Friday, August 25, 2017

OpenStack 08/25/2017 (p.m.)

  • Tags: Openweb, OpenAccess, EFF, legislation

    • When you pay for federally funded research, you should be allowed to read it. That’s the idea behind the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (S.1701, H.R.3427), which was recently reintroduced in both houses of Congress.

      FASTR was first introduced in 2013, and while it has strong support in both parties, it has never gained enough momentum to pass. We need to change that. Let’s tell Congress that passing an open access law should be a top priority.

    • Tell Congress: It’s time to move FASTR

      The proposal is pretty simple: Under FASTR, every federal agency that spends more than $100 million on grants for research would be required to adopt an open access policy. The bill gives each agency flexibility to implement an open access policy suited to the work it funds, so long as research is available to the public after an “embargo period” of a year or less.

      One of the major points of contention around FASTR is how long that embargo period should be. Last year, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved FASTR unanimously, but only after extending that embargo period from six months to 12, putting FASTR in line with the 2013 White House open access memo. That’s the version that was recently reintroduced in the Senate.  The House bill, by contrast, sets the embargo period at six months.

      EFF supports a shorter period. Part of what’s important about open access is that it democratizes knowledge: when research is available to the public, you don’t need expensive journal subscriptions or paid access to academic databases in order to read it. A citizen scientist can use and build on the same body of knowledge as someone with institutional connections. But in the fast-moving world of scientific research, 12 months is an eternity.

      A shorter embargo is far from a radical proposition, especially in 2017. The landscape for academic publishing is very different from what it was when FASTR was first introduced, thanks in larger part to nongovernmental funders who already enforce open access mandates.

    • Just last year, the Gates Foundation made headlines when it dropped the embargo period from its policy entirely, requiring that research be published openly immediately. After a brief standoff, major publishers began to accommodate Gates’ requirements. As a result, we finally have public confirmation of what we’ve always known: open access mandates don’t put publishers out of business; they push them to modernize their business models. Imagine how a strong open access mandate for government-funded research—with a requirement that that research be licensed openly—could transform publishing.

      FASTR may not be that law, but it’s a huge step in the right direction, and it’s the best option on the table today. Let’s urge Congress to pass a version of FASTR with an embargo period of six months or less, and then use it as a foundation for stronger open access in the future.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

OpenStack 08/21/2017 (a.m.)

  • Tags: Openweb, Google, Youtube, censorship, ADL

    • Chief among the groups seeking to clamp down on independent media has been Google, the massive technology company with deep connections to the U.S. intelligence community, as well as to U.S. government and business elites.
    • Since 2015, Google has worked to become the Internet’s “Ministry of Truth,” first through its creation of the First Draft Coalition and more recently via major changes made to its search engine that curtail public access to new sites independent of the corporate media.
    • Google has now stepped up its war on free speech and the freedom of the press through its popular subsidiary, YouTube. On Tuesday, YouTube announced online that it is set to begin censoring content deemed “controversial,” even if that content does not break any laws or violate YouTube’s user agreement.

      Misleadingly dubbed as an effort “to fight terror content online,” the new program will flag content for review through a mix of machine algorithms and “human review,” guided by standards set up by “expert NGOs and institutions” that are part of YouTube’s “Trusted Flagger” program. YouTube stated that such organizations “bring expert knowledge of complex issues like hate speech, radicalization, and terrorism.”

      One of the leading institutions directing the course of the Trusted Flagger program is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but has gained a reputation over the years for labeling any critic of Israel’s government as an “anti-Semite.”

      For instance, characterizing Israeli policies towards the Palestinians as “racist” or “apartheid-like” is considered “hate speech” by the ADL, as is accusing Israel of war crimes or attempted ethnic cleansing. The ADL has even described explicitly Jewish organizations who are critical of Israel’s government as being “anti-Semitic.”


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

OpenStack 08/17/2017 (p.m.)

  • Tags: Openweb, Google, search, censorship

    • A growing number of leading left-wing websites have confirmed that their search traffic from Google has plunged in recent months, adding to evidence that Google, under the cover of a fraudulent campaign against fake news, is implementing a program of systematic and widespread censorship.

