Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

YouTube Blanks Another Video for Questioning Coronavirus Narrative

May 29, 2020

YouTube has cancelled a video called ‘The Case Against The Lockdowns’ – featuring journalist Toby Young and Nobel-Prizewinning scientist Michael Levitt – because it fails to support the correct, World-Health-Organisation-approved narrative on Chinese coronavirus.

Young is founder of the Free Speech Union, which campaigns against censorship. Levitt – who doesn’t speak but can be seen nodding in approval at Young’s remarks – is a professor of structural biology at Stanford University, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013. But none of this has cut any ice with YouTube which has taken down the video claiming it ‘violates’ its ‘community standards.’

This follows a directive  issued in April by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who has promised to ban any content that goes against WHO recommendations.

Speaking on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Wojcicki said that the Google-owned video streaming platform would be “removing information that is problematic”.

 She told host Brian Stelter that this would include “anything that is medically unsubstantiated”.

“So people saying ‘take vitamin C; take turmeric, we’ll cure you’, those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy,” she said.

“Anything that would go against World Health Organisation recommendations would be a violation of our policy.”

Eminence and expertise are no defence to this ruling. Earlier this month, YouTube took down an interview with leading epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski, for similar reasons.

As the NewYork Post reported:

Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski, former head of biostatistics, epidemiology and research design at Rockefeller University, says YouTube removed a video of him talking about the virus that had racked up more than 1.3 million views.

Wittkowski, 65, is a ferocious critic of the nation’s current steps to fight the coronavirus. He has derided social distancing, saying it only prolongs the virus’ existence, and has attacked the current lockdown as mostly unnecessary.

Wittkowski, who holds two doctorates in computer science and medical biometry, believes the coronavirus should be allowed to create “herd immunity,” and that short of a vaccine, the pandemic will only end after it has sufficiently spread through the population.

“With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity. About 80% of the people need to have had contact with the virus, and the majority of them won’t even have recognized that they were infected,” he says in the now-deleted video.

This is part of a troubling onslaught against free speech by Silicon Valley. It’s not just YouTube which is censoring coronavirus sceptics but also Twitter.

As western democracies descend into tyranny and dystopian despotism there are a couple of question I would like clarified. The first regards the viral infection. Can virologist genuinely distinguish between all other viral infection and the Chinese virus many call SARS-COV2 or quite loosely, Covid 19 or Corona virus? I know a lot of people have tested positive when they are only suffering from asthma and hay fever. This has caused them to be quarantined from the workplace. Secondly, can the deaths from Corona virus or Covid 19 be identified as being caused by the Chinese SARS or caused by other comorbidities and not the Chinese SARS the WHO told the world about? If it is the case that other infections caused respiratory death or heart attacks then the entire Government response is highly questionable. It is interesting that the Office of National Statistics state this paragraph: “Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our regular weekly deaths release now provides a separate breakdown of the numbers of deaths involving COVID-19: that is, where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions. If a death certificate mentions COVID-19 it will not always be the main cause of death but may be a contributory factor. This new bulletin summarises the latest weekly information and will be updated each week during the pandemic.”
I wonder what the real mortality rate is due to the Wuhan flu and not the suspicion of a medical practitioner. YouTube won’t let you know.

The hard left is pushing for total control. It is making the same blunder as before: forcing humanity into “egalitarian” shape, in the deluded belief that humanity will retain that shape when the oppressive means to this end fall away. Of course, they never do; they rise to genocide and sink to stagnation. And what really happens is an exercise in brutality and torture and loss, massively damaging the genuine good which arises from the spontaneous forms of life. Orwell skewered them in the figure of Winston’s tormentor-in-chief, O’Brien. How nauseatingly absurd that they are at it again!

The hard left is pushing for total control. It is making the same blunder as before: forcing humanity into “egalitarian” shape, in the deluded belief that humanity will retain that shape when the oppressive means to this end fall away. Of course, they never do; they rise to genocide and sink to stagnation. And what really happens is an exercise in brutality and torture and loss, massively damaging the genuine good which arises from the spontaneous forms of life. Orwell skewered them in the figure of Winston’s tormentor-in-chief, O’Brien. How nauseatingly absurd that they are at it again!

TECHNOLOGY RULES YOU

Coronavirus Uses Same Strategy As HIV To Evade, Cripple Immune System: Chinese Study Finds

Coronavirus: Something Wrong Here

The Source of Wisdom

February 26, 2020

Tesla-wisdom-quote

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

― Nikola Tesla

 

The road to ruin

July 13, 2019

This is, I believe, an important piece and should be read by all who value liberty and free speech. The argument relates to the organised attack by Social Justice Warriors on any content posted online that does not conform to their world view and to the cowardice and political bias of platform providers who tamely cave in to the bullying of that noisy minority and remove content expressing truly diverse points of view.

