Category Archives: The Web

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is a 2014 American biographical documentary film about Aaron Swartz written, directed, and produced by Brian Knappenberger. The film depicts the life of American computer programmer, writer, political organizer, and Internet activist Aaron Swartz who committed suicide on 11 January 2013. (Wikipedia)

The Death of ‘Huffpost Live’

Jeff Jarvis writes for Observer.com:

screen shot 2016 01 12 at 3 34 01 pm The Death of Huffpost Live: How to Fail at VideoHuffPost Live is dead. With its eight-hour-a-day streaming network, Huffington Post tried to do what every media company out there is scrambling to figure out: video. But, like too many of its desperate peers, HuffPo did exactly the wrong thing: It aped television news—worse, cable news. Oh, yes, the hosts were hip, the outfits ironic, the beards stubbly, the set cool. But the grammar of TV news still ruled: scripted spiels delivered via Teleprompter and let-me-start-with-you, back-and-forth segments all performed in that camera-conscious broadcast voice.

We keep hearing that video is the future. So what it the future of video? I don’t know. TV news itself is only now approaching the desperation phase of disruption that the rest of media started grappling with a decade ago. Desperation is the parent of innovation and that is only beginning. To get a glimpse of what’s possible, I’d look to Facebook and YouTube, not big, old or new media companies.

READ MORE…

Bumbling would-be UK bomber asked Twitter followers for target suggestions

Glyn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

TwitterA would-be UK bomber and his wife have been found guilty by the Old Bailey court of plotting to carry out an explosion in London to mark the tenth anniversary of the 2005 suicide attacks that took place in the same city. Both have been sentenced to life imprisonment: a minimum of 27 years for Mohammed Rehman, and a minimum of 25 years for his ex-wife Sana Ahmed Khan.

A report by The Guardian explains the case: “Mohammed Rehman, 25, who secretly wed Sana Ahmed Khan, 24, intended to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 atrocities with blasts that would have inflicted mass casualties in either Westfield shopping centre, west London, or the London Underground.”

Remarkably, Rehman took to Twitter to ask for advice on which of those two targets he should choose: “Westfield shopping centre or London underground?” Rehman asked. “Any advice would be appreciated greatly.” The post carried a link to an al-Qaida press release about the 2005 London bombings. Sky News reports that Rehman’s Twitter name was “Silent Bomber,” with the handle@InService2Godd. As if that weren’t enough, his Twitter bio read: “Learn how to make powerful explosives from the comfort of ones’ bedroom.” The Twitter account has since been suspended.

READ MORE…

Those Demanding Free Speech Limits to Fight ISIS Pose a Greater Threat to U.S. Than ISIS

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

[…] Back then — just nine years ago — Gingrich’s anti-free-speech remarks were, for the most part, quickly dismissed as unworthy of serious debate. Even National Review, which employs McCarthy, included Gingrich’s anti-free speech proposal on its 2011 list of the bad ideas the former speaker has espoused in his career. In 2006, I argued that the Gingrich/McCarthy desire to alter the First Amendment to fight The Terrorists was extremist even when judged by the increasingly radical standards of the Bush/Cheney war on terror, which by that point had already imprisoned Americans arrested on U.S. soil with no due process and no access to lawyers. With rare exception, Gingrich’s desire to abridge free speech rights in the name of fighting terrorism was dismissed as a fringe idea.

Fast forward to 2015, where the aging al Qaeda brand has become decisively less scary and ISIS has been unveiled as the new never-before-seen menace. There are now once again calls for restrictions on the First Amendment’s free speech protections, but they come not from far-right radicals in universally discredited neocon journals, but rather from the most mainstream voices, as highlighted this week by the New York Times.

The NYT article notes that “in response to the Islamic State’s success in grooming jihadists over the internet, some legal scholars are asking whether it is time to reconsider” the long-standing “constitutional line” that “freedom of speech may not be curbed unless it poses a ‘clear and present danger’ — an actual, imminent threat, not the mere advocacy of harmful acts or ideas.”

