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thenexusofprivacy

@thenexusofprivacy@lemmy.sdf.org

The Nexus Of Privacy looks at the connections between technology, policy, strategy, and justice. We’re also on the fediverse at @thenexusofprivacy

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Congress’s push to protect kids online is at a crossroads (KOSA, US-focused) ( www.washingtonpost.com )

Legislators are considering attaching KOSA (the anti-LGBTQ+ censorship bill, aka the Kids Online Safety Act) to must-pass legislation authorizing the FAA. As EFF points out, the latest version of KOSA is still a censorship bill....

Congress’s push to protect kids online is at a crossroads (KOSA, US-focused) ( www.washingtonpost.com )

Legislators are considering attaching KOSA (the anti-LGBTQ+ censorship bill, aka the Kids Online Safety Act) to must-pass legislation authorizing the FAA. As EFF points out, the latest version of KOSA is still a censorship bill....

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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The FBI routinely uses its authority under FISA Section 702 to get information on Americans without a warrant, ignoring the processes that are supposed to be put in place to protect people. This has nothing to do with the FISA Title III authority that was used to get information about Carter Page, no matter what you and Trump think. If you warrantless surveillance of Americans is good, then by all means you should indeed be cheering this vote -- because they extended the scope of what information they can get at without a warrant.

If on the other hand you think civil liberties are worth protecting, then you might take a moment to stop to think that there was bipartisan support, including progressive Democrats, for introducing reforms like a warrant requirement while still keeping the ability to surveil foreign agents in place. But opinions differ, there are plenty of people in both parties who don't think civil liberties are worth protecting, so if you're one of them you've got a lot of company.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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From the article:

FISA 702 warrantless surveillance purports to target only foreign subjects, but in practice sweeps in a huge amount of Americans’ communications. This allows intelligence agencies to exploit a backdoor search loophole: the FBI, CIA, and NSA conduct “U.S. person queries” of FISA 702 records to deliberately pull up Americans’ private messages, all without a warrant or any court approval. This loophole has led to systemic abuse, involving thousands of improper queries each year, including those directed at protesters, campaign donors, journalists, lawmakers, and — in one case — the online dating matches of an analyst.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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They did -- FISA shouldn't be extended without reforms. All the scare tactics about how "oh noes national security is at risk if FISA isn't extended!!!!" are garbage; if Section 702 lapses, existing certifications are already approved for the next year, and the government has other authorities it can do the same kind of surveillance with.

As Howie Klein says on Down With Tyranny FISA Was Always Bad Legislation... It's Still Bad Even If Trump And MAGA Suddenly Oppose It Too

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Yeah, all the scare tactics about how "oh noes national security is at risk if FISA isn't extended!!!!" are garbage; if Section 702 lapses, existing certifications are already approved for the next year, and the government has other authorities it can do the same kind of surveillance with. And the surveillance he's complaining about wasn't even under this section of FISA -- it's the Title III stuff which doesn't need to be reauthorized!

As Howie Klein says on Down With Tyranny FISA Was Always Bad Legislation... It's Still Bad Even If Trump And MAGA Suddenly Oppose It Too

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Back in December, they tried to get an even WORSE FISA extension bill through as part of the NDAA -- without even a vote on it -- and the pushback was strong enough that they abandoned the plan. In 2020 grassroots activism kept them from rauthorizing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act . In 2015 grassroots activism kept them from doing a straight reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. So there really is a track record of it being effective on this issue.

The key dynamic here is that both parties are split on the issue -- progressive Dems along with Libertarian and MAGA Republicans all favor reform. So even representatives in a district that one party always wins have to consider the politics: Republicans wanting to keep their MAGA cred against MAGA challengers, Democrats facing progressive challengers (or progressive Dems who need strong support from their base against centrist challengers). Plus there are a handful of centrist Dems in purple districts who might vote the right way if it can pick up some Republican votes.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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That'd be great. And there's precedent, too: back in 2005 Microsoft dropped support for a Washington state gay rights bill but employee pressure led them to reverse their stance. But all the tech layoffs tend to have a chilling effect on employee advocacy, so we shall see.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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They get to position themselves as looking out for the children.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Totally agreed that it opens things up to censorship in general and doesn't actually make kids safer. Charlie Jane Anders' The Internet Is About to Get A Lot Worse sets it in the context of book banning. The LGBTQ part is in the headlines because one big focus of the advocacy against it is highlighting that Democrats who claim to be pro-LGBTQ should not be backing this bill. This has been effective enough that Senators Cantwell and Markey both mentioned it in the committee markup, although it's certainly far from the only problem with the bill.

