Public Interest Groups and Their “Truth” Laundering Hypocrisy

The Koch brothers get a lot of pushback from the progressive Left for their so-called “dark money” efforts – that is, funding think tanks, academics and advocacy outlets to shape public policy and politics, ostensibly to their ends.  But this is not a new phenomenon; the Koch brothers are just the latest targets of the progressive’s ire.  For the past 40 years, progressives have made a full court press to limit money in politics, hoping people buy into the idea that money (especially conservative money) isn’t speech, and by limiting it through campaign finance reform and other mandates, America’s electoral system will somehow be clean, pure and immune to “untoward” influence.

But, reality is not nearly so tidy.  Policy occurs through the exchange of information – that is, speech. And it takes a lot of money to fund those efforts.  The Left knows this well, and has mastered the art of generating funding tools to affect public policy.  Foundations like Ford, MacArthur, Knight, Rockefeller Brothers, Park and Open Society sit at the top of this funding heap, spending millions each year to do what…

…the Koch brothers also do.

The Koch brothers are somehow “evil” for doing it, however.

Go figure.

Now, imagine if the Koch brothers had a partnership with the mainstream media to create programming for broadcast on, let’s say, a nightly network newscast?   How do you think that would be accepted, especially given the current environment?

That’s right.  The partnering news outlet and its product would be called sham-journalism by the Left because it helped traffic in Koch “propaganda” (as this Media Matters piece shows).


Of course, when progressives do the same thing, they get awards.  In fact, earlier this week, the Center for Public Integrity received an award from the White House Correspondents’ Association for its work with ABC network news on a story about miners with black lung disease.

Why the double standard?

ABC can tolerate the conflicted partnership because the mainstream media in general doesn’t care.  Nearly all U.S. broadcast and print news outlets are run by progressives.  So, the “truths” offered by outfits like CPI go unquestioned, and more, have to be shouted from the electronic mountaintops because that’s the role of journalism in America – to shout progressive “truths” and none other.

Will this type of mainstream media partnership with non-profit journalism proliferate? Yes.  It’s becoming more commonplace, as old walls that once would have prevented these relationships disappear.

For the mainstream media – one which brands itself as being an impartial arbiter of truth – it stretches credulity to believe it can serve as both a  zealous advocate and disinterested party simultaneously.  The conflict is real, and I think damaging to the MSM.  But, I’ve gotten over it.  It’s their printing press; who am I to tell them what to do with it?

What really drives me nuts, however, are the hypocrites who believe that only they, or their approved progressive brethren, can parade about cloaked as “real journalists,” while at the same time working in overdrive to vilify and deny that same ability to others with whom they disagree (mainly conservatives).

I have a problem when I see a story like this, written by a guy who was hired primarily to say nothing nice about America’s largest communications companies.  Employed, in essence, to belittle and degrade those companies’ ability to speak as they see fit.  Writing stories that, without any qualms, use friendly, dial-a-bite sources who take funds from the very same foundations that fund his work.  Dutifully citing facts from “expert” research underwritten, again, by his progressive overlords.

On top of this, the outfit that hired him – CPI – has the audacity to call his work and that of his cohorts “real journalism,” and then accept nice pats on the back by its progressive, mainstream partners who, in pure self-interest, give groups like CPI cover, further obscuring the line between outright lobbying and disinterested reporting.

Hypocrisy never boosts one’s integrity.  It looks like one’s got something to hide.  And CPI does – it’s essentially a lobbying wing of its progressive benefactors, camouflaged by foundation speech dollars to look like a bona fide news outlet.

The Koch brothers – we know where they stand, being reminded incessantly of their “evilness” by an angry, anti-conservative press corps.   These progressive “truth monopolists” who so dominate the marketplace of ideas would serve the quest for truth far better if they were as forthcoming about their own efforts and those of their cronies.

For as they tell us, monopoly – which limits choice and distorts the marketplace – stands against the public interest.

Media Freedom

What you need to know about credit protection services.

Shreds and Social Security

Are Credit Monitoring Services Worth It? — Krebs on Security

Brian Krebs has written an excellent discussion and analysis of credit monitoring / credit protection services, and some steps you need to take to protect yourself. You should read it.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

The Privacy Blog

Don’t be an Ostrich about open Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi router with lockBack in 2010 I blogged about Google’s legal troubles over capturing sensitive open Wi-Fi data with their Street View cars.

In a nutshell, Google was accused of violating the federal Wiretap Act when it intercepted the data on open Wi-Fi networks it passed. The purpose was to capture just the MAC addresses of the base stations to improve their enhanced location services. It appears that recording small amounts of data was accidental. Certainly if they were trying to collect data, they could easily have grabbed much more.

