The Progressive Ensign

insights and analytics to build an economy that works for all

Tag: Democracy

Corporations Are Not Protecting Us from Identify Theft


There is a contract between users and the online service provider that our privacy and identity will be protected called a User Agreement.  When Internet platform providers do not protect our privacy and account information they are violating the agreement and should be held legally accountable. These voluminous agreements are completely written from the company point of view forcing the user to turn over content rights to the platform provider.  This is just not fair it is our content we created it, like writing with a pen, the pen company does not own the article I just wrote. Neither should Internet platform providers like Google, Facebook and Apple be allowed to do whatever they want with the content I create – they didn’t create it and should not own it.

We bring this starting point up because in the latest data breach announced belatedly by Facebook of 50 million users is another case in point.  Executives causally looked at the problem as their spokesman would not even call it a breach because ‘no passwords were broken into’ no instead Facebook just gave access to Cambridge Analytica and then sent a form asking if Cambridge had deleted the data, the respondent checked a box that said Yes.  Facebook never bothered to do the due diligence on the firm to see if the 50 million records were actually deleted that to begin with the firm never should have had access.

Source: Identity Theft Resource Center – 2017

The majority of the breaches are into businesses while banking and credit institutions are bringing down the number of incidents.  Yet, the percentage of incidents that involve social security and credit card numbers is holding steady as hacking into systems increases. Experts at the Identity Theft Resource Center estimate for 2017 that 171 million records compromised, with a 44 % increase from 2016.  Based on announced incidents the 171 million records compromised is probably on the low side of all the incidents during the year.

Today, Orbitz announced a breach into payment records for 850,000 users, Equifax disclosed last fall that 148 million users had their payment records compromised, though now they say it was ‘only partial driver’ license numbers and names’, not social security numbers or full drivers’ licenses or credit card numbers.  Yahoo discovered that in 2013 over 1 billion user accounts were compromised 2 years later.  The list goes on and on, what is clear is that the online industry is approaching user privacy and security in too causal a way.

Next Steps:

During the Obama administration a bill was introduced to strengthen privacy protections and make corporations accountable for data breaches.  Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has introduced a bill to force credit reporting agencies to pay fines when data breaches occur, providing immediate disclosure and tools for remedying the problem to consumers.  Senator Warner also introduced a bill to require that credit agencies make credit freezing services available free of charge. Firms like LifeLock actually had an agreement with Equifax on a per user basis to make money from the breach when Equifax users signed up for identity protection.

Plus, we propose a complete review of all online User Agreements to force platform providers to insert clauses protecting user data from hacks with accountability, noting that content is user owned and allowing for class action law suits in the event of a breach to remedy the damage to users who need to repair their credit records and financial information from identity theft.

GOP Administration Unreality and Policies Are Creating an Authoritarian Executive Branch – Dangerous to Our Democracy and Economy

(Editor Note: this is the fifth post in a series examining the policies of the new GOP administration)

“How will what confusion takes for truth
In any sense be different from a mirage
Things, then bodied forth by magic spells,
And that which is displayed by dint of causes,
Whence have these arisen? We should ask ;
And where they go to, we should examine!”

Shantideva – 700 AD

The Story:

The GOP White House is employing campaign tactics of intimidation, dis-information, half-truths, bullying, scapegoating and chaos to govern the country.  Democratic governing is different.  Governing requires thoughtful leadership, an ability to build consensus to formulate policies and lead large bureaucracies. Plus, we live in a tightly integrated global economy built over the past 70 years where any broken economic link will unleash a negative domino effect worldwide and back to us.

