How to write an app (that respects privacy and supports security)

Some difficult-to-meet requirements Be open source. Don't make users have to trust your black box. I don't want to have to trust you. I don't know you.Don't just release your in-house source code. Develop in public; practice outreach to OSS developers to loop in others; make distributed code reviews a standard practice.Be fully open source. Don't depend on proprietary vendors or use APIs that,…

A reply to Mark Zuckerberg’s “Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking”

Yesterday (March 6), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined Facebook's new "vision and principles around building a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform." The essential problem isn't that they need a new app; rather, they need to reform their existing one. Rather than acknowledging the elephant in the room—that users are deeply incensed that their privacy continues to be…

How deep should one go into this privacy stuff, anyway?

Probably deeper than you thought. Here's why. If you are convinced that privacy actually matters, and you really want to lock down your cyber-life, as I am trying to do, there are easy options, like switching to Brave (or Firefox with plugins that harden it for privacy). I've done that. Then there are more challenging but doable options, like switching your email away from Gmail. I've done…

Why does information privacy matter, again?

It's not just because you are a criminal and the coppers might catch you. Or because you really, really hate big corporations who just want to sell you stuff more easily. Or because you're paranoid. If that's as far as your thinking goes, when people start talking about "privacy" on the Internet, you really need to bone up on the subject. You probably already knew that you don't have to be…

Big Tech In Decline?

Massive Shakeup of Major Players Under Way, Especially in Social Media LarrySanger.org does not usually break news. But since this is such a huge story and no other outlets seem to be covering it, we thought we would do so. Note: Updated rank numbers (not images), below, with data from Sept. 30. Sep. 29, 2019 (THE INTERNET) – Many of the websites that have come under attack in recent…

Constantly monitor those in power

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" That's a question we should be asking more in this day and age of constant surveillance. I'm toying with a proposal: Anyone who goes into public office should have absolutely no privacy whatsoever. Every movement should be available on video, every email and message logged and read, and every conversation recorded. Even the most top secret and sensitive…

On the misbegotten phrase “surveillance capitalism”

The loaded phrase surveillance capitalism has been in circulation since at least 2014, but it came into much wider use this year with Shoshana Zuboff's book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. The phrase means the system of extremely widespread surveillance by giant private corporations, entailing the systematic invasion of our privacy as well as control and abuse of our personal data. I am…

The challenges of locking down my cyber-life

In January 2019, I wrote a post (which see for further links) I have shared often since about how I intended to "lock down my cyber-life." That was six months ago. I made lots of progress, but it seems I'm far from finished, too. In that post, I explained three problems about computer technology (viz., they put at risk our security, free speech, and privacy). I resolved to solve these…

Why pedophilia is evil

However it is defined, pedophilia is wrong; but beyond that, it is evil. In a deeply disturbing trend in the last few decades, pedophilia apologists have tried to soft-pedal the condemnation of this horrible crime and criminal ideation. They are very wrong. Here's why. Prefatory notes—I wrote the first draft of the following essay about the horror of pedophilia in late 2016 or early 2017 and…

Toward a social contract for social media

Last week, I led a "strike," or boycott, associated with the hashtag #SocialMediaStrike, directed at the giant, centralized social media services. Though throttled by Twitter and no doubt by others, the brief campaign led to massive use of the hashtag, many people carrying out the strike, as well as dozens of news stories from around the world. Here I will tell the story of what happened, make…