Blackout: Executive Order On Preventing Online Censorship

Since President Trump signed this EO on May 28, 2020, it has been totally ignored and hit with a virtual blackout of reporting and analysis. The Federal behemoth is now narrowly focused on setting social media giants straight on free and protected speech.

It is the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today, should not restrict protected speech. ⁃ TN Editor

 

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy.  Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.

In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet.  This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.  When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.  They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.

The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology.  Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms.  As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.

As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes.  It is essential to sustaining our democracy.

Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse.  Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms “flagging” content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.

Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias.  As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet.  As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets.  Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called ‘Site Integrity’ has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.

At the same time online platforms are invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans’ speech here at home, several online platforms are profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China.  One United States company, for example, created a search engine for the Chinese Communist Party that would have blacklisted searches for “human rights,” hid data unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and tracked users determined appropriate for surveillance.  It also established research partnerships in China that provide direct benefits to the Chinese military.  Other companies have accepted advertisements paid for by the Chinese government that spread false information about China’s mass imprisonment of religious minorities, thereby enabling these abuses of human rights.  They have also amplified China’s propaganda abroad, including by allowing Chinese government officials to use their platforms to spread misinformation regarding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to undermine pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

As a Nation, we must foster and protect diverse viewpoints in today’s digital communications environment where all Americans can and should have a voice.  We must seek transparency and accountability from online platforms, and encourage standards and tools to protect and preserve the integrity and openness of American discourse and freedom of expression.

Sec2.  Protections Against Online Censorship.  (a)  It is the policy of the United States to foster clear ground rules promoting free and open debate on the internet.  Prominent among the ground rules governing that debate is the immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act (section 230(c)).  47 U.S.C. 230(c).  It is the policy of the United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified: the immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.

Section 230(c) was designed to address early court decisions holding that, if an online platform restricted access to some content posted by others, it would thereby become a “publisher” of all the content posted on its site for purposes of torts such as defamation.  As the title of section 230(c) makes clear, the provision provides limited liability “protection” to a provider of an interactive computer service (such as an online platform) that engages in “‘Good Samaritan’ blocking” of harmful content.  In particular, the Congress sought to provide protections for online platforms that attempted to protect minors from harmful content and intended to ensure that such providers would not be discouraged from taking down harmful material.  The provision was also intended to further the express vision of the Congress that the internet is a “forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”  47 U.S.C. 230(a)(3).  The limited protections provided by the statute should be construed with these purposes in mind.

In particular, subparagraph (c)(2) expressly addresses protections from “civil liability” and specifies that an interactive computer service provider may not be made liable “on account of” its decision in “good faith” to restrict access to content that it considers to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable.”  It is the policy of the United States to ensure that, to the maximum extent permissible under the law, this provision is not distorted to provide liability protection for online platforms that — far from acting in “good faith” to remove objectionable content — instead engage in deceptive or pretextual actions (often contrary to their stated terms of service) to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.  Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.  When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct.  It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.

(b)  To advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section, all executive departments and agencies should ensure that their application of section 230(c) properly reflects the narrow purpose of the section and take all appropriate actions in this regard.  In addition, within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), in consultation with the Attorney General, and acting through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), shall file a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting that the FCC expeditiously propose regulations to clarify:

(i) the interaction between subparagraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of section 230, in particular to clarify and determine the circumstances under which a provider of an interactive computer service that restricts access to content in a manner not specifically protected by subparagraph (c)(2)(A) may also not be able to claim protection under subparagraph (c)(1), which merely states that a provider shall not be treated as a publisher or speaker for making third-party content available and does not address the provider’s responsibility for its own editorial decisions;

(ii)  the conditions under which an action restricting access to or availability of material is not “taken in good faith” within the meaning of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be “taken in good faith” if they are:

(A)  deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service; or

(B)  taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and

(iii)  any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section.

Sec3.  Protecting Federal Taxpayer Dollars from Financing Online Platforms That Restrict Free Speech.  (a)  The head of each executive department and agency (agency) shall review its agency’s Federal spending on advertising and marketing paid to online platforms.  Such review shall include the amount of money spent, the online platforms that receive Federal dollars, and the statutory authorities available to restrict their receipt of advertising dollars.

