Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

gab.com & the Great Purge on the Horizon

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 30, 2018

gab.com is an alternative social network, set up and launched in 2016. It’s founder, Andrew Torba, stated he wanted to create a home for free speech, and counter what he perceived as “liberal bias” on other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Two days ago, their website was taken down. This was in response to being blocked by PayPal, and then having their server space taken away by their hosting service. gab’s founder posted this statement on their stripped-down website.

Why did this happen?

Because Robert Bowers, the alleged gunman at the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, had a gab account and posted some things about “the jews” on it.

Is it right, or sensible to punish a platform for the (alleged) actions of ONE user out of 100,000s? And is that really what’s going on?

Robert Bowers also had a Twitter account. And a Facebook page. Neither of these platforms has faced punishment, or censure, from any quarter.

Cesar Sayoc – the alleged MAGABomber – also had a twitter account and allegedly sent threatening messages to some public figures on it. Again, Twitter has not been blocked by PayPal.

In fact, Twitter and Facebook – though occasionally criticised for “not doing enough to combat hate”, have never been blocked, or threatened in any way. Even though Twitter hosted countless pro-ISIS accounts, regularly cited in the media.

So clearly, it can be reasoned, PayPal et al are not only responding to the alleged statements of Robert Bowers. There is a deeper agenda at work.

In fact, this isn’t the first time larger internet companies have tried to stymie gab’s existence. When they were first launched, in 2016, Apple denied them a place in their app store because they allegedly allowed pornography to be posted. When gab installed a filter to block people posting pornography, Apple again denied them access to the app store, this time for breaching their “hate speech” regulations. Google Play did the same in 2017 (reminder – Google allowed ISIS to release their own app on their marketplace).

Early this year a cross-university study conducted on gab (and other “alt-right” sites) found that gab.com used “free speech as shield to protect their “alt-right” views”. (I’m not sure what, if anything, that sentence really means. Surely free speech is a shield protecting all speech? Isn’t that the point?)

In April this year VICE magazine ran an article headlined “Gab Is the Alt-Right Social Network Racists Are Moving to”. It was resoundingly negative about the site, painting it as nothing but a home for racism and “conspiracy theorists”, despite the owner’s protestations that gab is all about free speech, and that anyone is free to join.

Logically, the emergence of networks like gab was inevitable. The internet has always been that way, you shut down one hallway and four more are forced open. Look at Piratebay, notionally banned, yet available through a million different proxies that spring up faster than governments can shut them down.

Social media has undergone unprecedented purges this year. Alex Jones was banned across virtually every mainstream platform. Hundreds of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were shut down on spurious grounds – allegations of being “Kremlin backed” or “Iran bots”fly around, without any supporting evidence ever being released to the public. This summer, Twitter blocked millions of “fake accounts” (we covered that here).

These actions aren’t independent, either. Alex Jones was banned from multiple platforms, all within 24 hours. Just earlier this month, Facebook unpublished over 800 pages, whilst twitter blocked the accounts of the same pages… all on the same day. Clearly, the companies are either coordinating with each other (possibly in breach of anti-trust laws), or are receiving directions from the same source – almost certainly the government.

In that climate, new platforms were always going to emerge. It’s the classic “Well then I’m gonna build my own theme park, with blackjack and hookers” situation.

YouTube is increasingly corporate, controlled and fake. Demonetising user videos and adding more and more advertisements… so dtube and bitchute open. Twitter censors your free-speech, so we’ll start up a platform where you can say what you want.

Twitter and Facebook both saw their stock-prices tumble as a result of their respective “purges”. So, is the anti-gab movement simply a case of mega-corporations protecting their monopoly by shutting down a budding rival? Is this all just about control of the market and money?

Unfortunately, it seems not. Like the vast majority of media roll-outs, it seems this is a convergence of interests – financial on the one hand, and political on the other.

The push to ban the “alt-right” – or, the even broader term – “hate speech” has been on-going for several years now. It will inevitably pick up in the wake of the events of this week.

Within hours, predictable voices were discussing the “necessary limitations on free speech”:

Today, CNN ran this piece: “Big Tech made the social media mess. It has to fix it”.

Paul Mason, writing in the New Statesman, argued that YouTube needs to censor all the “alt-right” on their platform.

It’s a two-step process – having first established the need to “limit” hate speech, we can then move on to defining what “hate speech” really means.

They’ve started on that already. Criticising George Soros is “anti-semitic” now. As is the term “neocons”:

What else will be deemed hate speech? What does “hate speech” really mean? The simple answer to that is: Whatever they want it to mean.

