Minnesota’s protests to mark the end of Immuni?

Online contact tracing is changing business: from a means to counter the Coronavirus contagion to a tool of public order. Can we afford it? The analysis of Andrea Monti, Adjunct-Professor in charge of law and order and public safety at the University of Chieti-Pescara
Originally published in Italian by Formiche.net.

A series of tweets from the American network NBC News bounce the news that the authorities in Minnesota plan to use data from Coronavirus contact-tracing software in public order and security operations to contain the antiracist protests broken out over the death of George Floyd caused by a police officer.

This announcement re-ignites the controversy about the risks of abuse by the State, if it is allowed to have at its disposal vast amounts of data of all kinds on citizens and, in Italy, reinforces the position of those who praised the incredible technological complication that “to protect privacy” has delayed and castrated the development of Immuni, the contact tracing software that should warn us if we came into contact with someone who tested positive at Covid-19. Continue reading “Minnesota’s protests to mark the end of Immuni?”

Project Gutenberg and the Crusader of Copyright

In the name of the new crusade against the “pirates of copyright” the public prosecutor of Rome seizes gutenberg.org, the site of the cultural project that digitizes and puts online copyright-free books. But neither the court nor the Guardia di Finanza has noticed. Is it a justifiable mistake? by Andrea Monti – originally published in Italian by Infosec.News
Continue reading “Project Gutenberg and the Crusader of Copyright”

COVID-19: the Western counternarrative against disinformation coming from East

A video published on NATO’s Youtube channel outlines the Alliance’s strategy to counter Russian-Chinese disinformation. But the “fluid truth” of our times does not lend itself to being locked in the cage of ideologyOriginally published in Italian by Formiche.net

by Andrea Monti – Adjunct professor of law and order – University of Chieti-Pescara

The role of the media in the information war that broke out between the US and China and fought on the COVID-19 field is well highlighted by the video published on May 12 on the NATO Youtube channel titled How is NATO responding to disinformation on COVID-19?

In (chrono)logical order, the video establishes the first rule of the Western counter-information strategy: ignore the opponent’s propaganda to avoid “acknowledging” it and amplifying its circulation.

The second is to create a joint information base: with a somewhat naive game of graphic emphasis, the video (minute 0.53) specifies that

Nato regularly shares information and insight with allies and partners

and then adds

and counters false narratives.

The use of logical connective ⋀ instead of building a cause-effect relationship changes the overall meaning of the message: “NATO shares information AND fights false narratives” means something different from “NATO shares information TO fight false narratives”. The difference is subtle but substantial: information sharing is presented as a value in itself and not as a tool for an end (which, in reality, it is).

The third rule is to provide “facts” to journalists. After graphically enunciating this slogan, the video leaves the floor to NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, who states

I believe that the best response to disinformation and propaganda is free and independent press, is the work of journalists. When they ask the difficult questions, then disinformation and propaganda will never succeed.

Having “authoritative” and unquestionable sources at their disposal allows journalists to give consistency to theses that, otherwise, would only be artificial reconstructions of unrelated facts. Self-attribution of the power to affirm “the truth” through the selection of facts to present to the public opinion is the central element of the entire communication strategy: it is the hook on which the whole information chain hangs.

The fourth is the control of the spread of disinformation through “research groups” to measure the impact of disinformation, identify the fake-news spreaders and “vaccinate” the public against the propaganda virus… of the enemy. In other words: the aim is to make sure that people believe the propaganda of the “good guys”, to defuse the deflagrating effects of the enemy one.

In this case, as in that of the press conference of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on China’s responsibility in the spread of the Coronavirus and the Chinese response entrusted to a cartoon, we face a skirmish in which both parties use the “Goebbels doctrine” and what I have called “the second law of propaganda”.

The hammering repetition of a narrative to the point of making it perceived as “true”, is flanked by the proliferation of more or less reliable “sources” from which flows a deluge of news. An overabundance of information males a phenomenon difficult to understand and induces the public to an act of faith: I don’t understand, but if “the experts” say so, it must be true.

Media play a crucial role in this game, both in terms of open support to a party and as the victim of a more or less unacknowledged instrumentalisation of their role. “Partisan” articles, therefore, are flanked by “investigations” and “scoops” made possible by “confidential documents” and other information “escaped” by the strict control of the institutional structures. Sometimes it is so, as in the Snowden case, sometimes it is a matter of holes left voluntarily open to let out what is necessary to start an “exclusive” journalistic investigation.

Media strategic role y is clear: lack of evidence is compensated by a counternarrative about the scarce Chinese transparency and media “credibility” amplifies this position, thus making the audience resilient against external threats.

It is apparent, then, that on both sides of the Iron Curtain methods and objectives are the same. Regardless of its calibre, a bullet always does the same job, whether it is fired from the East or from the West.

COVID-19: the fear of a Police State created a State of policemen

Originally published in Italian by Formiche.net

The Italian controversies on contact-tracing highlights a cultural failure: the misunderstanding of privacy and how to protect it. In short: for fear of an abstract danger of a Police State, we have accepted the concrete fact of having transformed Italy into a State of policemen. A State where the concrete and immediate application of the law protecting public order and (health) safety is entrusted with confusing rules applied arbitrarily. Continue reading “COVID-19: the fear of a Police State created a State of policemen”

Coronavirus: how does Chinese propaganda work

by Andrea Monti – originally published in Italian by Formiche.net

How and why the Chinese satirical video is a masterpiece of propaganda, that contrasts with a factual and calm narrative American action based on illations and not on facts. The analysis of Andrea Monti, adjunct professor of Order and public security at the Gabriele d’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara

China officially responds with a video titled Once upon a virus to the accusations launched by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview with Abc. This video is a masterpiece of propaganda that counters with a factual and calm narrative the American action based on illations and not on facts. But this is just the tip of the iceberg because Once upon a virus is an incredible PsyOps exercise. Continue reading “Coronavirus: how does Chinese propaganda work”