(b)  Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall report its findings to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

(c)  The Department of Justice shall review the viewpoint-based speech restrictions imposed by each online platform identified in the report described in subsection (b) of this section and assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.

Sec4.  Federal Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices.  (a)  It is the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today, should not restrict protected speech.  The Supreme Court has noted that social media sites, as the modern public square, “can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard.”  Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1737 (2017).  Communication through these channels has become important for meaningful participation in American democracy, including to petition elected leaders.  These sites are providing an important forum to the public for others to engage in free expression and debate.  CfPruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 85-89 (1980).

(b)  In May of 2019, the White House launched a Tech Bias Reporting tool to allow Americans to report incidents of online censorship.  In just weeks, the White House received over 16,000 complaints of online platforms censoring or otherwise taking action against users based on their political viewpoints.  The White House will submit such complaints received to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

(c)  The FTC shall consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, pursuant to section 45 of title 15, United States Code.  Such unfair or deceptive acts or practice may include practices by entities covered by section 230 that restrict speech in ways that do not align with those entities’ public representations about those practices.

(d)  For large online platforms that are vast arenas for public debate, including the social media platform Twitter, the FTC shall also, consistent with its legal authority, consider whether complaints allege violations of law that implicate the policies set forth in section 4(a) of this order.  The FTC shall consider developing a report describing such complaints and making the report publicly available, consistent with applicable law.

Sec5.  State Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices and Anti-Discrimination Laws.  (a)  The Attorney General shall establish a working group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices.  The working group shall also develop model legislation for consideration by legislatures in States where existing statutes do not protect Americans from such unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The working group shall invite State Attorneys General for discussion and consultation, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

(b) Complaints described in section 4(b) of this order will be shared with the working group, consistent with applicable law. The working group shall also collect publicly available information regarding the following:

(i) increased scrutiny of users based on the other users they choose to follow, or their interactions with other users;

(ii) algorithms to suppress content or users based on indications of political alignment or viewpoint;

(iii) differential policies allowing for otherwise impermissible behavior, when committed by accounts associated with the Chinese Communist Party or other anti-democratic associations or governments;

(iv) reliance on third-party entities, including contractors, media organizations, and individuals, with indicia of bias to review content; and

(v) acts that limit the ability of users with particular viewpoints to earn money on the platform compared with other users similarly situated.

Sec6.  Legislation.  The Attorney General shall develop a proposal for Federal legislation that would be useful to promote the policy objectives of this order.

Sec7.  Definition.  For purposes of this order, the term “online platform” means any website or application that allows users to create and share content or engage in social networking, or any general search engine.

Sec8.  General Provisions. (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)    the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)   the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Read full story here…




Twitter

Twitter Raises Censorship Bar Over COVID-19

Twitter is full of Technocrats who want to control the narrative of every issue. Once censorship started over COVID-19, it has gone in only one direction: more of it. Now, Twitter will warn and/or censor you over anything that differs from the official WHO/CDC narrative. ⁃ TN Editor

It feels like it was just yesterday we pointed out that the Twitter censor machine had gone into overdrive, concerning itself with policing mean comments and curse words. Now, the censorship machine is sliding even further down the slippery slope.

In a blog post published yesterday, Twitter said it would be “introducing new labels and warning messages that will provide additional context and information on some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19.”

In other words, the site’s efforts to police coronavirus discussion using the WHO as a truth rubric – which resulted in Zero Hedge’s permanent ban from the site for accurately predicting that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was likely at the middle of the ongoing global pandemic – hasn’t been enough.

The site says it is now going to append labels to Tweets “containing potentially harmful, misleading information related to COVID-19” and that the change is going to be retrofit to all previous Tweets.

The labels will link to a “Twitter-curated page or external trusted source containing additional information on the claims made within the Tweet.”

Warnings could also be applied to Tweets, the site said. The warnings “will inform people that the information in the Tweet conflicts with public health experts’ guidance before they view it.”

