Human Rights Watch's Senior Russian Researcher Tanya Lokshina has just revealed that Edward Snowden is planning to file for asylum in Russia and will then prepare to travel to Latin America. Lokshina was a member of the team of human rights experts that were invited to meet with Snowden recently. New York Times reporter Ellen Barry replayed Lokshina's reports via Twitter early this morning.
Latin America would be a very friendly place for Snowden to travel to as Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador have all offered him asylum. Venezuela is the only official offer that is outstanding. The other countries listed require Snowden to be in-country before the request for asylum can be processed.
Russian president Vladimir Putin commented that his country would only grant asylum to Snowden if he ceased any activities with which he intends to harm Russia's "American Partners." Snowden replied by saying "No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US." I wonder if he meant no harm when he disclosed US spying activities to the Chinese?
This morning, the World Service Authority issued NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a world passport based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This World Passport grants Snowden the right to travel throughout the world without limitations. It does not stop him from being extradited back to the US if he lands in a country that has extradition treaties with the US.
Currently Snowden is immobilized in a Moscow airport transit lounge with no outgoing ticket to any nation. The WSO says that this is a flagrant violation of article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone has the right to leave any country including his own and be returned to his own country.
Iran has followed through with its plans to launch its own national email service which requires all citizens to sign up for it as a "safe" way to communicate with government officials. Each citizen was given an email address but before they can use it, account holders will have to provide their local post office with a full name, their national identification number, and their postal code.
Mohammad Hasan Nami, Iran's minister for information and communication technology, said: "For mutual interaction and communication between the government and the people, from now on every Iranian will receive a special email address along with their postcode." He added that "With the assignment of an email address to every Iranian, government interactions with the people will take place electronically."
Independent experts doubt the plan, however, and say that the plan will most likely not materialize across the country as the newly elected president Hassan Rouhani, who has taken a softer line on Internet and web censorship, is due to be sworn-in in August.
Some Google users were shocked to find the service not available this morning, which caused a small bout of mass hysteria on social networking sites such as Facebook. The outages began around 9:30 AM ET and reports began to surface on Facebook and Twitter shortly thereafter.
An hour later, around 10:30 AM ET, all of Google services had appeared to be restored and back to their full functionality. Among the services affected were Google+, Google Drive, YouTube, and Gmail. The outages appear to have only affected those living in the southeast region of the United States, however, this reporter experienced no interruptions at all.
As typhoon season approaches, Google has expanded its Public Alerts system to include Taiwan and has launched a dedicated crisis map for the country in preparation for the rainy season. These new additions come just in time as weather agencies are currently monitoring a typhoon that can hit the island any day now.
In a blog post this morning, Google said that starting today, the Google Public Alerts page (Source #2) will feature severe weather alerts for typhoons and flood-related events in Taiwan. Additionally, these alerts will also appear on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Now. For example, if a typhoon alert is issued, the alert will be displayed once you search for relevant information on Google Search and Google Maps. Google Now on Android or iOS will also display a card with information about any typhoon alert if the warning has been issued near your location.
Google has also launched a dedicated Google Crisis Map for Taiwan (Source #3) that provides details in the event of a crisis such as shelter locations, evacuation routes, and much more. Google has teamed up with Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, Water Resource Agency, Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, Directorate General of Highways, and the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction to get such a project up and running.
The time has finally come for Samsung to begin constructing its new campus in Silicon Valley. The company will break ground this week on its brand-new headquarters for research and development. The building was designed by renowned architectural firm NBBJ.
The 1.1 million square foot campus will consist of a 10-story central building with two completely open-air floors. The glass covered exterior will be contrasted by a white metal, while a parking garage with a folding green wall will also be present. Following in other Silicon Valley giants footsteps, the facility will house cafés, a gym, and even gardens for employees to rest and relax in. Samsung says that the campus will be built to LEED Gold standards meaning the entire footprint will be greener than its gardens.
n a statement on the matter, Samsung said "there is little surprise that most of their employees are based in South Korea where the company is headquartered. But the company also realizes that innovation is by no means geographically limited and as such, they are continuing to expand the extent of their operations elsewhere."
Barnes & Noble has been facing a tough market for the past several years now. With dwindling physical book sales as well as a failed attempt at the digital market, the once heavyweight book retailer is facing yet another major setback today. William Lynch, the company's CEO, has just resigned effective immediately.
The resignation came quite unexpected and the company has not yet disclosed any reason for Lynch leaving, but industry analyst are speculating that the deal between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft to buy its Nook properties has fallen through. This would be a major blow to the company as it would lose a possible $1 billion bolster to its coffers and would ditch a division of its company that has never seen a profit.
Edward Snowden has been enjoyed the cold Russian landscape for a few days now, with WikiLeaks' legal advisor, Sarah Harrison, submitting asylum applications and requests for asylum assistance to a bunch of different countries.
