Posted on April 19, 2019
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been scared about climate change.
Growing up, I heard about how my hometown of Boston could be largely underwater by the end of the century. I grew up watching increasingly severe droughts and floods take thousands of lives in southern India, where my family is from, and fearing my family might be next. Every step of my life, fear of climate change has been a potent, tangible force. It feels less like some abstract scientific fact in a textbook and more like knowing a giant asteroid is heading toward my family.
Today, much of my generation can’t escape that fear even as we make life decisions about whether or not to have children. Is it moral to bring someone new into a planet that’s 3degrees warmer? How much of our income should we save for retirement? What’s really the point, if the planet’s going to look like Mad Max?
Which is why, when I read the UN reports that say we have little more than a decade to solve this problem, I’m overwhelmed by a powerful sense that this is an emergency. We simply don’t have time, as a society, to keep having the same pointless debates about whether the science is real or to continue predicting the odds that some particular piece of legislation can clear the Senate. All that’s left is to put forward an idea that actually meets the scale of the crisis within the necessary time frame – one that can ensure millions of people, who are disproportionately low-income and people of color, don’t lose their lives to climate-charged storms, floods or other natural disasters – and then do everything in our power to make it happen, in a coordinated effort across every sector of our economy.
There is not a single idea being debated in the halls of Congress today ambitious enough to do that, except for the Green New Deal, written by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey. As we worked with Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on their resolution, we expected the usual objections to come our way. We expected, as had been the case with the Waxman-Markey bill early on in the Obama presidency, that Washington Republicans bought out by fossil fuel CEOs would scream bloody murder. We correctly predicted, as had been the case with numerous proponents of carbon tax proposals over the years, that we would be dismissed as idealistic children, too naive to be concerned with the details of how experts think politics happens. But what we truly didn’t see coming was this new notion that we are unrealistic, that the lofty ambition of our idea is itself proof of our lack of seriousness.
Pundits, from the pages of New York Magazine to Mother Jones, hammer away with the argument that the Green New Deal is too ambitious to even consider seriously. They are joined by billionaire coffee magnate Howard Schultz, who dismisses the idea with much the same condescension as Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who pretended not to remember even the name of the resolution in mocking it as a “green dream.” Even the New York Times editorial board declares the Green New Deal only a little better than the apocalyptic nightmare it aims to prevent, advocating instead for “step-by-step measures” like reversing Trump-era environmental deregulation and “tax incentives for electric vehicles.”
Those well-intentioned critiques outlining a more “realistic” alternative might have been convincing 30 years ago, before Exxon’s decades-long disinformation campaign and systematic bribery of elected officials forced our political system into stalemate on this issue.
Thirty years ago, step-by-step policy tweaks might have given us a fighting chance at avoiding catastrophic climate change within my generation’s lifetime. But in the time since, we’ve seen every opportunity to pass meaningful climate legislation crushed by moneyed opposition and cynical poisoning of the public dialogue. We’ve had to organize tirelessly to push our own allies, like President Obama, to reject dangerous oil pipelines and drilling. If we’ve learned anything, watching report after report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sound the alarm while politicians debate dead-on-arrival, small-bore policies, it’s that a step-by-step process of incremental changes, as a strategy, has failed to safeguard our future or our planet.
If we are serious about averting catastrophe, it’s clear that we need a new approach to this crisis, something that can break through all the forces that make climate action so difficult: corporate power, partisan polarization and the debasement of the nation’s “conservative” party into a vehicle for plutocrats, racists and anti-science cynics.
Any chance of winning this fight depends on igniting powerful social movements to change the political weather and build an expansive political coalition capable of taking on the fossil fuel lobby. To do that we need to make a new, salient and values-based argument that speaks to America’s hopes and fears: A vision of our future where all of us can thrive in a prosperous and healthy world.
Varshini Prakash is the Executive Director of Sunrise Movement. She lives in Boston.
Posted on April 18, 2019
Here at CREDO, we take customer privacy very seriously. In fact, respecting our customers’ privacy rights is a core mission of our company, and we have a long history of fighting for it.
Unlike other carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, who sell their customers’ private data for profit – your data is not for sale at CREDO. No amount of money will ever change that.
That dedication to customer privacy is why we have consistently earned the highest rating on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Who has your back?” privacy report, which grades how technology companies protect customer data from government requests. In each year CREDO has been included in the report – 2017 2015, and 2014 – CREDO was the only mobile carrier to earn every star.
We were the first carrier to issue a transparency report in 2014, following Edward Snowden’s revelations that phone companies were handing over vast quantities of private data to the National Security Agency. We now issue quarterly transparency reports detailing requests by the government for customer data, because we believe there should be as much transparency as possible regarding government surveillance, and that our customers have the right to know when governmental entities request access to their information or communications.
