A Digital Apartheid Is Upon Us

Facebook, Google, and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photograph. (Reuters)

Commentary – John Mills

Col. (Ret.) John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now—Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense.

It started innocuously. It was an acceptable drag coefficient from Facebook, just be careful what you say politically when you post something.

The quick and seemingly inexpensive brown boxes from Amazon were addictive, so just accept the sneers and derision of the self-appointed newspaper of record (subsidized by Jeff Bezos, the common owner of both).

Tweet away but be careful next time you were released from the penalty box.

Search all you want with Google, just ignore the first 100 returns that were algorithm-ed to shape your world view.

It’s been 10 years since the kindred dalliance between the Obama Administration and the titans of Silicon Valley began to form and solidify. I point to 2010 and the summer push for Cybersecurity legislation as when the alliance began to take shape.

The initial encounters were tepid and taken initially with baby steps, but now it’s difficult to tell the difference between the Democrat administrations and Big Tech. Now we know there is a price for this lifestyle we became accustomed to and the gleeful surrender of our data. You will be deleted if you do not conform.

Instead of working our alternative worldview and the cyber infrastructure to enable it over the last 10 years, we willingly traded freedom for convenience. Now what do we do to counter-act this groveling obeisance we’re forced into when we’re the majority of the population? We need to walk away and build our own future.

Lawfare

The foundational battleground of societal warfare waged by the public/private progressive alliance is the legal battlefield. Social progressives have refined this capability to an efficient, highly effective, and ferocious art form. The alliance between the Democrat administrations and Big Tech aligned further with a legion of non-profit organizations that are highly lawyerized and have a very mature, repeatable model on how to leverage civil rights laws and environmental laws far beyond their original letter, spirit, and intent.

Cancel culture, massive coercion of the business environment, and intimidation of public figures (with some exceptions) is the current high point of this art form. This progressive alliance has used lawfare as the vanguard of their color revolution to take over America.

I would posit one of the initial groups that refined lawfare from the left was the Southern Poverty Law Center. From that successful model, other activist groups moved onto other cause celebs such as the Nuclear Freeze movement of the 1980’s, the take down of Big Tobacco in the 1990’s, and endless environmental browbeating that goes into attack mode when science is used to upend their litigation gravy train. It will never end—why not? It’s been very successful (and very profitable).

Those being faced with this Digital McCarthyism need to relentlessly establish their own legal take down strategy, just like they did against Big Tobacco. Using the spirit of the Civil Rights movement and the 1964 Civil Rights Act (CRA) they must develop, refine, test, and improve the arguments that demonstrate that although political speech is not a protected class in the CRA, the sheer volume and magnitude of Big Tech’s actions are beginning to negatively affect substantive portions of protected classes established in that law.

Some states do provide some forms of protection in relation to political views. There should be more development of the use of the Rico Act, Equal Protection, and Anti-Trust arguments. It will take time and there will be some court losses, but just like they did, we need to relentlessly return over and over and over again, building upon little legal successes here and there. There is money to be made in these cases and after some success is shown that will release a ravenous pack of trial lawyers upon Big Tech.

Our Own Data Storage

Creating alternative hosting environments for data (i.e. data centers where our data is often stored) is perhaps an action more within immediate reach in the near future. There may be big names in data center hosting such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), but alternatives do exist. This is becoming more and more of a market-based commodity, so steering clear of providers inclined to be partisan combatants is wise.

The mobile access to our data (smart phones, tablets, etc.) is a little more challenging. The two current dominant environments are Android and Apple (IOS). With that dominance comes the ability to essentially determine which apps are compatible and which are allowed to operate in their environments.

In the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 chaos in Washington D.C., Twitter conducted great purges of users. Many immediately moved to Parler. Parler made a bad decision and assumed their App would be offered and maintained on these environments. When Android and Apple made decisions to not offer or maintain the Parler App, it brought Parler to an immediate halt.

Gab, Rumble, and others had developed their environments to be more old-school, web-based, and independent of Android and Apple and soon took many of the Twitter to Parler refugees. The scent of coordination between Twitter, Android, and Apple gives an opening to an anti-trust lawfare counterattack.

As dominant as Android and Apple may seem right now, their pre-eminence does not stretch that far into the past. And believe it or not, there are rising alternatives. In the fast-paced tech world, the peak of dominance is a transitory vapor that can come and go quickly.