Twitter said it will take action based on three broad categories:

  • Misleading information — statements or assertions that have been confirmed to be false or misleading by subject-matter experts, such as public health authorities.
  • Disputed claims — statements or assertions in which the accuracy, truthfulness, or credibility of the claim is contested or unknown.
  • Unverified claims — information (which could be true or false) that is unconfirmed at the time it is shared.

It then posted this vague chart, which does very little to clear up anything:

Read full story here…




Censorship

Net Censorship Kills Free Speech In Britain

Thanks to PM Boris Johnson, Techno-Populism has swept Britain. The Populism element of the political equation will soon be discarded as Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” is established and Technocracy takes over. ⁃ TN Editor

The United Kingdom has become the first Western nation to move ahead with large-scale censorship of the internet, effectively creating regulation that will limit freedom on the last frontier of digital liberty. In a move that has the nation reeling, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled rules that will punish internet companies with fines, and even imprisonment, if they fail to protect users from “harmful and illegal content.”

Couched in language that suggests this is being done to protect children from pedophiles and vulnerable people from cyberbullying, the proposals will place a massive burden on small companies. Further, they will ultimately make it impossible for those not of the pervasive politically correct ideology to produce and share content.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes

The new guardian of the internet will be the Office of Communications (known as Ofcom), a government-approved body that already regulates television, radio, broadcasting, and even the postal service. This group has been accused on many occasions of “acting as the moral arbiter” for the nation, and perhaps unsurprisingly, tends towards a very left-leaning position.

Speaking to Order-Order.com, Matthew Lesh, the head of research at The Adam Smith Institute, warned:

“Make no mistake: free speech is under threat. The Government is proposing the most censorious online speech regime in the Western world. We must not be fooled by platitudes about freedom of expression. The inevitably woke bureaucrats in Ofcom will be deciding what sort of speech is and is not allowed across much of the internet. They will have extraordinary discretion to decide who to target and what is harmful.

This is a recipe for disaster for anyone that thinks differently to the Notting Hill set — any correct but unpopular opinions will not just come under attack from the Twitterati, but the law itself.”

Ofcom has a new boss in place to go along with the new powers: Dame Melanie Dawes. Dawes has been a career civil servant for her entire working life and was most recently the Civil Service Gender and Diversity Champion from 2015 to 2019.

The Rules

Among the sweeping and censorious powers awarded to Ofcom are:

  • The ability to create guidelines that instruct content-hosting companies (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) on how to manage online censorship of “user-generated content.”
  • Create rules for content that is “not illegal but has the potential to cause harm.”
  • To have the remit for deciding, writing up, and adapting rules on how internet regulation works.

Not only is the government mandating an outside body to orchestrate the regulation of the internet, but they are also handing over the power to decide exactly what should be censored. Boris Johnson, formerly considered the darling of liberty for his backing of Brexit, appears to have handed over control of who may speak and what may be said online to an organization that prides itself on its ability to clamp down on speech it considers fringe.

The nation’s newspapers are owned by a small group of people and companies. Many of the major television and radio stations are under charter with the U.K. government. Book publishing companies are too afraid to publish a single word that goes against the progressive orthodoxy. The ability to congregate and hold rallies is tightly controlled by government bodies. And now, the last realm of freedom, the last place in which like-minded souls can exchange ideas, learn, and express themselves to their fullest is about to fall under the Orwellian control of an agency that will not even be accountable to the government itself.

The Ministry of Truth is here.

Read full story here…




VAXXED

Medical Association Sues Rep. Adam Schiff For Censorship

American Association of Physicians & Surgeons is suing Rep. Adam Schiff over demanding that Twitter remove the vaccine movies Vaxxed and Shoot ‘Em Up: The Truth About Vaccines. Twitter ‘obeyed’ Schiff and removed the videos. Schiff’s actions are patently unconstitutional and the lawsuit intends to hold him accountable. ⁃ TN Editor

AAPS Press Release – The internet is supposed to provide open access to information to people of different opinions, and algorithms for search engines such as Google were originally designed to rank entries on the basis of traffic to a site. It was democratic in the sense that people voted with their mouse clicks.