The Road To Ruin was orininally posted by Aragmar on Minds.com on 29 May, 2019

The Road To Ruin

Many of you might not agree with what I am about to say, but I have to say it once and for all. There are some people who calmly stand by and continue buying Politically Correct(TM) content created by hardcore SJW ideologues while accidentally mentioning “Why/How is this happening to my favorite IP?” There is the vain hope deep inside, that some of those polished turds that you buy might still “be as good as it once was”, while new, original content creators, who go out of their way to actually stand up against this degeneracy are barely scraping by. Do you see anything wrong in this picture?

No, it isn’t the SJW’s who are ruining your hobbies and favorite game/movie franchises, or at least not entirely their fault – it is you, who continuously spend your hard earned cash and feed those intellectual parasites. There are plenty of people who complain about our horrendous current state of affairs concerning the entertainment industry. Films, books, comics, and games are constantly under attack, by an unrelenting mob of angry and underachieving people, who hate themselves, others and want to destroy everything that is even remotely fun, making all of us equally miserable.

Let us examine this “hypothetical” situation:

– A person surfs the web, notices new author/s who had created something original, be it a game, book or a comic and it is plain as daylight that this new creation goes against the PC religion. The person then admires that new creation, maybe even comments on how brave the author/s were to stand up against the status quo… and then casually walks by. A week, or month passes and the new polished turd comes out of the bowels of Hollywood/EA etc. The person starts protesting as loudly as they possibly can, but the damage is done and none of the SJW cultists care about them complaining about it. They did their job – another day, another franchise “corrected”. Onwards they go bravely in search of more words to be triggered by, offended, claim higher victim status all the while snorting pixie dust and chasing unicorns.

The person suddenly remembers, oh wait, there was something very similar and maybe even better than this shit I spend my money on. They scour the net for days, yet to no avail – that new and original content that they had passed by is nowhere to be found. Weeks later they luckily found a copy and hungrily devour it, instantly realizing that despite its somewhat lackluster wrapping, it is a good product. Best of all – there is not a shred of the dreaded PC religion in it! Quickly they feverishly continue searching, asking friends and others for the next chapter/book or part of the game, only to find out there won’t be one. Never… The author/s were either pushed out of the platform, silenced, censored or bullied out of existence, yet had they received some support, any support, things might have been different. The person laments for a while the tragic loss, of what could’ve been perhaps an alternative to their long-lost, destroyed by the SJW cultists favorite IP. Probably vows to change their ways and support the next new original content that they stumble upon, realizing that those author/s who are willing to fight the uphill battle against the establishment are few. Fewer even are the individuals, who actually manage to pull their scarce resources, and against all odds actually, put a product out.

And now let me ask you a question – do you know such a person? If yes, please, for the love of all that is geeky, nerdy and FUN, do not be like that person!

The more of us who vote with their wallets, the more will that massive, angry mob of fun-hating SJW cultists will lose their backing. Next time when you stumble upon something new and exciting book, game or comic – Share it! Share, with as many people you can, and if not buy one for yourself giving the creator/s the life-sustaining support that they desperately need, others might. Remember, the cancer of Political Correctness(TM) and its ideologues the SJW cultists are only strong because of OUR inaction, or actions.

And if you, continue backing products/creators who are known to be heavily influenced or outright sullied by their incessant push for mass indoctrination – don’t cream afterwards “They are destroying my beloved franchise!”

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Digital Gangsters

Nothing Can Stop Google. DuckDuckGo Is Trying Anyway.

January 16, 2019

Extract from: Nothing Can Stop Google, Duck Duck Go Is Trying Anyway on Medium.com

The excerpt is longer than ‘fair use’ normally permits, but if it helps people to understand there are alternatives out there to the increasingly evil search service provided by Google, the author will not mind too much.

All photos: Monique Jaques

2019 may finally be the year for ‘The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You’

In late November, hotel conglomerate Marriott International disclosed that the personal information of some 500 million customers — including home addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers — had been exposed as part of a data breach affecting its Starwood Hotels and Resorts network. One day earlier, the venerable breakfast chain Dunkin’ (née Donuts) announced that its rewards program had been compromised. Only two weeks before that, it was revealed that a major two-factor authentication provider had exposed millions of temporary account passwords and reset links for Google, Amazon, HQ Trivia, Yahoo, and Microsoft users.

