A modern user of digital devices must keep in mind that “all their movements are being recorded, all photos and all videos are being saved in the cloud. All text messages are being saved, too,” Kaspersky said.
Every social media platform is gathering “all the data it can get hold of,” because access to them is free and therefore they make money only through selling this information or analyzing it for advertising purposes.
The users of encrypted applications such as Telegram may think they are protected, but “it’s a myth,” the tech entrepreneur, who co-founded prominent anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab with ex-husband Eugene Kaspersky and used to be its CEO, insisted. The thing is that “an electronic device is itself an unprotected environment.”
Every phone is equipped with an accelerometer that tracks not only the number of steps made by the user, but also their micro-movements. It’s accessed automatically by every app and can be used to read any text message at the very moment it’s being written on the screen, thus bypassing encryption. A neural network will decipher the micro-movements of the fingers in no time and turn them into a text, she explained.
“The most basic recommendation, which is easy to remember, is just don’t do or publish on social media anything that would make you feel ashamed. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it for your friends or a special individual – as soon as you put something in an electronic device you should assume that this data will be leaked.”
That shouldn’t pose much of a problem for an ordinary, law-abiding citizen, but “if you’re some James Bond, then a push-button phone and a mask on your face is the best you can do,” Kaspersky laughed.
YouTube participated in promotion of ‘Putin’s palace’ video
A documentary about a luxurious property on the Black Sea coast, which opposition figure Alexey Navalny and his associates claim is “Putin’s palace,” has become one of the main triggers of recent anti-government protests across Russia. Despite the Kremlin denying Vladimir Putin has any links to the vast estate, the video garnered a whopping 111 million views on YouTube in just three weeks. Kaspersky maintains that the Google-owned video-hosting service itself largely contributed to this ‘success.’
“It’s obvious that the platform took part in the promotion of the video,” she said. It wasn’t done through bots, like some critics suggested, but through the so-called ‘featuring’ mechanisms, she said, as it recommended the controversial film to an “unprecedented” number of users.
As for the record viewing figures, YouTube can’t give a reliable number of views of the video as there’s no way to independently verify that, the InfoWatch president pointed out. Nonetheless, the US platform apparently “overdid it [the count],” she said, because Russia simply doesn’t have that many YouTube viewers, she added.
When asked if YouTube should be held accountable for meddling in Russia’s affairs like this, Kaspersky replied that the country could act against the platform either through legal or technical means.
Those legal means might include fines, but they’re often ignored by foreign IT giants, who don’t have offices in Russia and operate outside of the country’s laws. So, a technical response would likely turn out to be more effective in this case.
“There’s basically no way to shut down a specific video on the platform, and the options are blocking the whole platform or slowing it down – imagine that the clips would take 10 times longer to load,” she explained.
Moscow shouldn’t be afraid of accusations of censorship, because moves aimed at controlling social media are being made by governments in the US, the EU and elsewhere around the globe, she insisted.
She recalled last year’s blocking of TikTok in the US, with demands by then president Donald Trump for the Chinese video-sharing network to be sold to an American owner.
The US administration justified the crackdown as being about its concern for the personal data of American citizens that could be accessed by Chinese intelligence agencies. But the entrepreneur believes that, with TikTok’s servers being in the US, it “was more of a declared than an actual threat.”
“The Americans want to be in charge of their platforms. They don’t care about freedom of speech too much. They’re interested in propaganda and promotion of their ideas,” she explained, adding that new US President Joe Biden will likely continue his predecessor’s attempts to subdue TikTok.
Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms under “absolute” US government control
Another example of the lack of freedom of speech in the US was the blocking of Trump’s social media accounts while he was still president, over allegations he “incited violence” and prompted the Capitol riot.
But Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms didn’t make those “quite suicidal steps” voluntarily, Kaspersky insisted. “They had their arms twisted.”
According to the InfoWatch boss, those companies “are under the absolute control of the government.”
Trump faced such harsh sanctions because there is a divide in US politics, and the control of the media is centered in the hands of that part of the government that wanted him gone. “It was censorship of one half of the country by another,” she said.
Kaspersky added that it was surprising the other, conservative part of the American society didn’t pay as much attention to the media and couldn’t create digital platforms of its own to defend its interests.
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