[AxisOfEasy] Russia Passes Law Against “Fake News” And/Or Criticizing The Government

Weekly Axis Of Easy #89

This week’s quote: “Your digital identity will live forever… because there’s no delete button” …by ?????

Last Week’s Quote was   “Love your country, but never trust its government.” by Robert Heinlein. Winner was Stacey Zoll (sorry the email had the previous week’s quote, the real quote was on the blog)

THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted in the comments below:

The Prize: First person to post, gets their next domain or hosting renewal on us.

Sorry there was no #AxisOfEasy last week. We have been traveling across these fine United States for March Break, and while I foolishly thought I’d have time to leisurely pen the newsletter from the comfort of an Amtrak sleeper car last week, various and sundry misadventures had other plans. Perhaps a separate blog post on that after we get back….

In this Issue:

  • Russia passes law against “Fake news” and/or criticizing the government
  • NSA probably still spying on US citizens’ phones
  • Special Facebook sh*t-show sub-menu:
    • Criminal probe launched over data sharing arrangements 
    • Facebook bribery scheme to soften privacy laws revealed 
    • Facebook global outage precedes high level exec exits 
    • Facebook attempts to ban Zerohedge
  • UK cyberpr0n ban goes into effect April 1st
  • Millions of face photos scraped for facial recognition without consent
  • Breach of the week: Email verification company exposes 890 million emails
  • Pictures of the Socialistic Future

Russia passes law against “Fake news” and/or criticizing the government

It is expected that Russian President Putin will sign into law recent bills that will punish online media outlets for spreading “fake news” and also criminalizes publishing material that “insults state officials”. News of the development brought forth a new wave of “in Russia…” jokes reminiscent of the ole Yakoff Smirnoff days:

“In Russia if you say the government is doing a bad job, you go to jail for criticizing the State.

But if you say the government is doing a good job, you go to jail for publishing fake news….”

So it goes: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-13/kremlin-signals-putin-to-back-law-jailing-critics-for-disrespect

NSA probably still spying on US citizens’ phones

Earlier in the month the NYTimes reported that the NSA had announced that it has quietly shut down a surveillance program of US phones as reported by whistleblower Ed Snowden in 2013. However, two other whistleblowers, one who went public as far back as 2005 are calling “b/s” and positing that the NSA is simply shutting down the program because it now has even better technology to take its place.

Read: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/us/politics/nsa-phone-records-program-shut-down.html

Special Facebook sh*t-show sub-menu:

Jeez Louise. Make it stop…

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal probe into Facebook’s data sharing practices with some of the largest names in technology. A grand jury in New York state has subpoenaed records from two unnamed manufacturers of smart phones “and other devices”. Both entities entered into data sharing arrangements with Facebook to gain “broad access to personal information of hundreds of millions of users”

Via The Guardian (UK):

Facebook has targeted politicians around the world – including the former UK chancellor, George Osborne – promising investments and incentives while seeking to pressure them into lobbying on Facebook’s behalf against data privacy legislation, an explosive new leak of internal documents has revealed.”

Facebook is blaming a “server misconfiguration” issue for a global outage that also impacted subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp. The outage lasted approximately 12 hours affecting ability to log in and post new material (the conspiracy theory crowd thinks the real reason was so that their various data centres could scrub their data repositories ahead of criminal probes, torches and pitchforks…)

The outage occurred as it’s Chief Product Officer and the VP in charge of WhatsApp both announced their departures from the company.


For a brief period, Facebook decided that anything published via financial news contrarians (and easyDNS client) Zerohedge “violated community standards”. During the ban Facebook would not allow any articles from ZH to be posted to the platform. (As it so happens, your #AxisOfEasy author has had numerous essays and articles published on Zerohedge, I guess I’m one step away from being designated some kind of inauthentic Russian trollbot).

Facebook reversed course in under 24 hours.

UK cyberpr0n ban goes into effect April 1st

Starting April 1st, anybody in the United Kingdom who wants to access adult material on the internet will be required to undergo an age verification process involving either producing ID before accessing NSFW sites or buying an unlock card for 5 pounds and showing ID at time of purchase. Further, most Britons seem to be unaware that this is happening, very soon.

(Are there any publicly traded VPN companies in the UK? Because I think I want to load up on shares, like right now)

Millions of face photos scraped for facial recognition without consent

NYU School of Law professor Jason Schultz has raised the alarm about the widespread practice of scraping millions of photos from the internet and issuing them to train facial recognition software. The consent of the photo subjects is not obtained, nor are those whose likenesses are used notified. The application’s facial recognition can be used to surveil unwitting subjects and otherwise violate their privacy.

Breach of the week: Email verification company exposes 890 million emails

You’ve probably never heard of verification.io, I know I hadn’t. Apparently large bulk mailers use their services to clean their email lists. In the latest example of leaving data troves exposed via unsecured MongoDB, they left in excess of 800 million records on an unprotected server, including email addresses, phone numbers, and sundry “business leads”.

Verifications.io has since pulled the plug on its website entirely.

Pictures of the Socialistic Future

My fledgling audiobook company just released an audio version of Eugen Richter’s 1893 work “Pictures of the Socialistic Future”. In order to have an audiobook version of a public domain work accepted into Amazon’s Audible store, you have to first make a kindle version and add some unique original content to it, such as a foreward. So I wrote a foreword to to the 2019 audiobook edition, also available on my Guerrilla Capitalism blog…

Read: https://spokentome.media

That’s about it for March Break – to our American clients let me just say we always enjoy traveling your country and appreciate the hospitality we invariably encounter everywhere we go. On this trip, shout outs go to Chicago, Flagstaff AZ (get your kicks on Route 66…) Los Angeles and Laguna Beach. 

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