Contributed by Chriss Street: Edward Snowden was one of thousands of contractors with top-secret security clearances and the ability to conduct surveillance against any foe of the US. Or as he so eloquently said: “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.” Hence the ancient question: Who will guard the guardians?
Entries in Information Age (25)
No one accused Apple of having violated US tax laws. The Senate hearings merely exposed how Apple is dodging income taxes by doing what multinationals do: taking advantage of handouts and loopholes that Congress hands them. Now it turns out that much of the discussion was based on a fairytale.
Officially, the EU doesn’t have an intelligence service. It’s dependent on the national intelligence services of its members. Officially. In reality, it is building an intelligence apparatus of six services, populated already by 1,300 specialists, some operating overseas, with vast databases at their fingertips. Much of it beyond any kind of democratic control.
The French government is saddled with enough problems; in theory, it no longer needs to create new ones. But now it wrote another excellent chapter in its tome on how to interfere with private-sector businesses, hamper entrepreneurs, and encourage them to start up their operations elsewhere instead of creating jobs in France.
Some of the crown jewels of corporate America have reported declining revenues and earnings, and have lowered their forecasts, and in doing so, have unleashed a flood of obfuscation and excuses – from Easter falling on the wrong date to lazy sales reps. So when Caterpillar reported on Monday, it was almost refreshing in its unvarnished ugliness.
Contributed by Chriss Street: The FBI and Justice Department put-on a media dog and pony show to trumpet how the combined forces of law enforcement captured the Boston Marathon Bombers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The investigative heroes were millions of members of the social-media site Reddit, who virally leveraged their diverse skills.
In 2009, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, under fire for his company’s strategy to collect, store, and mine personal data, said on CNBC, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Privacy just makes you appear guilty. It’s the philosophy under which police states operate. But why a sudden about-face?
Contributed by Ross Thomas. As the value of a Bitcoin soars and dives and soars in mega-percentages, and as perfectly sane people wonder what the heck it is and then suddenly jump on the bandwagon with both feet, Ross, a computer security researcher and software developer, pokes around in its ugly innards.
“The government imposed the income tax burden in the first place,” said former California Republican legislator Tom Campbell about the process of filing tax returns. “So if it wants to make it easier, for heaven’s sake, why not?” But two companies that sell tax preparation software and services have been lobbying tooth and nail against making it easier—and won.
Internet companies know practically everything about their users. And servers never forget. Advertisers, ID thieves, insurance companies, and others are trying to get this data. But “law enforcement” around the world can simply bully its way to it. Now Microsoft confessed: even your data and conversations on its encrypted services that you thought were secure aren’t because, upon request, it gives the crypto keys to governments around the world.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Desperate to halt its stock’s dismal slide since going public, Facebook has increasingly sought new ways to make more money and prove its worth. As the builder of the largest “Big Data” treasure trove in history, Facebook is selling marketers and shady characters veiled access to its users’ deepest secrets.
Last year, the government extracted $1.1 trillion in taxes from us individual taxpayers. But now it will pay, along with the states, $429 million of our taxes to the coolest Silicon-Valley beauty queen: Facebook. In net tax refunds! Part of a vast package of juicy corporate welfare programs. Facebook isn’t just hogging our data; it’s gobbling up our money.
Facebook isn’t over the hill, exactly. Last October, it announced that 1 billion people a month used it, in a world of 7 billion. Leaping from one milestone to the next. But in key markets, such as the US where it derives most of its revenues, it is plateauing, and a shudder-inducing D-word has snuck into polite conversation: declining. Now we have a new reason.
The images are everywhere: flooded tunnels, runways, streets; a facade broken off a house, fallen trees, dark skylines.... They tell us of a horrific nightmare in a visually shocking way. Then I got an email from the founder and CEO of the company that hosts my blog. “I have some unfortunate news....” it starts out.
Contributed by Doug Hornig, Casey Research. In times past, if you couldn't do anything else, you could probably listen to phone complaints all day. And somebody had to do it. Today, there's a new shine on customer relations departments, with a glossy title and a widely recognized abbreviation: customer relations management, or CRM. And there is a lot at stake for investors.
Contributed by Casey Research. From smartphones to genome sequencing to 3-D printing—what America does best is turning bleeding-edge technologies into immensely successful products, says Alex Daley, Chief Technology Investment Strategist. Sit back, relax, and watch this exciting, eye-opening video to find out where the next big investment profits lie, and how to get a slice of them.
Contributed by Casey Research. These “airheads on TV news shows” who “pontificate and tell you what you're supposed to think,” says legendary speculator Doug Casey in this interview, “just read the establishment press releases. They’re no longer the Fourth Estate – a private-sector watchdog and counterbalance to state power – but have become “lapdogs of politicians.” And that’s dangerous, he says.
Contributed by Alex Daley and Doug Hornig, Senior Editors, Casey Extraordinary Technology. The cellphone in your pocket is NASA-smart. Yet it costs just a couple hundred dollars. So why is it that rising technical capabilities are leading to drastically falling prices happening everywhere, except in your medical bill? The answer may surprise you…
Contributed by Alex Daley, Casey Research. My son doesn't know how to use a mouse. He doesn't even know what one is. As far as he's concerned, it's a furry animal he's only seen in books and running around the floor of the Newark airport. While I've known this for some time, it recently moved from the back of my mind to front and center following a brief car trip a few days ago.
A friend, who was installing Skype on a new computer, was baffled when Skype suggested contacts that weren’t on his Skype contact list but in his address book. Turns out, apps are gateways that pilfer voluminous personal information, not only address book data but also ... sexual preferences. Nothing is safe. And not just of the user but also of his or her friends. And now the government is trying to catch up in the race to get our information.