The NSA whistleblower has found asylum in Venezuela, with President Nicolas Maduro stating during a parade that they've rejected US requests for extradition and will offer Snowden political and humanitarian asylum. Yet, no one has seen Snowden since Hong Kong. I don't know why he wouldn't have a video out by now - and I'm sure he knows how to cover his tracks, anyway.
NSA's PRISM system is still capturing all of our data, and I'm surprised I haven't been arrested yet for the amount of content I've written and edited for some of our guys here at TweakTown.
Well, now we have German Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, saying that any users on the Internet that are scared that their private information might be scooped up by the NSA should use one simple method to stop this: stop using US services such as Google and Facebook. He continues: "Whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don't go through American servers."
Once you step down the rabbit hole, you'll discover there is no end - and this is what Edward Snowden has done to the world by telling us about the NSA PRISM surveillance system. But now France have been caught with their pants down, too.
A report from French newspaper, Le Monde, says that the French program is operated by the country's intelligence agency Directorate General for External Security (DGSE). This system collects phone metadata and Internet communications all across the country. The French program also extends to monitoring traffic from popular sites like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo - the same companies that have denied giving the US government access to their servers under PRISM - yeah, right.
Le Monde reports that French politicians are aware of the program, but have been sworn to secrecy over it. Will the French people revolt over this? As July 4 is celebrated in the US (hangovers now, I guess) and their "freedom", the world has never been further away from freedom than it has now.
European Parliament get serious, they've voted in favor of investigating the US surveillance of EU residents
The NSA's PRISM system continues to bury itself into the mind of the people that are awake in this world, and now the European Parliament have voted that they're set to investigate the US surveillance in Europe, and report on their impact before the end of the year.
The vote was 483-98, so it was strongly in favor of starting this investigation and will see EU officials considering a limit being put on data they voluntarily provide to US authorities, such as shutting down programs that forward air passenger and bank records. Right now, there's nothing bad between the EU and US, but once this investigation goes into full swing, there's no telling what could happen.
This was only going to be a matter of time, but I still feel like governments should have known about this. If some foreign country (even an ally) was spying on me, I'd be pissed. It's the equivalent of your neighbor tapping every device in your house, knowing every movement and word you utter - you wouldn't be happy neighbors anymore, would you?
Something we all use in our day-to-day lives and you wouldn't think twice about it, but the computer mouse changed everything. The man who invented it, Douglas Engelbart, has passed away.
SRI International, the research institute where he once worked said in a statement that he died on Tuesday night in his home in Atherton, California. SRI's President and CEO, Curtis R. Carlson said: "Doug's legacy is immense - anyone in the world who uses a mouse or enjoys the productive benefits of a personal computer is indebted to him."
Engelbart was 88, and will be forever remembered for his contribution to the world - the computer mouse.
Since 1998, Microsoft has offered the highly praised TechNet subscription service to IT professionals and developers. For a nominal fee, professionals were given access to the entire catalog of Microsoft software which greatly aided in development and system administration. Today, Microsoft announced in a letter to its subscribers that it will retire its TechNet subscription service effective August 31, 2013, the date in which all current subscribers' contracts end.
The service was also used by PC enthusiasts worldwide as it offered a cheap way to get access to Microsoft software that otherwise cost thousands of dollars. This led to enthusiasts activating enterprise-level software and consumer-level operating systems and software that were normally meant for "evaluation use only." Unfortunately, this also led to a rise in piracy of Windows software. Pirates figured out that they could subscribe to TechNet and sell the keys along with ISO files downloaded from the site at prices that were always too good to be true.
Microsoft has repeatedly tried to tighten the clamp on piracy by cutting the available keys to TechNet subscribers back in 2010 and then doing the same thing two years later. Fortunately, Microsoft is not leaving its subscribers out in the rain as it will offer current subscribers the option to renew their subscription for one additional year after the shutdown in August. Check out source #2 below for the full announcement from Microsoft.
Google has just unveiled the plans for its new London headquarters which is poised to become the longest building in the city. The company says that if approved for construction the new headquarters will be 330 meters in length and 11 stories in height. While this is nowhere near the height of London's Shard, it will be Google's second largest complex with its Mountain View offices being first.
The glassy, modern building was designed by architectural firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and carries an overall price tag of just a mere $998 million. Estimates value the headquarters at $1.52 billion once completed. The building will be constructed from a steel frame and cross laminated wood panels while the exterior will be skinned in glass.
In true Google fashion, there will be climbing walls between floors as well as other employee friendly features such as a gym, and personal relaxation areas. The building will be located near the city's King's Cross railway station, in an effort to continue the massive regeneration push that has been ongoing there for several years now. The new headquarters is expected to be completed in 2016 if approved.
If you haven't heard about the NSA's PRISM program yet, you really are behind in current events - and I suggest you check out the countless pieces we've all written on it here at TweakTown. Now we have The Washington Post unveiling a heap of new slides about the NSA's PRISM program, as shown below, or here.
