My Interview w/ Project Hacktivism (Europe)

It may have been a couple months in the making, but earlier this month I finally agreed to an interview with a European based group of researchers known as “Project Hacktivism,” seeking to learn more about the underground world of hackers, who they are (so to speak), what motivates them, why it continues and why it all exists in the first place. Led by a man going by the name of Marco Romagna, I was submitted a series of questions that I will share the the viewing public here today as a sneak peak before the final research is published, produced or presented.

Here’s what I was sent, and how I replied…..

These are the first questions. Based on your answer I would be happy to ask more. If you can’t answer because it is too private, just let me know. Reading some of your blogs, I noticed you have been highly involved with Anonymous, likely not only as an observer. Therefore, my questions for you are…

1.) First, do you have hacking skills yourself, or are you passionate for technology but not a computer hacker.

Answer:I am not a computer hacker, but I am passionate about learning and view the internet as the greatest library on planet Earth, so I used to spend as much time as possible on it learning. Hacking culture always fascinated me so I began to research it and the more I researched it the more I found myself within it. I was never a hacker, but people seemed to gravitate to me because I have a high IQ and hackers tend to be some of the smartest people in the world actually, and the people who want to affiliate with them are always seeking to learn more about the world in general. I think you will find that some of the deepest corners of the hacking world are also some of the most intellectual corners of the world these days, all full of people whom spend nearly full time hours reading, learning, consuming new information. Couple this with different perspectives from different, cultures, religions, countries, etc, people wind up learning so much from one another – making it addictive.

2.) Have you directly been involved with Anonymous and hacktivism more in general (meaning: participating in active operations)? If so, what did (does) motivate you?

Answer:I have been directly involved in many Anonymous operations all around the world, led many myself, invented many myself, wrote transcripts for others, drafted press releases, made pictures – etc. What motivates me is what motivates everyone; being the change you wish to see in the world. Everyone in this world has different interests, goals or concerns. So people act on this individualism. Whether it be pedophiles, racists, animal abusers, terrorists, you name it, there is always going to be someone out there looking to fight back against it. So this is how people build their different Ops, based on what they want to fight for – which is always relative to the individual.

Hackers are some of the poorest, most oppressed people in this world that you will ever meet – believe me. In real life they have nothing, no possessions, no social power or political influence, often times social outcasts from their own schools or societies, geeks or losers, come from abusive families, lower class – etc. Just people who are accustomed to live without. So this is why they fight so hard online, because the internet levels out the playing field. With the right amount of knowledge, even the biggest of bums in the material world can be a God online. So this is why people fight, why they are willing to steal or pirate so much information/data from people online, because in real life they have nothing and this serves as their motivation to do whatever they can however they can.

What motivates us? It also works, meaning we get results. Look at operation Sudan in 2018 – 2019. We literally changed the course of African history. I started it with a few others from a homeless shelter computer lab in NYC, and helped a revolution in Africa. Just think about that. Anonymous was once one of Time Magazines top 100 people at one time, I have helped INTERPOL and the FBI make dozens of arrests internationally worldwide, been given lines to Air Force Intelligence in Yemen, all because Anonymous operations and online activism. You CAN change the world from a key board, and Anonymous knows this. You just have to work hard enough for it, so this is what many try to do.

3.) Hacktivism is a complex term: could you provide a definition of it and what ‘being a hacktivist’ mean?

Answer:I think my answer to #2 answers your question here.

4.) The golden age of hacktivism was probably the period 2010-2016. Do you think we are witnessing its decline? If so, what are the reasons behind it?