Sec. 11 (b): Enforcement By State Attorneys General covers this. It's hard to find -- the bill text starts out with all the text removed from the previous amendment, and if you click on the "enforcement" link in the new table of context it takes you to the old struck-out text. It's almost like they want to make it as hard as possible for people to figure out what's going on!

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Great point. Mike Masnick has said that he wouldn't be surprised if Meta also comes out in support, for similar reasons.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Yep. There's money to be made here!

A script for asking Republican Senators to stop KOSA (US Politics) ( lemmy.sdf.org )

The horrible Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) is once again moving forward in Congress, so now's a key time to contact your Senators and Representative. https://stopkosa.com has a summary of why this bill is so bad, including its harmfulness on LGBTQ+ youth, as well as a form to contact your Senators. But Republicans are just...

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Yes, exactly. For Senators who support LGBTQ+ rights and reproductice rights (or at least say that they do), focusing on the threat anti-trans AGs can be very effective; In Washington state, we put enough pressure on Cantwell last fall about the LGBTQ+ issues that she mentioned it in the hearing (as did Markey). 5calls and EFF's scripts and emails are written to appeal to legislators from both parties (so just talk about the harms to kids and threats from state AGs in general terms), which makes sense for a one-size-fits-all form, but customizing it to your Senators' priorities can make a lot of sense.

Mastodon and today's fediverse are unsafe by design and unsafe by default ( privacy.thenexus.today )

Even though millions of people left Twitter in 2023 – and millions more are ready to move as soon as there’s a viable alternative – the fediverse isn’t growing.1 One reason why: today’s fediverse is unsafe by design and unsafe by default – especially for Black and Indigenous people, women of color, LGBTAIQ2S+...

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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As I say in the article:

Despite these problems, many people on well-moderated instances have very positive experiences in today’s fediverse. Especially for small-to-medium-size instances, for experienced moderators even Mastodon’s tools can be good enough.

However, many instances aren’t well-moderated. So many people have very negative experiences in today’s fediverse.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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I’ll get to that in a followon post, but one straightforward way to make progress is to change some of the defaults

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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From the article:

I’m using LGBTQIA2S+ as a shorthand for lesbian, gay, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, bi, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, agender, two-sprit, and others (including non-binary people) who are not straight, cis, and heteronormative. Julia Serrano’s trans, gender, sexuality, and activism glossary has definitions for most of terms, and discusses the tensions between ever-growing and always incomplete acronyms and more abstract terms like “gender and sexual minorities”. OACAS Library Guides’ Two-spirit identities page goes into more detail on this often-overlooked intersectional aspect of non-cis identity.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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If you read the article and follow the links you’ll find plenty of evidence. The Whiteness of Mastodon, A breaking point for the queer community, and Dogpiling, weaponized content warning discourse, and a fig leaf for mundane white supremacy are three places to start.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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I didn’t say the fediverse has come a long way. I said that many people on well-moderated instances have good experiences – which has been true since 2017. In general though I’d say there was a brief period of rapid progress on this front in the early days of Mastodon in 2016/2017, and since then progress has been minimal. Lemmy for example has much weak moderation functionality than Mastodon. Akkoma, Bonfire, Hubzilla etc are better but have minimal adoption.

And @originallucifer Ipeople have been complaining about this for years – it was an issue in 2011 with Diaspora, 2016 with Gnu social, 2017 with Mastodon, etc etc etc – so it’s not a matter of fediverse software as a whole being in its infancy. Even Lemmy’s been around for almost four years at this point. It’s just that the developers haven’t prioritized this.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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If you’re looking for more of a technical deep dive, check out Threat modeling Meta, the fediverse, and privacy

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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At some level you’re not missing anything: there are obvious solutions, and they’re largely ignored. Blocking is effective, and it’s a key part of why some instances actually do provide good experiences; and an allow-list approach works well. But, those aren’t the default; so new instances don’t start out blocking anybody. And, most instances only block the worst-of-the-worst; there’s a lot of stuff that comes from large open-registration instances like .social and .world that relatively few instances block or even limit.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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It’s tricky … many people do use “queer” as an umbrella term, but a lot of trans people don’t like being lumped under that, and some lesbian, gay, bi, and agender people don’t consider themselves queer. There aren’t great answers.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Thanks, glad you liked it. Agreed that blocklists (while currently necessary) have big problems, it would really be great if we had other good tools and they were much more of a last resort … I’ll talk more about that in a later installment.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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That’s great! And a lot of trans people I’ve talked with on Mastodon say similar things, which is also great. But a lot don’t. It depends a lot on the instance you wind up choosing. So the people who stay wind up as a self-selecting sample.

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