Opinion | How to Be a Whistle-Blower – By Charlie Warzel – The New York Times

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Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.

Credit…Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile, via Getty Images

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“Last week, at a conference in Portugal, I met John Napier Tye. He is a former State Department employee, a whistle-blower and a co-founder of Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm that represents individuals trying to expose wrongdoing. As you may have noticed, whistle-blowers are very much in the news these days, and Tye is very much in the center of that world.

Today’s newsletter is a Q. and A. with Tye. We talked about whether it’s possible to stay anonymous in 2019, how to protect your privacy like a spy, whether regular people are at risk of becoming targets and how to become a whistle-blower if you’re a witness to something troubling.

This is a condensed and edited version of our conversation:

What are the biggest threats right now to privacy for normal citizens?

It’s useful to distinguish between bulk collection and targeted surveillance. Both are threats. The average citizen is likely already caught up by bulk collection, although the proliferation of targeted surveillance technologies are increasingly threatening whistle-blowers, journalists and others that find themselves on the wrong side of unaccountable governments and security agencies.

Bulk collection affects everyone. A number of governments and companies have the goal of building databases with detailed profile information for every person on earth, or at least every internet user — including where you are at any given moment, who your friends are, what kind of messages and photos you are creating and how you think about the world. They are closer than you might expect.”

How Laws Against Child Sexual Abuse Imagery Can Make It Harder to Detect – The New York Times

“Child sexual abuse photos and videos are among the most toxic materials online. It is against the law to view the imagery, and anybody who comes across it must report it to the federal authorities.

So how can tech companies, under pressure to remove the material, identify newly shared photos and videos without breaking the law? They use software — but first they have to train it, running repeated tests to help it accurately recognize illegal content.

Google has made progress, according to company officials, but its methods have not been made public. Facebook has, too, but there are still questions about whether it follows the letter of the law. Microsoft, which has struggled to keep known imagery off its search engine, Bing, is frustrated by the legal hurdles in identifying new imagery, a spokesman said.

The three tech giants are among the few companies with the resources to develop artificial intelligence systems to take on the challenge.

One route for the companies is greater cooperation with the federal authorities, including seeking permission to keep new photos and videos for the purposes of developing the detection software.

But that approach runs into a larger privacy debate involving the sexual abuse material: How closely should tech companies and the federal government work to shut it down? And what would prevent their cooperation from extending to other online activity?

Paul Ohm, a former prosecutor in the Justice Department’s computer crime and intellectual property section, said the laws governing child sexual abuse imagery were among the “fiercest criminal laws” on the books.

“Just the simple act of shipping the images from one A.I. researcher to another is going to implicate you in all kinds of federal crimes,” he said.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comments.
I’ve worked with computer clients since 1991 who shaked with anger about how hard it is to master their computers.They still do. I say to them, what I say about this article, “Just think, in a hundred years, people will write comedies about how we struggled in the early, dark ages of computer science. Nothing is seemless. Nothing works as promised.”
Plug and play still hasn’t happened everywhere for everyone, and you get absurd stories like this one, where the government expects big tech companies to clean out child porn, but they aren’t allowed to store or share the photos they are targeting to remove from the internet. We are living through a comedy, every day.
The best way to deal with the pain is to laugh, and keep working to slowly improve interconnectivity with some respect for privacy. (David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” on 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.)

Opinion | Democrats, Avoid the Robot Rabbit Hole – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

“One of the less discussed parts of Tuesday’s Democratic debate was the exchange that took place over automation and how to deal with it. But it’s worth focusing on that exchange, because it was interesting — by which I mean depressing. CNN’s Erin Burnett, one of the moderators, asked a bad question, and the debaters by and large — with the perhaps surprising exception of Bernie Sanders — gave pretty bad answers.

So let me make a plea to the Democrats: Please don’t go down the robot rabbit hole.