Answer:Well it all started with the FBI crackdowns which hit Anonymous very hard prior to 2015. Then we built up again and got mixed in with the whole Russian propagandist and fake news fiasco, so US Congress, Google, Facebook, and the President of the United States literally all teamed up to fight us, because no one knew who we were or what our true motivations were. As a ghostwriter, The Washington Post, Google and Facebook cited my work and the work I sourced to other websites as Russian Propaganda through the prop or not list and nearly all were banned offline/censored. Meanwhile, in real life, I had 3 verified pages on Facebook, 4 inclusions into Google News index and was an American conservative. But that doesn’t matter to them, anyone whom was Anonymous at the time was the enemy – automatically. The 2016 US Presidential election changed the course of history, including for hacktivism. All of our top platforms, pages and websites were essentially attacked and banned offline. Then, when the money stopped flowing in, the platforms shutdown, stopped running and people scattered. By 2017 everything was remnants of the year beforehand and there were no more central points of contacts for random or new people to find us. Anonymous HQ was the biggest Anonymous forum and webchat in the world in 2015-2016, sometimes thousands of people on at a time – millions of views/reads daily. After what Google and Facebook did to us, it was destroyed.

Getting back into hacktivism in 2018/2019 what I am finding is that the death of hacktivism is relative to geography. Meaning in the USA and Europe where it flourished during its Golden Age as you say, it is dead in the USA and Europe now. But on the other hand hacktivism is exploding in the Middle East, Africa, South America and South East Asia. These are also some of the least advanced countries/territories in the world in terms of cyber security, which is a direct correlation to the rise of hacktivism there I think.

For question number 4 I also think you need to look at the age of the people behind the movement. Many were inspired by movies like the Matrix and V for Vendetta. Maybe these people were teenagers or in their early 20s when these movies and these movements came out. The Matrix is 20 years old at this point. If you were 13 then, you are 33 now. If you were 20, you are 40 now. So the older people get the less time they have to play online or do things online because of adult life. Indubitably, this has also led to the death of the movement – the people originally behind it just got too old to keep playing games online and became remedial wage earners like the rest of society and it just kind of fell off.

** EDITORS NOTE: For the record, it might sound like I am saying Anonymous is dead, but I do not believe this at all, that was just the direction the question took me in that case. **

 

CyberGuerrilla Anonymous Nexus (CgAn) Begins Fighting Back After Twitter Censorship

So, this is an article I was going to write about maybe 2-3 months ago, but never got around to it for some reason. But, for those of you whom might not have been aware, over the course of the last 9 months or so Twitter has been active in an international crack down against Anonymous, Anarchists and Antifa members alike. In fact, in October 2018 I wrote an article about Twitters mini-purge of Anonymous accounts after the fall of several high profile accounts – going as far as to personally ask Twitter if they had longer term plans to crackdown on all hacktivists on their service in the future?

Learn More – Twitters Mini-Purge of Anonymous: https://roguemedia.co/2018/10/27/twitter-begins-purge-of-anonymous-accounts/

With that established, this article is not about Anonymous, necessarily, but rather about some of my fellow “comrades” working over at CyberGuerrilla Anonymous Nexus (CgAn). For those of you whom might not be aware, CyberGuerrilla has been home to the undergrounds best hackers and cyber security practitioners for quite some time, and I have ties to them going back to “Operations Africa” (#OpAfrica) in 2015.

With that out of the way, earlier this year one of the CyberGuerrilla‘s biggest accounts “International CyberGuerrilla Column A” was shut down by Twitter – once active with I believe over 61,000 followers at the time of their closing if I remember right. It also wasn’t an isolated incident either, and Twitter has made it a point to specifically take on CyberGuerrilla online. In fact, at one point just a few months ago, Twitter began censoring and deleting all hashtags with “CgAn” in it, making it harder for anyone online to see or follow them, or read any of the material they post online. This is why researchers/activists such as myself have been going our of my way to make as many #CgAn‘s as possible – just to keep them indexed.

Even more recently than that, Twitter has also begun cracking down on several other large and prominent accounts within the CgAn community – as you can see via the Tweets provided below.

