Imagine! An ‘alternative internet’ not ‘completely in the hands of Facebook & Google’

Having a more alternative internet that is more controlled by its users offers better options to protect ourselves, says Dmytri Kleiner a privacy activist and software developer.

Telecom giants in the US are set for a significant victory if Washington goes ahead with its plan to repeal so-called 'net neutrality' rules. The Obama-era legislation was enacted to prevent internet service providers from potentially cornering parts of the digital market and charging extra fees. As a result, it's likely to have a direct impact on internet speeds in the US and cause a lot of inconvenience for users.

Meanwhile, Google has just been caught secretly collecting location data from Android phone users, even after they turned off location settings and had no SIM card in their devices.

So is there a way to escape from the increasing arbitrariness of the ‘regular internet’?

Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload, who is wanted in America for alleged illegal file sharing, has pledged to create an ‘alternative internet’ to defend rights to privacy and freedom online.

@RT_com Goodbye, IP address: @KimDotcom to launch alternative internet

RT:  What are your thoughts on Kim Dotcom's idea? How is it possible to build an alternative internet?

Dmytri Kleiner: The current internet as it exists right now suffers from a lot of privacy concerns. A lot of those privacy concerns – some of them are inherent to the architecture of the platforms, but a lot of them are related more to the business models of a lot of the kind of companies that make money on the internet. Companies like Google and Facebook make their money by targeting advertising. And targeting advertising requires to know a lot more about you than untargeted advertising. So the more they know about you, the more they can sell these ads for.

Kim Dotcom's proposal is not something that I’ve seen too many details about, although he has been mentioning MegaNet for a few years now I think, as early as 2015. And there are a lot of things that sound pretty good about what he is proposing. Especially the idea of using mobile devices more actively. It is not clear what he means by that – whether he means there will be an overlay network on top of the kind of IP internet that adds anonymity along the lines of something like Tor or Tox; or whether he plans to use Bluetooth, or NFC (Near Field Communication,) or direct Wi-Fi capabilities of the mobile phones themselves to create a so-called mesh network along the lines of Briar or several other applications. But in any case, more development in this area would certainly be good – the better platforms that consumers have that deliver privacy and anonymity – the more we have – the better. But that won’t necessarily affect the actual concerns of data being collected by the likes of Google and Facebook.

@RT_com essential to keep freedom associated with ' - Canadian PM

RT:  What about the speed at which people can use the internet. With these net neutrality rules being rolled back is Kim Dotcom's idea a way of circumventing those alternative rules that are going to come into force?

DK: We need to know more about the architecture to make a claim either way. If it is planning to use the kind of radio capabilities of mobile phones themselves, and the Bluetooth and NFC and Wi-Fi capabilities those phones have to create another mesh network, then you could have an advantage that it is much more difficult to block than centralized things. So net neutrality wouldn’t affect it directly. However, it is still may be a slower service to what people used to right now, given a neutral internet.

RT:  What would be the drawbacks be to an alternative internet? Some people might say there is too much anonymity, and perhaps there would be sort of fair game for criminals and the like? What’s your response to that argument?

DK: It seems to me the criminals aren’t having a terrible amount of difficulty operating on the internet as it is today. Having a more alternative internet that is more controlled by its users, gives us better options in order to protect ourselves. We can have collaborative moderation, and collaborative block lists and stuff like that that could make user-driven ways to defend against this stuff more effective, rather than being completely in the hands of Facebook and Google and Twitter, and only being able to access the protections that they provide.

@RT_com ‘Govt's most experienced privacy cop’: How the FCC’s reversal of may affect you

RT:  Can you see the public taking to this alternative internet quickly, or would there be problems for them to connect? What are your thoughts on its accessibility?

DK: There are a lot of questions need to be looked at there. One is how user-friendly and usable this kind of stuff is. We know without a clear business model, like advertising that Facebook and Google have, you have to question where the investments are going to come from to create the kind of rich user experience that users are used to; to market it, to promote it, to support it – and all that kind of stuff. I mean given the right support I definitely think that an alternative could be made and it could be very popular.

However, it is not clear where that support could come from short of public institutions because as a private entrepreneur Kim Dotcom can only spend money that he can earn back. And it is not clear how he would earn money on such a thing, given that advertising and surveillance would not be used.

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Purported data from 200 million Yahoo accounts may be legit

In August, a dealer in stolen data who goes by the online moniker "Peace"—the person or persons who previously sold data from the accounts of MySpace and LinkedIn users—announced that the results of another "megabreach" were for sale. This time, it's the account information of 200 million Yahoo users. According to a report by Recode's Kara Swisher, Yahoo is preparing to confirm the four-year-old breach, potentially creating problems for the company's planned $4.8 billion acquisition by Verizon.

A previous examination of a sample of the data obtained by Motherboard was inconclusive. There has been a number of other claimed breaches of Yahoo's account data, including a claim of 40 million Yahoo accounts among a total of 272 million alleged stolen credentials reported in May. But that data that may have just as easily been stolen from other sources.

According to a spokesperson at LeakedSource, however, a small sample file of legitimate Yahoo user data exists. But it's not clear whether it's representative of the rest of the data "Peace" has, because no one has been able to look at the full dump yet—"Peace" has offered to sell it for 3 Bitcoin (about $1,860).