READ MORE…

The truth is rushing out there: Why conspiracy theories spread faster than ever

David Shariatmadari writes for The Guardian:

[…] It’s not that belief in conspiracy theories is becoming more widespread, says Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin university: while the research hasn’t been done yet, he tells me, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence to suggest that belief in conspiracies has remained fairly stable for the last half-century or so. What has changed, however, is the speed with which new theories are formed. “It’s a symptom of a much more integrated world,” he says. The internet speeds everything up, allowing conspiracy-minded individuals to connect and formulate their ideas. In contrast, it took months for theories about Pearl Harbor to develop.

Karen Douglas, another social psychologist, echoes this point. “People’s communication patterns have changed quite a lot over the last few years. It’s just so much easier for people to get access to conspiracy information even if they have a little seed of doubt about an official story. It’s very easy to go online and find other people who feel the same way as you.”

Is everyone prone to this kind of thinking, or is it the preserve of an extreme fringe? Douglas reckons it’s more common than most of us realise. “Recent research has shown that about half of Americans believe at least one conspiracy theory,” she says. “You’re looking at average people; people you might come across on the street.”

That’s also the view of Rob Brotherton, whose new book, Suspicious Minds,explores the traits that predispose us to belief in conspiracies. He cautions against sitting in judgment, since all of us have suspicious minds – and for good reason. Identifying patterns and being sensitive to possible threats is what has helped us survive in a world where nature often is out to get you. “Conspiracy theory books tend to come at it from the point of view of debunking them. I wanted to take a different approach, to sidestep the whole issue of whether the theories are true or false and come at it from the perspective of psychology,” he says. “The intentionality bias, the proportionality bias, confirmation bias. We have these quirks built into our minds that can lead us to believe weird things without realising that’s why we believe them.”

READ MORE…

UK Citizens May Soon Need Licenses to Photograph Some Stuff They Already Own

Glynn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

Changes to UK copyright law will soon mean that you may need to take out a licence to photograph classic designer objects even if you own them. That’s the result of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which extends the copyright of artistic objects like designer chairs from 25 years after they were first marketed to 70 years after the creator’s death. In most cases, that will be well over a hundred years after the object was designed. During that period, taking a photo of the item will often require a licence from the copyright owner regardless of who owns the particular object in question.

The UK government is holding a consultation into when this change should enter into force: after a six-month, three-year, or five-year transitional period. An article in The Bookseller puts the starting date as October 2016 without citing a source. In any case, the change is definitely coming, and it’ll likely be quite soon.

Similar to the recent announcement that it is once again illegal to make private copies of music you own, it is unlikely the public will pay much attention to this latest example of copyright being completely out of touch with how people actually use digital technology. But for professionals, the consequences will be serious and not so easily ignored.

READ MORE…

David Davis: ‘We haven’t had a Stasi or a Gestapo in Britain, so are intellectually lazy about surveillance’

Stephen Moss writes for The Guardian:

David DavisDavid Davis looks tired and puffy-eyed. It’s the morning after Theresa May’s unveiling of the government’s flagship investigatory powers bill, and he has spent the night getting to grips with its 296 pages. The battle over the bill is going to last for months and Davis, who from the Conservative backbenches has become one of the foremost defenders of civil liberties, will be leading the critics, but he knows this initial period is crucial in shaping public attitudes.

“The government had the most amazing propaganda blitz,” he says. “GCHQ had a three-day advertorial in the Times with gushing pieces from young journos, so we knew we were going to get some sort of heavy-duty spin on all of this, and the spin was in my direction – we’re going to be more transparent, we’re going to have more accountability, we’re going to bring in the judiciary, we’re going to limit it. All of it turns out to have been overstated. They’re making lots of rhetorical moves in the right direction, but the substance doesn’t add up. There are loads and loads of holes in it. My impression is they didn’t finish writing the bill until the day before they published it.”