It seems like there’s a purge coming, you can feel it in the wind. A purge motivated by the greed of multinational companies wielding power that rivals nations, and fuelled by the fascistic need of the “powers-that-shouldn’t-be” to limit and control our existence…just because they can.

It is both authoritarian power grab, and a manifestation of corporate greed. It’s amazing how often those two things come together.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

PayPal Serves Illegal Israeli Settlers But Won’t Let Palestinians Open Accounts

By Kit O’Connell | Mint Press News | November 21, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas – PayPal is one of the world’s most popular ways to send or receive money online, but Palestinians are cut out of the action.

Time magazine reported in January that PayPal has 179 million active accounts in dozens of countries, and PayPal payments are widely accepted in online marketplaces from eBay to Etsy.

To sign up, every user needs to have an account at a bank recognized by the service. Since PayPal doesn’t recognize any Palestinian banks, Palestinians are effectively prevented from using the service. Critics say this has impacted not just individuals, but burgeoning industries and even the broader Palestinian economy.

“PayPal’s absence is a major obstacle to the growth of Palestine’s tech sector and the overall economy,” Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, an NGO that promotes businesses in Palestine, wrote in an Aug. 23 open letter.

The letter, which was co-signed by more than 40 NGOs and Palestinian businesses, continues:

“Without access to PayPal, Palestinian entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and others face routine difficulties in receiving payments for business and charitable purposes. Moreover, PayPal’s absence is problematic for the overall Palestinian economy as tech is one of the only sectors with the potential to grow under status quo conditions of the Israeli occupation which severely restricts the internal and cross-border movement of goods and people.”

For the past decade, Israel has maintained a blockade on Palestinian imports of everything from everyday goods like crayons to crucial building supplies like concrete. Palestinian exports are heavily restricted, too.

Palestine is home to a thriving tech economy, Mike Butcher wrote in a Sept. 9 report. The TechCrunch editor-at-large continued:

“Palestine produces roughly 2,000 IT graduates per year. Both the West Bank and Gaza now have a number of technology companies which, ironically, see tech as a way of developing their economy, just as the Israelis do.”

While PayPal doesn’t recognize Palestinian banks, the authors of the open letter noted that many Palestinians live side by side with illegal Israeli settlers, who, purely by virtue of possessing Israeli bank accounts, are free to make use of the service. Israel demolished over 200 Palestinian homes this year, bringing its expansion of illegal settlements to record levels in 2016.

“We believe a company like PayPal, whose actions in North Carolina reaffirmed its commitment to equal rights, would agree that people living in the same neighborhood ought to have equal rights and access to its services regardless of religion or ethnicity,” the letter noted.

In April, Paypal pulled hundreds of jobs out of North Carolina after the state passed the so-called “bathroom bill,” which rescinded local protections for LGBT people, put restrictions on bathroom access for transgender individuals, and banned cities from passing increases to the minimum wage.

PayPal maintains multiple offices in Israel and has invested millions into its businesses there. The company does not seem poised to take a similar stand in Israel in response to the ongoing repression of the indigenous Palestinian population, who face severe restrictions on their movement and frequent attacks by the Israeli military, among other human rights abuses.

After the open letter was published, other organizations that support Palestine soon joined in by urging PayPal to expand into Gaza, launching a petition and social media campaign, #PayPal4Palestine. […]

In a message of support sent on Oct. 29 by Ramah Kudaimi, director of grassroots organizing at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, wrote:

“Palestinians being denied access to PayPal means they cannot use their services to run a business, or raise money for a charity, or send cash to a relative, or make everyday purchases online. Getting access to PayPal can make a real difference in the lives of so many Palestinians as the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality continues.”

The tech giant seems unmoved by activists and Palestinian entrepreneurs’ requests to do business. The firm sent Butcher a dismissive response to his request for comment.

“We appreciate the interest that the Palestinian community has shown in PayPal,” the company’s representative wrote, but, the statement continued, “we do not have anything to announce for the immediate future.”

December 4, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Russia working on ways to protect its internet due to US online dominance – Com. Minister to RT

RT | March 2, 2016

The US government and a handful of corporations working under US jurisdiction have a disproportionately strong influence on the internet. So other countries are mulling ways to protect their web sectors, the Russian communications minister told RT.

“Today, if you have a look at the whole IT global system, you will see that the whole world… is actually totally dominated by a single country and literally by several companies, which have practically monopolized the entire IT system,” Nikolay Nikiforov said.

The issue is not only about market shares of tech giants such as Google and Facebook, but also about the US government’s control of critical elements of the internet’s infrastructure, he said.