"There are two Yahoo files floating around the Internet," LeakedSource told Ars. The first is a "5,000-sample .txt file that's been on the dark web for years." The second, larger file is "an encrypted .zip archive containing 40 text files claiming to be from Yahoo. We have both of them as well as the decryption key for the 40 text files, which we determined to be fake. The first sample, however, may be real and provide enough evidence for Yahoo to begin resetting passwords."

A variety of people with Yahoo accounts, some of whom work at Ars, report they recently received messages when logging in that recommended, but didn't mandate, a password change:


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Argentines Take to Streets Against Macri's Winter Utility Hikes

The hikes are "affecting people very seriously," said Osvaldo Bassano, head of the Association for the Defense of Users and Consumers.

The streets in Buenos Aires and other Argentine cities are filled with protesters in a "Cacerolazo" against President Mauricio Macri’s major hikes in utilities, including a 700 percent rise in electricity, over 2,000 percent in gas in some places and 350 percent in water.

RELATED: Argentina's Macri Spikes Utility Costs by 500% then Asks the Poor to Take Shorter Showers

Consumer protection associations and leftist groups called the march against the hikes, which are "affecting people very seriously," said Osvaldo Bassano, head of the Association for the Defense of Users and Consumers. They will light candles and bang pots in what is now winter in Argentina. Some are demanding that the energy minister resign, reported teleSUR correspondent Laereano Ponce.

The Supreme Court demanded Monday that Macri justify the “social and economic aspects” of the measure within the next 10 days. The government of La Plata decided Thursday to suspend all bill increases, saying the government failed to implement the required public audits before imposing the price hike in April.

A court in Lomas de Zamora, in the province of Buenos Aires, also suspended the increase in water bills for the prosecuting family, opening the doors for future precautionary measures against the hikes.

RELATED: Poverty Increases by 5% in Argentina Under Mauricio Macri

Macri justified his move Wednesday as necessary to control the limited and expensive energy resources in Argentina. The hikes come on the back of major cuts in energy subsidies shortly after taking office last December.

Both chambers in Congress announced measures to supervise the government's controversial move. Senators approved a bill asking the government to suspend the rise of gas bills until the case brought to the Supreme Court was solved, while representatives called a special session over the matter.

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Global ‘terror’ database leak reveals 2.2mn people tracked by spy agencies

Thomson Reuters are reportedly “working feverishly” to recover more than 2.2 million records which form their ‘World Check’ database of “heightened risk individuals and entities” used by governments, banks, and law firms around the world.

Reddit user Chris Vickery says he obtained a copy of the database, although he won’t reveal how until “a later time.”

Terrorism Blacklist: I have a copy. Should it be shared? r/privacy

The security researcher says the database is from mid-2014 and contains millions of “heightened-risk individuals and organizations,” which it places in one or more of a number of categories, including terrorism, money laundering, organized crime, bribery, corruption, and “other unsavory activities.”

Forming part of the company’s “risk management solutions,” Thomson Reuters says it’s used by more than 300 government and intelligence agencies around the world, as well as 49 of the world’s top 50 banks and nine of the top 10 global law firms.

To access the database, customers must pay an annual subscription charge, which can reach up to $1 million, according to Vice, with potential subscribers then vetted before approval.

acidProtestCarnival You have to release this. In terms of "privacy" everyone should be able to check if they're on it.

Vickery says he understands that the “original location of the leak is still exposed to the public internet.”

"Thomson Reuters is working feverishly to get it secured,” he told The Register, explaining he had alerted the company to the leak, but was still considering whether to publish the information contained in it.

Hacker 'Guccifer 2.0' publishes DNC campaign docs with strategies for defending Clinton

Described on its website as a tool to “screen for heightened risk individuals and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks,” the company says it covers more than 240 countries and territories, and monitors more than 530 “sanction, watch, regulatory and law enforcement lists.”

The database has been repeatedly criticized by opponents who say it’s unfair for people to be classified on the list without their knowledge while there is also the risk that some are classified incorrectly.

A number of British citizens had their bank accounts closed in 2014 after HSBC declared them to be too risky to deal with. They had appeared on the ‘World Check’ database, which the BBC found was sourcing some information from Wikipedia, blogs, and biased news reports.

Similarly, Vice found that an American civil rights leader, a former World Bank and Bank of England advisor who was given an OBE, and a prominent British anti-extremism campaigner - all three of whom were Muslim - were all given a ‘terrorism’ designation in the database.

PhyllisWheatenhousen Many of us are probably on the heightened risk list. They consider tor, tails, and Linux to be extremest software. If there are lots of average people on the list then it will show everyone the extent of government surveillance and their absurd fear mongering.

The discovery of such leaks isn’t new for Vickery who in the last the seven months alone has uncovered three major security breaches in databases.

He found a publicly-available online database containing the personal information of 191 million voters in December, and found the personal data of up to 3.3 million users of several Hello Kitty websites in a separate discovery.

191 million US voter registration records leaked online – report

Vickery also unearthed the personal details of 4,926 users of Hzone dating app, which is aimed at people who are HIV-positive, including their date of birth, email address, ethnicity, last login, IP address, number of children, and password encryption keys.

READ MORE: HIV+ dating app leaks users’ private information, threatens discoverer with infection

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