Mobile alternatives are in the making, we have to vote with our dollars to help accelerate this evolution. Disruptive events such as 5G are always opportunities for those companies more agile, hungry, and adaptive. Android and Apple need to watch their rear-view mirrors.

Financial Systems

The growing partisan behavior by financial system providers to enforce their worldviews is perhaps the most disturbing part of recent events. This thinly veiled social activism, may have started by targeting gun sales, but is becoming a standard part of financial firm social activism and is being applied across a larger target set in support of broader issues.

Access to capital is the lifeblood of businesses and citizens, and social activists know this. These financial providers are showing bolder willingness to asphyxiate any form of opposition. The financial sector not only introduced measures to limit conservatives, but at the same time, provide support to activist groups such as BLM.

The all-in nature of these financial firms is craven. Because of this, a clarion call is sounded to establish new financial firms to ensure the full spectrum and diversity of society is serviced. Bank of America started small to ensure migrants received access to capital and financial services. It can be done again.

Taking from one of Jeff Bezo’s toys, let’s make sure democracy and our incredible republic do not die in the darkness of this oppressive Digital Apartheid.

We can begin this journey in simple things such as web browsing using alternatives such as Dissenter, Brave, and DuckDuckGo instead of the web browser that must not be named. The current Tech Titans started out small and grew giant. With a little bit of our coordinated effort they can be retired and become remembered only as questions in future versions of nostalgia trivia games. The sooner we start, the sooner it will happen.

Retired Col. John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now, Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense. @ColonelRETJOHN

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Source: A Digital Apartheid Is Upon Us

Parler CEO John Matze Announces His Termination

Parler co-founder and CEO John Matze in Washington on June 11, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Parler CEO John Matze announced late Wednesday that he has been terminated as the company’s CEO.

Matze said that the Parler board on Jan. 29 decided to terminate his position, adding that he did not participate in the decision.

The Parler board is controlled by Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer.

Matze said in a statement, “I understand that those who now control the company have made some communications to employees and other third parties that have unfortunately created confusion and prompted me to make this public statement.

“Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech, and my view of how the Parler site should be managed. For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation,” Matze added.

Epoch Times Photo
This illustration picture shows the social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone with its website in the background in Arlington, Va., on July 2, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

“Over the past few weeks, I have worked endless hours and fought constant battles to get the Parler site running but at this point, the future of Parler is no longer in my hands.”

Matze said that he plans on taking a few weeks off.

“After that, I’ll be looking for new opportunities where my technical acumen, vision, and the causes I am passionate about will be required and respected,” he said.

“I want to thank the Parler employees, the people on Parler, and Parler supporters for their tireless work and devotion to the company. They are an amazing group of diverse, hardworking, and talented individuals, and I have the utmost respect for them. Many of them have become my second family,” Matze added.

“I want to thank all the people of Parler that supported me and the platform. This has been the true American Dream: an idea from a living room to a company of considerable value. I’m not saying goodbye, just so long for now.”

In early January, Parler was removed from the Apple and Google‘s app stores over what the two big tech giants alleged was a lack of moderation by the platform of violent content posted by its users—a claim that Parler denies. Shortly after, Parler was taken offline by Amazon’s services due to what Amazon said was Parler’s “repeated violations” of Amazon’s terms of service.

This story is developing, please check back for updates.

Source: Parler CEO John Matze Announces His Termination

Media Company Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google, Facebook

The logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google on a smartphone in Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 9, 2020 (The Epoch Times)

A media company that operates several West Virginia newspapers is suing Google and Facebook for threatening the extinction of local newspapers across the country by their alleged anticompetitive business practices.

HD Media Company this week filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to determine whether the two Silicon Valley companies had violated anti-trust laws. The lawsuit claims Google had unlawfully exercised monopoly power of the digital advertising market, which has prevented newspapers from competing in the market and losing their primary source of revenue.

It also claims that Google and Facebook had “unlawfully conspired to engage in anticompetitive conduct,” through an alleged secret deal nicknamed “Jedi Blue.” Details of the alleged agreement were first revealed when 10 state attorneys general sued Google for multiple violations of federal and state antitrust and consumer protection laws.

According to a redacted version of the lawsuit (pdf) filed in December, Facebook announced in 2017 that it would try a new method of selling online advertising called “header bidding,” which would act as a threat of competition for Google. The lawsuit suggested Facebook eventually “curtailed its involvement” with the project after Google gave Facebook “information, speed, and other advantages in the [redacted] auctions that Google runs for publishers’ mobile app advertising inventory each month in the United States.”

