Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Becomes a Civil Rights Crusader

from MIT Technology Review When Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to help the FBI get into a mass murderer’s iPhone last winter, he was hailed for his boldness in fighting the government on a matter of principle. In fact, Cook was borrowing from the playbook of a top executive at Apple’s dowdier rival Microsoft—a genial, sandy-haired man named Brad Smith. Smith has taken the government to court four times in the past three years, each time accusing it of breaching the Constitution in its efforts to get its hands on Microsoft customers’ data. He believes computers and the Internet have weakened […]

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Mass Government Surveillance Is Chilling To Online Dissent

from co.exist We act differently when we know we’re being watched, and that includes adapting our online behavior because we know that the government is tracking our every move. If you’ve ever changed what you were about to write in a forum post, or censored a tweet because you thought it might get picked up by the NSA, you already know that this is true. Self-censorship is particularly dangerous, because it can silence minority opinions, says a new research paper by Wayne State University journalism professor Elizabeth Stoycheff. It can lead, she says, to a “spiral of silence,” wherein “individuals, motivated by […]

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Always On: Privacy Implications Of Microphone-Enabled Devices

from <re/code> Is your smart TV listening to your conversations? Are your children’s toys spying on your family?  These questions are being raised as the next generation of Internet-connected devices enters the market. Such devices, often dubbed “always on,” include televisions, cars, toys and home personal assistants, many of which now include microphones and speech-recognition capabilities. Voice is an increasingly useful interface to engage with our devices. Consider the Amazon Echo, which can be activated by spoken command (“Alexa”), Mattel’s Hello Barbie, or Apple’s familiar personal assistant Siri, which can be activated by spoken command (“Hey, Siri”). The growing prevalence […]

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The Future Of Big Data Is Bigger Than You Can Possibly Imagine

from co.Exist Imagine a world without government, schools, a legal system, law enforcement, or companies. It’s a world unlike the one we currently live in—but based on the evolution of technology and how we use it—representative of what the world may become. Imagine a computer infrastructure that could—with global knowledge and the ability to enact precise tweaks to the social and economic structure—drive the evolution of society. This is the idea behind the Universal Graph. More here.

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Apple’s Security Debate is Everyone’s Problem (Including Yours)

from Note to Self The debate over whether the government can access your phone is here. Hello! You’ve probably been following along, but in case you need the tl;dr: The debate revved up last month when the FBI asked Apple to hack into a locked iPhone associated with one of the gunmen from the San Bernardino massacre last December. Since then, the conversation has evolved into a national debate over what the government should (and shouldn’t) be allowed to access. The conversation has officially moved outside the realm of tech and the government. With 90 percent of American adults owning a cell phone, the issue is hitting a […]

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How a Cashless Society Could Embolden Big Brother

from The Atlantic In 2014, Cass Sunstein—one-time “regulatory czar” for the Obama administration—wrote an op-ed advocating for a cashless society, on the grounds that it would reduce street crime. His reasoning? A new study had found an apparent causal relationship between the implementation of the Electronic Benefit Transfer system for welfare benefits, and a drop in crime. Under the new EBT system, welfare recipients could now use debit cards, rather than being forced to cash checks in their entirety—meaning there was less cash circulating in poor neighborhoods. And the less cash there was on the streets, the study’s authors concluded, the […]

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Forget Apple vs. the FBI: WhatsApp Just Switched on Encryption for a Billion People

from Wired FOR MOST OF the past six weeks, the biggest story out of Silicon Valley was Apple’s battle with the FBI over a federal order to unlock the iPhone of a mass shooter. The company’s refusal touched off a searing debate over privacy and security in the digital age. But this morning, at a small office in Mountain View, California, three guys made the scope of that enormous debate look kinda small.  Mountain View is home to WhatsApp, an online messaging service now owned by tech giant Facebook, that has grown into one of the world’s most important applications. More than a billion people trade […]

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Your Quantified Body, Your Quantified Self

from Note To Self One of the fastest-growing sectors of the tech industry involves turning all of the little details about our health into quantifiable data points. Millions of users have strapped heart-rate monitoring pieces of plastic to their wrists, scanned in the calories from their frozen dinner, and squinted at charts representing everything from the quality of a night’s sleep to the regularity of their menstrual cycle. And, according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost as many have stopped wearing them within the first six months. To the many, many people who have tried these tools – not […]

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Tim Cook Says Apple Will Fight Us Gov’t Over Court-Ordered Iphone Backdoor

from ars technica Apple chief Tim Cook has attacked the recent court order that compels Apple to unlock and decrypt the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone. “Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the US government,” says an open letter published by Cook early this morning. Late yesterday, a federal judge in California ordered Apple to help the US government (the FBI) unlock and decrypt the iPhone 5C belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who shot up an office party in San Bernardino in December 2015. In the past, […]

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Congress Starts to Get Serious About Online Privacy

from NYTs Congress could soon vote on a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to get a search warrant from a judge to obtain emails, photographs and other documents Americans have stored online. This important legislation would update the law to reflect how people use the Internet today. Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, government agents need a warrant if they want access to email stored on the servers of companies like Google and Yahoo, but only if the messages are less than 180 days old. For older messages and other digital files, law enforcement officials can […]

