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The UK government's Home Secretary Theresa May has proposed an Investigatory Powers Bill with the aim of bolstering intelligence agencies and law enforcement in surveillance. But, like the Patriot Act in America and Bill C-51 in Canada, it's being criticized for going too far.
Apple has joined the opposition in an effort to see the bill rewritten, saying in a rare public statement that it makes the "personal data of millions of law abiding citizens [...] less secure". Part of its issue is how vague the bill can be, thereby opening it up to abuse of current privacy rights, not just in the UK, but elsewhere, too.
Researchers have discovered there are 256 apps on the App Store that have found their way around Apple's vetting process and violated privacy rights. All of them use the Chinese-developed Youmi SDK. In total, approximately one million people use the apps in question.
To be clear, the developer of any of these apps is not necessarily to blame at all. It appears Youmi is the one interested in acquiring your data, and has insidiously worked gathering tools into its development kit, thereby attempting to cover its tracks and pass the blame onto developers, should the scheme be uncovered.
Nate Lawson, founder of security analytics startup SourceDNA (which uncovered the violations), says this is "definitely the kind of stuff that Apple should have caught."
We already know that most Americans are spied on in every facet of their lives, but it's now come out that AT&T has been working very, very closely with the NSA, sharing Americans' data with them on a scale that should scare most people.
The New York Times is behind the report, where the documents they've seen have said that the NSA has praised AT&T's "extreme willingness to help". The NSA has official instructions to its officials, where when they visit AT&T facilities, they're said to be very polite, with the US spy agency reminding agents that "This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship".
In 2010 alone, AT&T provided the NSA with 1.1 billion domestic cell phone records per day in a bid to stimulate its relationship with the US spy agency before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. In one document from 2013, it has been said that AT&T's "...corporate relationships provide unique accesses to other telecoms and I.S.P.s". This means that other companies that have been using AT&T's networks for transfers, are not safe from the eyes of the NSA, because AT&T has been handing over the information in bulk.
Kim Dotcom has come out swinging, with the Megaupload founder announcing that the 2016 US presidential elections will see some heat coming up with WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange having some "potential roadblocks" for Hillary Clinton.
Dotcom recently spoke with Bloomberg, where he said that Julian Assange will be Hillary Clinton's "worst nightmare" next year, and that he was "aware of some of the things" that would stop Clinton's rise to the Presidency. We could see a future where Dotcom and Assange work together, with Dotcom saying: "If I can can provide some transparency with these people and make them part of what the Internet Party stands for, then I will be happy to do that".
Later on in the interview, Dotcom added that "Hillary hates Julian, she's just an adversary of, I think, Internet freedom". Bloomberg's Emily Chang added "and she signed your extradition request", to which Dotcom replied with "Yeah, you know the crazy thing is I actually like Hillary, I like Obama... it's just so crazy that all of this happened".
The House of Representatives has just passed the USA Freedom Act on Wednesday, something that passed through with votes of 338-88, something that will see the NSA's all-seeing eye of bulk data collection clamped down.
The bill now moves over to the Senate, where it must be approved or a compromise found, by June 1. This is when the provision of the Patriot Act that allows for the NSA to collect Americans' metadata expires. The Senate is expected to vote by May 22, while The White House supports USA Freedom Act, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is against it, and wants to expand Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
This move would allow the NSA to continue collecting bulk data, while companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter along with other big tech companies campaigning in support of the USA Freedom Act as part of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition since late last year.
The NSA has virtually got unrestricted access to most users data, but that doesn't stop the US spy agency from wanting more. NSA chief Michael Rogers has now called for a "front door" encryption key that would provide the NSA with access to your data, but the key would be broken into multiple parts so that no one agency or person could easily get in.
This method would theoretically stop thieves from getting in and taking your data, but it would let government officials access your data at any time, if they have 'permission'. The White House is considering the move, along with others like letting courts order the creation of mirror accounts, so that US agencies can access any and all messages as they arrive, or so that they can back up the data as it's unencrypted. President Obama is considering these new policies, where he should receive a report by the end of the month, with the possibility of a new policy revealed shortly after.
