John Lott Blog

Google Chrome: the new "surveillance software"

2 months 4 weeks ago
Geoffrey Fowler has some pretty scary info on how Google's Chrome spies on you.
Over a recent week of web surfing, I peered under the hood of Google Chrome and found it brought along a few thousand friends. Shopping, news and even government sites quietly tagged my browser to let ad and data companies ride shotgun while I clicked around the web. This was made possible by the web’s biggest snoop of all: Google. Seen from the inside, its Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software. . . . My tests of Chrome versus Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker “cookies” that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer, but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality. . . . Chrome is even sneakier on your phone. If you use Android, Chrome sends Google your location every time you conduct a search. (If you turn off location sharing it still sends your coordinates out, just with less accuracy.) . . .
John Lott

"WeChat and the Surveillance State," 1984 in China

3 months 1 week ago
BBC reporter discusses his experience when he posts pictures of the protests commemorating Tiananmen Square in Hong Kong on WeChat.
I was in Hong Kong to cover the enormous candlelight vigil marking 30 years since the People's Liberation Army was ordered to open fire on its own people to remove the mostly student protesters who'd been gathering in and around Tiananmen Square for months in June 1989.  This moment in history has been all but erased from public discourse on mainland China but in Hong Kong, with its special status in the Chinese-speaking world, people turn out every year to remember the bloody crackdown.
This time round the crowd was particularly huge, with estimates ranging up to 180,000. . . .After he posted the pictures on WeChat and started answering questions from Chinese who had never heard of Tiananmen Square, he was blocked from using WeChat.
It seems posting photos of an actual event taking place, without commentary, amounts to "spreading malicious rumours" in China. I was given time to try and log in again the next day after my penalty had been served.
When I did I had to push "agree and unblock" under the stated reason of "spread malicious rumours". So this rumour-monger clicked on "agree". Then came a stage I was not prepared for. "Faceprint is required for security purposes," it said. I was instructed to hold my phone up - to "face front camera straight on" - looking directly at the image of a human head. Then told to "Read numbers aloud in Mandarin Chinese". . . .
John Lott

Mueller Report Commits fraud, alters quote from Trump lawyer John Dowd to make it look like he was pressuring witness

3 months 2 weeks ago
Apparently, we were just lucky that a judge decided to look at the underlying information himself. It raises questions of how many other times this type of fraud has occurred. From Fox News:
Former Trump lawyer John Dowd on Monday slammed the Mueller report as a "fraud," for allegedly mispresenting a quote he had said in a key voicemail. Dowd said there will likely be more discrepancies in the future stemming from the report. 
“Isn’t it ironic that this man [Mueller], who kept indicting and prosecuting people for process crimes, committed a false statement in his own report,” Dowd said. U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes called for the release of “all backup and source information” for the Mueller report on Friday after a newly released transcript of a former Trump lawyer's 2017 voicemail message included content that did not appear in a version that was part of the special counsel's Russia investigation findings. Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, was reacting to the release of a voicemail message that John Dowd, a former lawyer for President Trump, had left for a lawyer representing former national security adviser Michael Flynn, in which Dowd asks for a “heads up” if Flynn planned to say anything damaging about Trump to Mueller’s team. Nunes retweeted a side-by-side comparison of the Dowd transcript text and the Mueller report text, suggesting that the Mueller report did not disclose the full Dowd message. The Mueller report had redacted the part of the voicemail where Dowd said he wanted the heads up “not only for the president but for the country” and that he wasn’t asking for “any confidential information.” Alan Dershowitz claimed on "Hannity" Monday night that the quotation was "distorted." . . .
John Lott
Checked
2 days 11 hours ago

Welcome! Follow me on twitter at @johnrlottjr or at https://crimeresearch.org. Please e-mail questions to johnrlott@crimeresearch.org.
Subscribe to John Lott Blog feed