by Marc Lallanilla
‘[...] The ability of quantum computing to solve problems thousands of times faster than traditional computers is attracting attention from some of the world’s largest and most powerful institutions.
Search engine giant Google announced today (May 16) it was teaming with NASA Ames Research Center and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) to create the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, to be housed later this year at the NASA Ames facility in Moffett Field, Calif., northwest of San Jose.
Their new computing system, dubbed D-Wave Two, is D-Wave’s second quantum computer and the second to be installed in California. Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest aerospace and defense company, purchased a D-Wave quantum computer in 2011 and installed it at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, according toNature.com.’
‘Anyone who uses Skype has consented to the company reading everything they write. The H‘s associates in Germany at heise Security have now discovered that the Microsoft subsidiary does in fact make use of this privilege in practice. Shortly after sending HTTPS URLs over the instant messaging service, those URLs receive an unannounced visit from Microsoft HQ in Redmond.’
‘President Francois Hollande will decide by the end of July whether France should impose new taxes on technology giants like Apple and Google to finance cultural projects, a move that could feed into an anti-business image days after a spat with Yahoo.
Socialist government asked former Canal Plus CEO Pierre Lescure to find new ways of funding culture during an economic downturn, in line with France’s “cultural exception” argument that such projects must be shielded from market forces.
While far from becoming laws, the proposals could worsen tension between France and technology giants after Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg blocked an attempt by Yahoo! to buy a majority stake in French video clip site Dailymotion.
The run-in reignited a debate on state intervention in the economy, angered the firm’s French parent company and exposed discord between Montebourg and Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, who denied having approved the move.’
by NATASHA LENNARD
‘In a speech in New York Wednesday [March 20th], the CIA’s chief technical officer, Gus Hunt, explained the spy agency’s strategy for a broad surveillance dragnet:
“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time,” Hunt said. “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.”
As HuffPo’s Matt Sledge noted, Hunt’s speech indicated that the CIA has interest in storage and analysis capabilities on a massive scale — a scale that likely requires its own server in the cloud. Online giant Amazon will reportedly be facilitating this.
As Federal Computer Week reported this week, the CIA has committed to a $600 million, 10-year deal with Amazon for cloud computing services. Although neither Amazon nor the agency has confirmed the report, Hunt’s speech, noted Sledge, made numerous references to cloud computing.’
by NOAH SHACHTMAN
‘The Pentagon is so starved for bandwidth that it’s paying a Chinese satellite firm to help it communicate and share data.
U.S. troops operating on the African continent are now using the recently-launched Apstar-7 satellite to keep in touch and share information. And the $10 million, one-year deal lease — publicly unveiled late last week during an ordinarily-sleepy Capitol Hill subcommittee hearing — has put American politicians and policy-makers in bit of a bind. Over the last several years, the U.S. government has publicly and loudly expressed its concern that too much sensitive American data passes through Chinese electronics — and that those electronics could be sieves for Beijing’s intelligence services. But the Pentagon says it has no other choice than to use the Chinese satellite. The need for bandwidth is that great, and no other satellite firm provides the continent-wide coverage that the military requires.’
‘A court in Bahrain has sentenced six activists to a year in jail for insulting King Hamad in messages posted on Twitter.
They were convicted for what the Bahraini public prosecutor called the “misuse of freedom of expression”.
The sentences come as the government and courts continue their crackdown on protest and dissent.’
‘The head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis.
Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites – and especially Twitter – “has lost this world and his afterlife”.
Twitter was the platform for those who did not have any platform, he said.
His remarks reflect Riyadh’s concern that Saudis use Twitter to discuss sensitive political and other issues.
The conservative kingdom is believed to have seen the world’s fastest increase in the uptake of Twitter’
by Clare O’Connor
‘In her keynote speech at last year’s annual Netroots Nation gathering, Darcy Burner pitched a seemingly simple idea to the thousands of bloggers and web developers in the audience. The former Microsoft programmer and congressional candidate proposed a smartphone app allowing shoppers to swipe barcodes to check whether conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch were behind a product on the shelves.