These were just the icing on the cake for a year of compromised data: Adidas, Orbitz, Macy’s, Under Armour, Sears, Forever 21, Whole Foods, Ticketfly, Delta, Panera Bread, and Best Buy, just to name a few, were all affected by security breaches.

Meanwhile, there’s a growing sense that the tech giants have finally turned on their users. Amazon dominates so many facets of the online shopping experience that legislators mayhave to rewrite antitrust law to rein them in. Google has been playing fast and loose with its “Don’t Be Evil” mantra by almost launching a censored search engine for the Chinese government while simultaneously developing killer A.I. for Pentagon drones. And we now know that Facebook collected people’s personal data without their consent, let companies such as Spotify and Netflix look at users’ private messages, fueled fake news and Donald Trump, and was used to facilitate a genocide in Myanmar.

The backlash against these companies dominated our national discourse in 2018. The European Union is cracking down on anticompetitive practices at Amazon and Google. Both Facebook and Twitter have had their turns in the congressional hot seat, facing questions from slightly confused but definitely irate lawmakers about how the two companies choose what information to show us and what they do with our data when we’re not looking. Worries over privacy have led everyone from the New York Times to Brian Acton, the disgruntled co-founder of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, to call for a Facebook exodus. And judging by Facebook’s stagnating rate of user growth, people seem to be listening.

For Gabriel Weinberg, the founder and CEO of privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, our growing tech skepticism recalls the early 1900s, when Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle revealed the previously unexamined horrors of the meatpacking industry. “Industries have historically gone through periods of almost ignorant bliss, and then people start to expose how the sausage is being made,” he says.

Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo CEO and Founder

This, in a nutshell, is DuckDuckGo’s proposition: “The big tech companies are taking advantage of you by selling your data. We won’t.” In effect, it’s an anti-sales sales pitch. DuckDuckGo is perhaps the most prominent in a number of small but rapidly growing firms attempting to make it big — or at least sustainable — by putting their customers’ privacy and security first. And unlike the previous generation of privacy products, such as Tor or SecureDrop, these services are easy to use and intuitive, and their user bases aren’t exclusively composed of political activists, security researchers, and paranoiacs. The same day Weinberg and I spoke, DuckDuckGo’s search engine returned results for 33,626,258 queries — a new daily record for the company. Weinberg estimates that since 2014, DuckDuckGo’s traffic has been increasing at a rate of “about 50 percent a year,” a claim backed up by the company’s publicly available traffic data.

Just before DuckDuckGo’s entrance sits a welcome mat that reads, “COME BACK WITH A WARRANT.”

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“You can run a profitable company — which we are — without [using] a surveillance business model,” Weinberg says. If he’s right, DuckDuckGo stands to capitalize handsomely off our collective backlash against the giants of the web economy …

READ ALL >>>

2019 may finally be the year for ‘The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You’

All photos: Monique Jaques

In late November, hotel conglomerate Marriott International disclosed that the personal information of some 500 million customers — including home addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers — had been exposed as part of a data breach affecting its Starwood Hotels and Resorts network. One day earlier, the venerable breakfast chain Dunkin’ (née Donuts) announced that its rewards program had been compromised. Only two weeks before that, it was revealed that a major two-factor authentication provider had exposed millions of temporary account passwords and reset links for Google, Amazon, HQ Trivia, Yahoo, and Microsoft users.

These were just the icing on the cake for a year of compromised data: Adidas, Orbitz, Macy’s, Under Armour, Sears, Forever 21, Whole Foods, Ticketfly, Delta, Panera Bread, and Best Buy, just to name a few, were all affected by security breaches.

Meanwhile, there’s a growing sense that the tech giants have finally turned on their users. Amazon dominates so many facets of the online shopping experience that legislators mayhave to rewrite antitrust law to rein them in. Google has been playing fast and loose with its “Don’t Be Evil” mantra by almost launching a censored search engine for the Chinese government while simultaneously developing killer A.I. for Pentagon drones. And we now know that Facebook collected people’s personal data without their consent, let companies such as Spotify and Netflix look at users’ private messages, fueled fake news and Donald Trump, and was used to facilitate a genocide in Myanmar.

The backlash against these companies dominated our national discourse in 2018. The European Union is cracking down on anticompetitive practices at Amazon and Google. Both Facebook and Twitter have had their turns in the congressional hot seat, facing questions from slightly confused but definitely irate lawmakers about how the two companies choose what information to show us and what they do with our data when we’re not looking. Worries over privacy have led everyone from the New York Times to Brian Acton, the disgruntled co-founder of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, to call for a Facebook exodus. And judging by Facebook’s stagnating rate of user growth, people seem to be listening.

