GOOGLE faces slap on wrist for numerous Breaches and other Crimes
by quill Saturday, Apr 30 2011, 3:21pm
Spying Search Engine (CIA partnership) Surveillance and Data Trawling Juggernaut GOOGLE faces a $50 million slap on wrist lawsuit for illegal location tracking; however, with the CIA in tow and its overall Billions in profits, $50m amounts to very little. Surely it is high time Corporate CEOs were JAILED for illegal activities -- fines are clearly NOT strong enough disincentives, as they do not impact Executives directly responsible for the crimes committed. Restoring social integrity and eliminating government and judicial corruption is as easy as enforcing the LAW and dispensing appropriate sentences/PENALTIES!
BP, after paying out Billions in compensation and cleanup costs, continued to post PROFITS in the latest quarter. The opulent lifestyles of BP Executives have not altered one iota! Clearly, monetary ‘penalties’ are INAPPROPRIATE in today’s world of OBSCENE PROFITS and DISPROPORTIONATE WEALTH. Goldman Sachs/Banking, Google, Apple and other Executives engaged in outrageous invasions of privacy and other ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES MUST be given penalties that create STRONG DISINCENTIVES. Electing Independent Representatives of the PEOPLE in ALL government elections would clearly assist in restoring morality and integrity to government and eliminating corruption in important social institutions. [Whatever you do NEVER vote for any major party in any election!]
Proof of government and judicial corruption is evidenced by the shameful FACT that CRIMINAL Wall St. Executives continue to laugh at the public while they shower themselves in bonuses. Also, by the fact that all KNOWN war criminals in the current and previous administration have not yet been held accountable for their heinous, mass murdering crimes against humanity! Understand, IN A REAL REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW! That applies to the current crop of white-collar criminals and the corrupt politicians that serve them today!
Report on Google from ‘ars technica’ follows:
Google faces $50 million lawsuit over Android Location Tracking
[Be aware that Google will background this article in searches, as it does with so many other articles that increase SOCIAL AWARENESS and demand the RESTORATION of JUSTICE and a fairer, more moral society. You are able to assist in opposing the criminal activities of nefarious Corporations and corrupt governments by linking, posting and emailing this and other relevant articles to friend and foe alike – fight back by increasing social awareness.]
by Chris Foresman
Google and Apple have both been in the news lately over details of how both companies' mobile operating systems store and transmit geolocation data. Following a class-action suit brought by two Tampa men targeting Apple over alleged user tracking, Google is facing a similar class action lawsuit filed in Detroit on Wednesday.
Last week it was revealed that iOS devices cache a large amount of location data in a file that is backed up to users' computers. The file is hidden from normal access on iPhones and iPads, but is unencrypted, and unless users also opt to encrypt iOS backups in iTunes, the file is also unencrypted. While someone would need physical access to either device to get the information, concerns were raised that the information could be used to track individuals, thereby compromising their privacy.
Apple later explained that the data was a cache of nearby cell tower and WiFi access point locations downloaded from Apple, which iOS devices can use to more quickly narrow down a users location when GPS signals are weak or nonexistent. The company admitted that the cache was designed to collect more data than was necessary, and said that an upcoming iOS update would restrict the size, encrypt it on the device, and keep the data from being backed up to users' computers when syncing with iTunes.
Furthermore, Apple explained iOS devices do in fact collect GPS coordinates for cell tower locations and WiFi basestations to expand and refine Apple's database if users elect to send anonymous diagnostic data to Apple when setting up a new device. That data is periodically sent to Apple—about every 12 hours, according to a letter sent to Congress last year. The data is encrypted and does not include any device IDs, making it impossible for Apple to track any particular user with this information.
Last week developers also revealed that Android devices keep a similar cache of cell tower and WiFi data, though Android limits the amount of data to 50 recently accessed cell towers and 200 recently accessed WiFi networks. Like iOS devices, a person would need to "root" (similar to "jailbreaking") an Android device to get the data, but in contrast to iPhones this data isn't synced to a computer.
More disconcerting, however, is the fact that Android devices collect "its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour," according to research by security expert Samy Kamkar. Google said it uses this data for a variety of uses, but unlike Apple, Android attaches a unique ID number to the data. While that ID number is effectively random and can't be directly linked to a particular device or user, it is possible to analyze such data and correlate it to particular individuals using increasingly advanced "deanonymization" techniques.