Freedom of communication is a threat to oppressors. Communist China has erected the Great Firewall (tinyurl.com/y7allgtb). Google’s secret Project Dragonfly would  collect data about people’s searches that could be used for facilitating human-rights abuses, and would purge links to websites prohibited in China (https://tinyurl.com/y9ujjy3g). Because of political pressure, it has reportedly been terminated—for now (tinyurl.com/yatvngmo)—although a shareholder resolution to stop it failed (https://tinyurl.com/y5jz6j8u).

In the U.S., online service providers have broad protections from legal liability for content created by the users of their services, under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), which added Section 230 to the Communications Act of 1934. This permits entities like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to publish others’ content without reviewing it for criminality or other potential legal issues. There are concerns that it protects pornography and sex-trafficking.

On Jun 13, 2019, the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) held a hearing on technology that allows the creation of “fake” videos. At the outset, Schiff challenged the CDA immunity enjoyed by interactive computer services, apparently intending to pressure services such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter to comply with his position on access to information he deems inappropriate for public access.

In early 2019, Schiff contacted leading interactive computer services, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon, to encourage them to de-platform or discredit what Schiff asserted to be inaccurate information on vaccines. He then posted the letters and press release on the House.gov website.

Information Is Blocked; AAPS Sues

In response to Schiff’s letter, Amazon removed the popular videos Vaxxed and Shoot ’Em Up: the Truth About Vaccines from its platform for streaming videos, depriving members of the public of convenient access.

Under a policy announced in May 2019, Twitter includes a pro-government disclaimer placed above search results for an AAPS article on vaccine mandates: “Know the Facts. To make sure you get the best information on vaccination, resources are available from the US Department of Health and Human Services.” The implication is that if information is not on a government website, then it is somehow less credible. On Facebook, a search for an AAPS article on vaccines, which previously would lead directly to the AAPS article, now produces search results containing links to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visits to the AAPS website have declined significantly since March 2019, both in absolute terms and relative to the decline that would result from a story’s losing its recency.

On Aug 9, 2019, Amazon suddenly announced the termination of AAPS, after 10 years’ participation, from the Amazon Associates Program, which by its own description is one of the largest affiliate networks in the world to enable website owners to earn commissions based on their traffic.

AAPS is not “anti-vaccine,” but rather supports informed consent, based on an understanding of the full range of medical, legal, and economic considerations relevant to vaccination and any other medical intervention, which inevitably involves risks as well as benefits. For two decades, AAPS has published informative articles pertaining to vaccination, which continue to draw visitors, even years later.

Schiff creates an arbitrary binary divide, simplistically labeling all speech on vaccinations as either “pro-vaccination” or “anti-vaccination,” with the latter taken to mean “anti-science” or unintelligent and uneducated and thus unworthy of public access.

WHO has declared “vaccine hesitancy” to be a major public-health concern. Thus, any information, however valid scientifically, that might influence a person to decline a  vaccine, could be labeled a public-health threat and censored.

AAPS notes efforts by the AMA and others to declare that many controversial issues are public health threats—such as “gun violence,” “climate change,” or lack of convenient and affordable access to abortion or “sex-change” surgery. A precedent to censor speech on vaccine adverse events has broad implications.

AAPS and Katarina Verrelli, on behalf of herself and others who seek access to vaccine information,  have filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Adam Schiff has abused government  power and infringed on their free-speech rights (tinyurl.com/st2wdbr).

“The First Amendment protects the rights of free speech  and association. Included within the right of free speech is a right to receive information from willing speakers. Under the First Amendment, Americans have the right to hear all sides of every issue and to make their own judgments about those issues without government interference or limitations,” Plaintiffs argue. “Content-based restrictions on speech are presumptively unconstitutional, and courts analyze such restrictions under strict scrutiny.”

Read full story here…




Kathy Castor

House Climate Chair Calls For Google To Censor ‘Climate Deniers’

Shame on Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), who is chairperson of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. She demands that Google censor videos that promote “climate denial and climate misinformation.” What happened to the First Amendment, Kathy? ⁃ TN Editor

The chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis was accused Wednesday of censorship after calling on Google to take action against YouTube videos that promote “climate denial and climate misinformation.”

