Sunday, February 7, 2016

I'm increasingly confident that private corporations just cannot be trusted - they will resort to every possible form of cheating if and when they can

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Till many years back, I used to feel a sort of proud and confident feeling thinking about or using products of "top" global companies, such as Google, Ford, DuPont, Volkswagen, Apple, Microsoft, etc. There was this sort of feeling that "Microsoft can be blindly trusted.", "If it's made by Boeing, it can be trusted blindly.", "Google can do no wrong.", and so on. The cautious statements of GNU guys like Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds didn't worry me [as much as they should've].

But slowly, over the years, I've come to conclude that Stallman is right. Private corporations just cannot be trusted and must not be trusted, ever. Private companies are driven by only one motive - profit maximization and then more profit maximization, and in the pursuit of control, money and power these enterprises can and will use every nefarious trick that they can. This is almost like one of Newton's laws.

These days, my default approach to products of private companies is that of suspicion. That one should believe that they're designed with the corporation's interests in the mind [although these companies are extremely good at marketing their goods in a way that makes the public feel assured and delighted].

Examples follow, but this is the tip of the tip of the iceberg:

- Apple bricking iPhones that have been repaired by third-parties, because it wants to squeeze the last drop of blood from the pockets of iPhone owners who are dumb enough to purchase a device that locks all of their data inside. The WSJ post also notes that "the policy appears to fit a recent pattern to give Apple more control over iPhone repairs and undermine third-party vendors. In another example, he said Apple uses proprietary screws on iPhones and refuses to sell screwdrivers that fit them."


- Apple quietly deleted music on users' Apple devices which was purchased from Apple's rivals. Wow! A related post by me on FB [alternative link].





Ford Pinto cost-benefit analysis that suggested not repairing the problem since letting people die is cheaper for the company.




- VW fooled both governments and its customers by cleverly manipulating the emissions of its cars.

- Microsoft designed Windows 10 in such a way that it forcibly collects and continuously/covertly transmits massive amounts of data to Microsoft, without informing the customer/user about this. Further, data collection/transmission cannot be turned off completely. Microsoft's explanation for this is the usual security/stability/safety nonsense. Welcome to the world of nonstop surveillance.


- Microsoft shrewdly yet unsurprisingly resetting all default applications chosen by users to its own applications, and later terming such a change a "bug". Microsoft didn't stop there - it made the process to change default programs far more difficult than before, reminding us all again that we're dealing with an entity whose sole motives are limitless profit generation and merciless competition-killing.


- First Microsoft quietly slipped an update into Windows 7/8/8.1, which adds the same "Diagnostics Tracking Service" to 7/8/8.1 systems that was present in initial versions of Windows 10. Secondly, in another example of Microsoft personifying evil, it described this evil service simply as "The Diagnostics Tracking Service enables data collection about functional issues in Windows components.". Does anyone understand what this evil piece of code does from this purposely-cryptic sentence? In reality, this code is doing this - "Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.". Evil MBAs and devilish managers are running these private companies and using every trick in the book to hide their crimes. Third, when there was some furore created about this spying service, Microsoft shrewdly renamed it to the friendly-sounding "Connected User Experiences and Telemetry". Who doesn't like or want "Connected User Experiences", after all? Though no one knows what "Connected User Experiences" means, it's probably something good, isn't it?


- This is true for all private companies. When they decide that they really need to push something to users, they use every dirty trick possible to get their task done. Case in point is Windows 10. Microsoft desperately wants everyone on Windows 10, and it's using all possible methods to achieve this, including methods and tricks used by malware! Examples include notification messages and screens that cannot be turned off [no matter how much Microsoft and other American technology companies brag about choice, freedom, etc.], pre-selection of the Windows 10 upgrade checkbox in Windows Update every time you open Windows Update, covert setup downloadsforced installation on some systems [which Microsoft conveniently termed a mistake, just like almost every private company], shrewdly slipping non-security updates into security updates [a sort of rider], purposely not supporting Windows 7/8 on the newest hardware in order to force people to Windows 10, knowingly/deliberately bricking the hardware of its own customers (!), taking over the entire screen to "remind" the user to upgrade, making the Windows-10-throat-feeding update KB3035583 re-appear in Windows Update even after it has been hidden multiple times - by re-publishing it on newer dates, etc. The latest trick Microsoft is using to force-feed Windows 10 its customers' throats is to change the meaning of the 'X' button. Now clicking this button, amazingly, starts the Windows 10 upgrade. This is as amazing as something can be.










- Microsoft has devilishly not given the true description of KB303583 in Windows Update. It has nefariously given a general/vague description that simply says "...to resolve issues in Windows...". This update doesn't solve any issues in Windows - it introduces adware into the system. Evil private companies! Further, on a Windows 7 system, when KB303583 was manually uninstalled, the next time it showed up in Windows Update with its checkbox already checked, and of course, the description was what we call fraud.



- Cancer drug companies deliberately/knowingly/purposely sell their medicines in oversized and single-sized vials, knowing fully well that this leads to wastage worth millions or perhaps billions. And of course, this wastage happens in the form of patients or their families overpaying to these drug companies for drugs never used fully, to the tune of thousands of dollars per patient. What's responsible for this? MBA guys obsessed with Excel and profit-maximization.



