactions from anonymous to high assurance.  Thus, the Identity Ecosystem should allow an individual to select the credential he or she deems most appropriate for the transaction, provided the credential meets the risk requirements of the relying party.

So you’d only need Trusted credentials if the places you’re interacting with require them – which, since there’s money in it for them, many private-sector entities will be gladly complying with.  Sure, you can still post here or 4chan or wherever with an anonymous ID, but if you want to do business with iTunes, Paypal, ebay or move goods and services via the net, you’ll need a Trusted ID.  You’ll likely see a stratification with social services as well with TwitterTrusted and FacebookTrusted accounts having their content prioritized over non-Trusted or anonymous users.  In addition, on Friday, Google announced it was testing email authentication with its Google Apps business clients.  Imagine not being able to send email that would make it past the spam filter if it wasn’t from a GoogleTrusted account.

One thing is clear from reading the supporting documentation and that’s that the US Government itself will not be the ones managing and implementing this program.  The plan is to create guidelines regarding what a Trusted Identity means and how it works and then have that system rolled out and implemented by private-sector partners.  In essence, it’s not the government controlling your identity on the internet, it’s the government selling your identity to corporations so they can control it.   Which, honestly, I think might be an even more frightening prospect.

There is a lot of information out there on this initiative, I encourage you to check it out for yourselves.

[io9: President Obama Welcomes the Cyber State]

[Grinding: What Does Obama’s Identity Management Vision Mean?]

[Grinding: The Grim Facebook Future]

[The Cyberspace Policy Review (pdf)]

[National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (pdf)]

"Posthuman Blues by Mac Tonnies was one of our favorite blogs. Since Tonnies' untimely death in 2009, friends and fans have gone to great lengths to preserve a copy of the entire site, showing how digital creations can live on after their creators. The New York Times Magazine has the thought-provoking story."

Send an email to Charlie Jane Anders, the author of this post, at charliejane@io9.com.