Rep. Kathy Castor, Florida Democrat, asked Google in a Monday letter to remove “climate disinformation videos” from YouTube’s “recommendation algorithm,” demonetize videos that promote “harmful misinformation,” and correct the record for those exposed to such “misinformation.”

“YouTube has been driving millions of viewers to climate misinformation videos every day, a shocking revelation that runs contrary to Google’s important missions of fighting misinformation and promoting climate action,” said Ms. Castor, who requested a response by Feb. 7.

Google, which owns YouTube, has yet to comment publicly, but climate skeptics were outraged, charging the congresswoman with attempting to shut down debate on climate policy by silencing dissenting voices, no matter how knowledgeable about climate science.

“Rep. Castor’s demand that Google pull down climate skeptic YouTube videos because she doesn’t approve of their content says a lot about the totalitarian instincts of the climate movement,” said JunkScience’s Steve Milloy.

Read full story here…




Google

Google: A New Breed Of Dictator Never Before Seen In History

Google is an existential Technocrat threat to all other forms of government and governance. Run by unelected and unaccountable Technocrats, Google pushes toward Technocracy, or Scientific Dictatorship. Ironically, people have voluntarily signed up for it. ⁃ TN Editor

Robert Epstein, who received his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard in 1981 and served as the former editor in chief at Psychology Today, is now a senior research psychologist for the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology, where for the last decade he has helped expose Google’s manipulative and deceptive practices. He explains what got him interested in investigating the internet search monopoly in the first place:

“In 2012, January 1st, I received some emails from Google saying my website contained malware and that they were somehow blocking access. This means I had gotten onto one of Google’s blacklists.

“My website did contain some malware. It was pretty easy to get rid of, but it turns out it’s hard to get off of a Google blacklist. That’s a big problem. I started looking at Google just a little bit differently.

“I wondered, first of all, why they were notifying me about this rather than some government agency or some nonprofit organization? Why was a private company notifying me?

“In other words, who made Google sheriff of the internet? Second, I learned they had no customer service department, which seemed very strange, so if you have a problem with Google, then you have a problem because they don’t help you solve the problem.

“I learned also that although you can get onto a blacklist in a split second, it can take weeks to get off a blacklist. There have been businesses that have gotten onto their blacklists and have gone out of business while they’re trying to straighten out the problem.

“The thing that really caught my eye — because I’ve been a programmer my whole life — was I couldn’t figure out how they were blocking access to my website, not just through their own products … Google.com, the search engine, or through Chrome, which is their browser, but through Safari, which is an Apple product, through Firefox, which is a browser run by Mozilla, a nonprofit organization.

“How was Google blocking access through so many different means? The point is I just started to get more curious about the company, and later in 2012, I happened to be looking at a growing literature, which was about the power of search rankings to impact sales.

“This was in the marketing field and it just was astonishing. In other words, if you could push yourself up one more notch in their search results, that could make the difference between success or failure for your company; it could mean a lot more income.

“It turns out that this initial research was saying that people really trust those higher ranked search results. I simply asked a question. I wondered whether, if people trust those higher rank search results, I could use search results to influence people’s opinions, maybe even their votes.”

What Epstein discovered through his subsequent research, which began in 2013, is that yes, biased search results can indeed be used to influence public opinion and sway undecided voters. What’s more, the strength of that influence was shocking.

He also eventually discovered how Google is able to block website access on browsers other than their own. His findings were published in 2016 in U.S. News & World Report.1

Google’s Powers Pose Serious Threats to Society

Google’s powers pose three specific threats to society:

1. They’re a surveillance agency with significant yet hidden surveillance powers. As noted by Epstein:

“The search engine … Google Wallet, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube, these are surveillance platforms. In other words, from their perspective, the value these tools have is they give them more information about you. Surveillance is what they do.”

2. They’re a censoring agency with the ability to restrict or block access to websites across the internet, thus deciding what people can and cannot see. They even have the ability to block access to entire countries and the internet as a whole.

The most crushing problem with this kind of internet censorship is that you don’t know what you don’t know. If a certain type of information is removed from search, and you don’t know it should exist somewhere, you’ll never go looking for it. And, when searching for information online, how would you know that certain websites or pages have been removed from the search results in the first place? The answer is, you don’t.