Detroit area residents Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski filed a class action lawsuit against Google over concerns that the location data that Android devices send to Google "several times per hour" is tied to a unique (though random) device ID. The lawsuit further alleges that this data is sent to Google unencrypted. "The accessibility of the unencrypted information collected by Google places users at serious risk of privacy invasions, including stalking," according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs believe that Google's actions violate the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, various state consumer protection laws, as well as "common law rights" to privacy.
"It is unconscionable to allow Google to continue unlawfully and without proper consent to extensive tracking of Plaintiffs and proposed Class members," according to the complaint. "If Google wanted to track the whereabouts of each of its products' users, it should have obtained specific, particularized informed consent such that Google consumers across America would not have been shocked and alarmed to learn of Google's practices in recent days."
The lawsuits asks the court to require Google to either give up tracking Android users or to clearly inform users of "its true intentions about tracking," including whether that information is released to third partis are used for marketing. It further seeks monetary damages "in excess of $50,000,000.00" as well as punitive damages on top of that amount.
Both Apple and Google plan to attend a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law on May 10 to discuss the very issues called into question in the lawsuit. Representatives from the US Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Center for Democracy and Technology, and others will talk about what the latest mobile technology means for privacy and the law. Justin Brookman, who will be testifying at the hearing for the CDT, believes the law needs to be updated to account for the reality of modern mobile technology.
The best way to address these cross-platform, cross-industry questions is through public policy," Brookman recently wrote in an editorial on CNN.com. "We need legislation that establishes fair information practices for commercial collection, disclosure and use of all consumer data—but especially for sensitive data, like geolocation information—and we need the courts and Congress to update the rules for governmental access, to require a judicial warrant for tracking the location of cell phones and other mobile communications devices."
© 2011 Condé Nast Digital
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Oil bosses rake in record profits as US economy stalls
by Patrick Martin via stan - WSWS Saturday, Apr 30 2011, 5:48pm
Exxon-Mobil, the world’s biggest and most profitable corporation, raked in a staggering $10.7 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2011, the company reported Thursday. The figure was a 69 percent increase over the same quarter last year, and the highest quarterly profit since 2008, the last time oil prices topped $100 a barrel.
The company’s total revenues hit $114 billion in the first quarter, making it likely that in 2011 it will break its 2008 record of $458 billion, and could become the first oil company to reach half a trillion dollars in revenue. Exxon-Mobil’s revenues exceed the Gross Domestic Product of all but 18 of the 194 countries listed by the World Bank.
The profit figure for Exxon-Mobil was only the most obscene of a flood of multi-billion-dollar earnings reports from the major oil companies. Shell’s profits rose 22 percent to $6.9 billion, while the profits of ConocoPhillips rose 44 percent to $3 billion.
One year after the Gulf oil disaster, BP posted a first-quarter profit of $7.1 billion, an increase of 17 percent. Occidental Petroleum saw its profits soar 46 percent to $1.55 billion in the first quarter, while Apache Corporation netted $1.1 billion, an increase of 51 percent.
Contrary to the free-market mythology embraced by the Obama administration, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the corporate-controlled American media, the record oil profits were not a reward for superior performance in the production of petroleum and its derivatives.
Nearly all the major oil companies actually produced and sold less oil and gas in the first three months of 2011 than in previous quarters, but they charged far higher prices. Exxon-Mobil was the only major firm reporting Thursday whose output actually rose, largely because of its acquisition of the natural gas producer XTO.
Shell’s oil and gas output was down 3 percent, output by ConocoPhillips was down 7 percent and BP output down 11 percent. Apache’s production remained flat: its 24 percent increase in revenues exactly matched the 24 percent increase in crude oil prices during the same period.
The price of crude oil has risen steadily since the beginning of the year, spurred on by increasing demand from China and other Asian countries, and by the mounting conflicts in the Middle East, which have cut off oil exports from Libya entirely, and sporadically threatened output at smaller suppliers, including Egypt, Sudan and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms.
An additional factor is the declining value of the dollar, since most oil market transactions are conducted in the US currency. The value of the US currency fell 68 percent during the eight years of the Bush administration. Since Obama took office less than two and a half years ago, it has fallen a further 43 percent. The dollar prices of many commodities are soaring as a result: gold is over $1,500 an ounce, silver nearly $48 an ounce, and oil topping $120 a barrel in the spot market.