Google lost that case and is now appealing to the Supreme Court, hoping to overturn the decision.

Obviously it was inappropriate for a company like Google to drive around sniffing people’s Wi-Fi traffic, but they are not really the threat. What we all need to be worried about is hackers war driving our neighborhoods, either using our networks to hide their illegal activities, or capturing our personal information for their own purposes.

Whatever the legal outcome of whether it is “OK” to sniff someone’s open Wi-Fi traffic, the reality is that people do, and doing so is trivial. Anyone with a laptop can download free software and be sucking down all the Internet activity in their local coffee shop in just minutes. I think laws like this give a false sense of security. It is like saying that, as you walk down the sidewalk, you can not look in through your neighbor’s big picture window at night when they leave the curtains open.

Thinking that people are “not allowed” to sniff your open Wi-Fi just gives a false sense of security. What we need to do is make sure that ALL Wi-Fi is securely encrypted. Even public Wi-Fi should be encrypted, even if the password is “password” and is posted prominently on the wall. Using encryption changes the situation from looking though a window as you walk by to drilling a peep hole through the wall.

None of should be in denial about this. Open Wi-Fi is insecure. It will be sniffed.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to use an open Wi-Fi hotspot, for whatever reason, make sure you immediately establish a VPN to protect yourself. I might be biased, but I use Anonymizer Universal for this purpose.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

The Privacy Blog

Libération newspaper now fighting for its own ‘liberation’

Not a “brand” … 40 years of Libération on display in a gallery near les Halles, Paris,
last October. Photo: David Robie


JEAN-PAUL SARTRE would have turned in his grave over the fate of his cherished daily newspaper.

Founded by Sartre and Serge July more than four decades ago in the aftermath of the 1968 student riots in Paris, the left-leaning Libération has fallen
Café Pacific – David Robie | Media freedom and transparency

Most websites may already be completely pwned by the Heartbleed Bug


Image from

Heartbleed Bug

Researchers recently announced the discovery of an incredibly dangerous bug in the OpenSSL encryption library. That library is used by about two thirds of websites, and many VPNs and other secure communications services.

The problem is in a memory leak that allows an attacker to request heartbeat responses which will contain up to 64KB of memory, and to do so over and over without being detected. This has already been shown to be able to capture the server’s RSA secret key. That is the key used to authenticate communications with the clients, and to encrypt the session keys. Other data could be captured as well, but those keys are really the biggest threat.

An attacker with that key could perfectly impersonate the server, or run man in the middle attacks undetectably.

It is unknown if, or how often, this attack has been run in the wild. It is entirely possible that major players, like national intelligence services, may have known about this for some time, and could have been silently intercepting traffic to certain websites, potentially for over 2 years. We just don’t know. There is a call for researchers to set up test sites to detect this activity going forward, but there is no way to know if it happened in the past.

The solution is non-trivial. All affected services need to install the recently available patch to fix the underlying problem. They then need to address the possibility that their keys have been stolen. All server certificates need to be revoked, so clients will know to reject them, and new certificates created and distributed. This is likely to take time, and many sites will be very slow to respond.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

The Privacy Blog

Australia ‘shockingly close’ to oil companies in discredited Timor treaty

AUSTRALIAN government negotiators were “shockingly close” to the oil companies in a controversial maritime treaty signed with the emerging nation of Timor-Leste in 2006, it is claimed in a new documentary about the recent spy drama that has stirred allegations of industrial espionage by Canberra.

The ABC Four Corners investigation, “Drawing The Line”, by Marian Wilkinson and Peter Cronau,
Café Pacific – David Robie | Media freedom and transparency

EU Court: European Union Data Retention Directive Is Invalid

The Court of Justice of the European Union announced that it has ruled (pdf) that the EU’s Data Retention Directive is invalid. The court said: The Court observes first of all that the data to be retained make it possible, in particular, (1) to know the identity of the person with whom a subscriber or registered user […]
Privacy Lives


Go Big Blue!

Guardian (UK): Smart cities: are you willing to trade privacy for efficiency?

The Guardian reports onquestions of privacy concerning “smart” cities — where data is increasingly collected on the habits of citizens and residents: Privacy must play an instrumental role in any smart city strategy otherwise citizens might fear the introduction of other innovative technology, according to an executive at one of the world’s largest infrastructure companies. [...]
Privacy Lives

World Privacy Forum: The Scoring of America

The World Privacy Forum has released a new report, “The Scoring of America” (pdf), concerning new types of consumer scoring and how they can affect individuals. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction: To score is human. Ranking individuals by grades and other performance numbers is as old as human society. Consumer scores — numbers given [...]
Privacy Lives