One small example is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which assigns internet domain names. In 2014, the US pledged to hand over control over it from the US Department of Communications to a multi-stakeholder collective, which would include governments, companies, international organizations and individual users. The transition was scheduled to happen in September last year, but was postponed for at least a year.

“This didn’t happen for some reason, and many reasons were voiced. I believe them to be pretty far-fetched,” Nikiforov said.

“With this prolonged monopolization, many countries in the world are working on technical solutions that would protect national segments of the internet from a possible external destructive action. They are creating backup infrastructures, which respond to a disruption – intentional or accidental – and prevent national segments from being blocked,” he added.

The minister said Russia is among the countries heavily investing in the internet and naturally wants to protect this investment.

The issue is not theoretical for Russia. As part of the US-imposed sanctions, several American companies suspended their services in Crimea, which seceded from Ukraine in response to an armed coup in Kiev and rejoined with Russia. Washington called the move illegal and targeted individuals and some sectors of the Russian economy with sanctions.

Google, Apple, PayPal and others cut Crimea from their services. This affected tens of thousands of people, who could no longer properly update the software for their phones, buy apps, use electronic payments for online products and do other basic things.

The minister was speaking in Egypt, which he is visiting to foster business ties. He said Russia and Egypt have agreed to have mobile operators to cut down roaming tariffs, which would benefit Russian tourists visiting the North-African country.

“It’s no secret that overpriced roaming is the reason why many travelers simply don’t use their phones abroad. We are trying to make this problem go away for Egypt and Russia,” he said.

The agreement indicates that Russia may soon lift restrictions on flights to Egypt, which were imposed after a terrorist bomb last October destroyed a plane carrying Russian tourists home from Egyptian resorts.

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuxnet, Flame… Gauss: New spy virus found in Middle East

RT | August 9, 2012

A new virus dubbed Gauss has attacked computers in the Middle East spying on financial transactions, emails and picking passwords to all kind of pages. The virus resembles Stuxnet and Flame malware which was used to target Iran, Kaspersky Lab says.

­Gauss has infected hundreds of personal computers across the Middle East – most of them in Lebanon, but also in Israel and Palestinian territories. Kaspersky Lab has classified the virus, named after one of its major components, as “a cyber-espionage toolkit”.

The malicious malware spies on transactions in banking systems and steals passwords and credentials to social networks, emails and instant messaging accounts. It can also collect system configurations.

Though Gauss seems to be specifically designed for several Lebanese online banking systems, it can also go after Citibank and PayPal users.

It is not immediately clear who may be behind the new Trojan virus, but Kaspersky Lab says the “nation-state sponsored” toolkit has features characteristic of Flame, DuQu and Stuxnet malware, which targeted machines in Iran.

After looking at Stuxnet, DuQu and Flame, we can say with a high degree of certainty that Gauss comes from the same ‘factory’ or ‘factories,‘” Kaspersky Lab said in their report on Thursday. “All these attack toolkits represent the high end of nation-state-sponsored cyber-espionage and cyber war operations.”

The researchers cannot say whether Gauss was meant to simply spy on account transactions, or to steal money from targets. But given the high probability of a nation-state actor behind it, the virus may be a counterintelligence tool, which could be used to trace funding of various groups or individuals.

Gauss has attacked over 2,500 personal computers in the Middle East. Only one attack has so far been reported in Iran (image from http://www.securelist.com)
Gauss has attacked over 2,500 personal computers in the Middle East. Only one attack has so far been reported in Iran (image from http://www.securelist.com)

The virus is yet to be fully exposed, as the Moscow-based internet security company is still trying to crack its payload, a section that sends and receives instructions from an outside source once it has infiltrated a system. The company is asking for assistance from any cryptographers since the payload is highly encrypted and its purposes remain unclear.

The virus was first spotted in June this year while Kaspersky Lab was looking for variants of Flame. Gauss appears to have been most active from May to July 2012, until its control and command infrastructure stopped functioning. Now the virus is in a dormant state.

Still, the malware, apparently created back in 2011, managed to spread much farther than Flame, which attacked around 700 PCs across the Middle East this spring.

Flame and Stuxnet are widely speculated to have been ordered by the US and Israel to hit Iran’s nuclear program. Western officials gave a tentative confirmation the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Israeli military were all involved in developing the Flame spying toolkit.

As for the Stuxnet attack, which in 2010 damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran, Washington has so far declined to comment on if it was behind the sabotage.

Now Gauss, which shares parts of its code with Flame, appears to add to the US and Israel’s presumed cyber arsenals.

August 10, 2012 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment