The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

How do they know?

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 12 October 2020, 07:49 Last update: about 11 days ago

One sets out to make a purchase over the internet... let’s say a book at Book Depository... and then one changes one’s mind. How come that for days on end after that, while visiting other sites which have nothing to do with that other previous address, adverts will be in chase prompting the products one was about to buy, then gave up?

Stretching into the computers we employ as a daily help, an organized spy network is alive relentlessly watching how we live, what we do. This is being operated by the gigantic digital companies which are providing us with needed “services”. There’s no restraint, no scruples in how they spy on us as their operations have become increasingly powerful. There are controls supposedly about how information is being assembled about what people do with their computers.

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Yet, the big digital corporations – the GAFA – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Amazon – promote a holier-than-thou aura while persistently jacking up their espionage from which they make very good profits. A report recently published by the US Congress provides shocking details about how this is being done.  

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SPREADING

In past weeks, the corona virus pandemic upped its pressure on people’s way of life.

Few were astonished at what happened to President Trump and his merry crew at the White House. One doesn’t damp down (as they tried to do) a pandemic with rhetoric and theatrical gestures. By contrast in Germany matters were  broadly speaking, handled prudently. This showed for a while, in the way by which there, the pandemic seemed less threatening than elsewhere. Since last week though, the situation has changed quite significantly...

As of now, personally I cannot see what other way out there could be, except that of increasing the controls which restrain people’s behaviour in public. It’s not an alluring scenario...

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NO, YES, ABSTAIN, BE ABSENT

In votes that are taken in the European Parliament occasions arise when you disagree with proposals being made for reasons that are not always similar. There come moments when you feel that there is no reason why a particular provision should be considered for a vote but still you’re expected to decide on it.

To be sure the European Parliament differs from the Maltese one, in that it allows members not just to vote yes or no, but also to abstain.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that these three options are not enough. For let’s say that a particular issue has been raised about which you feel (rightly) that it’s outside the terms of reference of the Parliament. Yet if you vote yes or no or abstain, you are implicitly accepting that it should be heard.

So now, on certain items of the order paper for voting, I  have begun not to vote, even while being present, as can be seen from my input on other votes. Even if then I vote on a resolution as a whole.

I find this approach quite intriguing since before, on political issues that did not turn around some election or other, I never had a choice between four options.

 

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