Burner figured the average supermarket shopper had no idea that buying Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper or Dixie cups meant contributing cash to Koch Industries through its subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. Similarly, purchasing a pair of yoga pants containing Lycra or a Stainmaster carpet meant indirectly handing the Kochs your money (Koch Industries bought Invista, one of the world’s largest fiber and textiles companies, in 2004 from DuPont).
At the time, Burner created a mock interface for her app, but that’s as far as she got. She was waiting to find the right team to build out the back end, which could be complicated given often murky corporate ownership structures.
She wasn’t aware that as she delivered her Netroots speech, a group of developers was hard at work on Buycott, an even more sophisticated version of the app she proposed.’
by KEN LAYNE
‘It’s quaint how people still manage to get outraged about surveillance. You are being monitored, right now, just like everybody else with a phone or a computer or a bank account or a pressure cooker, because Total Information Awareness is real. ‘Welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.” Who said that, maybe Alex Jones?
No, it was former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente, in a prime-time interview on CNN about the Boston Marathon bombers. Clemente made an offhand admission that government prosecutors could get recordings of past phone calls from or to anyone.
CNN hostess Erin Burnett, usually a reliable law-and-order stooge, suddenly sounded like an Occupy Wall Streeter:
“So they can actually get that? People are saying, ‘Look, that is incredible.”
‘Despite a federal appeals court ruling that government snooping on emails requires a search warrant, the FBI and other federal law enforcers regularly ignore this constitutional mandate, according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act. At the same time that it acts as if it has the authority to violate the privacy of citizens’ emails, the FBI is seeking Congressional authorization for its unlawful activities.
It has been illegal for law enforcement to open sealed envelopes and packages in the U.S. mail since 1877, when the Supreme Court case of Ex Parte Jackson held that a warrant is required by the Fourth Amendment. It has also been illegal to snoop on ongoing electronic communications like phone calls without a warrant since the 1967 case of Katz v. U.S. Although emails have raised new issues that have yet to be entirely resolved, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (which hears cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) ruled in Warshak v. U.S (2010) that opening emails requires a warrant based on probable cause.
According to the documents obtained by the ACLU, however, federal law enforcement, including the FBI, IRS and others, believes the warrant requirement does not apply to emails, and U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country have issued inconsistent and even conflicting standards to the issue. The resulting confusion creates plenty of room for mischief.’
by PIERRE CHAUVIN
The Globe and Mail
‘Massive lawsuits targeting people who illegally download copyrighted content are common in the U.S., where people have been stuck with hefty fines and out-of-court settlements.
Now there’s an attempt to bring that to Canada.
At the centre of the effort is Canipre, the only anti-piracy enforcement firm that provides forensic services to copyright-holders in Canada.
The Montreal-based firm has been monitoring Canadian users’ downloading of pirated content for several months. It has now gathered more than one million different evidence files, according to its managing director Barry Logan.’
Web searches for symptoms of HIV, MRSA and flu strains will be monitored to spot outbreaks of infections ~ Independent
‘British scientists plan to harness the power of the internet to catch outbreaks of killer infections before they spread.
The researchers will use online surveillance to monitor millions of web searches where people have looked up symptoms related to conditions such as HIV, MRSA or dangerous strains of flu.
They say this will help them to locate in “real time” exactly where the next epidemic is emerging. It is hoped that this will “revolutionise” Britain’s ability to respond to deadly infections and prevent millions of deaths.
The £17million government-funded Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC) centre, where the technologies will be advanced, is expected to be operational by October.’
by DAVID GILBERT
International Business Times
‘Last month Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Communications Data Bill went too far and was thrown out. The Bill, dubbed by its opponents as the Snooper’s Charter, proposed to force UK internet service providers (ISPs) to retain the information relating to their customers online activity for up to one year.
While the Bill seemed to be dead in the water, and wasn’t officially mentioned by the Queen, she did suggest the government was planning on implementing at least some of the proposals the Bill suggested.
Opening the new session of parliament and outlining the plans of the Coalition government for the next year, the Queen said the proposals would address “the problem of matching Internet protocol addresses” which lies at the heart of the problem for the police in the UK.’