For Gabriel Weinberg, the founder and CEO of privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, our growing tech skepticism recalls the early 1900s, when Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle revealed the previously unexamined horrors of the meatpacking industry. “Industries have historically gone through periods of almost ignorant bliss, and then people start to expose how the sausage is being made,” he says.

Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo CEO and Founder

This, in a nutshell, is DuckDuckGo’s proposition: “The big tech companies are taking advantage of you by selling your data. We won’t.” In effect, it’s an anti-sales sales pitch. DuckDuckGo is perhaps the most prominent in a number of small but rapidly growing firms attempting to make it big — or at least sustainable — by putting their customers’ privacy and security first. And unlike the previous generation of privacy products, such as Tor or SecureDrop, these services are easy to use and intuitive, and their user bases aren’t exclusively composed of political activists, security researchers, and paranoiacs. The same day Weinberg and I spoke, DuckDuckGo’s search engine returned results for 33,626,258 queries — a new daily record for the company. Weinberg estimates that since 2014, DuckDuckGo’s traffic has been increasing at a rate of “about 50 percent a year,” a claim backed up by the company’s publicly available traffic data.

Just before DuckDuckGo’s entrance sits a welcome mat that reads, “COME BACK WITH A WARRANT.”

“You can run a profitable company — which we are — without [using] a surveillance business model,” Weinberg says. If he’s right, DuckDuckGo stands to capitalize handsomely off our collective backlash against the giants of the web economy and establish a prominent brand in the coming era of data privacy. If he’s wrong, his company looks more like a last dying gasp before surveillance capitalism finally takes over the world.


DuckDuckGo is based just east of nowhere. Not in the Bay Area, or New York, or Weinberg’s hometown of Atlanta, or in Boston, where he and his wife met while attending MIT. Instead, DuckDuckGo headquarters is set along a side street just off the main drag of Paoli, Pennsylvania, in a building that looks like a cross between a Pennsylvania Dutch house and a modest Catholic church, on the second floor above a laser eye surgery center. Stained-glass windows look out onto the street, and a small statue of an angel hangs precariously off the roof. On the second floor, a door leading out to a balcony is framed by a pair of friendly looking cartoon ducks, one of which wears an eye patch. Just before DuckDuckGo’s entrance sits a welcome mat that reads “COME BACK WITH A WARRANT.”

“People don’t generally show up at our doorstep, but I hope that at some point it’ll be useful,” Weinberg tells me, sitting on a couch a few feet from an Aqua Teen Hunger Force mural that takes up a quarter of a wall. At 39, he is energetic, affable, and generally much more at ease with himself than the stereotypical tech CEO. The office around us looks like it was furnished by the set designer of Ready Player One: a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy print in the entryway, Japanese-style panels depicting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the bathroom, and a vintage-looking RoboCop pinball machine in the break room. There’s even a Lego model of the DeLorean from Back to the Future on his desk. The furniture, Weinberg tells me, is mostly from Ikea. The lamp in the communal area is a hand-me-down from his mom.

Weinberg learned basic programming on an Atari while he was still in elementary school. Before hitting puberty, he’d built an early internet bulletin board. “It didn’t really have a purpose” in the beginning, Weinberg says. The one feature that made his bulletin board unique, he says, was that he hosted anonymous AMA-style question panels with his father, an infectious disease doctor with substantial experience treating AIDS patients. This was during the early 1990s, when the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS remained so great that doctors were known to deny treatment to those suffering from it. Weinberg says that the free—and private—medical advice made the board a valuable resource for the small number of people who found it. It was an early instance of Weinberg’s interest in facilitating access to information, as well as a cogent example of the power of online privacy: “The ability to access informational resources anonymously actually opens up that access significantly,” he told me over email.

After graduating from MIT in 2001, Weinberg launched a slew of businesses, none of which are particularly memorable. First there was an educational software program called Learnection. (“Terrible name… the idea was good, but 15 years too early,” he says.) Then he co-founded an early social networking company called Opobox, taking on no employees and writing all the code himself. “Facebook just kind of obliterated it,” Weinberg says, though he was able to sell the network to the parent company of Classmates.com for roughly $10 million in cash in 2006.

It was around that time when Weinberg began working on what would become DuckDuckGo. Google had yet to achieve total hegemony over the internet search field, and Weinberg felt that he could create a browser plugin that might help eliminate the scourge of spammy search results in other search engines.