We will fight the government in court to protect our customers’ privacy – and we have. When we received secret “National Security Letters” from the federal government to hand over customer data, we not only fought the requests in court on behalf of our customers, but we also challenged the gag orders to prevent us from notifying our customers or the public of the letters’ existence. We ultimately won the right to disclose the existence of three NSLs that the government fought for years to keep secret.
And through our activism and donations, we fight for civil liberties and privacy every day. Hundreds of thousands of CREDO activists have taken action to stop illegal surveillance and government intrusion, uphold free speech, and protect whistleblowers, online privacy and net neutrality. We’ve donated more than $3 million to groups fighting for civil liberties, like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press and Demand Progress.
We are proud of our work to protect civil liberties and stand up for our customers’ constitutional right to privacy and we will continue to fight any attempts to the contrary. It’s core to our mission to unapologetically fight for our customers’ rights. And if you’re interested in joining the wireless carrier fighting for your privacy, learn more about CREDO Mobile here.
Posted on April 18, 2019
It’s Donald Trump favorite way to dismiss real news he doesn’t like. Ironically, he’s guilty of spreading so many lies – more than 8,000 in his first two years – that he’s a one-person fake news outlet.
Sadly, the right-wing attack on factual reporting is eroding trust in the news media.
But actual “fake news” is a big problem online.
False news stories, meant to appear legitimate, played a role in the 2016 presidential election. And Russian trolls and other bad actors continue to spread misinformation to meddle in our political process. You may even have fallen victim by sharing a fake news story on social media.
So how can you spot fake news and stop the spread of false news stories online? We have four tips for you.
Check the source
Every day, we see some pretty outrageous news stories online. Some are clearly false, and some sound too good to be true. So what’s real and what’s fake?
First, check the source. Reputable news outlets are objective, generally adhere to fact-checking standards, and try to avoid sensationalism. Some of these are names you know: The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and the Associated Press. That’s a good place to start.
Additionally, some fake news sites are made to look like a legitimate news website. Check the URL to ensure it’s a site you recognize. Sometimes fake news URLs are a misspelled version of real news site or may not end with “.com” or “.org”, but .co, .ru or something else uncommon.
Objective journalism seeks the truth by getting the facts right. And while reputable journalists sometimes make mistakes, they strive to meet ethical journalistic standards and issue corrections when they’ve erred.
But if a story has a sensational headline or seems to overly reinforce your already-held beliefs, be skeptical.
Then ask yourself: Who gains from this reporting? Most fake news benefits from spreading blatantly false content to sway opinion or drive traffic to their fake news sites to sell advertising. Don’t fall into the trap.
What exactly are you looking at?
Not all articles on a reputable news site are hard news. Some stories are factual reporting. Others are meant to entertain or sway opinion. It’s important to know what kind of article you’re reading.
Legitimate news articles are based on facts. They answer the crucial questions who, what, why, where, and when.
An example of a legitimate news story would be A Virtual Solar Power Plant for L.A? “It Will Happen in The New York Times.
These include editorials, op-eds, and many blog posts. They are usually based on facts but contain a point of view – sometimes the bias is very clear, but more often than not, it may be a little harder to suss out.
In reputable publications, opinion pieces are clearly labeled. Here’s an example from The Washington Post:
Like all of us, reporters and bloggers are human, and they have opinions, too. Some outlets report hard news with a clear point of view, and many of them are honest about their bias. For example, see the “About” page at Think Progress:
However, extremely biased outlets like Trump’s propaganda machine Fox News often mix opinion and entertainment with news, making it difficult for an audience to know what’s real and what’s fake. Fox News’ slogans “Fair and Balanced,” and more recently “Real news. Real honest opinion” is so brazenly misleading that 67% of Republicans find Fox News their most trusted source.
This is an easy one: Before sharing a questionable news story, do a quick Google search. Are other reputable news sites reporting the same story, in a similar way? If so, there’s a greater likelihood that the news story is legitimate.
These are just four ways to help determine if an article is real or fake. Are there other methods you use? We’d love to hear about them.
Posted on April 16, 2019
New subpoenas could shed some light
AT&T could be in the hot seat with federal and state prosecutors and Congress for its $2 million donation to Trump’s inaugural committee.
Recently, federal officials, state attorneys general across three jurisdictions and the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas or requests for documents to uncover how the Trump inaugural committee raised a record-setting $107 million from deep-pocketed donors and how they spent it.
Officials want to know not only whether Trump misspent the money, but if donors, some of who gave millions to his inauguration, were trying to influence the incoming administration.
This is significant because, as “Money” put it, “Giving money to politicians or political committees in exchange for political favors can be construed as a violation of federal corruption laws.”