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, who both say they’ve reviewed an unredacted version of the complaint, reported the alleged secret deal referred to in the lawsuit was code-named “Jedi Blue” by Google.

HD Media’s lawsuit claims that as a result of Google and Facebook’s alleged anticompetitive and monopolistic practices, newspapers in West Virginia and across the country are facing “a very real existential threat to their existence.”

“Without redress, these newspapers, and hence the citizens of West Virginia, may well end up in the ‘news desert,’” the lawsuit states (pdf).

It claims that Google’s monopoly has created an uneven playing field to compete for online advertising revenue. It says Google had integrated itself through numerous mergers and acquisitions to “enable dominion over all sellers, buyers, and middlemen in the marketplace.”

“The freedom of the press is not at stake; the press itself is at stake,” the filing states.

“As a result of falling revenues, newspapers are steadily losing the ability to financially support their newsrooms, which are costly to maintain but provide immense value to their communities. A robust local newsroom requires the financial freedom to support in-depth, sometimes years-long reporting, as well as the ability to hire and retain journalists with expertise in fundamentally local issues, such as coverage of state government.”

Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

HD media is seeking an order that declares Google and Facebook’s actions violated the law and blocks them from further engaging in such conduct. It also seeks damages for any injury caused.

HD media owns and operates newspapers such as The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington and Cabell County, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, The Wayne County News, The Putnam Herald, the Williamson Daily News, The Logan Banner, the Coal Valley News in Boone County, and The Independent Herald in Pineville.

Source: Media Company Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google, Facebook

Apple CEO Escalates Battle With Facebook Over Online Privacy

The Apple logo is seen on the window at an Apple Store in Beijing, China, on Jan. 7, 2019. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

SAN RAMON, California—Apple CEO Tim Cook fired off a series of thinly veiled shots at Facebook and other social media companies Thursday, escalating an online privacy battle pitting the iPhone maker against digital services that depend on tracking people to help sell ads.

“Too many are still asking the question ‘how much can we get away with?’ when we should be asking ‘what are the consequences?’” Cook said.

Speaking at a virtually held International Conference on Computers, Privacy & Data Protection, Cook said it’s “time to stop pretending that this approach doesn’t come with a cost—of polarization, lost trust and yes, of violence.”

Cook never specifically named Facebook or any other company. But his remarks left little doubt that his missives were aimed at the social media sites.

“A social dilemma cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe,” Cook added, referring to a Netflix documentary about technology’s—and especially social media’s—corrosive effects on society. That film took square aim at Facebook and how its algorithms manipulate its nearly 3 billion users to get them to look at the ads that generate most of its revenue.

China-US-Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the Economic Summit held for the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, on March 23, 2019. (Ng Han Guan/AFP/Getty Images)

Cook’s broadside came as Apple prepares to roll out a new privacy control in the early spring to prevent iPhone apps from secretly shadowing people. That puts the feature on course to come out after a more than six-month delay aimed at placating Facebook and other digital services that depend on such data surveillance to help sell ads.

Although Apple didn’t provide a specific date, the general timetable disclosed Thursday means the long-awaited safeguard known as App Tracking Transparency will be part of an iPhone software update likely to arrive in late March or some point in April.

After delaying the planned September introduction of the safeguard amid a Facebook-led outcry, Apple had previously said it would come out early this year. Apple released the latest schedule update as part of Data Privacy Day.

Apple has been holding off to give Facebook and other app makers more time to adjust to a feature that will require iPhone users to give their explicit consent to being tracked. Analysts expect a significant number of users to deny that permission once it requires their assent. Currently, iPhone users are frequently tracked by apps they install unless they take the extra step of going into iPhone settings to prevent it.

“Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps, in order to succeed,” Cook said. “Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it.”

Epoch Times Photo
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Oct. 23, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As a supplement to Cook’s remarks, Apple also released an 11-page report to illustrate how much apps can learn about their users in daily life.

Facebook stepped up its attacks on Apple’s new privacy control last month in a series of full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other national newspapers. That campaign suggested some free digital services will be hobbled if they can’t compile personal information to customize ads. On Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg questioned Apple’s motives for the changes, saying the iPhone maker “has every incentive” to use its own mobile platform to interfere with rivals to its own messaging app.

“Apple may say that they are doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests,” Zuckerberg said.

