There are some social networks I use and there are some I don’t use, for reasons. Some social networks are very good core but they don’t suit the standards I believe an online social networking service should have.

For example, I believe Twitter has a brilliant idea behind it but I don’t use it, because there are more factors than the idea behind the network that matters when we are considering joining a social network.

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Federal prosecutors accuse Zoom executive of working with Chinese government to surveil users and suppress video calls. The case is a stunning blow for the $100 billion video-call giant and raises questions about how the California-based company protects users’ data around the world, The Washington Post has reported.

The question is, security of whom? For a Chinese “security” executive at Zoom, “security” meant the security of the Chinese regime. He reported on users to China, and snooped on meetings. If they discussed the Tien An Men Square massacre, he terminated the meetings and the participants’ accounts, on the orders of China.

Zoom management responded to the scandal by promising that in the future Zoom would only cancel an account on China’s command this way if the user is in China! Like the security, privacy, and life of people matters differently based on their birthplace or region they live.

Such a ridiculous response to a critical question like this. This is why we should avoid these disgusting companies. This is why we should never trust or even respect them. They sicken me.

This is an email message I just received. Autistici/Inventati, one of the very great privacy-advocating collectives is now 20 years old. A very happy birthday to you A/I. We wish you a great 20 more, and more.

Twenty years have passed since the birth of Autistici/Inventati. Twenty years have passed since we ventured down this quite complicated road. Like any respectable end of the year, it is again time for evaluations. End of the year balances are mostly political rather than financial for us, although we cannot deny that we will, as always, ask you to support us economically.

Twenty years ago nobody did what we do. And even today nobody does it the way we do it. This is important to remember because 20 years of work to keep our project alive and functional, relying EXCLUSIVELY on the efforts of the volunteers involved and the spontaneous donations from our users deserve special attention.

Today is very easy to obtain an e-mail address or the space to host a website for free, and we know that mailing lists are mostly replaced by the millions of group chats provided by the various instant messaging platforms. But we think that today it is much more difficult to find a free space where is possible to organize alternatives to the existing. Without alternative places there are no alternative thoughts, without spaces where it is possible to practice other ways of living, organize and imagine different worlds, it is not possible to change the existing one.

2020 has not only been cruel in terms of loss of human lives, it also brought greater difficulty in imagining and practicing change. We do understand how difficult it is to think about change when one has to come to terms with the sudden psychological in as much as social isolation we came to notice , that we recently came to notice. We have been locked down and wedged between the responsibilities towards others and the emergency that leaves no room for alternatives. Some think that 2020 has only actually made more evident how the struggles for an alternative world have become marginal. But the world will also exist in 2021, probably not very differently from 2020, and we will still need to think and practice something completely different.

As always, we do not think that this is possible in spaces that are commodified, monitored, profiled and constantly abused by those who profit from our every word and our every byte. We don’t believe in narratives condemning collectively responsible behavior either: as if it were some sort of weakness or a moniker of slavery. As if the logic of self-interest, laziness or indifference could communicate any sort of value, ie. self-determination, supposedly to be reclaimed, precisely when biology reminds us that no one is free unitl everyone is free.

The bitterness we feel this year isn’t in fact just related to the digital realms. Obviously we feel a strong need for more solidarity: we think that solidarity is unfortunately often lacking both in the priorities that determine the evolution of the real world situation, and in the narrative that derives from it. To say that never like this year there has been a stronger need for solidarity is stating the obvious, but we still feel the need to say it, not only in words, but also with our work, which in 2020 has often had the objective of answering the new needs that the emergency has brought up to the surface.

A piece of work is in fact up to us, to try to provide even more appropriate, effective and usable tools. Coherently with the needs that emerged in 2020, we have added two new services:

https://vc.autistici.org – a jitsi instance for videoconferencing
https://live.autistici.org – a live video streaming platform

They do not require authentication and do not log your data, a combination of features we believe can help change the common attitude we see in relating to technology today.

But outside the digital sphere, practicing change is also a social and common exercise, to which everyone must contribute individually. We have the firm intention of being there. Together.

Some wrote to us saying that the ideas we have expressed in our twenty years old, lyrical manifesto, are obsolete and “out of place” in today’s world. Quite the opposite, we think that they are still exactly the perspective that is missing today. We are not going to change our path. We intend to help change what surrounds us, together with the people around us. This is the way (cit.)

This is what we have always done and what we have always believed in. And it has never been easy. We hope to be able to do it together with the comrades who have been with us all the way here and with the many others who will join us further along the way.