‘Eccentric German-Finnish billionaire Kim Dotcom and his attorneys fired back at federal prosecutors Wednesday by accusing them, alongside other domestic authorities, of conspiracy to “deprive defendants of their presumption of innocence.” Dotcom is currently fighting attempts to extradite him from his haven in New Zealand, where he has faced illegal surveillance from that government, in addition to the charges of mass copyright violation that motivated the surveillance. According to his indictment by the United States last year, Dotcom’s former media-sharing website Megaupload was at some points responsible for 4 percent of all Internet traffic.’
by Jon Brodkin
‘Mozilla has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a company that sells spyware allegedly disguised as the Firefox browser to governments. The action follows a report by Citizen Lab, which identifies 36 countries (including the US) hosting command and control servers for FinFisher, a type of surveillance software. Also known as FinSpy, the software is sold by UK-based Gamma International to governments, which use it in criminal investigations and allegedly for spying on dissidents.
Mozilla revealed yesterday in its blog that it has sent the cease and desist letter to Gamma “demanding that these illegal practices stop immediately.” Gamma’s software is “designed to trick people into thinking it’s Mozilla Firefox,” Mozilla noted.
The spyware doesn’t infect Firefox itself, so a victim’s browser isn’t at risk. But the spyware “uses our brand and trademarks to lie and mislead as one of its methods for avoiding detection and deletion” and is “used by Gamma’s customers to violate citizens’ human rights and online privacy,”‘
by Indu Nandakumar
Times of India
‘The government last month quietly began rolling out a project that gives it access to everything that happens over India’s telecommunications network—online activities, phone calls, text messages and even social media conversations. Called the Central Monitoring System, it will be the single window from where government arms such as the National Investigation Agency or the tax authorities will be able to monitor every byte of communication.
But privacy and internet freedom advocates are worried that in the name of security, the government could end up snooping on people, possibly abusing a system that does not have enough safeguards to protect ordinary citizens.’
United States Shows the World It Doesnt Understand the Internet, Claims Ownership of Specific Files ~ Falkvinge
‘[...] Late yesterday, the United States’ Department of Defense contacted Defense Distributed and told them that the United States government were seizing the drawings and claimed ownership of the files. This move was utterly ridiculous, as the drawings had already been published. The immediate effect was that Defense Distributed complied, and everybody else started seeding the files like wildfire. This is cause for concern – not the fact that the files exist, but that the US Government can be so completely boneheaded to think they can prevent information from existing by saying so.
The pistol drawings exist in the form of a magnet link which picks the file from whoever has them, with no central repository. The other files from Defense Distributed have also been censored by the United States government, which contain vital (printable) parts for an AR-15 and similar things, but these files are similarly available through a simple link. Predictably, their distribution has gone absolutely stratospheric.’
‘A few days after the blueprints for the world’s first printable gun were published online, Defense Distributed has been asked by the State Department to pull them down, citing possible arms trafficking violations. The blueprints, however, are still available on The Pirate Bay and many other file-sharing sites, which adds a 3D chapter to the IP enforcement debate.The Pirate Bay says it welcomes the blueprints and has no intention of taking the files down.’
by ALEX BYERS
‘[...] Four Republican congressmen introduced a pair of bills this week that would require government investigators to score a warrant before obtaining someone’s email content. Arizona Reps. Matt Salmon and Trent Franks are partnering on a House version of ECPA reform; Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder and Georgia Rep. Tom Graves are teaming up on the Email Privacy Act.
Both bills are companion measures to legislation from Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. Leahy has long been pushing to update the rules. This week’s Republican bills were an exclamation point after Lee officially signed on to Leahy’s push and Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas joined an ECPA reform measure by California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren.
The growing support among lawmakers is easy to understand: The public doesn’t want it to be any easier for law enforcement to snoop through their emails. It’s fundamentally a Fourth Amendment issue, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures — allowing Republicans to operate from their perch as constitutional defenders.’