For example, Google has been investing in DNA repositories for quite a long time, and are adding DNA information to our profiles. According to Epstein, Google has taken over the national DNA repository, but articles about that — which he has cited in his own writings — have all vanished.

3. They have the power to manipulate public opinion through search rankings and other means.

“To me, that’s the scariest area,” Epstein says, “because Google is shaping the opinions, thinking, beliefs, attitudes, purchases and votes of billions of people around the world without anyone knowing that they’re doing so … and perhaps even more shocking, without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace.

They’re using new techniques of manipulation that have never existed before in human history and they are for the most part, subliminal … but they don’t produce tiny shifts.

They produce enormous shifts in people’s thinking, very rapidly. Some of the techniques I’ve discovered are among the largest behavioral effects ever discovered in the behavioral sciences.”

While surveillance is Google’s primary business, their revenue — which exceeds $130 billion a year — comes almost exclusively from advertising. All that personal information you’ve provided them through their various products is sold to advertisers looking for a specific target audience.

A Dictator Unlike Anything the World Has Ever Known

Another, and even more frightening possibility, is that Google could allow its biased algorithm to favor one candidate over another without caring about which candidate is being favored.

“That’s the scariest possibility,” Epstein says, “because now you’ve got an algorithm, a computer program, which is an idiot … deciding who rules us. It’s crazy.”

While this sounds like it should be illegal, it’s not, because there are no laws or regulations that restrict or dictate how Google must rank its search results. Courts have actually concluded that Google is simply exercising its right to free speech, even if that means destroying the businesses they demote in their search listings or black listings.

The only way to protect ourselves from this kind of hidden influence is by setting up monitoring programs such as Epstein’s all over the world. “As a species, it’s the only way we can protect ourselves from new types of online technologies that can be used to influence us,” he says. “No dictator anywhere has ever had even a tiny fraction of the power that this company has.”

Epstein is also pushing for government to make the Google search index a public commons, which would allow other companies to create competing search platforms using Google’s database. While Google’s search engine cannot be broken up, its monopoly would be thwarted by forcing it to hand over its index to other search platform developers.

Read full story here…




U.N. Approves New Internet Convention Backed By Russia And China

In 2016, I wrote Technocracy: The Real Reason Why The UN Wants Control Over The Internet and explained why President Obama purposely failed to renew the contract with ICANN to serve U.S. Interests. Now, you see the result. ⁃ TN Editor

The United Nations on Friday approved a Russian-led bid that aims to create a new convention on cybercrime, alarming rights groups and Western powers that fear a bid to restrict online freedom.

The General Assembly approved the resolution sponsored by Russia and backed by China, which would set up a committee of international experts in 2020.

The panel will work to set up “a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes,” the resolution said.

The United States, European powers and rights groups fear that the language is code for legitimizing crackdowns on expression, with numerous countries defining criticism of the government as “criminal.”

China heavily restricts internet searches to avoid topics sensitive to its communist leadership, as well as news sites with critical coverage.

A number of countries have increasingly tried to turn off the internet, with India cutting off access in Kashmir in August after it stripped autonomy to the Muslim-majority region and Iran taking much of the country offline as it cracked down on protests in November.

“It is precisely our fear that (a new convention) would allow the codification at an international and global level of these types of controls that’s driving our opposition and our concerns about this resolution,” a US official said.

Any new UN treaty that spells out internet controls would be “inimical to the United States’ interests because that doesn’t tally with the fundamental freedoms we see as necessary across the globe,” he said.

Human Rights Watch called the UN resolution’s list of sponsors “a rogue’s gallery of some of the earth’s most repressive governments.”

Read full story here…




‘Switcharoo’ Leaks: Facebook Stomped Competition While Pitching User Privacy

Bloomberg reports that leaked  docs “portray company executives plotting how to convince the public they were serious about improving privacy protections even while their real goal was to snuff out competition.” ⁃ TN Editor
 

Facebook Inc.’s struggle to regain trust over how it handles user data got more complicated with the release of a trove of internal documents suggesting business considerations outweighed the privacy concerns the company publicly touted when it decided five years ago to cut off tens of thousands of developers from its platform.