Speculation in the oil futures markets is a colossal contributing factor in this price run-up, although one largely downplayed by the US government and media. One recent analysis by the investment bank Goldman Sachs—which knows something about manipulating markets—estimated that speculative bidding had pushed the price of a barrel of oil to a point $27 above its “natural” market price.
With world oil production nearly 90 million barrels a day, this speculators’ “tax” would amount to $2.4 billion a day skimmed off by the financial swindlers, or a staggering $876 billion a year. The figure is a useful one to recall, the next time right-wing advocates of austerity budgets claim that there is “no money” to meet social needs like education, healthcare and pensions.
In the United States, the rapid rise in the price of gasoline, now over $4 a gallon in many areas, acts as an enormous drag on the economy, particularly in slowing down consumer spending. The Energy Information Agency said this week that gas prices across the country averaged $3.88 a gallon, up 81 cents a gallon since the year began.
Tens of millions of workers have no alternative but to drive long distances to their jobs, given the size of the country and the absence of public transportation. The additional money they must spend on gasoline is not available to provide other necessities for their families.
According to one report, “Rising gas prices are draining most of the extra money that Americans are receiving this year from a Social Security payroll tax cut. That’s a major reason why consumer spending cooled off in the January-March quarter. Consumers boosted spending at a 2.7 percent pace, down from the previous quarter’s 4 percent pace and the weakest since last summer.”
The US Commerce Department reported Thursday that the economic growth rate fell from 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the worst result since the financial tremors that accompanied the European debt crisis early last year. High gas prices and extraordinarily bad weather were the leading factors in slowing consumer spending, while both state and federal spending also declined. Investment in housing fell 4.1 percent.
Consumer prices overall rose at a 3.8 percent annual rate. Jobs continue to be scarce. More people signed up for unemployment benefits last week, the second such weekly increase in April. The Labor Department said applications rose 25,000 to 429,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The four-week moving average rose to 408,500, the third consecutive weekly increase, bringing that figure back over the 400,000 mark for the first time in two months.
Two new polls showed the vast majority of Americans feel the US economy remains in recession, despite official assurances that the recession ended in June 2009. The Gallup survey found that only 27 percent thought the economy was growing. The McClatchy-Marist poll showed 57 percent disapproval of the economic management of the Obama administration. Some 71 percent said the US was in recession, and 57 percent said they thought the economic crisis would get worse before it improved, up sharply from 39 percent in January.
In the face of rising popular anger over corporate profit-gouging and long-term unemployment, the politicians of both big business parties are engaged in publicity stunts and mutual mudslinging, aimed at disguising their unanimous support for corporate interests.
Speaking at a New York City fundraiser Wednesday—where his audience was heavily drawn from Wall Street—President Obama singled out $4 billion in oil company tax incentives for attack, saying the subsidies should be rescinded and the money used to develop renewable energy.
“That’s profits coming from your pocket into their pocket,” he said, a populist flourish that was particularly ludicrous given the well-heeled character of his audience. These investment bankers, hedge fund managers and other big-money Democratic Party contributors rake in more from oil company dividends than they would ever spend on gasoline, even for chauffeured limousines.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged to bring up a bill to repeal the tax breaks immediately, although the action was an empty gesture on two counts. First, there is not the slightest chance of a tax increase on oil companies passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Second, the repeal of $4 billion in tax breaks would be a drop in the bucket―about one month’s profits for Exxon-Mobil alone.
Nonetheless, ExxonMobil fired back in an angry press release declaring, “We understand that it’s simply too irresistible for many politicians in times of high oil prices and high earnings―they feel they have to demonize our industry.”
Fox News cynically reported this manifesto under the headline, “ExxonMobil Fights Back Against Class Warfare.” In the upside-down world of American capitalist politics, it is not “class warfare” when the rich rob the working people; that term is reserved for anyone who would call attention to the robbery, or, even worse, call on the workers to reclaim the stolen goods.
There is no danger of that from either the Democrats or the Republicans. Both parties are obedient servants of corporate America, including the oil giants, their occasional and cynical rhetoric about “excessive” profits and “fairness” notwithstanding.