Weinberg bought a billboard in San Francisco that proudly proclaimed, “Google tracks you. We don’t.” The stunt paid off in spades, doubling DuckDuckGo’s daily search traffic.

To build an algorithm that weeded out bad search results, he first had to do it by hand. “I took a large sample of different pages and hand-marked them as ‘spam’ or ‘not spam.’” The process of scraping the web, Weinberg says, inadvertently earned him a visit from the FBI. “Once they realized I was just crawling the web, they just went away,” he says. He also experimented with creating a proto-Quora service that allowed anyone to pose a question and have it answered by someone else, as well as a free alternative to Meetup.com. Eventually, he combined facets of all three efforts into a full-on search engine.

When Weinberg first launched DuckDuckGo in 2008 — the name is a wink to the children’s game of skipping over the wrong options to get to the right one — he differentiated his search engine by offering instant answers to basic questions (essentially an early open-source version of Google’s Answer Box), spam filtering, and highly customizable search results based on user preferences. “Those [were] things that early adopters kind of appreciated,” he says.

At the time, Weinberg says, consumer privacy was not a central concern. In 2009, when he made the decision to stop collecting personal search data, it was more a matter of practicality than a principled decision about civil liberties. Instead of storing troves of data on every user and targeting those users individually, DuckDuckGo would simply sell ads against search keywords. Most of DuckDuckGo’s revenue, he explains, is still generated this way. The system doesn’t capitalize on targeted ads, but, Weinberg says, “I think there’s a choice between squeezing out every ounce of profit and making ethical decisions that aren’t at the expense of society.”

Until 2011, Weinberg was DuckDuckGo’s sole full-time employee. That year, he pushed to expand the company. He bought a billboard in Google’s backyard of San Francisco that proudly proclaimed, “Google tracks you. We don’t.” (That defiant gesture and others like it were later parodied on HBO’s Silicon Valley.) The stunt paid off in spades, doubling DuckDuckGo’s daily search traffic. Weinberg began courting VC investors, eventually selling a minority stake in the company to Union Square Ventures, the firm that has also backed SoundCloud, Coinbase, Kickstarter, and Stripe. That fall, he hired his first full-time employee, and DuckDuckGo moved out of Weinberg’s house and into the strangest-looking office in all of Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Then, in 2013, digital privacy became front-page news. That year, NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a series of documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post revealing the existence of the NSA’s PRISM program, which granted the agency unfettered access to the personal data of millions of Americans through a secret back door into the servers of Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, and other major internet firms. Though Google denied any knowledge of the program, the reputational damage had been done. DuckDuckGo rode a wave of press coverage, enjoying placement in stories that offered data privacy solutions to millions of newly freaked-out people worried that the government was spying on them.

“All of a sudden we were part of this international story,” Weinberg says. The next year, DuckDuckGo turned a profit. Shortly thereafter, Weinberg finally started paying himself a salary.


Today, DuckDuckGo employs 55 people, most of whom work remotely from around the world. (On the day I visited, there were maybe five employees in the Paoli office, plus one dog.) This year, the company went through its second funding round of VC funding, accepting a $10 million investment from Canadian firm OMERS. Weinberg insists that both OMERS and Union Square Ventures are “deeply interested in privacy and restoring power to the non-monopoly providers.” Later, via email, Weinberg declined to share DuckDuckGo’s exact revenue, beyond the fact that its 2018 gross revenue exceeded $25 million, a figure the company has chosen to disclose in order to stress that it is subject to the California Consumer Privacy Act. Weinberg feels that the company’s main challenge these days is improving brand recognition.

“I don’t think there’s many trustworthy entities on the internet, just straight-up,” he says. “Ads follow people around. Most people have gotten multiple data breaches. Most people know somebody who’s had some kind of identity theft issue. The percentage of people who’ve had those events happen to them has just grown and grown.”

The recent investment from OMERS has helped cover the cost of DuckDuckGo’s new app, launched in January 2018. The app, a lightweight mobile web browser for iOS and Android that’s also available as a Chrome plugin, is built around the DuckDuckGo search engine. It gives each site you visit a letter grade based on its privacy practices and has an option to let you know which web trackers — usually ones from Google, Facebook, or Comscore — it blocked from monitoring your browsing activity. After you’ve finished surfing, you can press a little flame icon and an oddly satisfying animated fire engulfs your screen, indicating that you’ve deleted your tabs and cleared your search history.