The company’s “Switcharoo Plan,” a nickname bestowed by a Facebook employee in an email, was revealed in thousands of pages of sealed court records described Wednesday in a report by Reuters and posted online by NBC News.

The documents portray company executives plotting how to convince the public they were serious about improving privacy protections even while their real goal was to snuff out competition

The leaked records include internal Facebook emails and memos that were filed under seal in state court in California as part of a lawsuit brought by an aggrieved Silicon Valley app developer. Six4Three LLC’s app allowed users to find photos of their Facebook friends in bathing suits.

“These old documents have been taken out of context by someone with an agenda against Facebook, and have been distributed publicly with a total disregard for US law,” a Facebook representative said Wednesday.

Six4Three sued Facebook in 2015 after the social media giant cut off its access — along with that of thousands of other app developers — to Facebook user data, thereby destroying the functionality of its app.

The disclosure of the confidential documents comes as Facebook faces increased scrutiny over alleged anti-competitive behavior.

In September, congressional lawmakers probing antitrust issues in Big Tech made extensive document requests of Facebook, including executive communications on company decisions “to deny any specific app or any categories of apps access to Facebook’s APIs” as well as moves “to require that any specific app or any categories of apps purchase ads on Facebook in order to maintain access to Facebook APIs” or other user data.

The companies had produced “tens of thousands” of documents as of mid-October, according to Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who is leading the probe.

Meanwhile, California went to court Wednesday to force Facebook to cooperate with an investigation into whether the company has violated its users’ privacy and state law. The company said it has ”cooperated extensively” with the state probe.

Facebook had a history of preventing rivals — even ones who weren’t real rivals yet — from using its advertising products. In 2013, Facebook restricted ads for competitive Google products, as well as WeChat, Line and Kakao, the messaging apps popular in Asia. “Those companies are trying to build social networks and replace us,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a 2013 email. “The revenue is immaterial to us compared to any risk.”

Read full story here…




How Google’s Search Engine Determines Winners And Losers

Run by Technocrat mindset, Google practices its Science of Social Engineering at every level, putting companies in a position to live or die by search engine placement of ads and keywords. If you run afoul, Google can crush you. ⁃ TN Editor

“Where’s the best place to hide a body? The second page of a Google search.”

The gallows humor shows that people rarely look beyond the first few results of a search, but Lee Griffin isn’t laughing.

In the 13 years since he co-founded British price comparison website GoCompare, the 41-year-old has tried to keep his company at the top of search results, doing everything from using a “For Dummies” guide in the early days to later hiring a team of engineers, marketers and mathematicians. That’s put him on the front lines of a battle challenging the dominance of Alphabet Inc.’s Google in the search market — with regulators in the U.S. and across Europe taking a closer look.

Most of the sales at GoCompare, which helps customers find deals on everything from car and travel insurance to energy plans, come from Google searches, making its appearance at the top critical. With Google — whose search market share is more than 80% — frequently changing its algorithms, buying ads has become the only way to ensure a top spot on a page. Companies like GoCompare have to outbid competitors for paid spots even when customers search for their brand name.

“Google’s brought on as this thing that wanted to serve information to the world,” Griffin said in an interview from the company’s offices in Newport, Wales. “But actually what it’s doing is to show you information that people have paid it to show you.”

Market Dominance

GoCompare is far from the only one to suffer from Google’s search dominance. John Lewis, a high-end British retailer, last month alluded to the rising cost of climbing up in Google search results. In the U.S., IAC/InterActive Corp., which owns internet services like Tinder, and ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. have signaled Google’s stranglehold on the market.

The clamor from companies has prompted the U.K. competition watchdog to study online platforms and digital advertising in July, aiming to examine the market power of companies like Google over online marketing. The European Union has been trying to rein in Google, fining the company 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) this year for thwarting advertising rivals. In the U.S. there’s a rising chorus of voices on the political left and right demanding Google be cut down to size, somehow.

Searching Game

The case of GoCompare shows just how difficult it is to win the search game.