Google, which also relies on personal data to power the internet’s biggest ad network, hasn’t joined Facebook in its criticism of Apple’s forthcoming controls on tracking. Google profits from being the default search engine on the iPhone, a prized position for which it pays Apple an estimated $9 billion to $12 billion annually.

But Google warned in a Wednesday blog post that Apple’s new controls will have a significant impact on the iPhone ad revenue of other apps in its digital network. Google said a “handful” of its own iPhone apps will be affected by the new requirement, but plans to make changes to them so they won’t be affected by Apple’s new controls. It did not identify which apps.

“We remain committed to preserving a vibrant and open app ecosystem where people can access a broad range of ad-supported content with confidence that their privacy and choices are respected,” wrote Christophe Combette, group product manager for Google Ads.

Source: Apple CEO Escalates Battle With Facebook Over Online Privacy

First Amendment Rights Being Eroded by Technocrats: Director of Citizens for Free Speech

The logos of Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, in file photos. (Reuters)

The increased censorship of people’s views expressed on social media by Big Tech companies has been part of an orchestrated attack on the First Amendment, Patrick Wood, director and founder of Citizens for Free Speech, told The Epoch Times.

Wood believes that there is an agenda behind the censorship. It would be almost statistically impossible to attack simultaneously all five elements of the First Amendment: freedom of religion, free speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, Wood said in an interview for Epoch Times’ “Crossroads.”

All five of those “have been shattered to pieces in the last year and the attack had started actually before that probably five [or] six years ago,” Wood said, adding, “Free speech is hanging by a thread and the First Amendment is hanging by a thread.”

Wood said that it was unprecedented that three Big Tech companies in one day took down competitor Parler under the pretext of violating their policies, calling it collusion.

Apple and Google removed the social media platform Parler from their app stores, saying that the app would be suspended until they could moderate “egregious content.” Soon after, Amazon Web Services took the site down due to alleged violations.

Parler was taken down by those companies after civil unrest and acts of violence marred a largely peaceful protest at the Capitol building in Washington on Jan. 6.

Free speech has been at the heart of all human and economic progress in the last 200-300 years, Wood said. “When you curtail free speech it becomes regressive to society; in other words, you’re going backwards when you start to censor it,” he added.

Wood compared censoring speech on the Internet to electronic book burning. Every Marxist or fascist revolution takes over or squashes media first because they need to control communications before they proceed with the rest of the revolution, Wood explained.

The people in the technocratic core of Big Tech believe that they must silence any narrative which disagrees with their narrative, Wood said. And it is not limited to conservatives, he explained, providing the example of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., founder of the Board of Children’s Health Defense, who was also silenced for criticizing vaccine safety even though Kennedy is a liberal.

“They don’t want to hear an alternative narrative so they are squashing free speech in the process of shutting other people up from contradicting their own narrative, Wood said.

When attacks on First Amendment rights started about five years ago, similar policies had been openly advocated at the World Economic Forum (WEF) as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Wood explained.

Epoch Times Photo
World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab during the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 20, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution “is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres,” Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, wrote on the organization’s website.

Schwab also proposed the concept of the Great Reset to transform the world economy from “shareholder capitalism” to “stakeholder capitalism” which will harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution “to address health and social challenges.”

But the Great Reset is “warmed over technocracy from the 1930s,” Wood said.

columbia university cancels classes
The campus of Columbia University in Manhattan in a file photograph. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

What is Technocracy?

Technocracy was a political-economic movement that started in the early 1930s at Columbia University in New York.

“Engineers and scientists at that time believed capitalism was dead and that they and only they had some kind of a mandate to create a brand new economic system that was a resource-based economic system that would control the entire economy,” Wood said.

The concept of technocracy assumes that price cannot be used to control the abundance of goods because it decreases with the increase of abundance. Therefore a scientific method of balancing production and distribution must be used, according to a 1937 edition of The Technocrat magazine.

“Technocracy will distribute by means of a certificate of distribution available to every citizen from birth to death,” The Technocrat magazine states.

The movement failed when the economy recovered after the Great Depression, but it was revived in the early 1970s and it began to mature, Wood said, adding that what he called a global elite had embraced the idea that controlling the world’s resources would allow them to control the world’s economy.

Michael Rectenwald, a retired liberal arts professor at New York University, wrote for the Mises Institute that the planners of the Great Reset support driving ownership and control of the most important factors of production to those enrolled in stakeholder capitalism.