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IoT Opens New Privacy, Surveillance Issues, Says Harvard Study

from MediaPost Data wants to be free. Not as in there not being a financial cost, but more in terms of being accessible to many. But not all entities want data to be free, for a host of reasons. The U.S. government has since the early Snowden days a few years back suggested that their ability to track suspects using technology is under threat because of encryption by tech companies. But a new study just out from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University says that is not the case. The study, Don’t Panic; Making Progress on […]

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The Power of Privacy – Film

from the guardian In this documentary film – part of the Guardian’s Power of Privacy series, supported by Silent Circle – Aleks Krotoski travels the world to undergo challenges that explore our digital life in the 21st century. Watch her be stalked and hacked, fight to get leaked documents back, dive into open data and live in a futuristic home that monitors her every move. More here.

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“No Cost” License Plate Readers Are Turning Texas Police into Mobile Debt Collectors and Data Miners

from EFF Vigilant Solutions, one of the country’s largest brokers of vehicle surveillance technology, is offering a hell of a deal to law enforcement agencies in Texas: a whole suite of automated license plate reader (ALPR) equipment and access to the company’s massive databases and analytical tools—and it won’t cost the agency a dime. Even though the technology is marketed as budget neutral, that doesn’t mean no one has to pay. Instead, Texas police fund it by gouging people who have outstanding court fines and handing Vigilant all of the data they gather on drivers for nearly unlimited commercial use. […]

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Why Are Digital-Privacy Apps So Hard to Use?

from The Atlantic Unless two people are in the same room, it’s hard for them to communicate information securely. Phone calls, emails, and text messages could be open to eavesdropping from governments, companies, or hackers—and even paper mail is subject to tracking. Truly private online communications have been available for some time, but most require a high level of technology know-how. Those uncomfortable setting up a PGP key to encrypt their emails, for example, have for decades been left without an option to communicate securely. But since Edward Snowden’s trove of leaked government documents revealed the extent of the National Security Agency’s […]

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How The NSA Can Break Trillions Of Encrypted Web And VPN Connections

from ars technica For years, privacy advocates have pushed developers of websites, virtual private network apps, and other cryptographic software to adopt the Diffie-Hellman cryptographic key exchange as a defense against surveillance from the US National Security Agency and other state-sponsored spies. Now, researchers are renewing their warning that a serious flaw in the way the key exchange is implemented is allowing the NSA to break and eavesdrop on trillions of encrypted connections. The cost for adversaries is by no means modest. For commonly used 1024-bit keys, it would take about a year and cost a “few hundred million dollars” to crack […]

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California Cops, Want To Use A Stingray? Get A Warrant, Governor Says

from ars technica On Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that requires police get a warrant to use a stingray during investigations. The devices, which are also known as cell-site simulators, are usually used to locate a phone but can also in some cases intercept calls and text messages. The law, known as the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, imposes other sweeping new requirements to enhance digital privacy, and imposes a warrant requirement before police can access nearly any type of digital data produced by or contained within a device or service. “Governor Brown just signed a law that says ‘no’ to […]

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Obama Administration Won’t Seek Encryption-Backdoor Legislation

from ars technica FBI Director James Comey told a congressional panel that the Obama administration won’t ask Congress for legislation requiring the tech sector to install backdoors into their products so the authorities can access encrypted data. Comey said the administration for now will continue lobbying private industry to create backdoors to allow the authorities to open up locked devices to investigate criminal cases and terrorism. “The administration has decided not to seek a legislative remedy now, but it makes sense to continue the conversations with industry,” Comey told a Senate panel of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. Comey’s […]

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Behind the European Privacy Ruling That’s Confounding Silicon Valley

from NYTs On Tuesday, when Max Schrems won a landmark privacy case in the European Court of Justice, Edward J. Snowden told him on Twitter that he had “changed the world for the better.” Penny Pritzker, the United States commerce secretary, had a different opinion, saying the decision “puts at risk the thriving trans-Atlantic digital economy.” The brouhaha, however, had little evident effect on the apparently imperturbable Mr. Schrems. “I expected this,” said Mr. Schrems, a 28-year-old graduate student in law at the University of Vienna who, for the formal reading of the decision, wore jeans and an untucked button-down […]

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EU Privacy Ruling May Disrupt U.S. Tech Firms, Spy Programs

from Bloomberg U.S. Internet companies may lose billions of dollars and spy agencies may be stifled in thwarting terror plots after Europe’s highest court struck down a trans-Atlantic data-use agreement. The U.S. Commerce Department will provide guidance to companies on how to proceed with data transfers in the wake of Tuesday’s ruling, which invalidates a 15-year-old agreement that allowed U.S. technology companies such as Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. to move European customers’ information to the U.S. “It could potentially be disruptive depending on how the Europeans choose to implement it,” Michael Daniel, the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator said in an interview in […]

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