It has been going this way for a while, whereas Google will put links that various governments dislike “down the memory hole” to be forgotten about, but this is an all out attack.
Not all of what Google censors in the US version of its search engine is even illegal, some of it is just a site where the executive branch of the US government (Obama, sure, but Bush did a lot of it too, and I assume that Romney will not be different) doesn’t feel the site quite jives with their political agenda.
What’s worse is that when Google does this, they don’t put a link in that tells you that a link was removed and who requested it, like they normally would for a DMCA complaint, it just vanishes.
I’ve already written about why Google is bad for your privacy, and what to do about it. Censorship disgusts me more…
The thought that the government is watching what you do (the surveillance state that Google helps to enable) is bad enough, because it will put an inhibitor on people. Before they choose to look at something, they first think of what the government would have to say about that. To have entire sites start falling out of the results will compel people to not even think to look at that site in the first place.
“In fact, we’re now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009—more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone.” -Google
There’s something very evil and wrong with a system that automates DMCA take downs. The DMCA complaint process was not designed to be automated, and it makes it a federal crime to send bogus take downs, not that Bush or Obama ever did anything about that. The copyright trolls been getting away with it for so long on Youtube that Google now feels comfortable expanding this system to their search engine as well.
If they miss and attack legitimate websites, as they have missed (frequently) and taken down legitimate non-infringing Youtube videos, then it is your problem to notice you’ve been de-listed and file a complaint with Google that they’re most likely just going to ignore.
Welcome to the re-education camp. I switched to IxQuick and DuckDuckGo (As I described in my other post that I linked to earlier) which do not track you, work over SSL, and consider several other search engines, making the government’s deletion of search results somewhat less effective.
Microsoft censors Windows Live users. Gives free speech a treatment that would make any tyrant dictator proud.
You’ll have to wait until May to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie, The Dictator, but in the mean time, Sweaty Ballmer wants to show us how being a petty tyrant is done.
When the user enters a link and it’s to a site that Microsoft doesn’t like, Microsoft’s new approach is to block it at their server and report back to the user that the site is “dangerous”.
So far they seem to do it with The Pirate Bay, which probably hosts and serves less malware and spyware than Microsoft itself (source source source) or sites that aren’t being blocked by them, such as CNET Download.com which delivers crapware bundles with legitimate software.
Since the censorship of links is done at the server level, it means that (not shockingly), Microsoft is monitoring, logging, and spying on everything you say or do while connected to their chat service. It also means that users of alternative messenger software which doesn’t come bundled with the ability to display malicious advertisements like Microsoft’s official client does will not escape the Microsoft server spying on them and kicking back any links that Microsoft doesn’t like. If Microsoft can’t keep their own software and websites from installing malicious software onto Windows PCs, they shouldn’t be blocking anyone else under that excuse.
The penalty for being caught doing any of this is the worst kind of censorship that Microsoft can impose on their users, total account deletion. Some choice excerpts from the EULA for Microsoft’s instant messaging service.
” In particular, we may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications”
“We may cancel or suspend your service and your access to the Windows Live ID network at any time without notice and for any reason.”
In addition, the terms point to a separate obnoxious Code of Conduct with such gems as:
“You will not use any form of automated device or computer program that enables the submission of postings without the express written consent of Microsoft Corporation.”
Among other things, you agree that you won’t post links on how to bypass the security of computer software or break DRM, piracy, “pornography” (which even the Supreme Court has been unable to define, but thank god we have Microsoft as the arbiter of all things wholesome), and of course you are responsible for anything that malicious Windows software decides to do once it has taken over your computer and starts spamming all your friends. (which is bound to happen sooner or later considering you’re using Windows).
Of course, Microsoft includes the clause that lets them delete your account for no reason at all, so really anything you do can (at their whim) be grounds for suspending or deleting your account.
Bottom line: Microsoft is malicious and abusive and anyone who bothers to read their burdensome, obnoxious, and dangerously open-ended and one-sided policies and licensing agreements would have already known this.
If anything, this should serve as another wake up call to ditch Microsoft and their abusive policies and a reminder that if you think Microsoft can be trusted, you’re living in a dream world.
I logged into my att.net email account today…
I don’t do that very often since ISP email is a trap that makes it harder to leave that ISP. But that’s where they send account notices and the address I use for situations where I might be spammed and they won’t take a disposable address such as Mailinator.
What’s the first thing I see? A stack of warnings under the subject line WARNING NOTICE from AT&T Internet Services Security Center.
Likely the only reasons this didn’t get sucked up by a phishing filter is because it’s an AT&T email address and because Yahoo’s (it uses Yahoo Mail) mail filter is a joke. If I had set this to forward to the much superior GMX mail that I use often, I probably would never have seen it.
Suspecting this was a phishing scam (subjects like these usually are), but clicking on it anyway revealed this..
Wed, June 1, 2011 7:41:20 AMWARNING NOTICE from AT&T Internet Services Security Center
From: AT&T Internet Services Security Center <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Removed
IMPORTANT COMPUTER SAFETY NOTICE from AT&T Internet Services Security Center -“IRC Traffic Detected”
We have evidence which indicates that a computer accessing the Internet via your Internet connection may be infected with malicious software such as a virus or worm.