GoCompare is known locally for its off-beat ads where an opera singer belts out its name in restaurants, taxis and, more controversially, crawls out of a flipped car in a recreation of an accident. When customers look for the company’s name after seeing an ad or type in a query for auto insurance, what appears is a combination of paid advertisements, Google’s own blurbs and then so-called natural search results, a list of what the tech giant deems are the most reliable sources of the information. But even ranking highly on natural search results can be costly.

“The way the algorithm works is constantly changing and you don’t get insight into it,” said Lexi Mills, chief executive officer of Shift6, a marketing consulting firm that helps clients improve their search results. “The people who get to optimize tend to be the people with the most money.”

Nowhere is Google’s power more evident — and potentially damaging to businesses — than in the market for “branded keywords.” This is where businesses buy ads based on their brand names. So GoCompare bids on the word “GoCompare” and when people search for that, Google runs an ad at the top of results usually linking to the company’s website.

‘Odd Place’

Some businesses say they have to buy these ads — whatever the cost — because rivals can bid on the keywords too.

If GoCompare decides not to bid for its own brand, Google can legally sell the ad placements with its name to a competitor, with the top bidders getting the best spots on the page and taking away customers.

“That seems like an odd place to be that I have to bid on my own brand,” said Griffin. When the company confronted Google about it, the tech giant said “tell your competitors to stop bidding on you,” according to Griffin.

Read full story here…




Google Whistleblower

The Whistleblower Who Exposed Google’s Deep Conspiracy To Overthrow The U.S. Government

Zachary Vorhies discovered the pure evil intent of Google when he realized that it intended to overthrow the U.S. government. He put his career on the line to expose hundreds of internal Google documents. ⁃ TN Editor
 

A Google insider who anonymously leaked internal documents to Project Veritas made the decision to go public in an on-the-record video interview. The insider, Zachary Vorhies, decided to go public after receiving a letter from Google, and after he says Google allegedly called the police to perform a “wellness check” on him.

Along with the interview, Vorhies asked Project Veritas to publish more of the internal Google documents he had previously leaked. Said Vorhies:

“I gave the documents to Project Veritas, I had been collecting the documents for over a year. And the reason why I collected these documents was because I saw something dark and nefarious going on with the company and I realized that there were going to not only tamper with the elections, but use that tampering with the elections to essentially overthrow the United States.”

In June of 2019, Project Veritas published internal Google documents revealing “algorithmic unfairness.” Vorhies told Project Veritas these were documents that were widely available to full-time Google employees:

“These documents were available to every single employee within the company that was full-time. And so as a fulltime employee at the company, I just searched for some keywords and these documents started to pop up. And so once I started finding one document and started finding keywords for other documents and I would enter that in and continue this cycle until I had a treasure trove and archive of documents that clearly spelled out the system, what they’re attempting to do in very clear language.”

Shortly after the report including the “algorithmic unfairness” documents was published, Vorhies received a letter from Google containing several “demands.” Vorhies told Project Veritas that he complied with Google’s demands, which included a request for any internal Google documents he may have personally retained. Vorhies also said he sent those documents to the Department of Justice Antitrust Division.

After having been identified by an anonymous account (which Vorhies believes belongs to a Google employee,) on social media as a “leaker,” Vorhies was approached by law enforcement at his residence in California. According to Vorhies, San Francisco police received a call from Google which prompted a “wellness check.”

Vorhies described the incident to Project Veritas:

“they got inside the gate, the police, and they started banging on my door… And so the police decided that they were going to call in additional forces. They called in the FBI, they called in the SWAT team. And they called in a bomb squad.”

“[T]his is a large way in which [Google tries to] intimidate their employees that go rogue on the company…”

Partial video of the incident was provided to Project Veritas. San Francisco police confirmed to Project Veritas that they did receive a “mental health call,” and responded to Vorhies’ address that day.

“Google Snowden moment”

Project Veritas has released hundreds of internal Google documents leaked by Vorhies. Among those documents is a file called “news black list site for google now.” The document, according to Vorhies, is a “black list,” which restricts certain websites from appearing on news feeds for an Android Google product. The list includes conservative and progressive websites, such as newsbusters.org and mediamatters.org. The document says that some sites are listed with or because of a “high user block rate.”

Read full story here…