Sunday, October 2, 2016

The complexity, obscurity, secrecy, invisibility, plausible deniability, hideability, speed and volatility of software and electronics are powerfully enabling covert evil acts by governments and corporations

  • VW wouldn't have been able to cheat if its engines had been purely mechanical [like yesteryear], with the ability to "see" all the components and to "visually understand" what each component does. With software, we don't even know what code/programming lurks inside, what logic/rules it follows, when it gets triggered, for how long, and so on. Worst of all, we don't even know if something, if anything at all, exists inside. The electronics could very well have been designed to automatically wipe the software if someone tried to study it, allowing plausible deniability.
  • Yahoo wouldn't have been able to quietly scan/spy upon the incoming emails of hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail users [or at least the extent of this massive spying operation would've been much smaller] if instead of invisible digital bits and bytes, the communication had been on physical paper. Electronics and software allowed Yahoo to covertly/quietly obey its masters in the US government to conduct blanket spying in a way that Yahoo's customers never knew about it, even as Yahoo continued to publicly trumpet about its strict adherence to the privacy of its customers. If not for this leak/revelation, the world would've never known, and this breach of privacy and trust would've gone unnoticed. That's the scary thing about software.
    • Because it's about invisible, complex software, when Google, Microsoft and Twitter claim that they aren't a part of this NSA program, why can/should we trust them? Is there a way to know that they aren't lying? If they were cooperating with NSA, would they admit it? Of course they would lie. This is more like an obvious/standard answer rather than a certain truth.
  • The CEO of Reddit wouldn't have been able to quietly edit/modify the posts of his own service's users [without their consent/knowledge] had we not been talking about software. In software, and especially in Cloud-based software, anything is possible. Expect anything. NYT could be modifying its past articles [and/or comments]. No one stops American companies from modifying your blogs. Past Reddit content could've been modified. And so on.


  • Google wouldn't have been able to covertly make ProtonMail invisible from its near-monopoly search results if its inner workings had been available for scrutiny. It's only when the ProtonMail guys noticed their demotion and left no stone unturned did Google correct this so-called "glitch" without any explanation. Two better explanations are that Google wanted to kill ProtonMail or that CIA/NSA asked Google to kill ProtonMail. [link 1] [link 2] [link 3] [link 4] [link 5] [link 6]


  • What's going on inside a Google Chromebit? No one knows. It's all inside, away from scrutiny. It's possible that the thing has been programmed to quietly ship the names of all files stored offline along with the encrypted traffic it uses to communicate with Google. Anything is also possible. We can't just trust Google on whatever it says. We have to assume that worse things are happening.
  • It's only because of the secrecy and speed of software/electronics that Uber has been able to [and continues to] fool governments and authorities.

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