Getting back to the story at hand, CyberGuerrilla has been attempting to fight back against Twitter for closing their accounts – all legally too. For example, despite Twitter claiming that their account was closed for breaking the terms of Twitters rules and conditions, Doemela is fighting back against Twitters decision. Below you can find a transcript of their appeal to Twitter, learn more about the case, find a link to their information/blog posting about it, as well as the location to their new Twitter account – should you feel compelled to follow them again. 😉

Doemela’s Appeal To Twitter:

Hello Twitter,

I noticed that my account is suspended. I have read all terms and
conditions on your support page but cannot see any reason why I may have
been suspended. I’ve certainly taken every step to ensure that my
account is not breaking any rules.

I’ve been suspended several times, and the reason supplied to me is
always ‘it was done in error’. I kindly explain I don’t feel I am
violating any of Twitters’ rules, and politely request examples of me
doing this. There is also no one I know of that reported this account
for violation of Twitter’s Rules. I’m a keen user of Twitter, and if you
could please let me know why I was suspended then I will ensure I will
take whatever steps necessary so that it does not happen again.

This at the very least would be helpful, so I may learn what is
acceptable and adjust my behaviour accordingly. I think the bigger issue
is however; I’m not in violation of your terms. It seems to me your
‘report abuse’ function is being abused in order to silence dissenting
voices or genuine civil criticism. Abuse and harassment are both awful
and incredibly serious things. I applaud and support Twitters’
commitment to penalizing those who feel it’s acceptable to engage in
such a deplorable way.

However, your system is flawed. I appreciate you have far too many users
for it to be anything but automated, but it is currently punishing users
that are using your services legitimately, for discussion, challenging
ideas, and promoting worthy causes and dialogue.

All I ask is that you please review my case by putting actual human eyes
on the tweet examples provided to you, as I believe examples are
mandatory when making these reports. When doing so, please ask yourself
whether these constitute ‘abuse’ in any meaningful sense and whether
it’s more likely your reporting function is being exploited to silence
genuine, but undesired criticism by the same individual, or individuals.

In your worthy commitment to providing a report function for genuine
abuse, it appears you have overlooked the possibility of that function
actually becoming abused as a tool to constantly silence legitimate
voices. What measures can you suggest preventing this function from
becoming an actual tool of harassment? It appears I am a casualty.

Thank you! Look forward to really hearing back from you. 

Review: White Unveils New Tool for Reporting Social Media Account Closures

While I’m far from the first to report of it unveiling, I don’t really give a fuck – so I am writing this review here today. But, last night I decided to test out Donald Trumps newly unveiled tool/creation – an official web page launched by the White House designed solely to report the “unfair” closing of social media accounts While Trump is doing his best to sell this as an anti-censorship endeavor, indubitably, this move was designed to show support for the alt-right, White Nationalists, White Supremacists and neo-Nazi’s – essentially, the foremost outspoken groups in favor of our Commander In Chief.

If you need any proof of this, look no further than the fact that, starting just about two weeks ago, Facebook began blocking “White Nationalists.” This also adds to a very serious crackdown on conspiracy theorists and outspoken members of the alt-right over recent months/years, such as Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos – just to name a few. However, what I think most people are missing, or deliberately ignoring, is the fact that this crackdown is not only just effecting racists and extremists on the political right. Believe it or not, the crackdown have also effected many of my fellow “Comrades” working for on behalf of both Anonymous and CyberGuerrilla. For example, over the course of the last month alone, Twitter has closed the accounts of LulzSec Kurdistan, Pinoy LulzSec, International CyberGuerrilla A Column, and has even begun scrubbing the hashtag #CgAn offline as much as possible.

To this effect, I decided to investigate Donald Trumps new tool by reporting the closing of @CgAn_Doemela – a loose collection of CyberGuerrilla activists with over 21,000 followers which was inexplicably closed by Twitter just a couple weeks ago. For those of you whom haven’t used or investigated the tool for yourselves, I was actually quite surprised. I say this because the vast majority of information asked by the White House is about yourself, who you are, where you live, what social demographics do you belong to – et cetera. In fact, out of maybe 13 questions, only 2 of them are about the social accounts you are reporting closed in the first place 🤔.