Davis, who with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson mounted a successful legal challenge to controversial aspects of the 2014 act that currently governs the retention of communications data, is now readying himself to try to fill in those holes. But the problem for critics of the bill, he says, is that the public doesn’t care enough about encroachments on their freedom.

“It’s astonishing how few people take an interest in this country,” he says. “In every other country in the world, post-Snowden, people are holding their government’s feet to the fire on these issues, but in Britain we idly let this happen. We’re the country that invented James Bond and we like our spies. We have a wonderful illusion about our security services, a very comforting illusion. But it means we’re too comfortable. Because for the past 200 years we haven’t had a Stasi or a Gestapo, we are intellectually lazy about it, so it’s an uphill battle. Even people who are broadly on my side of the political spectrum in believing in privacy and liberty tend to take the state at its word too often.”

READ MORE…

The snooper’s charter: One misspelled Google search for ‘bong-making’ and you’ll be in an orange jumpsuit

Frankie Boyle writes for The Guardian:

Theresa May, with the general air of a hawk that had a This Morning makeover, has launched the new investigatory powers bill. No more drunken Googling: all it takes is a misspelled search for “bong-making” and suddenly you’ll be in an orange jumpsuit getting beaten with a pillowcase full of bibles. Also, pay attention when searching for a child’s prom.

This law will create lots of new jobs, as the person charged with reading all our communications (who will see more unsolicited erections than customer services at Skype) will regularly feed their screaming face into a meatgrinder.

The government insists, as it tries to scrap the Freedom of Information Act, that only people who have something to hide should worry. People who run for public office will be afforded privacy, while our private lives will become public property. Having our privacy exposed is particularly crushing for the British – a nation for whom the phrase: “How are you?” really means: “Please say one word, then leave me alone.” So why have they just accepted this? Well, for a lot of people it’s the only hope that anyone will ever read their tweets.

The PR push for this bill’s launch has shown how similar the legislative process has become to the lobbying one. In fact, it’s not even lobbying, really, as most things that get lobbied for at least have some notional utility. This is more like phishing, asking us to sign up to something that looks helpful, but is actually a data breach.

READ MORE…

David Betz on ‘Carnage & Connectivity: Landmarks in the Decline of Conventional Military Power’

Afshin Rattansi talks to David Betz from the War Studies department at King’s College London and the author of Carnage & Connectivity: Landmarks in the Decline of Conventional Military Power. Betz suggests that the reasons for UK and US failure to win most modern wars could be due to technology. (Going Underground)

Seven Major Takeaways From the U.K.’s Proposed Surveillance Rules

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

The British government on Wednesday published a proposed new law to reform and dramatically expand surveillance powers in the United Kingdom. The 190-page Investigatory Powers Bill is thick with detail and it will probably take weeks and months of analysis until its full ramifications are understood. In the meantime, I’ve read through the bill and noted down a few key aspects of the proposed powers that stood out to me – including unprecedented new data retention measures, a loophole that allows spies to monitor journalists’ and their sources, powers enabling the government to conduct large-scale hacking operations, and more.

READ MORE…

“Snowden Treaty” proposed to curtail mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers

Glynn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

A “Snowden Treaty” designed to counter mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers around the world has been proposed by Edward Snowden, and three of the people most closely associated with his leaks: the documentary film-maker Laura Poitras; David Miranda, who was detained at Heathrow airport, and is the Brazilian coordinator of the campaign to give asylum to Snowden in Brazil; and his partner, the journalist Glenn Greenwald. The “International Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers,” to give it its full title, was launched yesterday in New York by Miranda, with Snowden and Greenwald speaking via video.

The treaty’s proponents say that Snowden’s leaks, and the treatment he received as a whistleblower, have “revealed the need for greater rights protections for citizens globally.” In order to achieve that, they write: “We are campaigning for governments to sign up to the Snowden Treaty, a proposed treaty that would curtail mass surveillance and protect the rights of whistleblowers.”

READ MORE…

Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

There was a simple aim at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.”

Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.

