• nsa-eff-greenpeace-airship

    Utah might stop sending water to an NSA data center — in 2021

    Here’s a novel solution to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs: shut off the water that will allow its data centers to store and analyze unimaginable amounts of information without turning into a puddle of melted hard drives. It’s hard to conduct digital surveillance when the estimated one-million gallons of water sent to critical areas each day stops flowing. That’s not quite what Utah legislators discussed on Wednesday — their proposal involves the suspension of the NSA’s water service contract in 2021,…
  • nsa-spying-no-way

    Amnesty International’s anti-spyware tool is the epitome of post-Snowden software

    Amnesty International has partnered with several other human rights groups to release Detekt, a free tool that allows Windows users to determine if their machines are infected with spyware. It’s part of a wider effort to maintain a modicum of privacy in the face of mass surveillance programs. It’s impossible to know how long Detekt will be able to find advanced spyware. Intelligence agencies are some of the best-funded government organizations in the world, and they have a vested interest in making…
  • twitter-tv

    Baltimore policeman refuses to disclose how the department gathers cell phone records

    Baltimore prosecutors chose on Monday to withdraw evidence from an ongoing trial instead of revealing how the city’s police department monitored a defendant’s cell phone records. This means that a .45-caliber handgun and a cell phone will no longer be used as evidence in the trial, which is expected to continue despite this large set-back, according to the Baltimore Sun. The case involves two young men accused of robbing a pizza deliveryman at gunpoint. One is said to have confessed to the…
  • isis-gaza

    Fear-mongers invoke the Islamic State to block NSA reform

    Senate Republicans have successfully used the specter of the so-called Islamic State to block the USA Freedom Act, which would have curtailed government surveillance and allowed companies to be more honest with consumers about data requests, nixing any hope of reform this session. The USA Freedom Act was a last-ditch effort to push surveillance reform through before Republicans, who are widely expected to side with intelligence agencies instead of with American citizens and private businesses, take control of Congress with the…
  • nsa-transparency

    Who needs the USA Freedom Act when government transparency is just a lawsuit away?

    Twitter received fewer than 249 national security requests in the latter half of 2013, according to the Justice Department. The figure as part of the DOJ’s response to Twitter’s lawsuit that asks for the ability to share more specific data about government requests with its 240 million users. The lawsuit is part of the technology industry’s wider efforts to be allowed to share more data with consumers after they were implicated in National Security Agency surveillance programs detailed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden in…
  • nsa

    Apple and Google ask Congress to support the USA Freedom Act

    A group formed by Apple, Google, and other companies implicated in the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance programs has asked the Senate to support the USA Freedom Act in an open letter. (The group has sent other letters in support of intelligence reform in the past.) The effort is one of several to encourage the Senate to take advantage of its lame-duck session to pass meaningful reform before Republicans, who are more sympathetic to the government’s surveillance…
  • airplane_knot

    DoJ uses planes to spy on tens of thousands of Americans per flight

    You might soon start associating the sound of a plane flying overhead with government surveillance. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department is using devices attached to planes to gather location information, interrupt phone calls, and learn the unique identifier associated with “tens of thousands” of cellphones every time the planes make their way across the country. The devices force passing cellphones to connect to them by pretending to be a strong cell tower. Once they’ve accomplished that, they’re able…
  • crowdfunding

    Anonabox heads to Scampaign Central (aka Indiegogo) after being booted off Kickstarter

    Indiegogo will basically allow anyone with a bank account to use its crowdfunding platform. That’s the only explanation for the site to allow Anonabox, the Internet router that promises to anonymize any activities made via its connection, to seek funding there after it was banned from Kickstarter. Anonabox is uniquely suited to take advantage of Indiegogo’s lack of scruples. It’s a hardware project that people are effectively pre-ordering by supporting it; it’s an anonymity-focused product debuting in Edward Snowden’s wake; and…
  • Photographer camera

    Camera obscura: Harvard’s attendance research shows not all surveillance is digital

    It was revealed last week that Harvard monitored the attendance of some 2,000 students by taking a picture of the seating arrangement in 10 lecture halls every minute. The images are said to have been destroyed, but the data gleaned from them was used in research presented during a conference at the college earlier this year. Students whose images were captured as part of the research will be informed, “using enrollment data,” of their unwitting involvement. This episode isn’t as…
  • wifi-security

    Here’s the latest on the WireLurker malware infecting Macs, iPhones, and iPads

    Apple is preventing applications infected with the WireLurker malware from launching on its Mac products, the Wall Street Journal reports, in an effort to contain the malware’s spread. The researchers who discovered the malware estimate that it may have already infected hundreds of thousands of iOS devices, leading them to call it a sign of a “new era in iOS and OS X malware.“ It’s not yet clear what WireLurker’s creator hopes to accomplish. Palo Alto Networks, the company…
  • ToS

    This comic book perfectly explains big data and the threat it poses to our privacy rights

    Ten years ago, California State Senator Liz Figueroa raised concerns over a definitely-not-evil company called Google that had been tracking keywords through its Gmail service, servicing ads to Gmail users and non-users alike based on that data. Her worry was less over the marketing tactics, and more over the possibility that Google would keep a digital dossier of all its users. Google claimed it would not do this, so Figueroa saw no harm in proposing a law to help keep the company to its word. That…
  • tor-privacy-roger-dingledine-nsa-pentagon

    From malware to NSA targeting, Tor has more risks than its supporters let on

    We’ve known for a while that Tor isn’t the digital panacea it’s often thought to be. Now, a security researcher has revealed that a person operating one of the “exit nodes” used by the service to anonymize Internet browsing has used the device to add malware to any downloads made through it, including those gotten from Microsoft’s update service, and advised Tor users to check their connections and devices. This isn’t the first problem Tor users have…
  • snowdenfeature

    Care about journalism? Don’t read GigaOM until it drops the NSA as an advertising partner

    As difficult as it is for journalistic purists to accept, sponsored content (or “native advertising” or “advertorials” — pick your poison) has become an inescapable form of monetization in the new media economy. But “sponsored content” covers a wide spectrum. Sometimes an advertiser will sponsor a series of stories but leave editorial control entirely in the hands of the news outlet (that’s how Pando does it). Other times, articles are written wholesale by the sponsor. Often they are innocent enough, like this Buzzfeed post prepared by Starbucks’ marketing team…
  • smartphone_china

    So much for the Chinese government liking Apple’s new security measures

      China is allegedly executing man-in-the-middle attacks against citizens who attempt to visit Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s Live services, and gathering the log-in data associated with those accounts. All this according to a report from GreatFire, a group which monitors the Chinese government’s censorship rules. Such access would allow the government to view documents saved to iCloud, locate users with the popular “Find my iPhone” tool enabled, and compromise information saved to Microsoft’s online services. It’s unclear how many people have been…
  • snowden

    UN slams widespread surveillance programs

    United Nations rapporteur Ben Emmerson has released a report indicting the surveillance programs put in place by the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies for threatening international laws and corroding the online privacy of millions of consumers. Perhaps the most important aspect of the report is the argument that using the Internet does not open someone up to surveillance by intelligence agencies, as some have argued, because people have a reasonable expectation that their communications will remain private even…
  • wifi-security

    Anonabox passes Kickstarter goal with promises of easy online security — but it’s not perfect

    There’s no denying the need for security tools that are easier to install, more convenient to use, and portable enough to be used whenever an Internet connection is needed. Often,. it’s easier for hackers to gather information than it is for consumers to protect it, and if there’s any hope of preventing those attackers (or the government, for that matter) from gathering that information, it’s going to come from hardware and software tools that meet all the criteria above. August Germar

The Week in Review