Needless to say, while my actions were sincere, they were also kind of a troll – just to see what the White House was up to and to investigate whether or not they care about the closing of accounts of activists on the extreme political left, in addition to those on the extreme political right? I suppose we will have to wait to find out and see. In the mean time, if you haven’t tried to tool for yourself, you can access the White House’s page below.

White House Reporting Tool: https://wh.gov/techbias

International Internet Censorship Care Package

For those of you who might be unaware, last month Egyptian voters allegedly passed new Constitutional Amendments that will allow Egyptian President Adbel Fattah al-Sisi to remain in power, unchecked, until at least 2030 – when the next round of national elections will take place. However, what has largely gone under reported is the fact that those same constitutional amendments also allow al-Sisi to block Egyptian based Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) from allowing access to over 34,000 websites – adding to countless other cyber/internet crackdowns enacted by the President over recent years.

Learn More – NetBlock Report of Egyptian Internet Censorship May 2019: https://netblocks.org/reports/egypt-filters-34000-domains-in-bid-to-block-opposition-campaign-platform-7eA1blBp

In response to these new amendments, and in addition to several other crackdowns against internet freedoms and freedoms of the press/information in and around Egypt, I’ve decided to release an internet based “Care Package” to the people of Egypt to better help them learn how to circumvent internet restrictions imposed by their President. Please share.

Egyptian Care Package Links/Tutorials:

Download Tor Browser: https://www.torproject.org/download/

Building & Selecting Safer Web Browsers: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/building-selecting-safer-web-browsers

Download Spybot Anti-Beacon: https://www.techspot.com/downloads/6747-spybot-anti-beacon.html

Top Free & Paid VPN Service Providers: https://www.cnet.com/best-vpn-services-directory/

16 Factors To Consider When Selecting A VPN Service Provider: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/criteria-to-consider-when-purchasing-a-vpn/

How & Why To Re-Route DNS Through Your Computer and/or Phone: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/how-why-to-re-route-dns-through-your-computer-and-or-phone/

CgAn Internet Censorship Care Package: https://www.cyberguerrilla.org/blog/anti-censorship-carepackage/

Encrypted Chatrooms & VoIP Apps: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/encrypted-chatrooms-voip-apps

Making The Switch To Encrypted Emails: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/making-the-switch-to-encrypted-emails/

Download ProtonVPN – Endorsed by Amnesty International: https://protonvpn.com/

Phone Security: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/phone-security

Operation Security by UnknownPress: https://iamanonymous.com/dont-be-burnt-toast-unknown-guide-to-operation-security/

How To Keep An Anonymous Identity Online: https://anonhq.com/anonymous-security-guide-2-0/

Iraqi Parliament Proposes Draconian New Cybercrime Laws Designed To Crackdown On Political & Religious Extremism Online

Similar in many ways to laws being put forth in Jordan, the Iraqi parliament is actively debating passing a new cyber crime bill into law aimed at cracking down on religious and political extremism online. However, as Amnesty International is now warning, as written, the proposed laws could begin criminalizing acts that would otherwise fall under freedom of expression, freedom of the press and free speech in general. Official called the “Law On Informational Technology,” the new law will give Iraqi authorities excessive powers to impose harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, for vaguely worded offences such as undermining the country’s “independence, peace and political, military security and economic interests.

According to Razaw Salihy, Iraq researcher at Amnesty International, “if passed, this draconian cybercrime law will be a devastating blow for freedom of expression in Iraq,” because “the vague and overly broad wording of the law means it could easily become a tool for repression in a country where the space for critical voices is already severely restricted.” As a result, Amnesty International and 9 other human rights and technical organizations such as Access NowHuman Rights Watch, International Press Institute, Iraq Journalists Right Defence Association (IJRDA), Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM), Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR), MENA Rights Group, PEN International and PEN Iraq have each singed an open letter to the Iraqi Parliament asking them to abandon the law before it moves ahead any further.