The mass surveillance operation — code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

The revelations about the scope of the British agency’s surveillance are contained in documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Previous reports based on the leaked files have exposed how GCHQ taps into Internet cables to monitor communications on a vast scale, but many details about what happens to the data after it has been vacuumed up have remained unclear.

READ MORE…

Drowned Syrian boy photo: Social media at its most hollow and hypocritical?

Max Fisher writes for Vox:

Migrants disembark from a bus near Athens, Greece (Dan Kitwood/Getty)Looking at the same photo that everyone is looking at this week, of a young Syrian refugee boy whose body had washed up on a Turkish beach, and reading about the boy’s brief and difficult life, I found myself torn between two conflicting reactions. On the one hand, I was saddened by the needless death of this young child, and outraged by the many factors that contributed to it: the Syrian war, European hostility to migration, and the world’s callous indifference to the ever-worsening refugee crisis. Those factors are important, so the photograph’s ability to call the world’s attention to them makes it a powerful journalistic tool.

But I am also uncomfortable with the way those images have been converted into just another piece of viral currency. There is a line between compassion and voyeurism. And as that photo was shared and retweeted over and over again, converted into listicles and social-friendly packages, it felt more and more like the latter.

I am reminded of a 2012 article by the novelist Teju Cole, “The White-Savior Industrial Complex,” responding to what was the social media caring experience of that moment, a web video called “Kony 2012” that asked the world to combat Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony by “making him go viral.”

Cole wrote about the cycle of internet outrage and compassion that, often, ends up doing little more than providing entertainment and validation for Western audiences. Those audiences, rather than being compelled to ask themselves whether they had a hand in the faraway tragedy they are sharing to Facebook, get to pat themselves on the back for being part of the solution.

But social media voyeurism is no solution. It doesn’t help that child, or others like him. It just exploits his tragic death as a source of maudlin but oh-so-shareable emotional thrills.

READ MORE…

PostCapitalism: The end of capitalism has begun

Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews), author of PostCapitalism, writes for The Guardian:

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic. But in the process technology has created a new route out, which the remnants of the old left – and all other forces influenced by it – have either to embrace or die. Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours. I call this postcapitalism.

READ MORE…

Digital surveillance in Britain ‘worse than Orwell’, says new UN privacy chief

Adam Alexander reports for The Guardian:

The first UN privacy chief has said the world needs a Geneva convention style law for the internet to safeguard data and combat the threat of massive clandestine digital surveillance.

Speaking to the Guardian weeks after his appointment as the UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being “a joke”, and said the situation is worse than anything George Orwell could have foreseen.

He added that he doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it.

“Some people were complaining because they couldn’t find me on Facebook. They couldn’t find me on Twitter. But since I believe in privacy, I’ve never felt the need for it,” Cannataci, a professor of technology law at University of Groningen in the Netherlands and head of the department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of Malta, said.

READ MORE…

China plans security offices inside internet firms to stop ‘illegal behaviour’

Reuters reports:

China is planning to set up “network security offices” in major internet companies and for websites so authorities can move more quickly against illegal online behaviour, the ministry of public security said in a statement.

Police should take a leading role in online security and work closely with internet regulators, the deputy minister, Chen Zhimin, told a conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

“We will set up network security offices inside important website and internet firms, so that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest possible point,” Chen said, according to the statement.

READ MORE…

Free football streaming: How illegal sites keep outpacing broadcasters

Howard Swains reports for The Guardian:

[…] On any game day in any sports league across the world, thousands of people do precisely what I have flown to Scandinavia to witness, and broadcast untold numbers of sporting events online. Meanwhile, in living rooms across the world, people are watching more live sport than ever, whether or not they have paid for it. The audience of unauthorised streams is estimated in the millions. As Sunday’s Community Shield heralds the start of another Premier League season, it’s a safe bet that more people than ever will be watching it illicitly. And as the idealists who first took on football’s behemoths find themselves increasingly hijacked by commercial operations with their eye on a quick buck, football’s black market will grow.

