Bookmarked Do You Trust Your VPN? Are You Sure? by an author (Slate Magazine)
Virtual private networks are now a must-have privacy tool. But good luck figuring out which ones will actually make you safer.
Will Oremus explores the world VPNs. He explains the differences between free and paid subscriptions, as well as who owns the company and why it is not always possible to know.

Marginalia

One of the only definitive takeaways, besides “steer clear of free VPNs,” is that your choice of VPN should depend on what you’re using it for. If you’re just trying to stay safe online, it may make sense to steer toward a larger, U.S.-based company that’s clear about both who owns it and how it treats your data. If your goal is to torrent pirated files, view blocked content, assassinate an ambassador, or otherwise evade the long arm of your government (or the governments it shares intelligence with), one based offshore might be a better bet—provided you’re quite sure it doesn’t have secret ties to the government you’re trying to evade.

via Ian O’Byrne

Liked SOPA.au: Australia is the Testbed for the World's Most Extreme Copyright Blocks by an author (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

They don't even need to take all the VPNs: as the Chinese government censors have shown in their dealings with Apple, a well-provisioned national firewall can be made compatible with VPNs, simply by requiring VPNs to share their keys with national censors, allowing for surveillance of VPN users. VPNs that aren't surveillance-friendly are blocked at the national firewall.

In 2015, the entertainment companies convinced Australia to swallow a fly, and insisted that would be the end of it, no spiders required. Now they're asking the country to swallow just a little spider to eat the fly, and assuring us there will be no bird to follow. The bird will come, and then the cat, the dog and so on -- we know how that one ends.

Bookmarked The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change (Om Malik)
Facebook is about making money by keeping us addicted to Facebook. It always has been — and that’s why all of our angst and headlines are not going to change a damn thing.
Om Malik explains why Facebook will not be changing, it is not in its DNA. This is epitomised by the spamming of two-factor authentication users and the skimming of VPN data only adds to this. As Malik explains:

The DNA represents a company’s ethos — and to a large extent, its ethics. Microsoft was and will always be a desktop software company, albeit one that is doing its best to adapt to the cloud and data-centric world. It has turned its desktop offerings into smart revenue streams on the cloud.

Google’s core DNA is search and engineering, though some would say engineering that is driven by the economics of search, which makes it hard for the company to see the world through any other lens. Apple’s lens is that of product, design, and experience. This allows it to make great phones and to put emphasis on privacy, but makes it hard for them to build data-informed services.

Facebook’s DNA is that of a social platform addicted to growth and engagement. At its very core, every policy, every decision, every strategy is based on growth (at any cost) and engagement (at any cost). More growth and more engagement means more data — which means the company can make more advertising dollars, which gives it a nosebleed valuation on the stock market, which in turn allows it to remain competitive and stay ahead of its rivals.

Even with the personal adjustments to the feed in response to issues with fake news and manipulation, this is akin to the spin by the tobacco industry in the 70’s to hide the effect of smoking.