Read or Download Full Open Letter: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1499442019ENGLISH.pdf

Full Text – Law on Information Technology Crimes:

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Copy of Open Letter 03/01/2019:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Amnesty_Open_Letter.pdf”%5D

DRC Shuts Down Media Outlets, Restricts National Internet Access Following December 31st Election

(AI) – Following further closures of media outlets and a mounting crackdown on internet and mobile messaging in the wake of elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Joan Nyanyuki said:

The authorities in the DRC must immediately reopen all media outlets and reinstate all blocked communications channels. People must be allowed to freely access and exchange information including online as they wait for election results. This attack on freedom of expression and media freedom risks exacerbating an already tense and volatile situation.

“Now more than ever the Congolese people need assurance that the authorities are genuinely committed to the respect for human rights and allowing people to access information from diverse sources and communicate freely is a key part of that. The DRC authorities must uphold the right to freedom of expression and media freedom at this critical juncture in the country’s history.

Background

The DRC authorities shut down internet connection and SMS services countrywide on 31 December in a bid to stop what it termed “rumour mongering” about the election outcome.

On 1 January, they also cut off the signal of Radio France Internationale (RFI), an independent foreign radio station which is popular in the DRC. On 2 January, the signal of two TV channels belonging to opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba – Canal Congo TV (CCTV) and Canal Kin TV – were cut off.

The DRC is anxiously awaiting the outcome of the election, with provisional results originally expected on 6 January. The results may now be delayed due to logistical issues, according to the electoral commission CENI.


This article was originally published by Amnesty International on January 3rd 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Government of Sudan Shuts Down National Internet Access, So Anonymous Shuts Down The Government

This Christmas the Government of Sudan had the entirety of their internet infrastructure hacked and taken offline, more than 260 Government domains in total. Not only this, but two of the country’s largest television news network, Sudania 24 and the Sudan News Agency, have also been hacked and taken offline. The cyber attacks are a result of a joint operation between multiple international hackers and hacking groups, namely Lorian Synaro, Anonymous CyberGuerrilla and the AnonOps IRC. The operation itself stems from a December 19th decision by the Government of Sudan to restrict national internet access and block access to social media applications – actions which have continued on through today.

As for why they did this, at the present moment in time there are rumblings of a revolt or revolution throughout Sudan, something that the current Sudanese regime, whom has been in political power for the last 30 years, does not want to see happen. Consequentially, as more and more people have started taking to the streets, and as these protests have grown larger, the Government of Sudan has begun sealing off/restricting internet access Nationwide whilst simultaneously blocking access to social media applications to prevent protesters from organizing with or coordinating to work with one another to make the movement larger.

Observing this from afar was something that internet community simply could not tolerate, so activists around the world got together and did what they could to begin fighting back in support of the oppressed people of Sudan. Beginning December 22nd, Anonymous CyberGuerrilla organized chatrooms on the ClearNet and IRC, AnonOps prepared a care package, Rogue Media Labs manipulated social media algorithms to land said care packages and chatrooms across Sudan’s border while Lorian Synaro put word out to all Anonymous to stand up and participate – which is exactly what they did.

As previously mentioned, starting Christmas morning Anonymous launched a massive and coordinated hacking campaign against the Government of Sudan, managing to take down over 260 Sudanese Government websites and knock several state run news outlets offline. Not only this, but thousands of individuals across Africa have signed up for and begun learning more about cyber security and how to freely bypass Government implemented controls or restrictions on their systems. On through December 26th 2018, the Government of Sudan remains under attack, the care packages continue to be pushed throughout Africa and much of Sudan’s Governmental infrastructure remains inaccessible. Meanwhile, the citizens of Sudan are currently organizing massive protests and demonstrations across the country for December 30th 2018.