Even top congressional Republicans felt obligated to join in the charade this week. House Speaker John Boehner, asked about the oil tax incentives by an ABC television interviewer Monday, said, “Certainly I think it’s something we ought to be looking at.” Boehner later tried to backpedal, with a spokesman explaining, “The speaker made clear in the interview that raising taxes was a nonstarter, and he’s told the president that. He simply wasn’t going to take the bait and fall into the trap of defending Big Oil companies.”
On Thursday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, speaking before a group of constituents in Waterford, Wisconsin, called for an end to oil company subsidies. Ryan has been under fire at constituent meetings for authoring a plan adopted by the House Republicans to phase out Medicare and Medicaid, and tried to deflect this hostility with a demagogic appeal to “get rid of corporate welfare.”
Both capitalist parties are deadly serious about the onslaught against social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, while making rhetorical sallies against corporate privilege to provide an illusion of “fairness.” Such pretenses are worse than threadbare, and working people are increasingly seeing through them and looking for an alternative.
The only serious answer to the profit-gouging of the oil giants and the political maneuvers of their Democratic and Republican apologists is the development of an independent mass political movement of the working class. Workers must demand the expropriation of the oil companies and their transformation into public utilities. Their vast wealth must be turned into a social resource for the entire population, as part of a systematic program of socialist measures to provide jobs, decent living standards and vital social services, while enabling the production of energy that can meet social needs and at the same time protecting the environment.
© 2011 World Socialist Web Site
Court Dismisses 9/11 Suit against Bush Officials
by Rady Ananda via gan - Global Research Saturday, Apr 30 2011, 5:58pm
Rather than judicially review of significant evidence in the events of September 11, 2001, on April 27, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of an Army Specialist’s complaint against former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers.
One of Plaintiff April Gallop’s attorneys, William Veale, didn’t know whether to relate the decision to “Kafka, Orwell, Carroll, or Huxley,” referring to the absurdity and dearth of reason emanating from the court regarding the deadliest attack on U.S. soil the nation has ever faced.
“The Court’s decision, analogous to reviewing an Indictment in a liquor store hold-up without mentioning the guy walking in with a gun, refuses to acknowledge even the existence of the three defendants much less what they were doing that morning or saying about it afterwards,” Veale added.
Of the three judges on the panel, John Mercer Walker, Jr. is first cousin of former President George H.W. Bush and first cousin once removed of George W. Bush, who used 9/11 to manipulate public emotion to support passage of the unconstitutional PATRIOT Acts and waging illegal wars of aggression in the Middle East. According to Wikipedia, Walker shares a grandfather with the 41st president, George Herbert Walker, whose daughter married Prescott Bush. A motion to force Judge Walker’s removal from the case was denied, despite a clear conflict of interest.
The lawsuit, prepared by the Center for 9/11 Justice, accuses the defendants of conspiring to facilitate the terrorist attacks of 9/11 that killed 3000 Americans and which has resulted in the deaths of many more, due to the toxicity of the clean-up conditions at Ground Zero. The plaintiff and her son were both injured in the attack on the Pentagon, multiple videos of which the government has refused to release to the public.
Ignoring crucial evidence like the total collapse of WTC7 though not hit by a plane on September 11, the whereabouts of and statements made by the Defendants on 9/11, and the presence of thermitic material in the rubble of the Twin Towers, the court ludicrously affirmed the lower court’s finding that the case was “not plausible” and “the product of cynical delusion and fantasy.”
Additionally, the court filed an Order to Show Cause for Sanctions amounting to $15,000 for filing a “frivolous” suit, which the Center for 9/11 Justice plans to appeal.
Meanwhile, nearly 1,500 professional architects, engineers and scientists continue to assert the physical impossibility of all three World Trade Center buildings collapsing in near free fall as a result of burning jet fuel. Indeed, it is the government’s conspiracy version which is implausible, “fanciful, fantastic and delusional.”
The bravery of April Gallop in her attempt to expose the truth is as laudable as the obvious official corruption is contemptible. An unbiased judicial review of the events surrounding 9/11 will not be found in the United States. But refusal to do so only heightens global suspicion. The conspiracy and cover-up was so poorly executed that the vast majority of the planet’s population doubts the official version of events.
© 2011 Rady Ananda, Global Research
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