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Privacy & Rights Posts - Page 1

Germany considers using typewriters to stop the US from spying on them

It was only a year ago that the German government considered the Xbox One to be a monitoring device, and this was at the time of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden coming out about the NSA spying on the entire world.

 

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Well, the German government is now considering shifting back to the old-fashioned way of writing documents: using a typewriter. The use of a typewriter would be used to type up confidential documents, so that they don't get typed up on a PC, that has an operating system that can be hacked, which is connected to a network. A typewriter can have someone type up a confidential document, finish it, and file it away - without the prying eyes of the NSA getting to it.

 

Chair of the German Parliament, Patrick Sensburg, has an enquiry into the alleged spying by the NSA, saying that committee members are considering new security measures and are thinking about ditching e-mail in favor of a serious move back to using typewriters. He told the ARD Morning Show Monday: "As a matter of fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it's even a non-electronic typewriter".

Continue reading 'Germany considers using typewriters to stop the US from spying on them' (full post)

Obama administration: Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to online storage

It was only a couple of months ago that a New York judge ruled that US search warrants applied to digital information, even if this data was stored somewhere overseas. This happened because of an effort to find a Microsoft user's account information that was stored overseas, in Dublin, Ireland.

 

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The Redmond-based software giant responded to the ruling, challenging it, stating that the US government's longstanding views of digital content on overseas servers was wrong, and that the protections applied to physical media should be extended to cover digital content, too. The US government has replied, saying that according to the Stored Communications Act (SCA), content that is stored online doesn't have the same Fourth Amendment protection as physical data.

 

The US government said in a statement: "Overseas records must be disclosed domestically when a valid subpoena, order, or warrant compels their production. The disclosure of records under such circumstances has never been considered tantamount to a physical search under Fourth Amendment principles, and Microsoft is mistaken to argue that the SCA provides for an overseas search here. As there is no overseas search or seizure, Microsoft's reliance on principles of extra-territoriality and comity falls wide of the mark".

Glenn Greenwald says there is a second NSA whisleblower

It looks like Edward Snowden might not be the only NSA whistleblower according to Glenn Greenwald, with the tease coming from Greenwald who tweeted over the weekend that the fact of a second US whistleblower "seems clear at this point".

 

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Greenwald believes there is a second US whistleblower that is leaking information about the NSA to media around the world. Greenwald added: "The lack of sourcing to Snowden on this & that last article seems petty telling". The tweet was made after a German site published an analysis of the NSA's XKEYSCORE code, which doesn't seem to have some from Snowden.

 

It was only after this that speculation of a second US whistleblower began, with experts agreeing that it looks like Snowden isn't alone. ARD, a German public broadcaster, said in a report last week that the NSA is using its XKEYSCORE program to track Internet users who search the web on how to stay hidden when on the Internet. Greenwald added: "I've long thought one of the most significant and enduring consequences of Snowden's successful whistleblowing will be that he will inspire other leakers to come forward".

Continue reading 'Glenn Greenwald says there is a second NSA whisleblower' (full post)

Tor users are being targeted by the NSA for surveillance

When Edward Snowden blew the lid on the NSA's spying last year, everything changed. The NSA has asid that even though it intercepts pretty much every single person's communications, it only "targets" a very small number of these people.

 

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This smaller percentage of traffic is flagged as a pattern, or suspicious by the NSA, which then starts their data retention. These targets don't see their data flushed from NSA databases on a 48-hour or 30-day basis like the rest of the world, instead their data is kept forever. This news comes from German site Tagesschau, where Lena Kampf, Jacob Appelbaum and John Goetz reported the NSA's rules on what is deemed a "target" to the US spy agency.

 

They report that the NSA targets anyone who searches for online articles about Tails, or Tor. Anyone who even uses Tor becomes an instantly target for long-term surveillance and data rentention. Both Tor and Tails have been part of the mainstream discussion for online security, surveillance and privacy for quite sometime. For the NSA to just instantly put surveillance and retention on these people is yet another step of unbelievable, in an already unbelievable breach of users' privacy and rights.

Continue reading 'Tor users are being targeted by the NSA for surveillance' (full post)

ProtonMail, an 'NSA-proof' email service from Harvard and MIT students

If you're worried about someone snooping through your e-mail, you might want to take a look at ProtonMail. The new e-mail service is being heralded as being "NSA-proof," something that was created by a group of Harvard and MIT students.

 

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ProtonMail was created by five founders, who all met at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. They were each looking for an e-mail service that was more secure than Lavabit, which is what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was using until it disappeared. ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption, with the founders using heavy user authentication measures. This, according to the founders, ensures that your data is inaccessible to the ProtonMail team, let alone a government or spy agency.