Stakeholders “include the enterprise’s owners and shareholders, customers, suppliers, collaborators of any kind, as well as the government and society, including the communities in which the company operates or which may in any way be affected by it,” according to a WEF report (pdf).

“The productive activities of said stakeholders, meanwhile, would be guided by the directives of a coalition of governments under a unified mission and set of policies, in particular those expounded by the WEF itself,” Rectenwald wrote.

“While these corporate stakeholders would not necessarily be monopolies per se, the goal of the WEF is to vest as much control over production and distribution in these corporate stakeholders as possible, with the goal of eliminating producers whose products or processes are deemed either unnecessary or inimical to the globalists’ desiderata for ‘a fairer, greener future.’ Naturally, this would involve constraints on production and consumption and likewise an expanded role for governments in order to enforce such constraints,” Rectenwald wrote.

Epoch Times Photo
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Oslo on Dec. 11, 2016. (Terje Bendiksby/AFP via Getty Images)

The technocracy idea was introduced to communist China in the 1970s by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the political scientist, co-founder of the Trilateral Commission, and the national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Wood said.

That caused a blending of the Chinese Communist Party and communism in general with “this technocratic system of social management, of total management of the economy and the people,” Wood explained.

“If you look deeper you see that there’s a group of people, a core of engineers and scientists, that are working to use high technology to capture the entire society, all of the people in it, and to control and engineer the economic system.”

Source: First Amendment Rights Being Eroded by Technocrats: Director of Citizens for Free Speech

Twitter Drops SPLC Following Controversy. But What About Facebook And Google?

Facebook, Google, Amazon Silent For Days After Twitter Drops SPLC

Author’s Comment: I have been personally attacked and labeled on the SPLC hate-watch list. My crime was supporting the Bundy Ranch Patriot Political Prisoners and their families during their unjustified incarceration while waiting for the trials that ultimately exonerated them. At one point I was also removed from Facebook for more than 2 months. It took the actions of an Attorney to have my account reinstated.

Twitter distanced itself from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) following reports suggesting that the group scams liberal donors out of money. Facebook has not yet revealed whether it plans on ending its partnership with the group.

Twitter appears to be one of the only big tech companies in Silicon Valley to completely divorce itself from the SPLC, an Alabama-based group that got slammed in March following reports it takes donors’ money while ignoring racial harassment. Facebook has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s repeated requests for comment about its affiliation with the SPLC.

“The SPLC is not a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council or a partner the company has worked with recently,” a source within Twitter told TheDCNF on the condition of anonymity. The company listed the SPLC as a “safety partner” working to combat “hateful conduct and harassment,” according to a June 2018 DCNF report.

Twitter also included the Trust and Safety Council, which “provides input on our safety products, policies, and programs,” the company’s policy page noted at the time. Twitter’s page no longer includes SPLC as a member helping to govern certain types of conduct. Facebook’s involvement with the group was apparently more intimate.

The SPLC is on a list of “external experts and organizations” that Facebook works with “to inform our hate speech policies,” Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told TheDCNF in June 2018. The company consults with outside organizations when developing changes to hate speech policies, he said at the time.

Budhraja declined to name all the outside groups working with Facebook but confirmed the SPLC’s participation. The SPLC accused Facebook in a May 2018 article of not doing enough to censor anti-Muslim hatred. That article did not disclose the SPLC’s working partnership with Facebook.

Amazon has not responded to TheDCNF’s repeated requests for comment after SPLC fired co-founder Morris Dees on March 13 over “inappropriate conduct.”

(RELATED: Twitter Backs Off Partnership With SPLC Amid Bombshell Reports. Amazon Stays Silent) 

Google was also dinged in 2018 for using the SPLC to assist YouTube in policing content on its platform. The left-wing non-profit group is one of the more than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” program, TheDCNF reported in June 2018. Google has also not yet responded to TheDCNF’s requests for information.

The group designated the Family Research Council a “hate group” in 2010 because of its occasional belligerent defense of traditional marriage. Media outlets often rely on the SPLC to craft stories.

CNN, for instance, published the group’s list of 900 hate groups in 2017 under the headline “Here Are All the Hate Groups Active in Your Area,” then was forced to modify the story after conservatives complained that the story effectively conflated conservatives with neo-Nazis. CNN maintains that the SPLC is one of the only groups that monitors hates groups.

Source ~ dailycaller.com/2019/04/15/splc-facebook-conservatives/