Rogers' solution isn't a one key fits all scenario, with fellow institutions like the National Institute of Standards and Technology against the idea. They note that any door that is introduced would arrive with security holes, even if a split key is created. US agencies like the FBI and NSA don't like widespread encryption because it works so well, but it only works as long as there are key holders that won't just provide the key when asked, or requested.
An investigation that CSO Online conducted has found that if you do not have your network-connected HDDs configured correctly, your files could be ending up in the wrong hands.
Their report stated that some personal cloud devices with external HDDs connected to routers with FTP enabled have been indexed by Google, which has seen personal files found on the Internet, and on search results. This includes very personal data such as emails, journal entries, passports, tax records, financial statements, mortgage documents, passwords, private photos and more.
The organization was able to map a family's personal and financial history all the way back to 2009 just by searching their name as their data was archived on a Western Digital HDD that they had connected through a Linksys WRT1900AC router. But when the family was warned about this, it was too late. The family noted: "I simply could not figure out how someone got the [card] info minutes after I'd activate them. My system was clean and secured more than the average person," said one member of the family. Now I know. [It's not] difficult when my backups were public and being indexed on Google".
Senator Rand Paul has announced that he is intending to run for the position of the President of the United States in 2016, but the video of his announcement has been removed from YouTube because it contained a song that had a copyright claim filed on it.
Between now and then, Rand supporters can get behind the Senator with the usual yard signs, bumper stickers and more, but he has something that has never been seen before: an "NSA spy cam blocker". The NSA spy cam blocker is a $15 device with a huge "RAND" logo on it, with the listing on it explaining it as "That little front-facing camera on your laptop or tablet can be a window for the world to see you-whether you know it or not!"
The NSA spy cam blocker is 1.5mm thick, and is "made with high-grade plastic" and is designed for anything with a front-facing camera on it such as a laptop, smart TV and Xbox Kinect. It sports a plastic slider that will block the camera from working on your laptop for example, and then when you need it back, you slide the NSA spy cam blocker to the right to use your webcam once again.
In what feels like a parody to write, the Associated Press is reporting that the National Security Agency was discussing internally, to kill its phone surveillance program all the way back in early 2013.
Some NSA officials were concerned that the mass surveillance program was not only expensive, but it was ineffective. These officials said that it wasn't "central" to catching terrorist plots, nor was it effective at securing most cellphone calls. These same officials were worried of the fallout if the public ever found out about the program, something NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed not long after the internal discussions about scrapping the program began.
There were "top managers" that saw the internal proposal, while the NSA director at the time, General Keith Alexander, reportedly not seeing it. Alexander believed in spying on US citizens' phone records, while President Obama's proposed reforms would've required legal changes "that haven't been forthcoming" reports Engadget.
We all know that the NSA has stepped over some pretty serious privacy boundaries, but now Wikipedia is suing the US spy agency over the constitutionality of its mass surveillance program.
Wikipedia has slapped the NSA with a lawsuit with the Justice Department, claiming that its mass surveillance regine threatens the freedom of speech under the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment's protection against the unreasonable search and seizures. Executive Director of the Wikipedia Foundation, Lila Tretikov, explains: "By tapping the backbone of the Internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy. Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users' privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to people's ability to create and understand knowledge".
Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales, along with Tretikov, argued in a op-ed in The New York Times on Tuesday that "pervasive surveillance" of Wikipedia's hundreds of millions of users had a scary effect that "stifles freedom of expression and the free exchange of knowledge". The duo continued, writing: "Whenever someone overseas views or edits a Wikipedia page, it's likely that the N.S.A. is tracking that activity-including the content of what was read or typed, as well as other information that can be linked to the person's physical location and possible identity. These activities are sensitive and private: They can reveal everything from a person's political and religious beliefs to sexual orientation and medical conditions".
The lawsuit is going after the NSA's collection of Internet communications through its Upstream initiative, something that allows the US spy agency to inject itself directly into fiber cables, which gives it near infinite spying powers to US citizens, and the world. The lawsuit that Wikipedia has filed is specifically claiming that the NSA's use of Upstream exceeds the authority it was provided under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Congress amended back in 2008.