 

Andy Yen, one of ProtonMail's creators, spoke with Bostinno, where he said: "Even we don't have the ability to read that email. If we can't read it, we obviously can't turn it over to any government agencies". There's also a SnapChat-like feature built into ProtonMail, where users can program their e-mails to self-destruct once they have reached the recipient's inbox, or after a certain amount of time.

The big three will now notify everyone of government inquires

After months of waiting on an official answer from the US Government, Apple, Google and Facebook say that they are tired of waiting and will begin notifying users of how often and when the government request their data be handed over. The big 3 have said that they all have begun updating their privacy policies to reflect this change as well.

 

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"Later this month, Apple will update its policies so that in most cases when law enforcement requests personal information about a customer, the customer will receive a notification from Apple," company spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said. It's still unsure how the notifications will be handled per company, but the major win here is that it seems like the major tech companies are finally starting to fight back for the consumer.

Continue reading 'The big three will now notify everyone of government inquires' (full post)

Microsoft charges the government up to $15,600 for your personal info

We all know by now that the FBI, CIA and NSA request information on us from big tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google, but did you know that Microsoft sends a massive invoice every time it gives away your private information? A newly released document shows that at least in one incident, Microsoft billed the government as much as $15,600 for information that was requested.

 

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The Syrian Electronic Army hacker group has just leaked details that show Microsoft billing the US government more than $350,000 on September 5th of 2013. The invoice appears to show that more than 78 invoices for request were sent to the government, with the highest being shown set at a whopping $15,600.00.

Continue reading 'Microsoft charges the government up to $15,600 for your personal info' (full post)

Australia wants to increase spying on citizens after Snowden leaks

Edward Snowden has changed the world with his revelations of the NSA spying on virtually everyone, where Down Under, multiple Australian law enforcement agencies and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) have submitted proposals asking the Australian Senate for more surveillance power.

 

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State police have even gone as far as asking the government to log citizens' Web browsing history. After the Snowden leaks on the NSA's spying programs and Australia's cooperation in sharing information with other countries, the Australian Senate opened an inquiry on whether Australia's Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act of 1979 should be revised, in order to better protect Australian citizens' privacy.

 

Since then, ASIO as well as multiple state police, submitted commentary asking for even more data retention, but offering no added protection for citizens' data. ASIO added that the Snowden leaks will make it harder for the organization to gather meaningful data about a person, so it thinks it should have more power to perform its surveillance duties.

Continue reading 'Australia wants to increase spying on citizens after Snowden leaks' (full post)

NSA's MYSTIC program records entire nation's worth of phone calls

Edward Snowden's latest leak is quite interesting, with the NSA whistleblower talking about the US spy agency's MYSTIC voice interception program, which is capable of collecting the entire nation's "every single" phone call, storing the voice recordings for a month.

 

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MYSTIC began back in 2009, with the NSA developing a RETRO tool that is capable of accessing any voice call from the selected nation, for a period of 30 days. The first nation to have their phone calls recorded by MYSTIC and RETRO started in 2011, with as many as six more countries possibly being spied upon. The Washington Post was asked by US officials to note reveal which countries MYSTIC was operating on.

 

The program was quite successful, with the NSA bringing in "high-stakes intelligence that would not have existed under traditional surveillance programs in which subjects were identified for targeting in advance," according to The Washington Post. "Unlike most of the government's public claims about the value of controversial programs, [highly classified] briefings supply names, dates, locations and fragments of intercepted calls in convincing detail."

Continue reading 'NSA's MYSTIC program records entire nation's worth of phone calls' (full post)

Canada spied on air travelers, privacy invasion is global battle

The Communications Security Establishment Canada, the NSA-like department north of the border, launched a trial program to monitor unsuspecting travelers using Wi-Fi in Canadian airports. The collected metadata provided Canadian authorities with a glimpse of user Internet browsing habits, friendships, political affiliation, and other private information.

 

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The leaked document indicated the "federal intelligence agency was then able to track the travelers for a week or more as they - and their wireless devices - showed up in other Wi-Fi 'hot spots' in cities" throughout Canada and in some U.S. airports. More alarming, the Canadian authorities could track travelers within its own borders at hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, train stations, and other public locations while they remained in the country.

 

The disclosure came from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, after he accused mainly the NSA for wide-scale spying of U.S. citizens, foreign residents, and political leaders of other governments. Most of Snowden's spying revelations focused on the actions of the NSA, but Canada, England, and other nations also have used newer technologies to conduct surveillance.

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