If you want to be part of the next twenty years as you have been in these first twenty, you know where to find us and where to direct those who share our values: https://www.autistici.org/get_service

We take care of the work. But financial support is vital, since we only exist thanks to your donations: https://www.autistici.org/donate

The Autistici-Inventati collective
https://www.autistici.org
donations: https://www.autistici.org/donate
help: help@autistici.org

With rising concern about privacy violations and security issues of computer technology giants like Big Tech, companies and products are now advertising for themselves using the term end-to-end encryption to mislead users.

I’ve always said that end-to-end encryption only works if you’re in control of the encryption secret/public keys, not the product/company. Sadly, many fall into the false claims of tech giants about privacy.

This week, Texas Attorney General filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Google in which it explains that Google has accesses encrypted messages sent and received by WhatsApp, The Register has reported.

End-to-end encryption supposed to eliminate the ability of middle-man or messaging servers/companies to read the message. Now, if we don’t control our encryption keys and rely on keys that are controlled by the company (messenger provider), there’s no difference with no encryption at all.

Messengers like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google stuff, etc. are not safe, even with encryption because the company is controlling the keys, thus can read and share our messages, encrypted or not.

I always have suggested libre decentralized messaging software like Matrix and XMPP which can be self-hosted and secured with true end-to-end encryption.

One thing that drives me crazy is that it is assumed that everyone has one of those surveillance machines named mobile phone. Many online products or even offline ones are asking for a mobile phone number that receives text messages and can be used for digital communication therefore surveillance.

And most of those services, products, or places don’t work or compute when one does not have that machine.

In a result of that, now many people have a mobile phone carrying around. Simply because life is now dependent on this machine, people are facing this kind of surveillance.

We worry about Big Tech and their friends putting us under their surveillance domain but many don’t even think about surveillance using sim cards or cellular data.

Many of us simply don’t have a choice. You see, if we don’t carry a mobile phone with us, life becomes almost impossible so we decide (or forced) to have one. Now, the bigger injustice, the bigger problem is that many companies are now selling a small computer as a mobile phone and they name it smart phones.

Smart phones are simply computers in a smaller form. Our desktop computer can do many things but this kind of computers, named smart phones, give us ability to do our computing and at the same time have a cellular connection and use it as a phone.

What makes it not good is that almost all of these smart phones are running nonfree software. A free (as in freedom) software (or software libre) lets you to be in control of your own computing. A libre program does what you want, however, a nonfree program forces you to do what it wants.

Being forced to have a mobile phone to be able to live your normal life is injustice and being forced to own a so-called smart phone makes it worse. One should be able to live one’s life without being forced to be under surveillance. One should be able to receive services without one’s privacy and freedom (both digital and non-digital) being violated. One should be able to live without this injustice being forced to one.

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a new antitrust lawsuit against Facebook claiming that it behaved in a monopolizing manner, TechCrunch has reported.

According to the report, both the FTC and various attorneys general have filed two individual but similar suits at the federal and state levels regarding the same matter.

Both allege that Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram fall under monopolizing and anti-competitive behavior by effectively shutting down nascent competitors, and that the tech and social media giant used it platform to prevent the growth of emerging companies by leveraging access to it.

This would somehow increase competition and also reduce Facebook’s power/position for lobbying and it’s good. However, to make Facebook respect people and other companies, we should take away their surveillance power and make them respect people’s privacy and freedom.

Tutanota has been served with a court order to backdoor its encrypted email service, The Register has reported. Matthias Pfau, the founder of Tutanota, described this as “absurd.”

The court in Germany last month ordered Tutanota to help investigators monitor the contents of a user’s encrypted mailbox. Tutanota has until the end of the year to add functionality to perform this surveillance.

This would destroy Tutanota. They are a very great service, providing a privacy-focused encrypted mail, calendar, and contacts. Almost all of their customers/users are purchasing Tutanota’s services because of its privacy and security practices.

This decision harms Tutanota’s business plan and whole idea. It can also run them out of business as the whole business and trust was about security/privacy.

I don’t expect Tutanota to shut down its business or pay millions of euros to fight back the court’s decision, but I do expect honesty and transparency. If they do comply with court’s decision, I expect the word “secure” and “private” be removed from their site and advertisements and I expect them to change the “Mail. Done. Right.” slogan.

This order is not about all users but rather only targets one specific user. However, the fact that activists and other people fear this happening again possibly to them doesn’t change.