Burnett declared that a recent study shows that “about a quarter of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation in just the next 10 years.” What the study actually says is less alarming: It finds that a quarter of U.S. jobs will face “high exposure to automation over the next several decades.”

But if you think even that sounds bad, ask yourself the following question: When, in modern history, has something like that statement not been true?”

Opinion | We Talked to Andrew Yang. Here’s How He’d Fix the Internet. – By Charlie Warzel – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.

CreditCreditMark Makela/Reuters

“This week’s Privacy Project newsletter is a pre-debate conversation with the former entrepreneur and current presidential candidate Andrew Yang. I wanted to speak to Yang since he’s the only candidate to address data privacy as a campaign policy issue. He’s a proponent of an idea that’s somewhat controversial among privacy professionals, which is that we should own our own data.

Our short conversation turned out to be pretty sprawling, touching on subjects like data dignity, whether Facebook should be able to run political ads, whether any of us have free will and what his proposed Department of the Attention Economy might look like.

This is a condensed and edited version of our conversation:

You’re the only candidate who has decided to make privacy a campaign issue. How’d you get there?

I’m an avid user of the internet and I understand that users are completely at the mercy of tech companies in terms of what happens to our data. They pretend it’s our choice. In reality, 99.9 percent of people scroll down and hit “I agree.” The trade we’re making is for cost and convenience, but in return we’re forfeiting our data.

That data is packaged and sold and resold and we are none the wiser. We occasionally get notifications of a data breachClose X and think, “Oh, snap, should I change my password?” That’s an irritation but what’s going on with our data is much bigger than that.”

10 Tips to Avoid Leaving Tracks Around the Internet – By David Pogue – The New York Times

“Google and Facebook collect information about us and then sell that data to advertisers. Websites deposit invisible “cookies” onto our computers and then record where we go online. Even our own government has been known to track us.

When it comes to digital privacy, it’s easy to feel hopeless. We’re mere mortals! We’re minuscule molecules in their machines! What power do we possibly have to fight back?

That was the question I posed to you, dear readers, in the previous “Crowdwise.”

Many of you responded with valuable but frequently repeated suggestions: Use a program that memorizes your passwords, and make every password different. Install an ad blocker in your web browser, like uBlock Origin. Read up on the latest internet scams. If you must use Facebook, visit its Privacy Settings page and limit its freedom to target ads to you.

What I sought, though, was non-obvious ideas.

It turns out that “digital privacy” means different things to different people.”

 

David Lindsay:

Everyone should go to the dentist twice a year, and read an article like this one about how to protect your privacy on the internet.

How to Make Your Smartphone Last Longer – The New York Times

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“When you buy a new smartphone, how long do you expect it to last? Two years? Maybe three? Despite the sometimes sky-high sticker prices, we tend to replace our smartphones more frequently than any of our other expensive electronic devices. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Around the time early smartphones from Apple and Google started to hit shelves in the late 2000s, the traditional model for buying a phone from your carrier worked like this: You would sign up for a two-year contract and in exchange you’d get a free (or very cheap) phone whose cost was built into the price of your monthly payment. Once your two years were up, carriers would lure you back with an “upgrade” that renewed your contract, gave you a new phone and maybe even took the old phone off your hands.

This worked fine for old flip phones, and especially cheaper phones that might not last very long. However, this model came with an unintended side effect. It trained users to expect upgrades every two years.”

Opinion | Google and Facebook Are Quietly Tracking You on Sex Websites – The New York Times

“Dr. Maris argues that this lack of disclosure is similar to the issue of sexual consent. “As in any sexual interaction, silence must not be mistaken for consent,” she said. “Individuals should have a clear understanding of the power dynamics of the sexual exchange they are entering when visiting porn sites.” Those power dynamics, according to Dr. Maris, are deeply unbalanced. “You have some of the world’s most powerful companies here,” she said, noting that there’s very little redress for the consumer should the data end up in the wrong hands.