On 1 January, a site named Wiziwig – by far the most popular aggregation platform through which users could access thousands of streams – closed under the threat of legal action in Spain, where it was based. But other sites quickly stepped in to fill its role. Moreover, a senior Wiziwig moderator told me that they have no intention of remaining in the wilderness.

“All the Wiziwig moderators are still dedicated to our mission of a free and open internet, with free-to-air-programming for all,” the moderator said. He spoke on condition of anonymity – no one associated with Wiziwig has agreed to a mainstream press interview before – and used the language of the renegade that is familiar among internet libertarians: “All we have done and will do in the future is for sports fans anywhere in the world.”

The contention is that broadcasters are holding sport fans to ransom, and it means that this season, football stadiums will again host more than just the on-pitch duels between the nation’s top teams. The Premier League, among numerous other sports organisations the world over, will once again be forced to war against the online streamers. But if recent history offers much indication, they can hope to secure a score draw at best.

READ MORE…

U.S. Secret Service seeks sarcasm-spotting software

Gemma Karstens-Smith reports for the Toronto Star:

Of course Secret Service agents need a hand separating wisecracks from security threats.

Instead of searching for their sense of humour, however, the U.S. agency is looking for software to help them understand sarcastic remarks on social media.

It’s no secret that governments keep track of what’s happening on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but Canadian experts are wary about whether or not sarcasm-detecting software will help security agencies keep citizens safe.

“I’m skeptical,” said Tamir Israel, a lawyer for Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa. “There’s a limit to what an algorithm can do, I think, is really what it comes down to.”

A tender document posted Monday shows the Secret Service wants to buy software that has the ability to “detect sarcasm.”’

READ MORE…

Online pirates could face 10 years in jail under plans being considered by UK government

BBC News reports:

Piracy keyOnline pirates could face jail terms of up to 10 years under plans being considered by the government.

Online copyright infringement currently carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

Ministers have launched a consultation on increasing it to 10 years – bringing it into line with copyright infringement of physical goods.

The government said tougher sentences would act as a “significant deterrent”.’

READ MORE…

The Rise of the New Crypto War

Eric Geller reports for The Daily Dot:

James B. Comey, Jr., the seventh director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is afraid of the dark.

“The law hasn’t kept pace with technology, and this disconnect has created a significant public safety problem,” Comey said in an Oct. 16, 2014, speech at the Brookings Institution, an influential Washington, D.C., think tank. He called the problem “going dark.”

As more and more criminals presumably “go dark” by encrypting their phones and email accounts, federal agents are finding it increasingly difficult to intercept their communications. The spread of easy-to-use encryption software and the eagerness with which tech companies promote it have deeply troubled the FBI. But on that unusually warm October day, Comey also wanted to vent about another frustration: He felt that the bureau’s proposed solution was being distorted.

“There is a misconception that building a lawful intercept solution into a system requires a so-called ‘backdoor,’ one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit,” Comey said. “But that isn’t true. We aren’t seeking a backdoor approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law.”

He only used the word twice, but by strenuously denying that he wanted one, Comey had set off a fierce debate about the secret law-enforcement data-access portals known as backdoors. In the months that followed, Comey, his deputies at the FBI, and his counterparts at other agencies would face relentless questioning and criticism from skeptical members of Congress, exasperated security researchers, and outraged privacy groups. Despite Comey’s protestations, many feared that the agency once known for its disturbing reach and systemic abuses of power in the era of J. Edgar Hoover was seeking a return to that fearsome omniscience in the digital age.

The debate over backdoors has pitted Comey and other national-security officials against America’s biggest tech companies, which have fired off letter after letter warning the government not to undermine encryption and the increasingly powerful security tools built into their products. It has strained relations between an obscure but important government technical body and the security industry that used to consider it a trusted partner. And it has infuriated the cryptography experts and civil-liberties activists who have spent decades beating back government efforts to weaken the encryption that is now vital to all aspects of online life.’

READ MORE..