In a message attached to the operation, Anonymous hackers stated the following:

We are communicating with you today because something is very wrong with Sudanese Government. We can not tolerate injustice, inequality, and denial of the peoples rights. The Sudanese Government is restricting free speech and seeking to limit and control internet access. This Government is even punishing the people for expressing their ideas and opinions. We will fight back! In response to Sudan’s situation, we are issuing a wide call to protest. We will protest against this Government, it’s blasphemy laws, censorship laws, restrictions on internet access, restriction to internet access, and any and thought crime legislation.

We are Anonymous
We are Legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
To the Government of Sudan, expect us.

Massive and coordinated attack against the central government of Sudan. More than 260 Government domains have been #Downed. We will have no mercy. You have killed innocent protesters, now it’s time to pay for it.

Sudan Government Hit List: https://www.hastebin.com/acolilixac.sql

https://twitter.com/CgAn_Doemela/status/1076580410166001664?s=19


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Ethiopia Begins Drafting New Hate Speech Laws To Crack Down on Fake News & Social Media

Joining a much larger pool of countries recently looking to enact new “Hate Crime” laws governing or regulating the flow of free speech across the internet, Ethiopian authorities have recently announced a new initiative to draft new laws imposing fines or jail sentences for activists and/or press organizations deemed to be inciting violence or spreading hatred online. The initiative was announced for the first time last month, November 23rd 2018, under the conditions that lawmakers submit the final bill for approval/vote within the next 100 days.

According to a November 2018 report by the Addis Standard, “Ethiopia is struggling from the surge of hate speech and fake news in its limited cyber space.” Therefore, as a result, “the Office of Attorney General is preparing a draft bill aiming to curb hate speech and bring accountability towards public speeches and every other discourse, which is deemed to ignite hate and ethnic tensions in the country.” Explaining how the Ethiopian Government heavily blames the rise of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as online “Fake News” platforms for the recent rises in ethnic tensions over the course of the last decade.

By cracking down on so called ‘abusive online dialect,‘ the country hopes to resolve future conflicts – or at least limit them. However, in response to the new initiative, Human Rights Watch cautions that “any law that limits freedom of expression by punishing hate speech must be narrowly drawn and enforced with restraint, so that it only targets speech that is likely to incite imminent violence or discrimination that cannot be prevented through other means.” Adding that “many governments have tried and failed to strike the right balance, and Ethiopia’s own track record offers reason for alarm. In the past, the Ethiopian government has used vague legal definitions including in its anti-terrorism law, to crack down on peaceful expressions of dissent.

Dating back to the Ormo protests of 2015, the Anonymous hacker collective has been particularly interested in the ongoing conflicts in Ethiopia, helping to teach Ethiopian activists how to remain safe, secure and Anonymous online. In addition to setting up encrypted chatrooms for activists to coordinate with one another, Anonymous has also helped Ethiopians set up encrypted email accounts and teach them how to use VPN’s and proxies to circumvent Government controls/restrictions. This effort has also been publicly aided by services such as ProtonMail and groups like Amnesty International. As Anonymous would also be the first to tell you, Anonymous is not a group, rather it’s simply an “idea” – and you can not arrest and idea.

In regards to the drafting of this new law, perhaps in a nod to Anonymous’ operations inside the country over the years, one Ethiopian official was quoted as saying that “Narratives seem to change on the social media. This, however, will be tested as the government can not jail ideas, but people.” I guess we will have to see how well this works out for them…..

Image result for you can't arrest an idea

Image result for you can't arrest an idea

For the time being, Ethiopian officials have opened up the door for constructive criticism and feedback from the general public before the finalized version of the bill is submitted.

New Study: 60% of Americans Believe Social Media Is Corrupting Society

A few years ago I remember writing that social media is slowly but surely contributing to the moral decay of America and that if I had some sort of button I could push that would magically end it all, I would almost certainly push that button. Granted this was before I ever created my first Twitter account and began paying Facebook for advertising space, my feelings on the matter haven’t necessarily changed over the years either. However, as it turns out, I am not alone.