The new slides give us a much better look into just how much, and how far this data collection goes. It also includes information on how an NSA analyst requests information from a particular company, the number of current surveillance targets in PRISM's database, as well as the dates the big players on the Internet began participating.
As you can see above, there are some serious companies involved, and they're taking everything. This includes e-mail, video, VoiP, file transfers, social networking details and more. Pretty much anything that is done electronically by any human being on Earth, is recorded by this program. Every company that matters is on there - Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, and more.
Guardian journalist who broke the NSA whistleblower story says the NSA can store one billion cell phone calls each day
It continues to get worse for the NSA, with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald saying he has another big scoop about the National Security Agency (NSA) and their PRISM program.
Greenwald, when speaking over Skype to the Socialism Conference in Chicago, claimed that the NSA has the ability to record, and store one billion phone calls each day. Greenwald was the one to write about NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, and the crazy but very real PRISM program. He says: "It talks about a brand new technology that enables the national security agency to redirect into its own repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day. One billion cell phone calls every single day."
He continued with:
But what we're really talking about here is a localized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency. It doesn't mean that they're listening to every call, it means they're storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time, and it does mean that they're collecting millions upon millions upon millions of our phone and email records.
If you've been following TweakTown over the past couple of weeks, you'll know about the Prism surveillance program that is being conducted by the NSA. Shortly after the revelations regarding the NSA and its spying programs, a petition popped up online. This petition, titled "Stop Watching Us," urges Congress to stop the NSA.
This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy.
A similar petition is taking place on The White House's We the People. This petition has reached the 100,000 signature threshold that forces the White House to make a response. The petition asks the government to pardon Edward Snowden.
If you want to sign the petition, you can find it here.
FDA and US officials seize more than 9,600 domains and confiscate $41 million from illegal online pharmacies
During what can only be described as a massive crackdown on illegal online pharmacies, the US FDA has taken down more than 9,600 websites that illegally sold "dangerous and unapproved" prescription drugs. The FDA says that it issued regulatory warnings to the site owners and proceeded to seize any websites along with $41 million of illegal medicine.
Dubbed "Operation Pangea," the operation took place from June 18-25 and involved not only the FDA, but many partners worldwide. The FDA says that many of these illegal sites operated as part of a large organized criminal network and most falsely claimed to be Canadian pharmacies.
Many of the sites displayed fake license and certification documents as well as falsely used drug brand names and the wording "FDA Approved" to put potential customers at ease. Furthermore, to manipulate potential victims, the sites would use names that look convincing to non-savvy browsers. Two examples given were Walgreens-store.com and c-v-s-pharmacy.com.
The crackdown was a small part of a larger week of international takedowns that was called the International Week of Internet Action which is formed by a coalition made up by the FDA, INTERPOL, and the Worlds Customs Organization. National health and law enforcement agencies from 99 countries also took part in the massive online raid.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg headed up the press conference this afternoon held by Spotify at its headquarters in New York City. At the announcement, the company unveiled its plans to build a brand-new US headquarters office on Sixth Avenue which will be several times the size of its current space.
The big news, however, came when the company announced its plans to create unique and original content. This news came from Ken Parks who heads up the company's NYC office. While brief and limited, we suspect this means that the company will be holding new live performances either in New York City or around the country. While some speculate that Spotify could create its own label, I feel that is highly unlikely, and the idea of Spotify-hosted concerts is much more realistic.
Google is most often referred to as the search king, and rightfully so as it does search better than all others. What we tend to forget is that Google makes most of it's money from advertising, which is something else the company does phenomenally well. Like most other companies, Google is not a fan of competition and this morning it has flexed its muscles in an effort to remove all "adult content ads" from Blogger.
Google is sending out notices to owners of adult-themed blogs hosted on its popular Blogger service. The notice warns of a change to its terms of service which will restrict its users from earning money by displaying adult ads on their blog. The email explicitly states that on June 30 Google will "strictly prohibit the monetization of Adult content on Blogger."
At the moment, it appears that Google is contacting Blogger users that have already manually mark their blogs as adult or have been identified (through means unknown) to be running explicit ads. The process does not appear to be flawless as some users have reported receiving email even though they have never made a single post on their blog.
NSA's PRISM system is reading everything you do, say, or whisper by yourself in a lonely corner - but those powers could soon be dealt a little kryptonite if US Senator Patrick Leahy's new bill is enacted upon.
Leahy's new bill has been called the "FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act of 2013" that aims to "strengthen privacy protections, accountability and oversight related to domestic surveillance." The bill aims to calm down the PATRIOT Act so that the government is forced to show evidence that a citizen is linked with a foreign group or power before surveillance on the citizen even begins.
I doubt we'll see that, and even if we do and it is enacted upon, how would you know if this is the way they do it? They could continue snooping and you would be none the wiser about it - just like most of the world was until Edward Snowden came onto the scene.