The rest of the recent investment, Weinberg says, has been spent on “trying to explain to people in the world that [DuckDuckGo] exists.” He continues, “That’s our main issue — the vast majority of people don’t realize there’s a simple solution to reduce their [online] footprint.” To that end, DuckDuckGo maintains an in-house consumer advocacy blog called Spread Privacy, offering helpful tips on how to protect yourself online as well as commentary and analysis on the state of online surveillance. Its most recent initiative was a study on how filter bubbles — the term for how a site like Google uses our data to show us what it thinks we want — can shape the political news we consume.

Brand recognition is a challenge for a lot of startups offering privacy-focused digital services. After all, the competition includes some of the biggest and most prominent companies in the world: Google, Apple, Facebook. And in some ways, this is an entire new sector of the market. “Privacy has traditionally not been a product; it’s been more like a set of best practices,” says David Temkin, chief product officer for the Brave web browser. “Imagine turning that set of best practices into a product. That’s kind of where we’re going.”

Like DuckDuckGo — whose search engine Brave incorporates into its private browsing mode — Brave doesn’t collect user data and blocks ads and web trackers by default. In 2018, Brave’s user base exploded from 1 million to 5.5 million, and the company reached a deal with HTC to be the default browser on the manufacturer’s upcoming Exodus smartphone.

Google knows that I’m in Durham, North Carolina. As far as DuckDuckGo is concerned, I may as well be on the moon

Temkin, who first moved out to the Bay Area in the early ’90s to work at Apple, says that the past two decades of consolidation under Google/Facebook/Netflix/Apple/Amazon have radically upended the notion of the internet as a safe haven for the individual. “It’s swung back to a very centralized model,” he says. “The digital advertising landscape has turned into a surveillance ecosystem. The way to optimize the value of advertising is through better targeting and better data collection. And, well, water goes downhill.”

In companies such as Brave and DuckDuckGo, Temkin sees a return to the more conscientious attitude behind early personal computing. “I think to an ordinary user, [privacy] is starting to sound like something they do need to care about,” he says.

But to succeed, these companies will have to make privacy as accessible and simple as possible. “Privacy’s not gonna win if it’s a specialist tool that requires an expert to wield,” Temkin says. “What we’re doing is trying to package [those practices] in a way that’s empathetic and respectful to the user but doesn’t impose the requirement for knowledge or the regular ongoing annoyance that might go with maintaining privacy on your own.”


In November, I decided to switch my personal search querying to DuckDuckGo in order to see whether it was a feasible solution to my online surveillance woes. Physically making the switch is relatively seamless. The search engine is already an optional default in browsers such as Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox, as well as more niche browsers such as Brave and Tor, the latter of which made DuckDuckGo its default search in 2016.

Actually using the service, though, can be slightly disorienting. I use Google on a daily basis for one simple reason: It’s easy. When I need to find something online, it knows what to look for. To boot, it gives me free email, which is connected to the free word processor that my editor and I are using to work on this article together in real time. It knows me. It’s only when I consider the implications of handing over a digital record of my life to a massive company that the sense of free-floating dread about digital surveillance kicks in. Otherwise, it’s great. And that’s the exact hurdle DuckDuckGo is trying to convince people to clear.

Using DuckDuckGo can feel like relearning to walk after you’ve spent a decade flying. On Google, a search for, say, “vape shop” yields a map of vape shops in my area. On DuckDuckGo, that same search returns a list of online vaporizer retailers. The difference, of course, is the data: Google knows that I’m in Durham, North Carolina. As far as DuckDuckGo is concerned, I may as well be on the moon.

That’s not to say using DuckDuckGo is all bad. For one, it can feel mildly revelatory knowing that you’re seeing the same search results that anyone else would. It restores a sense of objectivity to the internet at a time when being online can feel like stepping into The Truman Show — a world created to serve and revolve around you. And I was able to look up stuff I wanted to know about — how to open a vacuum-sealed mattress I’d bought off the internet, the origin of the martingale dog collar, the latest insane thing Donald Trump did — all without the possibility of my search history coming back to haunt me in the form of ads for bedding, dog leashes, or anti-Trump knickknacks. Without personalized results, DuckDuckGo just needs to know what most people are looking for when they type in search terms and serve against that. And most of the time, we fit the profile of most people.

When I asked Weinberg if he wanted to displace Google as the top search engine in all the land, he demurred. “I mean, I wouldn’t be opposed to it,” he says, “but it’s really not our intention, and I don’t expect that to happen.” Instead, he’d like to see DuckDuckGo as a “second option” to Google for people who are interested in maintaining their online anonymity. “Even if you don’t have anything to hide, it doesn’t mean you want people to profit off your information or be manipulated or biased against as a result [of that information],” he says.