As the inauguration’s largest corporate contributor, AT&T could now be under the microscope for participating in yet another massive pay-to-play scheme.
Last year, we learned that AT&T paid Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, $600,000 to advise the telecom giant on “regulatory policy development,” although he has no experience in policy or the telecom sector. Some believe the payments were used to influence the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality protections.
It appears that AT&T’s huge inauguration donation may also have paid off. According to legal documents uncovered last year, the National Security Agency awarded AT&T a secret $3.3 billion contract even though its proposal came in more than $750 million higher than a competitor’s. We’ve known for a while that AT&T worked hand-in-hand with the NSA to spy on Americans’ internet traffic, but this is a new low.
Unlike several large mobile carriers, CREDO will never attempt to influence the Trump administration with donations. Quite the opposite. We donate every month directly to progressive causes fighting Trump’s dangerous, hateful and corrupt agenda.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can join the nation’s only progressive mobile carrier fighting the Trump administration and put your dollars toward progressive change, visit CREDO Mobile.
Posted on April 14, 2019
Time certainly does fly – we’re already one-quarter of the way through 2019! Time to take stock of the progress you’ve made on your New Year’s resolutions, file your taxes and nail down your Pride plans.
Here’s a treat to get you through your spring cleaning and clearing goals: our top 5 tips from this first quarter of 2019.
- 3 Ways to Limit Facebook Data Usage. Step-by-step instructions on how to limit data usage by the facebook app, which is one of the hungriest apps on your phone.
- What is 5G (and Why You Don’t Need it, for Now)? There is a lot of talk in the mobile phone world about 5G. You might be asking yourself, “What is 5G, and do I need it?” Good questions. We have answers.
- 4 Oscar-Nominated Documentaries to Watch in the Trump Era. Gaining perspective and understanding of lives we might have little knowledge of is now more important than ever. Here are 4 Oscar-nominated documentary films to watch today.
- Top 7 New Year’s Resolutions to Help Fight Climate Change. Here at CREDO, we look to what we can do to make positive change for our communities, our environment, and our world. To get you off on the right foot, here are seven simple, yet powerful New Year’s resolutions you can make to improve our planet, starting today.
- Why Your Apps are Tracking Your Location and How to Limit Them. Americans spend over four hours a day on their smartphones, with 90 percent of that time on apps. Those apps can track your location data and sell it to advertisers and other companies. Here’s how you can limit their ability to track you.
Posted on April 12, 2019
Thanks in part to CREDO members who generated more than 87,000 petition signatures and more than 1,300 phone calls, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal finally requested Donald Trump’s tax returns from the IRS.
This victory was long overdue, but it is incredibly important because Trump’s tax returns could be key to unveiling his web of corruption and the way wealthy elites dodge taxes, which is why Trump rejected tradition and refused to release them. His returns could uncover all sorts of potential corruption, including tax fraud, compromising financial ties to Russian oligarchs or the super-rich in America, and his personal profiting from the Trump Tax Scam and holding office.
We hope this action by Chairman Neal is an indication that he and other Democrats – who now have important oversight responsibility with subpoena power – will conduct aggressive oversight of the Trump administration moving forward.
Posted on April 12, 2019
Activism works! Thanks in part to CREDO members who recently generated more than 144,000 petition signatures, the House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Act after years of obstruction by Donald Trump’s Republican minions in Congress.
Congress first passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994 and reauthorized it three times with bipartisan support. But Trump Republicans are not really interested in protecting women. In 2013, they tried to play games around reauthorization because they opposed protections for LGBTQ people, immigrants, and Native Americans. But with massive pressure from CREDO members and our allies, Democratic champions gained the bipartisan support they needed to pass VAWA.
We unleashed the same grassroots pressure to get this latest version of VAWA approved in the House of Representatives. Rep. Sheila Jackon Lee’s VAWA legislation improves on previous versions and would:
- Bar evictions of survivors based on the actions of their abusers.
- Prohibit people with dating violence or stalking convictions from possessing firearms.
- Improve access to federal crimes databases for Native American women and affirm tribal criminal jurisdiction in cases where the assailant is not a member of the tribe.
- Strengthen protections against online harassment.
- Expand protections for LGBTQ survivors.
The legislation now moves to the Senate, which is why we need to keep up the fight. CREDO and our allies will be mobilizing again in the coming weeks to make sure Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders pass the reauthorization legislation. Survivors can’t wait any longer for Congress to do the right thing.
Posted on April 11, 2019
Victory! Both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly recently passed – by veto-proof margins – a landmark clean energy and jobs bill that will put the state on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2040.
More than 1,000 CREDO activists signed a petition and helped make this victory possible by joining a coalition effort led by state and local organizations in Maryland.