      Truthout, a not-for-profit news website that focuses on political, social, and ecological developments from a left progressive standpoint, had its readership plunge by 35 percent since April. The Real News , a nonprofit video news and documentary service, has had its search traffic fall by 37 percent. Another site, Common Dreams , last week told the WSWS that its search traffic had fallen by up to 50 percent.

      As extreme as these sudden drops in search traffic are, they do not equal the nearly 70 percent drop in traffic from Google seen by the WSWS.

      “This is political censorship of the worst sort; it’s just an excuse to suppress political viewpoints,” said Robert Epstein, a former editor in chief of Psychology Today and noted expert on Google.

      Epstein said that at this point, the question was whether the WSWS had been flagged specifically by human evaluators employed by the search giant, or whether those evaluators had influenced the Google Search engine to demote left-wing sites. “What you don’t know is whether this was the human evaluators who are demoting you, or whether it was the new algorithm they are training,” Epstein said.

    • Richard Stallman, the world-renowned technology pioneer and a leader of the free software movement, said he had read the WSWS’s coverage on Google’s censorship of left-wing sites. He warned about the immense control exercised by Google over the Internet, saying, “For people’s main way of finding articles about a topic to be run by a giant corporation creates an obvious potential for abuse.”

      According to data from the search optimization tool SEMRush, search traffic to Mr. Stallman’s personal website, Stallman.org, fell by 24 percent, while traffic to gnu.org, operated by the Free Software Foundation, fell 19 percent.

      Eric Maas, a search engine optimization consultant working in the San Francisco Bay area, said his team has surveyed a wide range of alternative news sites affected by changes in Google’s algorithms since April.  “While the update may be targeting specific site functions, there is evidence that this update is promoting only large mainstream news organizations. What I find problematic with this is that it appears that some sites have been targeted and others have not.”

      The massive drop in search traffic to the WSWS and other left-wing sites followed the implementation of changes in Google’s search evaluation protocols. In a statement issued on April 25, Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.”

      In a set of guidelines issued to Google evaluators in March, the company instructed its search evaluators to flag pages returning “conspiracy theories” or “upsetting” content unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

OpenStack 08/12/2017 (p.m.)

  • Tags: Openweb, Google, censorship, fake-news-propaganda

    • Now Google, at the behest of its friends in Washington, is actively censoring – essentially blocking access to – any websites which seek to warn American workers of the ongoing effort to further attack their incomes, social services, and life conditions by the U.S. central government, and which seek to warn against the impending warfare between U.S.-led Nato and other forces against countries like Iran, Russia, and China, which have in no way threatened the U.S. state or its people
    • Under its new so-called anti-fake-news program, Google algorithms have in the past few months moved socialist, anti-war, and progressive websites from previously prominent positions in Google searches to positions up to 50 search result pages from the first page, essentially removing them from the search results any searcher will see.    CounterPunch, World Socialist Website, Democracy Now, American Civil liberties Union, Wikileaks are just a few of the websites which have experienced severe reductions in their returns from Google searches.  World Socialist Website, to cite just one example, has experienced a 67% drop in its returns from Google since the new policy was announced.

      This conversion of Google into a Censorship engine is not a trivial development.   Google searches are currently a primary means by which workers and other members of the public seek information about their lives and their world.  Every effort must be made to combat this serious infringement on the basic rights of freedom of speech and freedom of press.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

OpenStack 06/23/2017 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, CIA, malware, brutal-kangaroo, air-gapped-networks

    • WikiLeaks’ latest release in its Vault7 series details how the CIA’s alleged ‘Brutal Kangaroo’ program is being used to penetrate the most secure networks in the world.
    • Brutal Kangaroo, a tool suite for Microsoft Windows, targets closed air gapped networks by using thumb drives, according to WikiLeaks.

      Air gapping is a security measure employed on one or more computers to ensure that a secure computer network is physically isolated from unsecured networks.