Even though DuckDuckGo may serve a different market and never even challenge Google head-on, the search giant remains its largest hurdle in the long term. For more than a decade, Google has been synonymous with search. And that association is hard, if not impossible, to break.

In the meantime, the two companies are on frosty terms. In 2010, Google obtained the domain duck.com as part of a larger business deal in a company formerly known as Duck Co. For years, the domain would redirect to Google’s search page, despite seeming like something you’d type into your browser while trying to get to DuckDuckGo. After DuckDuckGo petitioned for ownership for nearly a decade, Google finally handed over the domain in December. The acquisition was a minor branding coup for DuckDuckGo — and a potential hedge against accusations of antitrust for Google.

That doesn’t mean relations between the two companies have improved. As the Goliath in the room, Google could attempt to undercut DuckDuckGo’s entire business proposition. Over the past few years, even mainstream players have attempted to assuage our privacy anxieties by offering VPNs (Verizon), hosting “privacy pop-ups” (Facebook), and using their billions to fight against state surveillance in court (Microsoft). With some tweaks, Google could essentially copy DuckDuckGo wholesale and create its own privacy-focused search engine with many of the same protections DuckDuckGo has built its business on. As to whether people would actually believe that Google, a company that muscled its way into becoming an integral part of the online infrastructure by selling people’s data, could suddenly transform into a guardian of that data remains to be seen.

When it comes to the internet, trust is something easily lost and difficult to regain. In a sense, every time a giant of the internet surveillance economy is revealed to have sold out its customers in some innovatively horrifying way, the ensuing chaos almost serves as free advertising for DuckDuckGo. “The world keeps going in a bad direction, and it makes people think, ‘Hey, I would like to escape some of the bad stuff on the internet and go to a safer place,’” Weinberg says. “And that’s where we see ourselves.”

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The Great Internet Scam

June 15, 2008

The Great Internet Scam – Part 1.

You have all read about internet scams but would you believe me if I told you the internet itself is a scam. The original idea, to share information between computers on a universal platform was fine. The World Wide Web, the notion of opening up computers so it was not necessary to be an authorised user was fine in that it was intended for trusted members of the academic and business communities. It was still fine when the World Wide Web came along because that started off with the intention of letting trusted members of the academic and business communities search for information across all connected computers instead of having to be provided with a specific location for their target information.

It all started to go pear – shaped when Microsoft and their buddies, while telling us they were opening up a whole new world to everybody, in reality opened up our internet connected PCs to all the hacking, phishing, spam, viruses, trojans, worms and plain bad mouthing that all the sad, inadequate wankers, arseholes, dickheads scumbags, slimeballs, penis enlargement peddlers, breast enlargement hucksters and snake oil salesmen in the world could throw at us.

It would have been very easy to stop the stream of dross but nobody was willing to. All members of civilised society accept there is a need for rules. We are not allowed to kill or hurt others just because we are stronger. We are not allowed to take other peoples’ stuff. We are not allowed to drive on whatever side of the road we choose, not go through red lights without stopping. Its all basic common sense really and the same common sense should apply to the net.

Unfortunately the people who saw the internet not as a tool to help us exchange information but a massive opportunity to make money had advertised “cyberspace” as a place where people could be free. And a lot of otherwise sane, rational people grabbed the opportunity to show they did not really understand the meanings and nuances of the word “free.” They invited the phishers, hackers, etc. etc. right into their computers via the insecure internet connections.

This launched a multi billion pound industry for internet security software. And for every package sold Microsoft picked up a licence fee. Only a few pennies every time but would you rather have a penny a few billion times or $10,000 once. (“ummm divide by ten and by ten again arrrum hmmmm knock off two zeros and…duh! they’re getting rich on all those pennies.”) Too bloody right they are!

But worse was to come.

By the time we had loaded virus scanners, trojan catchers, worm wranglers, watchdogs, and firewalls, all containing several bits of code licensed by Microsoft, to the Pentium PCs they were not powerful enough to run the internet – friendly operating systems and all supporting software we had run out and bought because “the world wide web would be our gateway to a Brave New World. Even when we were using a simple text editor with all our security software running, data flowed through the CPU like molasses through a fine sieve.

So we bought Pentium 2s. Then we obediently upgraded to Windows 98 or 98SE, some gullible souls actually did the three upgrades, 98, 98SE and Millennium Edition which really should have been called Still_Win95_but_works_properly(ish)_at_last.