Once enacted, the Clean Energy Jobs Act will:
- Require Maryland to ensure that 50% of its electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030, extending the state’s current mandate of 25 percent by 2020.
- Fund small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in clean energy.
- Provide millions of dollars to workforce development programs, creating thousands of jobs and making the state a national leader in renewable energy.
- Cut carbon emissions equivalent to taking 1.7 million cars off the road each year.
- Generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic benefits to the state.
As our allies at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network put it, this victory “was made possible by an immense grassroots push in the final weeks of session.” Many thanks to our CREDO members in Maryland and our environmental allies on the ground who are fighting climate change in Maryland.
Posted on April 11, 2019
Victory! Thanks to hundreds of thousands of CREDO activists and allies who raised their voices to fight back against the war in Yemen and helped bring an end to this horrible humanitarian crisis, Congress voted to end U.S. involvement in Yemen.
With massive U.S. support, Saudi Arabia waged war in Yemen for more than three years, resulting in around 50,000 direct casualties of violence and more than 113,000 children – 130 a day – dying of malnutrition and preventable disease. The United States provided the Saudis with weapons and logistical and intelligence support and helped refuel coalition jets as Saudi Arabians dropped bombs on Yemeni civilians under the guise of confronting Iran, which has limited ties to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
While Donald Trump could still veto the resolution – as he remains dangerously cozy with the Saudi regime – this action by both houses of Congress sends a clear message that Trump’s warmongering is unacceptable, and the responsibility for the atrocities and heart-wrenching death toll occurring in Yemen fall squarely on Trump himself.
Posted on April 5, 2019
If you’re like most Americans, you reach for your phone within the first hour of waking up. And that impulse to check your phone will continue throughout the day. Americans spend about over four hours on their smartphones, with 90 percent of that time on apps.
And those apps know you. In fact, they might know details about your life that even you can’t recall. For example, do you remember where you were at 6:53 p.m. on Thursday, March 7? Your cell phone does.
And it’s happy to share that info with as many as 100 companies or more.
Cell phone app companies sell your location data to advertisers and other organizations
The buying and selling of location-based advertising are estimated to have brought in over $21 billion in 2018.
It might be uncomfortable to think that your cell phone behavior is being sold, but it also provides one of the most appreciated aspects of a digitally connected life – convenience. Selling that data is often how your phone is able to ping you about the best bowl of clam chowder in town when you’re near the restaurant that serves it.
Can your cell phone data identify who you are?
Location data is generally thought to be anonymous and not tied to any one person. And, to be fair, the location data apps collect is not tied to a person’s name or phone number. However, a New York Times article illustrated how location data can easily be used to identify individuals by anyone who has access to the raw data. That would likely be employees of the company and potentially hackers if those companies are comprised.
What sort of information can be obtained from reviewing your location data files?
There is a startling amount of information contained in your phone’s location files. For example, if you visited a therapist, your phone would have the date, time, and location of your visit. Frequent a marijuana dispensary? Yup, your phone contains that information too.
To get a great perspective on what your phone knows about you, check out Google Maps’ new feature called Timeline. Google says Timeline allows you to “rediscover the places you’ve been and the routes you’ve traveled in your timeline.” Theoretically, your Timeline is only visible to you, and you can delete places, days, or your history. But a quick glimpse shows you that Google Maps has an intimate understanding of where you go, what you do, and what’s important to you.
You can turn location services off on both iPhone and Android devices, but it’s not always a straightforward process. Moreover, turning location services off can impede the performance of the app you are using.
How to limit location tracking
When you download an app, it usually asks for permission to access certain data or features on your phone. It might request access to your camera, contacts, microphone, location, or any other number of things. If it doesn’t make sense for the app to require that information, select “deny.” Many apps, particularly game apps, will download and function just fine without those permissions. However, some apps will not function properly unless you grant them full permission.
To check app permissions for apps that you’ve already downloaded, do the following:
- Open Settings
- Select Privacy
- Select Location Services
You can then choose to grant location tracking always, when you are using the app, or never.
- Select Settings
- Select Apps
- Tap the three dots on the upper right-hand corner of your screen
- Select App Permissions
- Select Location
- Deselect the apps you wish to rescind location tracking permissions from
The case for going with the location data flow
Cell phone apps make life’s chores and tasks effortless. Google maps not only provides directions but also alerts you to traffic conditions, searches for faster routes, and suggests where to stop for a bite to eat or a much-needed pit stop. Countless apps alert you to sales at shops you may be near or even provide coupons for the grocery store you happen to be shopping at. Those are real-time benefits you experience because of location tracking.
Ultimately, you need to determine what your priority is: convenience or privacy. As the old saying goes, you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. And so it is with cell phone apps’ location data, privacy, and convenience.