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Creeped Out

By April 5, 2017 No Comments

Robert Stephens | April 5, 2017

In this issue, exploding the myth of internet privacy, outing radical left professors, and saving the elephants. Read on …

They know everything about you

The U.S. Congress has voted to repeal internet privacy protections and allow telecoms to collect and use customer data without the consent of customers.

Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and others will now be free to exploit this data in selling targeted advertising. The data might include information about a customer’s location, web browsing history, app usage, news consumption, favourite TV shows, banking, shopping patterns, and restaurant preferences.

Through their broadband, wireless and TV services, the telecoms have access to a staggering amount of personal user information – information that is now no longer under the control of individuals.

This got us thinking, what’s the situation in Canada? Well, it turns out we’re only slightly better off.

Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, consumers here must still grant permission before their web-activity data can be used to serve ads tailored to their interests.

But … and this is a BIG but … the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which oversees compliance with the Act, accepts “implied consent”. In other words, individuals are deigned to have agreed to the collection and use of their information if they have not opted out.

Like negative billing. If you don’t explicitly say you’re out, you’re considered in. Creepy. 

Exposing the lecture hall alt left

Established last November, a new website – professorwatchlist.org – identifies college professors who it claims discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.

The name-and-shame site was set up by Turning Point USA, an organization dedicated to countering the liberal ideology that pervades institutions of “higher learning”. Founded by 23-year-old Charlie Kirk, TPUSA’s mission is to “educate students about the benefits of limited government, capitalism, and freedom” and to build a conservative grassroots network on college campuses.

Credit: Turning Point USA

While the site is predominately U.S. focused, two Canadian professors have made the list of radical left-wing proselytizers.

Latham Hunter, a professor of communications and cultural studies at McMaster University, is singled out for her views. Posted on the website is an opinion piece she wrote for the Hamilton Spectator in December 2014, in which she argued that “it’s impossible to ‘do’ Christmas without running into one patriarchal construct after another.”

According to professorwatchlist.org, Hunter believes that both Jesus and Santa Claus contribute to the advancement of a male-dominated society, and even Frosty the Snowman, Christmas carols, and gender specific Christmas gifts are sexist.

 The other Canadian academic being called out is Kelly Train, a sociology instructor at Ryerson University. The website notes that when one of her students wanted to write a paper questioning the gender wage gap, Train rejected her thesis and told her there was no disputing the subject. The site says Train also advised the student to concentrate her research on feminist sources, not business sources because “they blame women. The reality is patriarchy.”

The site proclaims that “TPUSA will continue to fight for free speech and the right for professors to say whatever they wish ; however students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda.”

And now the good news

 We reserve this space from time to time to treat our readers to good news. Rare amid the torrent of ugly information today, these little nuggets inspire, make us smile, give us hope.

One such dispatch, from the Associated Press, reports that China is implementing its pledge to ban the ivory trade. It is now closing about a third of the factories and shops engaged in this business, and will shut down the rest by the end 2017.

It is estimated that poachers kill 20,000 to 30,000 elephants for their tusks each year. China is currently the world’s largest market for elephant ivory products.

“With the end of the trade in China, the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, president and founder of Save the Elephants.

There is still much to be done to protect these magnificent creatures. WildAid reports that Hong Kong and the UK still have not passed their proposed ivory bans, and Japan’s market remains wide open.

But China’s action will slow the slaughter. And with enough public pressure, a total worldwide ban now appears possible.

Credit: Peter Knights, WildAid

 

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