For a while all was well. But Microsoft and their cohorts in the megascam business had ideas about how to screw us for even more money. We were complaining that most of the content on the web, when we could find any content that is, was dross.

“That’s because you technological dinosaurs haven’t got broadband screamed the megascammers,” telling us the web is a visual medium and if we wanted to see interesting, meticulously produced content we ought to be streaming video to our desktops. They lied of course. Television is a visual medium and at a different level so are books. The internet is a data medium. There are no pictures on the internet, no sound or video material. The only things stored on all the servers in the world are lots of tiny charges of stored static electricity. The pictures you see exist as pictures on your screen, the sounds you hear are created within your speakers. The World Wide Web only shifts streams of electricity around. Ones and zeros; and nulls of course, nothing at all. Because if there was no nothing how would a computer recognise when a thing was something. Computers might be cleverer than those nerdy types at Microsoft and Adobe and Google but that does not mean they are endowed with many practical abilities.

We all got broadband, many of us because we thought the bright boys at Microsoft and Google must know what they are talking about, were conned into it, some – old computer pros like me who remember programming computers the size of a house and offering 256k RAM – because we were bullied into it when dial up facilities were downgraded so much it was impossible to get a connection. And whoa! a brave new world opened up to us and we could spend jolly hours watching advertising zwinkies, fartlighting videos or if we were really cool dudes, maybe watching a lonely teenage girl commit suicide online or a bunch of terrorists behead a hostage.

There had not been such great live entertainment since the days of King Henry VIII and the great thing was everybody could see it. In King Henry’s day only a few hundred could gather on Tower Green in front of the Tower of London to see Anne Boleyn or Catherine Howard get the chop. With the Internet millions can watch or even save the video to hard drive and mail it to their friends. So finally we were starting to understand what the www was about. Its purpose was to turn us into an ignorant, bloodthirsty mindless medieval mob. Oh and to part us from our hard – earned of course. Never forget the money.

With Broadband came a whole swathe of new security problems from which Magnanimous Microsoft were only too willing to protect us – at a price.

The price was Windows XP (standing for Xtra Pennies I assume) Another new operating system.Despite promises that the code for Windows XP was more elegant and less resource hungry than previous editions of Windows it soon became clear that a Pentium 2 CPU running it could process data like, well like road tar fresh out of the freezer flowing through a fine sieve. So we all would have to buy Pentium 3s.

And we did, in spite of the fact that what the majority of us were doing on our computers could have been done on that 486 we threw out ten years before, had a decent operating system been available.

The next step towards winning the battle for hearts, minds and bank balances was to introduce 64bit computing. The technology had been around for a while, Digital Equipment launched the Alpha AXP, a 64 bit server designed to run Unix, in the mid 1990s. It was a super machine. But it was sold as a server because the main, in fact the only, advantage of 64bit computing is that it enables an unimaginable amount of memory to be addressed, which in turn means lots of processes can run simultaneously. A personal computer is, as the name suggests, designed for use by one person (personal – of a person, geddit Mr. Gates?) If anyone has ever tried using more than one application at a time, I mean using, not letting sit idle in background mode) they will find it is like trying to ride two horses with one arse, difficult. So the technology scam cartel needed to give us a compelling reason to buy 64 bit computers to sit on our desktops.

A few people were always going to be drawn by the idea of having at their fingertips more processing power than the Cray supercomputers used by Nuclear and astrophysical research installations like M.I.T. and CERN But the geek market would never be big enough to recoup the millions invested in reinventing the 64bit wheel.

The answer was Windows Vista, an operating system so overblown, so inefficient, so badly programmed by inadequately trained script kiddies supervised by people who think Second Life is a real place that it needs a 64bit processor with a gigabyte Random Access Memory just to run itself.

There has been resistance so far to 64 bit computers and to Windows Vista. But slowly we will be forced to upgrade. New document formats will be introduced, incompatible with our old software, new communications protocols will demand newer technology. The whole market is structured around making us throw away perfectly good stuff with years of life left in it.

It would be impossible to cite all the examples of the great internet scam but every time you find yourself being told you will have to buy or upgrade new hardware for the sake of compatibility or adequate performance bear in mind that it is another few pennies to all those software companies that hold patents on a few lines of code hidden somewhere deep in the software. And then ask yourself “do I really need this or will it just lead to more purchases to make my other stuff compatible with it.

That is how the great internet scam works.

Boggart Blog probably the funniest blog on the web

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