Affirmative consent is at the heart of digital privacy. Nearly all tracking is by default and governed by impossible-to-read privacy policies. And in an era that privileges and prioritizes mass collection of personal information, that means gathering information that is not only invasive but also superfluous. The leaky user data of pornographic websites is merely an extreme example of what has become standard practice online.”

A2 Hosting Review: Pros & Cons of Using A2 Hosting – By Nate Shivar

A2 Hosting Review: Pros & Cons of Using A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting Review_ Pros & Cons of Using A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting is an independent web hosting company founded in 2003. They are based in Ann Arbor Michigan but serve hosting markets globally. A2 Hosting positions themselves as a high performance, speed-focused hosting company with excellent support.

See A2 Hosting’s Current Plans & Pricing.

A2 Hosting offers a full spectrum of hosting solutions ranging from shared Linux hosting (what most businesses need) all the way to cloud, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated server solutions for large, growing websites.

Like InMotion Hosting and SiteGround Hosting, A2 Hosting is one of the faster growing independent hosting companies (i.e., not owned by a larger corporate holding company like Endurance or GoDaddy). They have a large dedicated fanbase in addition to some high-profile bloggers as customers.

Source: A2 Hosting Review: Pros & Cons of Using A2 Hosting

WordPress Hosting Plans vs. Web Hosting Plans Explained – By Nate Shivar

WordPress Hosting vs. Web Hosting Explained“Choosing the best web hosting plan for your specific project has always been a bit confusing. Plan features never line up. Terminology never matches. And pricing varies according to current discounts and plan length.

But that was before the latest trend – WordPress-specific hosting plans.

Nearly every hosting company offers a “WordPress Hosting Plan” in some form.

View my guide to WordPress Hosting companies here.

Sometimes those plans are nothing more than a headline change. Sometimes they are very well-priced for the extra services. And sometimes they are plainly upsells with dressed up “features.”

It’s maddening – because here’s the thing. WordPress software runs fine on typical web hosting.

You do not need “WordPress Hosting” to run WordPress software. All you need is a Linux-based hosting account that supports PHP and mySQL.

Both are run of the mill features since the early 2000s. So what’s with all the WordPress Hosting plans vs. Web Hosting plans?

Well – sometimes a WordPress-specific plan is absolutely worth paying for. WordPress does have some needs & requirements that are not “generic” so some companies can offer seriously better service, support & performance for WordPress installs.

Here’s how they differ along with features worth paying for, and what to look for when shopping for the right host for your specific project and next steps.

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this site. All data & opinions are based on my experience as a paying customer or as a consultant to a paying customer.”

Source: WordPress Hosting Plans vs. Web Hosting Plans Explained

GoDaddy vs. iPage Web Hosting Comparison- By Nate Shivar

GoDaddy vs. iPage Web Hosting Comparison“GoDaddy vs. iPage” is a pretty common question for anyone researching their options for web hosting.

GoDaddy and iPage are two of the best known budget hosts in the world. And they are owned respectively by the two of largest web services companies in the world (GoDaddy Group and Endurance International).

View GoDaddy’s Current Plans & Pricing

View iPage’s Current Plans & Pricing

They are both “go-to” brands for business owners looking for simple, affordable hosting. And yet – they are different companies with different brands. When you are choosing a website host – you still have to end up choosing which company to go with.

I have current clients who use (and like) GoDaddy hosting. Although this site runs on InMotion Hosting (which I’ll mention later) – I have also used iPage for a couple small projects. I wrote a full iPage review here.

In this comparison between GoDaddy and iPage, I’ll try to break down the differences that I’ve found in seven different areas ranging from pricing structure to customer service and market focus so that you can decide which is the best fit for your project.

Also – you can skip to the short version in the conclusion here (or take my Buzzfeed-style hosting on a budget quiz here).

Let’s dive into GoDaddy vs. iPage…

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned. All opinion and data are based on my experiences as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Source: GoDaddy vs. iPage Web Hosting Comparison