State Department Demands Takedown Of 3D-Printable Gun Files For Possible Export Control Violations ~ Forbes
by Andy Greenberg
‘The battle for control of dangerous digital shapes may have just begun.
On Thursday, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson received a letter from the State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanding that he take down the online blueprints for the 3D-printable “Liberator” handgun that his group released Monday, along with nine other 3D-printable firearms components hosted on the group’s website Defcad.org. The government says it wants to review the files for compliance with arms export control laws known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. By uploading the weapons files to the Internet and allowing them to be downloaded abroad, the letter implies Wilson’s high-tech gun group may have violated those export controls.’
‘The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.
Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.’
by Jason Ditz
‘President Obama is reportedly considering endorsing an FBI plan for a new series of laws requiring all Internet companies to build-in to all online systems a “capacity to comply with wiretap orders.”
The Obama Administration, and the Bush Administration before them, have previously tried to expand existing legislation into the Internet, demanding online companies give them virtually limitless access to anything that might be used for communication.’
‘It’s a perfectly secure Internet that by definition cannot be penetrated by wiretaps and eavesdropping — and the US government has been sitting on it for the last two-and-a-half years.
A longtime goal among cryptologists has been to perfect the“quantum Internet” — which, in the most basic way possible, uses the main principle of quantum mechanics to transfer communications from one point to another.
Still confused? Technology Review explained it as easily as possible:
“The basic idea here is that the act of measuring a quantum object, such as a photon, always changes it. So any attempt to eavesdrop on a quantum message cannot fail to leave telltale signs of snooping that the receiver can detect.”
Makes sense, right? Well it’s much easier said than done and has been a desire of computer scientists and cryptologists since the early days of the Internet. A quantum Internet connection cannot be even remotely disturbed without raising a red flag, so data sent over such a network would be transmitted in the most secure form the digital age has ever seen.’
‘Norway is taking steps to tackle websites like The Pirate Bay to eliminate online copyright infringement by amending the Copyright Act. The revisions are popular in parliament and if passed will grant authorities the right to block sites at the ISP level.
The proposed amendments make it easier to locate both website owners and end-users of unauthorized material online.
Thus, the new legislation would allow rights-holders to take to court site owners involved in illegal content sharing and order the internet service providers (ISPs) to “prevent or impede access” to sites that have “extensively made available material that clearly violates copyrights”, Torrenfreak quotes the amendments.
And if the website owner is unknown or cannot be located “the case can be decided without the person concerned being given an opportunity to comment.” This would make it very easy to block off sites whose owners wish to remain anonymous.
Also, the introduced amendments exempt pursued individuals in question from the protection of Electronic Communications Act when a legal claim is underway.’
by Tyler Durden
While there have been no new military attacks on Syria since Sunday morning, something more peculiar happened in the past few hours, when according to Akamai and various other Internet traffic trackers, Syria has literally gone “dark“, or, as Umbrella Security Labs describes it, as if “Syria has largely disappeared from the Internet.”
by Glenn Greenwald
‘The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.
Over the past couple days, cable news tabloid shows such as CNN’s Out Front with Erin Burnett have been excitingly focused on the possible involvement in the Boston Marathon attack of Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of the deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As part of their relentless stream of leaks uncritically disseminated by our Adversarial Press Corps, anonymous government officials are claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.
On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could.’
by Victoria Woollaston
‘Facebook and other social networking sites can actually send you mad, according to scientists in Israel.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University have linked psychotic episodes in patients to internet addiction and delusions caused by virtual relationships cultivated on social networking sites.
Although all the participants had underlying problems of loneliness, none had any history of psychosis or drug abuse, the team say.’
by Vittorio Hernandez
International Business Times
‘A four-year-old pre-school girl in Britain is undergoing psychiatric therapy for compulsive behaviour because of her addiction to iPad games.
The decision to have their child undergo treatment was made by her parents after they observed her to be inconsolable whenever the Apple tablet was removed from her hands.
[She] had been playing games at an average of four hours daily since she was three. Dr Richard Graham, the attending psychiatrist from London’s Capio Nightingale Clinic, said there is a growing number of young British kids in the same age group who are suffering from device dependence.’