Guru 42 Blog

What frightens you more: the dark web or credit bureaus

A television commercial offers to find if your personal information is on the dark web.

The first time I saw that Experian commercial, I immediately said, "Well that's really stupid!" (Maybe I added a few colorful adjectives as well to my shouted out remarks.)

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Experian is preying on the fear of the dark web to sell their services. Let's just assume for the sake of this question that everything that is sold on the "dark web" is less than legal. (That's what Experian is implying.) Why would Experian have any special access to less than legal information, more so than anyone else? Does that make sense?

If Experian did have some sophisticated way of searching the dark web and finding less than legal databases of information, wouldn't they have a legal obligation to report their findings to the police or other government agencies, rather than offering this information as a service?

What information?

For the sake of this question, let's address the basic question of "what is the danger if your information is on the dark web?”

We all should be worried about all of our information on the deep web, just above "the evils" of the dark web.

Do a search on your name, does it bother you that your current address, age, employer, and contact information is so readily available on the public web? Does it bother you that there are so many websites on the internet, that are offering to sell you information about people?

If a hacker had downloaded an entire database of information illegally, why would they have the contents stored where someone could access it? (As Experian is implying.) Unless you are someone rich and famous where one single bit of information could be used to blackmail an individual, if a hacker steals a database, they are going to sell the entire database.

And you would trust Experian?

It is pretty ironic that Experian, the company who had their servers hacked exposing the personal data of 15 million T-Mobile customers wants to help me find identity thieves on the dark web.

Lessons from the Experian hack: Lessons from the Experian hack

Experian Faces Class Action Over T-Mobile Data Breach: Experian Faces Class Action Over T-Mobile Data Breach - Cohen & Malad, LLP

Experian wants you to be afraid, very afraid of the dark. In exchange for their services, they are asking you to sell your soul to them. In order for you to have Experian check the darkness in your name, you are agreeing to Experian's terms of service:

"... Experian's terms of service and found a densely written, nearly 17,600-word document — a contract the length of a novella.

Not surprisingly, this is where you'll find an arbitration clause preventing you from suing the company — an increasingly common aspect of consumer contracts nowadays. That's the least of your worries, though.

It turns out running a free dark-Web email scan opens you up to "advertisements or offers for available credit cards, loan options, financial products or services, or credit-related products or services and other offers to customers."

Reference: Credit agency Experian says it can protect you from the 'dark Web' — sort of

Are You Afraid of Credit Bureaus?

Their commercial infuriates me. It preys upon fear and ignorance. I am much more afraid of what damage a credit bureau could do to my life than any information you could find about me on the dark web.

Let me conclude this answer with another question. What frightens you more, the thought of finding your information on the dark web or credit bureaus like Experian having the right to sell your information as they do?

In case you are curious:

Wondering about the dark web and the forbidden fruit of the internet

Buzzwords from the world wide web to deep web and dark net



Last remnants of Westinghouse Electric for sale

A Wall Street Journal article proclaims, "Westinghouse, Once an Industrial Powerhouse, Is on Brink of Sale."

The article talks about the current Westinghouse Electric Co, "a faded industrial giant that once helped electrify the world," as if the company being sold was the same company founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse. It's not, it is one last remnant of the original Westinghouse Electric that still bears the Westinghouse name.

The empire created by George Westinghouse, and the variety of products that carried the Westinghouse name have been split up over various companies over the years through a variety of mergers and acquisitions. The Westinghouse Electric mentioned in the article is the US based nuclear power company formed in 1998 from the nuclear power division of the original Westinghouse Electric Corporation.  The company retained the Westinghouse name even though it was acquired by Toshiba in 2005.  The Westinghouse nuclear power company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2017 and is being purchased by the company Brookfield Business Partners.

The current American mass media CBS Corporation, focused on commercial broadcasting, inherited much of the original Westinghouse Electric Company. When CBS Corporation was acquired by Viacom in 1999 that technically marked the end of the original Westinghouse Corporation. In 2005 CBS and Viacom split up, and the CBS Corporation lives on.

We will be watching to see if a new nuclear company creayed from the assets of the current Westinghouse Electric still carries the name Westinghouse. At one time the two major companies that dominated our world of electricity and electric appliances were Westinghouse and General Electric, which can be traced to Thomas Edison.

Interesting, the brand name of "Westinghouse" is still owned by the CBS Corporation. (Westinghouse heritage)

The names of Westinghouse Electric and General Electric are slowing fading away in corporate America, but the legacy of the great inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse lives on at GeekHistory.

A photo of  Westinghouse generators at Edward Dean Adams Power Plant in Niagara Fall, the first large-scale, alternating current electric generating plant in the world, built in 1895, reminds us of the legacy of Westinghouse.


Net Neutrality anxiety high over proposed changes by FCC Chairman

Many new questions are popping up regarding FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposing to reverse the FCC classification of home and mobile ISPs as common carriers.

There is panic and paranoia over what these changes might mean. I am not getting excited.

I have written quite a bit about proposed internet regulations over the years.  Here is a little historic perspective on the fight for control over telecommunications.

Government controls radio

The Radio Act of 1912 mandated that all radio stations in the United States be licensed by the federal government.

The government took over full control of all radio service for the good of the cause when the United States entered into WWI. All amateur and commercial use of radio ended in the U.S. on April 7, 1917. It became illegal for private U.S. citizens to own an operational radio transmitter or receiver.

The Radio Act of 1927 created The Federal Radio Commission (FRC) to regulate radio use "as the public interest, convenience, or necessity" requires.

Expanding power and control beyond radio, to all forms of telecommunications, now falls under The Federal Communications Commission which was created in 1934.

The Federal Communications Commission battles starting in 1934

The Communications Act of 1934 established the basic regulations of communication by wire and radio. The internet went commercial in the mid 1990s and The Telecommunications Act of 1996 addressed the new and emerging technologies.

Since 1996 the categories of Telecommunications Service, Broadcast Services, and Cable Services have become muddied together, rather than being distinctly different services. In 2015, the FCC classified Internet Service Providers as common carriers under The Communications Act of 1934 Title II, for the purpose of enforcing net neutrality.

The term "Net neutrality" was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003. The concept is based on legal concept of common carrier which became popular in the United States with the late 1800s with the railroad barons controlling the flow of goods and services.

Any FCC ruling can be challenged in the courts, as it has been in the past.

Telecommunications and Federal Trade Commission antitrust suits

Government antitrust suits have been a part of telecommunications dating back to the early 20th century. In 1913 Kingsbury Commitment was an out-of-court settlement of the government's antitrust challenge of AT&T's monopoly of the phone industry. In 1949 an antitrust lawsuit alleged that AT&T and the Bell System operating companies were using their near-monopoly in telecommunications to attempt to establish unfair advantages.

The government forced the breakup of the Bell System in 1982 into seven different holding companies. Through mergers and acquisitions over the years, four of the seven "Baby Bells" are now part of AT&T and two are part of Verizon.

Any actions by a telecommunications company can be challenged in the courts and the Federal Trade Commission as they have been in the past.

It's nothing new

Any changes made to Net Neutrality regulations in December 2017 will only be one event in an ongoing battle for control of telecommunications that has been waged on many fronts since the early development of radio and telephone services in the early 20th century.

Any changes made will be challenged, and changed again.

Learn more:

Net Neutrality and the myth that the internet is free



Photo: FCC Chairman Genachowski swears in Ajit Pai as a new Commissioner at the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC.
May 14, 2012. [Federal Communications Commission Photo]