By now I’m thinking “Are you shitting me?” First off, I don’t use Windows or Mac, so the chances if this being a worm are beyond remote. Secondly, I do use XChat for IRC, daily, and have for years.
The message goes on to state… (notes from me in bold)
IRC Botnet infected systems commonly send or receive commands that can SPAM email, spread malicious software, and perpetrate identity theft.
IRC traffic on ports other than those normally used by IRC can be an indication of backdoor trojans or bots. (Or it could indicate I am using SSL on port 7070 to avoid spying from ISPs that cooperate with Federal acronyms with no warrant and do other creepy things I don’t want to think about. I use SSL on XMPP too, is this malware?)
We realize that in some cases this may be normal activity if you are running an IRC server (client), but in order to protect yourself and others, we recommend that you scan every system that utilizes your internet connection with up to date Anti-virus software. (No thanks)
To address this problem, and in accordance with the terms of service and acceptable use policy of your service agreement, we ask that you immediately take the following steps to secure your network: (Fuck you)
1. If your computer(s) are managed by an Information Technology (IT) group at your place of work, then contact them immediately.
2. AT&T offers a free online scan tool PC Health Check that will scan for virus/spyware activity. (link removed)
3. If your computer(s) are personally owned, then update the security software on your system (follow the instructions on your vendor’s website). You might also consider installing new security software such as AT&T Security Suite. (link to rebadged McAfee crapware removed) (You must be logged in with the Master Account ID to download AT&T Security Suite).
4. If you are an advanced user (Probably more so than most of your mouth breathing employees), then consider reimaging your computer(s) and installing the necessary software patches. (As unwarranted as your collaboration with Federal searches against your users) For less advanced users, this can be done by a third party such as AT&T Connect Tech.(link to ~$200 an hour monkeys that rip off the terminally stupid Windows users) AT&T Computer consultants trained to clean infected machines (There’s training for that? Victimizing Morons 101?) might also be located in your area (you can search at self-serving reference removed).
5. In all cases, please respond by forwarding this email to: email@example.com with an acknowledgment of: “I am taking steps to address this infection.” (Can it be an acknowledgment that you can go sodomize yourself with a lead pipe?) When we receive such an acknowledgment, we can maintain the high quality of service you expect from us. (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA! *DIES LAUGHING*) We welcome feedback on what removal tools or method were used. (Chewing gum and Popsicle sticks)
The message concludes with a bunch of links to Microsoft’s “Security Essentials” and such. Trusting the maker of the defective operating system to secure it? No thanks. I’d rather be safe and happy on Fedora….
My replies to AT&T: (The first one was when I was fuming)
Internet Relay Chat is a chat protocol, I am not using Windows or Mac OS because I am not a retard. I know what a botnet is, and I know I don’t have one. Please kindly stop sending me this nonsense.
PS: If I get one more of these I’m going to find out whose idea it was to crapflood my mailbox, and rip their head off and shit down their throat. No seriously. how can you people be so stupid? Do you ever just stop to think that people use IRC for legitimate purposes or may use a non-Windows non-Mac OS operating system which isn’t plagued by this kind of crap to begin with?
By the way, I’d like whatever I’ve been paying you for Norton or McAfee or whatever related bloated uselessware refunded if that’s possible, since I have no possible use for it. Would that be cool? I’d love to have the mandatory Windows antivirus tax returned to me at your earliest convenience.
Have a wonderful day.
Then I noticed another warning about IRC in my box and sent this…quoting part of their form letter.
“In all cases, please respond by forwarding this email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with an acknowledgment of: “I am taking steps to address this infection.” When we receive such an acknowledgment, we can maintain the high quality of service you expect from us. We welcome feedback on what removal tools or method were used.”
I have taken steps to remove the Microsoft Windows infection, I formatted my hard disk and installed GNU/Linux. I suggest you add this to your recommendations as a way to solve Windows malware problems permanently.
I sincerely appreciate your concerns for my safety. I apologize for my brash email when I saw these notices yesterday as my brain can only handle so much stupidity before shutting down and causing me to go insane.
PS: If you’re going to discriminate against open standards like IRC, why don’t you pick on proprietary crapware like Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger, the most heavily spammed protocols that I am aware of. It’s also common for users of these networks to be sent malware by hijacked client software of those on their friends list, or sometimes through advertisements hosted by Microsoft themselves. I also speak entrely of my own observation that these services are favored by pedophiles since To Catch A Predator with Chris Hanson always seems to use them to lure 400 pound kiddie diddlers with.
As much as I love your work on behalf of the various cartel organizations to spread FUD about open standards, and censoring the web voluntarily at MAFIAA request, I may have to start searching for another ISP soon since you are making me a “sad panda”.
In closing, I would like to request that you permanently cease sending me pointless notifications like this as they will probably lead to more mocking of your stupid and senseless policies.
Thank you for your consideration.