According to a new Survey Monkey poll conducted by Axios for HBO, only 40% of Americans believe that social media represents a “net positive for society.” Meaning that 60% of Americans now believe social media is harmful to or having a negative impact on organized/civilized society. To gather data and asses results, Axios polled Americans based on political ideology, separating the answers of Democrats from Republicans and independents before cross referencing their answers for analysis. What they found was rather interesting. For example:

  • 57% of Americans believe that social media is actually taking away from or hurting free speech and Democracy – up 14% from this time in 2017. Oddly enough though, Democrats were the only group of pollsters that believe social media is increasing or helping free speech in this country, but the opinions of independents and Republicans combined essentially drowned them out. To be more exact, only 48% of Democrats believe social media takes away from free speech, down 10% from last year. Comparatively, 69% of Republicans believe social media harms or detracts from free speech in this country – up 17% since 2017.
  • 55% of Americans believe that that social media is being abused by politicians for political gain and that such abuse prevents law makers from adequately regulating the industry – up 15% from 2017.
  • 65% of Americans polled stated that the invention of smart phones has made their lives easier or better.
  • 51% of Americans said that their phones are the one piece of technology they “cant live without.
  • 63% of Americans say they sleep with their phones by their pillow each night.

As for why independents and Republicans believe that social media is taking away from internet freedoms and free speech in this country, they point to the “censorship” of political conservatives across Twitter and the closing of millions of Facebook accounts throughout the course of 2018 as evidence. As for why the opinions of so many Americans in general is falling in regards to social media, pollsters point to the recent Senate hearings and data breaches faced by Mark Zuckerberg and his company, which Americans now believe puts them and their privacy much higher risk. For example, well before Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress in 2018, a separate study from January 2017 found that 64% of all Americans have either had their identity stolen, or been a victim of some sort of data breach/leak.

However, there may be other factors at play here besides political ideology. As was once pointed out by Melissa Hunt, the associate director of clinical training at the University of Pennsylvania, there is a direct correlation between depression rates and the amount of time people spend in front of a computer or go online. Meaning that people whom tend to spend the majority of their time on a computer, tend to have higher rates of depression and suicide than those whom do not. Naturally then, it would make sense the Americans views of social media and online activity are beginning to sour the longer they are spending on it.

You can view Ms. Hunts study below or download it here: https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/pdf/10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751

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Russia Begins Fining Google for Failing To Respect National Blacklist Rules

This past week, the Russian Federation announced it would be fining American tech giant Google for failing to respect and adhere to Russian law, prohibiting search engines operating inside the country from linking to sites on Russia’s National blacklist. Among others, this includes linking to various state-run and international human rights organizations, as well as different internet security companies – such as VPN service providers.

While the specific websites in question were not publicly listed, according to a press release from the RKN, a Russian based telecommunications watchdog, Google will face an initial fine of $7,600 to 10,600 and Russian authorities have given the company a grace period of 30 days to begin complying with Russian Law, or risk further punishment.

Поисковик по требованию Роскомнадзора в течение 30 дней должен подключиться к федеральной государственной информационной системе, содержащей перечень запрещенных интернет-ресурсов (ФГИС). По истечении трех рабочих дней поисковая система должна начать фильтровать результаты поиска,” notes RKN. “За неисполнение этих требований для юридических лиц предусмотрена административная ответственность – штраф в размере от 500 до 700 тыс. рублей.

According to the report, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Mediahas already made several requests for Google to start connecting to Russian Federal information systems, but the company has either failed or refuses to do so. 

Translation:

The search engine at the request of Roskomnadzor within 30 days must connect to the federal state information system containing the list of prohibited Internet resources (FGIS). After three business days, the search engine should start filtering the search results.

For non-compliance with these requirements, administrative liability is provided for legal entities – a fine of between 500 and 700 thousand rubles.