Tired of Google’s Control Over Your Life? Try These Instead

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I’ve been using Duck Duck Go instead of Google search for years and don’t regret it. There are less ads and the search results include more diverse sources – plus I don’t get trapped in Google’s filter bubble. Over at No More Google they have compiled a list of services you can use to get Google out of your life. Like reducing meat in your diet, reducing Google in your life doesn’t have to be absolute. Just do what you’re comfortable with, maybe that’s no longer using Chrome or maybe it’s switching away from Gmail.

Richard Stallman outlined many reasons you shouldn’t use Google, here’s a snippet:

Censorship

  • Amazon and Google have cut off domain-fronting, a feature used to enable people in tyrannical countries to reach communication systems that are banned there.
  • French blogger Claims YouTube Tried to Censor Juncker Interview.
  • Google has agreed to perform special censorship of Youtube for the government of Pakistan, deleting views that the state opposes.This will help the illiberal Pakistani state suppress dissent.
  • Youtube’s “content ID” automatically deletes posted videos in a way copyright law does not require.
  • YouTube has made private deals with the copyright industry to censor works that are fair use.More information.
  • Google shut off Alexa O’Brien’s Google Drive account, denying her access to it, because her reporting on Chelsea Manning’s trial included copies of al-Qa’ida propaganda that was presented as evidence.
  • Never trust a remote storage company to keep anything but a spare backup copy. When you store that, put your files into an archive and encrypt it so that the company can’t tell what’s in them — not even their file names.
  • Vox lawyers got Youtube to take down criticisms of a video published by Vox, and threaten the critics with punishment, too.
  • The videos were almost surely fair use, but Youtube decided against the critics anyway. This shows how Youtube’s general submission to the copyright industry constrict’s people’s rights.

Check out No More Google.

Wheelmap Helps People Find Accessible Locations

Navigating the world can be challenging for able-bodied people, those in wheelchairs have it even harder. It doesn’t have to be this way. New buildings have to meet certain accessibility requirements which means that visiting places will only get easier for everyone. There are still places that don’t have good accessibility and for that there’s Wheelmap.

Wheelmap is a community sourced map that shows what places are accessible and even goes into fine details with pictures of the place including the accessibility of interior facilities.

Wheelchairs, elevators and ramps allow people with mobility impairments to get around independently to a great extent. But frequently the last meters decide whether the trip to the cinema, beer garden or supermarket was worth the effort. Just one step at the entrance can be an insurmountable obstacle.

And this is where Wheelmap comes into play: Users provide information for other users on how accessible a location is. Thereby, the map contributes to an active and diversified lifestyle for wheelchair users. People with wheeled walkers or buggies benefit from this tool as well.

Furthermore, the aim of Wheelmap is to make owners of wheelchair-inaccessible public places aware of the problem. They should be encouraged to reflect on and improve the accessibility of their premises.

Read more.

This Doc on Bellingcat Inspires You to Act

Since 2014 an innovate research team has been looking into major news events in a way never done before, that team is known as Bellingcat. Bellingcat is comprised of volunteers (and a small paid staff) which use social media and other publicly available information to investigate in an organized and world-influencing way. A documentary about them, Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World, explores the organization from its founding to its recent popularity.

I watched a screener (provided by Topic) of it and it was quite inspiring! Here on this site we look at good news, and over at Bellingcat they look at bad events to make the world a better place. Given that Bellingcat is online, needs a lot of researchers, and explores digitally public data, you can help make the world better while you’re at home!

Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World explores the promise of open source investigation, taking viewers inside the exclusive world of the “citizen investigative journalist” collective known as Bellingcat. In cases ranging from the MH17 disaster to the poisoning of a Russian spy in the United Kingdom, the Bellingcat team’s quest for truth will shed light on the fight for journalistic integrity in the era of fake news and alternative facts.

Watch it on Topic.com

USA Court Rules NSA Spying Illegal

safe texting

Edward Snowden risked his life and freedom to bring to the world’s attention that the American government illegal (and unethically) spies on innocent people everywhere on the planet. Many Americans called Snowden a traitor and a liar. Now, the courts in his home country agree with Snowden: the wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA) was indeed illegal. Hopefully the American government will stop spying on innocent people, and with his vindication hopefully others will be inspired to speak truth to power like Snowden did.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that the program, under which the NSA collected and analyzed bulk data provided by telecommunications companies, was in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and could have been unconstitutional.

“Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them,” said Snowden, who fled to Russia after exposing the program, on Twitter. “And yet that day has arrived.”

Read more.

Defund the Police, Fund These Roles Instead

Thankfully, calls to defund the police are being heard throughout North America where police have military equipment. Despite decades of “austerity” which witnessed governments defunding social services and programs that helped the disenfranchised we’re finally seeing the police budgets on the chopping block. Why is this good? Well, the police have been doing a terrible job and other governmental entities can handle what the police do better. Heck, in Toronto the police outright stopped traffic enforcement despite getting $1 billion a year.

It’s high time we defund the police and reallocate that money to better services.

3) Create a mobile crisis response unit

Oftentimes, a police officer’s role bleeds over from mediation into something that resembles social work, usually involving populations like those who are homeless, intoxicated, substance abusers, or suffering from mental illness.

The results can be disastrous. About half of prison inmates were diagnosed with a mental illness. Around a quarter of fatal encounters with law enforcement involve someone with a mental health condition (and those numbers are possibly severe undercounts). A massively disproportionate number of police calls and arrests in cities across the country involve homeless populations. In Portland, Oregon, the city’s homeless population made up 52 percent of the city’s arrests in 2017 even though they comprise less than 3 percent of Portland’s population.

Read more.

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