The administration’s stream of falsehoods creates a world of unreality to make their policies look like they are fixing problems which in reality don’t exist.  The White House is trying to convince us that their delusional world is real with a constant stream of falsehoods including:

POTUS 45 actually won the popular vote because 2.9 million votes in California were fraudulent votes by illegal immigrants (no evidence presented for this allegation)

Millions of people attended his inauguration more than Obama (photos provide evidence the crowd was much smaller)

Buses of liberals were sent from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to tip the vote (no evidence presented)

Immigrants are taking US worker jobs (in fact immigrants are 2x more likely to be entrepreneurs starting companies and creating jobs for US workers, plus immigrants are the fastest growing segment of our labor force)

The main reason manufacturing jobs were lost was companies moved these jobs overseas (research shows that 88% of all manufacturing jobs over the past 10 years were lost due to automation)

Old manufacturing jobs can be brought back by just browbeating companies to bring them back (jobs are automated overseas too, it is highly unlikely they will brought back – it is too expensive a transition)

All Muslims are bad people because a few terrorists are if this faith, and need to be monitored and barred from entering the country (Muslims are good citizens, only a very few extremists are terrorists – not more so than another other religious or racial group)

The economy was a mess when POTUS got it (GDP at 2.1%, unemployment at 4.8%, unemployment claims at lowest rate in 8 years, good but still highest level of income inequality since the 1980s)

The unemployment rate is 46% (not even when discouraged workers and those who have quit looking for work are added in is about 9%)

Most refugees are terrorists, and will harm us (no evidence for this allegation)

Vaccines cause autism (only one study proposed this link, which has been debunked by many scientific papers from recognized medical researchers since)

The list goes on as the Washington Post counts 132 false or misleading claims in the first 33 days of the presidency.  Where did all this disinformation come from?  Our President does very little reading but likes to get his news from television, social media and blogs – like Infowars. Infowars is growing fast from just a handful of staff two years ago to 50 – 75 people today. Quantcast in January reported, Infowars had 8.7 million global visitors with 50 million page views.  Ad revenue is growing from water purification companies, foods supplement firms and virility enhancer promoters. The ultra-right blog is edited by Alex Jones, who is a conspiracy theorizing, provocateur who in the past threw out allegations like:  9/11 was an inside job, the Sandy Hook shooting was a ‘fake’ and in 2015 said mainstream media were the ‘enemy of the people’.

So it was not a surprise last week when POTUS tweeted: “ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and the New York Times were the enemy of the American people”.  Carl Bernstein, who helped break the Nixon Watergate story at the Washington Post, warned: “Trump’s attacks on the American press as ‘enemies of the American people’ are more treacherous than Richard Nixon’s attacks on the press. There is no civic consensus in this country like there was at the time of Watergate about acceptable presidential conduct. Trump is out there on his own, leading a demagogic attack on the institutions of free democracy. We are into terrible authoritarian tendencies.”

Wake up America thus is a fight for our democracy! This admin does not want a democracy for all, only a government for the elite. The oligarchy has now placed their leaders in charge of Executive branch departments and is determined establish rules to keep them in power for years to come.

The oligarchy has embraced falsehoods and unreality as tools for obtaining and maintaining power.  This demagogic behavior creates a dangerous situation where credibility will be crucial to managing a crisis requiring public support.   Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President Bush and a participant of his National Security Council, declares “No matter how clever they think it is to attack the very notion of truth itself, a time will come when they want people to give the president some kind of credit for being truthful when the evidence is not in front of us, that they will not get.”

The Solution:

We can’t treat this situation like business as usual for the Democratic Party.  We need to setup an opposition shadow government and cabinet. The British have a long history using this style of opposition – we can learn from their approach. We need to be on the mainstream media, blog sites and social media with alternatives to the demagogic attacks being launched every day.  We need to drive the narrative on where our country is today and the real problems it faces with solutions that work for all. The Progressive Platform that Democrats adopted for the 2016 Presidential election is a good place to start, with updates focused on building a jobs economy for upset inland voters who feel the party left them out of the plan. We need to bring together key leaders, workers, researchers and political leaders into a series of regional jobs summits.  Define solutions then go on the campaign trail to win support for those regional job plans. We need to be building coalitions with independents and the Trump Regrets voters.  We need to connect all the resistance and progressive positive energy into political power. Whatever we focus on gets bigger to turn the tide and win majorities again!

Finally it helps to step back a moment, maybe we start by agreeing on the weather:


(Editor Note: references for this post are in the Research tab – under GOP Unreality)


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