- DuPont knowingly hid the carcinogenic effects of some chemicals used in its products, leading to cancers and other ill-effects. DuPont isn't alone. Far from it. Most cosmetics and drugs companies do something of this sort.






- Sugar companies, in the 1960s, paid so-called researchers/scientists to produce "reports" that basically contained pre-determined results, in order to make sugar seem less harmful than it actually is [relative to fat] for the health of heart. Welcome to the world with evil, greedy, soulless private corporations like Coca Cola and Pepsi funding health organizations and scientific research, and bribing scientists and brainwashing us all into believing what they want us to believe via skewed study results. Good health be damned! And to add insult to injury, Coke shamelessly lies through its teeth by promoting itself using this shocking line - "Helping Families Get Fit".




- This is true of all pharmaceutical companies. They create slick, polished websites to promote their fancy new creations. They also give the required cautions/warnings. However, there's a clear asymmetry between the [much higher] emphasis they give on the beneficial aspects of the medication and the [significantly lower] clarity they provide on the side-effects etc. For example, in the screenshots below, while the benefits are highlighted using interactive animations, punch lines, etc., which are visual in nature like PowerPoint slides and also less on text [thus much more appealing and readable], the cautions/warnings are written in lawyerly manner - in boring, verbose text - that looks like and reminds one of software EULAs. So while the companies can claim that they've given "adequate" and "comprehensive" information about potential side-effects "as required by law", the truth is that these cunning psychological tricks have a significant cumulative effect - they discourage reading of side-effects, they over-assure readers about the benefits, etc.







- Because these software companies use bloody psychological tricks to trick users into blindly pressing the 'Accept' button, in order to covertly get all sorts of adware/malware/spyware installed onto the systems, while claiming that it's the users who pressed the 'Accept' buttons. In this case, you have to press the 'Decline' button thrice in order to start the installation of the actual product!





- Because these private corporations will suck away the last drop of blood from even those who are bleeding. They will not hesitate to give more misery to the poor, all in the name of maximizing profits, howsoever criminal the means might be.



- Online retailers such as Jabong proudly claim that they offer "a full refund" if you don't like a product and return it. They do not, however, tell you that the refund is issued not in cash form but in the form of Jabong Credits. These credits expire after some time, which likely happens for many people, so Jabong conveniently gets to steal some of its customers' money. Also, these points do not pay any interest, unlike real money that's returned to one's card or bank account by marketplaces such as Amazon. Further, these Jabong Credits can be used only on Jabong itself, thus acting as a sort of "exchange" more than a proper "return/refund". To be sure, Jabong does provide you a method to transfer these points to your bank account, but as expected, the process involves a lot of hassles and caveats - call up their helpline, request the transfer, receive a form by email where you fill up your bank details and then wait for a few days for the refund. As very much expected from a devilish company, this process has to be repeated in full - including typing full bank details - each time you want to transfer [which means each time you return something]. So while Jabong and other such evil private companies are more than eager to gobble up as much of your personal data as possible [especially credit card numbers], they seem to get coughs and sore throats when it comes to remembering your bank account details for the purpose of issuing refunds.

- Every American/Western corporation - whether it be a relic such as Microsoft or an upstart such as Uber - will always leak/share/submit data about its customers/users to America's spying agencies, despite public assurances against the same. These corporations will swamp you with their "strict" privacy policies, assurances about "due process" and "adequate oversight", but in reality, you are being tracked all the time, everywhere. Don't trust any one of them.




- Uber is actively deceiving/fooling investigations by government authorities by playing tricks.


- Even BlackBerry is deep in the bed with government agencies, sharing its global encryption key with them. No one can/must/should be trusted. Absolutely no one.




- What's more, as very much expected and as it very much the norm with every Western private company, when news of BlackBerry's sleeping with governments broke out, the company's boss put out an all-too-familiar ["same old crap"] spin using nice-sounding words such as "lawful access", "citizenship", "ethics", "responsibility", "privacy of customers", "difficult situations", etc. He talked about the BES server not being involved, but didn't address the real issue - that BlackBerry/RIM might have itself shared its global encryption key with government agencies.


- That Google is able to provide such detailed statistics on the usage of individual Chrome features makes it clear that there's a huge amount of background/covert/secret tracking going on. Firefox may be slow, but it's the only Web browser that's for the people.



- AT&T sells its customers' data to government agencies! The more one learns about AT&T's Daytona/Project Hemisphere, the more one realizes that AT&T has gone to great lengths and is almost competing with the NSA as far as the extent of spying on people's communications and development of spying concepts are concerned. In effect, citizens are paying from their pockets to have their private data sold to their elected government and a private company they trusted earns millions in this process! Seriously, these American companies just can't be trusted.




- Covert spying by VIZIO TVs, even as its own website asks us to prove that we're human.



- HDFC Bank unilaterally decided to start charging a "nominal" quarterly fee to its Imperia customers. The email announcing the introduction of this fee was carefully crafted to dump the fee information deep down towards the bottom of the email's body [thus least likely to be noticed/read by anyone - which is exactly what HDFC Bank wants - yet fulfilling the "We promptly informed all our valued customers about this change." requirement], with the bulk of the initial email body devoted to singing praises about the Imperia program. Crooks!


- This is unprecedented. Facebook has threatened to delete users' synced photos if they do not download and install another of Facebook's applications - Moments. And we trust these devilish private companies with the most intimate and personal things of our lives!



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