Don’t watch TV coverage of COVID-19!

Don’t watch TV coverage of Covid-19! (Or “social media”; the details are different.) Watching repetitive coverage of something frightening can interfere with clear thinking, even traumatize people.

TV news coverage of a crisis struggles to fill 24 hours a day with “information”, notwithstanding the fact that the actual flow of new information about the crisis is nowhere near sufficient to fill that time. What do they do? They repeat. They present tangential and minor details. They make the same points in different ways. They belabor the obvious. They repeat.

If your goal is to be informed, you don’t need to dwell on the crisis for hours every day. Not even one hour a day. Getting your news in this inefficient matter will waste a lot of time — and worse.

In addition, it will make you more and more anxious. Someone I knew in 2001, who lived in California. spent all day on Sep 11 and following days watching the TV coverage. Afterward perse was afraid to go outside, watching for terrorist airplanes. TV made it possible for per to be traumatized by events 3000 miles away.

That was an unusually strong case. Most people did not get so traumatized as that. That does not imply it did not affect them. I suspect that the TV coverage may have shifted millions of people’s perceptions, so that they overestimated the danger of terrorism while downplaying the danger of laws that take away freedom. This would have smoothed the path for careless passage of the dangerous USA PAT RIOT Act and its massive surveillance.

In any a good, general textual news site, you can read the things you really want to know about Covid-19 in 10 or 20 minutes a day. Then you won’t fall behind on your work, and you won’t be brainwashed into panic.

Keep calm and carry on!

(original post)

Government apps during pandemic

There’s daily reports about violating people’s privacy during Cornoavirus pandemic and some of these violations are happening because of proprietary apps published by governments which keep track of people. The idea of government keeping people safe by forcing them to stay home is something I can understand (yet disagree with) but governments are not trustworthy and there’s a high risk that they keep these data/profiles even after pandemic to misuse.

Continue reading

Criticizing privacy violations

Criticism of violating people’s privacy is not limited to a particular organization or individual. If any service (etc.) violates users’ privacy rights, it should be criticized. Doesn’t matter if it’s libre, proprietary, governmental, or private. People’s privacy should be respected no matter what service you’re providing or how your service is working. If you can’t respect people, change your service and if you can’t change it then stop.

We should all agree that most people in the world don’t know how their private life and privacy is being violated and there’s some people that spread disinformation in support of these services. We should also stop calling these data-hungry companies “services” because what they provide is a platform to steal people’s data and it’s not a service.

We don’t encourage people to stop using Google because we don’t like Google (I mean we don’t like it but it’s not the point), we tell people stop using Google because Google and other similar evil corporations are violating people’s rights (and that’s why we don’t like it). If a free software service tracks people or violates people’s privacy rights in any way, it should be criticized too. We should not have double standards or differentiate between services; specially when it comes to libre services as such services may create a bad impression of free software among users.

Don’t waste server resources

I’ve talked about it before many times but as I see this happening again and again, I write it here too. Most of free software services are provided by individuals or small teams/collectives that are generous enough to spend their time and money to help society be more free and secure. We should know that nothing is free; we may not pay for these services but the maintainers are paying to keep their software/serivce up. They pay for servers, domain names, developing costs, and some other stuff.

Some people may not be able to donate or help developing these libre software/services but the thing we can do is to avoid causing more costs for the maintainers. It’s actually pretty simple. Just don’t create an account on a libre service/software if you don’t need it. This can reduce the amount of data that those maintainers should store/handle on their paid server and this can help their service cost less.

I encourage you to share this note (or a similar one) with your friends to help these service providers.

Why I blog

This is a response to the blog post by Kev Quirk

I don’t know how many hello worlds I’ve ever had but I know it’s enough to make it hard to count! The reason I have a blog is that I like expressing my point of view. The thing about social networks is that we write for our followers and it’s what I don’t like about it. People with more followers are the ones who feel they own other people and last thing I want as a free human is to be defined by my followers count.

However, in my blog, I’m free to write whatever I want, without fear of being judged or attacked by others. My blog is the place I can write stuff and be sure that nobody has anything to do with it. Unlike social networks, there’s no moderator but me, and there’s no person who I have to care about but me.

I write for myself and people who really think my opinions are worth reading; not for people who followed me just because of a stupid number on their profile/page.

Don’t sell my personal information

There’s a small note in footer (or another places you probably never look) on some websites that offers you a form to complete (with your personal data of course) to ask them not to sell your personal data.

Keeping personal data private (and/or not storing them at all) is a basic right. Privacy is a basic right for humans and we should not fill forms to stop corporations collecting/selling them. Privacy is not a luxury, it’s a right.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Privacy (part 2)

As of today, more than 4700 people are dead and a lot of countries, like United Kingdom, are not doing what they can do about it. Italy, that has most cases in Europe, is now closing all borders of the country and it quarantined about 12 cities completely.

I told you before to follow the instructions your local government gives you to stay healthy but I’ve heard that some countries and governments are not publishing software to control the virus but they’re doing it to collect people information.

I believe staying at home and following instructions from WHO is more useful than anything. Please follow those instructions that are published by experts. Wash your hands regularly and don’t leave home for anything not 10/10 emergency.

Some people are taking it not serious. Some football (soccer) players are now infected and many people who were making fun of it are now experiencing this disease.

It’s not funny. You can die. Stay in home, stay healthy.

Being paranoid

The word “paranoid” is somehow producing a negative feeling for people but I think it should be almost otherwise, specially when it comes to technology. I’m very proud that I’m being called paranoid sometimes because it means that I’m doing my job, to protect myself, right.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Privacy

Some countries launched a program to track people who are in danger of getting infected with the new Coronavirus. If you’re in one of these countries, please follow the instructions provided from your local government. Your health situation is much more important. I believe there’s not enough time (now) to come up with an alternative to both track the health situation of people and being securely private.

I’m currently following the news about these programs and we may can force governments to purge data stored from citizens during this tracking program. If you have any information about this applications, please let me, EFF, and FSF know about it.

My contact information is on my contact page.
Contact EFF with details provided on eff.org/about/contact.
Free Software Foundation contact information is available on fsf.org/about/contact.