Governmental and social pressure have led YouTube to come up with algorithms to push down videos that YouTube suspects to be “fake news” or “conspiracy theories.” An article in the Guardian blaming YouTube for “promoting” a video claiming that the Las Vegas shooting was a hoax shows the kind of pressure they are under. But this video by alternative journalist Tim Pool looks critically at some of the potential long-term consequences of the growing attempt to exploit the major social media platforms’ status as gatekeepers. What will be the effects on freedom of speech and independent journalism?

Civil Society and Digital Free Trade: A Response

On October 6th a letter was circulated to the negotiators preparing for the World Trade Organization’s 11th Ministerial meeting (MC11), which will be held December 10-13, 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The letter purports to speak for all of “global civil society,” and singles out for attack the prospect of an agreement on e-commerce trade, which it calls “a dangerous and inappropriate new agenda.” A large part of the text appeared several months ago as part of a Huffington Post op-ed written by Deborah James, a Director at the anti-free trade Center for Economic and Policy Research. In response to this letter, IGP wishes to make the following points:

Not the voice of “global civil society”

That statement is not the voice of “global civil society.” It is an alliance of labor unions primarily, with support from some anti-globalization environmental and church groups. While these are legitimate stakeholders who deserve to be heard, we wish to challenge the advocates’ pretense that consumers, civil society groups and the developing world all oppose free trade in e-commerce and only U.S.-based big corporations favor it and benefit from it. Continue reading

“Caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight:” Kaspersky

The FBI’s attack on Kaspersky Labs reached a new level last week when the Wall Street Journal published an article claiming that Kaspersky anti-virus software was exploited by Russian intelligence to exfiltrate information from an NSA contractor or employee. The person in question took sensitive information home on an unsecured computer that was running Kaspersky AV. The focus on Kaspersky lets the NSA off the hook for allowing yet another NSA insider to sneak classified material outside of the NSA network and put it on an unsecured computer. But the implications of this incident go far beyond the fate of a single Russia-domiciled security company. While there are many gaps in our knowledge, there is no doubt that, whatever Kaspersky’s level of culpability, this is largely a geopolitical conflict in which we and the Internet are pawns.

What is known?

Kaspersky AV products have won awards and high ratings from independent security testing labs for both home and business products. Kaspersky products, like those of any other security vendor in the world, have access and privileges to the systems they protect. Often the software surveils your computer or network and reports back to the AV company what it discovers. The implied, and not well-developed or substantiated argument in the WSJ article is that Kaspersky software detected special malware held by the NSA for breaking into other countries’ computers, and that Kaspersky notified the Russian intelligence agencies of its presence on this computer, allowing them to target the person.

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