    • These networks are used by financial institutions, military and intelligence agencies, the nuclear power industry, as well as even some advanced news networks to protect sources, according to La Repubblica journalist Stefania Maurizi.

      READ MORE: ‘CIA’s Cherry Bomb’: WikiLeaks #Vault7 reveals wireless network targets

      These newly released documents show how closed networks not connected to the internet can be compromised by this malware. However, the tool only works on machines with a Windows operating system.

      Firstly, an internet-connected computer within the targeted organization is infected with the malware. When a user inserts a USB stick into this computer, the thumbdrive itself is infected with a separate malware.

      Once this is inserted into a single computer on the air gapped network the infection jumps – like a kangaroo – across the entire system, enabling sabotage and data theft.

      If multiple computers on the closed network are under CIA control, they “form a covert network to coordinate tasks and data exchange,” according to Wikileaks.

      Data can be returned to the CIA once again, although this does depend on someone connecting the USB used on the closed network computer to an online device.

    • While it may not appear to be the most efficient CIA project, it allows the intelligence agency to infiltrate otherwise unreachable networks.

      This method is comparable to the Stuxnet virus, a cyberweapon purportedly built by the US and Israel. Stuxnet is thought to have caused substantial damage to Iran's nuclear program in 2010.

      The CIA allegedly began developing the Brutal Kangaroo program in 2012 – two years after Stuxnet incident in Iran.

      The most recent of these files were to intended to remain secret until at least 2035. The documents released by WikiLeaks are dated February 2016, indicating that the scheme was likely being used until that point.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

OpenStack 06/10/2017 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, 702, legislation

    • The White House and U.S. intelligence chiefs Wednesday backed making permanent a law that allows for the collection of digital communications of foreigners overseas, escalating a fight in Congress over privacy and security.

      The law, enshrined in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is due to expire on December 31 unless Congress votes to reauthorize it, but is considered vital by U.S. intelligence agencies.

      Privacy advocates have criticized the law though for allowing the incidental collection of data belonging to millions of Americans without a search warrant.

      The push to make the law permanent may lead to a contentious debate over renewal of Section 702 in Congress, where lawmakers in both parties are deeply divided over whether to adopt transparency and oversight reforms

    • Reuters reported in March that the Trump administration supported renewal of Section 702 without any changes, citing an unnamed White House official, but it was not clear at the time whether it wanted the law made permanent.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Monday, June 05, 2017

OpenStack 06/05/2017 (p.m.)

  • Tags: open web, net-neutrality, FCC, regulations

    • Since taking office, President Donald Trump has wasted no time in proposing rollbacks to Obama-era federal regulations. So, it should come as no surprise that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last month to propose changes to current regulations on Internet service providers.

      Spearheaded by Ajit Pai — the Trump-appointed FCC chairman and former lawyer for Verizon — the 2-1 vote is the first step in dismantling the Open Internet Order. The lone FCC Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, was overruled by Pai and fellow commissioner Michael O’Reilly.

      The 2015 order classified broadband internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Opponents of the current state of net neutrality argue that the rules are archaic and place unnecessary — even harmful — restrictions on internet service providers (ISPs), leading to lack of innovation and investment.

      While it’s true that policies conceived in the 1930s could hardly anticipate the complexities of the modern Internet, a complete rollback of Title II protections would leave ISPs free to favor their own services and whichever company pays for upgraded service. Considering relaxed FEC rules on media ownership and lack of antitrust enforcement, some could argue that a rollback of net neutrality is even more toxic to innovation and affordable pricing.

      That is, fast lanes could be created for companies with deeper pockets, effectively giving them an advantage over companies and individuals who can’t pay extra. This approach effectively penalizes small businesses, nonprofits and innovative start-ups.

      Today’s Internet is so vast and so pervasive that it’s hard to grasp the impact that an abandonment of net neutrality would have on every aspect of our culture.

    • While the FCC’s proposed change will touch most Americans, net neutrality remains a mystifying concept to non-techies. To help our readers better understand the issue, we have compiled some videos that explain net neutrality and its importance.

      The FCC will be accepting comments from the public on their website until August 16, 2017.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.