A Look at the Inner Workings of NSA’s XKEYSCORE

Micah Lee, Glenn Greenwald and Morgan Marquis-Boire report for The Intercept:

The sheer quantity of communications that XKEYSCORE processes, filters and queries is stunning. Around the world, when a person gets online to do anything — write an email, post to a social network, browse the web or play a video game — there’s a decent chance that the Internet traffic her device sends and receives is getting collected and processed by one of XKEYSCORE’s hundreds of servers scattered across the globe.

In order to make sense of such a massive and steady flow of information, analysts working for the National Security Agency, as well as partner spy agencies, have written thousands of snippets of code to detect different types of traffic and extract useful information from each type, according to documents dating up to 2013. For example, the system automatically detects if a given piece of traffic is an email. If it is, the system tags if it’s from Yahoo or Gmail, if it contains an airline itinerary, if it’s encrypted with PGP, or if the sender’s language is set to Arabic, along with myriad other details.

This global Internet surveillance network is powered by a somewhat clunky piece of software running on clusters of Linux servers. Analysts access XKEYSCORE’s web interface to search its wealth of private information, similar to how ordinary people can search Google for public information.

Based on documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept is shedding light on the inner workings of XKEYSCORE, one of the most extensive programs of mass surveillance in human history.’

READ MORE…

XKEYSCORE: NSA’s Google for the World’s Private Communications

Morgan Marquis-Boire, Glenn Greenwald, and Micah Lee report for The Intercept:

‘One of the National Security Agency’s most powerful tools of mass surveillance makes tracking someone’s Internet usage as easy as entering an email address, and provides no built-in technology to prevent abuse. Today, The Intercept is publishing 48 top-secret and other classified documents about XKEYSCORE dated up to 2013, which shed new light on the breadth, depth and functionality of this critical spy system — one of the largest releases yet of documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA’s XKEYSCORE program, first revealed by The Guardian, sweeps up countless people’s Internet searches, emails, documents, usernames and passwords, and other private communications. XKEYSCORE is fed a constant flow of Internet traffic from fiber optic cables that make up the backbone of the world’s communication network, among other sources, for processing. As of 2008, the surveillance system boasted approximately 150 field sites in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, as well as many other countries, consisting of over 700 servers.’

READ MORE…

British PM reaffirms there will be no “safe spaces” from UK government snooping

Glyn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

The UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, has re-iterated that the UK government does not intend to “leave a safe space—a new means of communication—for terrorists to communicate with each other.” This confirms remarks he made earlier this year about encryption, when he said: “The question is are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read. My answer to that question is: no, we must not.”

David Cameron was replying in the House of Commons on Monday to a question from the Conservative MP David Bellingham, who asked him whether he agreed that the “time has come for companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to accept and understand that their current privacy policies are completely unsustainable?” To which Cameron replied: “we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on.”‘

READ MORE…

The Iran I Saw

Christopher Schroeder, author of Startup Rising, writes for Politico:

[…] This is a tale of two Irans. This is, specifically, the tale of the other Iran.

The tale we hear most often focuses on natural resources like oil as their greatest asset or nuclear power as their greatest threat—a narrative frozen in time, stretching back decades with remembered pain on both sides. For many Americans, the reference point for Iran is still centered on the hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran over 35 years ago; for others, it has focused on Iranian support for destabilizing regional actors against our interests and costing lives.

At the same time, of course, Iranians have their own version of this tale: Many remember well U.S. support for a coup of their elected leadership, our support for a dictatorial regime and later encouragement of a war in Iraq that cost nearly a half-million Iranian lives.

Politics, power, mistrust: This is one version of how the media frames discussion of Iran. It’s very real, and it has much caution and evidence to support it.

But there’s another tale, one I saw repeatedly in my trip there last month. It was my second visit within the year, travelling with a group of senior global business executives to explore this remarkable and controversial nation.’

READ MORE…

Orwell’s Triumph: Joshua Cohen and Novels of Surveillance

Sam Frank writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Orwell’s Triumph: How Novels Tell the Truth of SurveillanceWhen government agencies and private companies access and synthesize our data, they take on the power to novelize our lives. Their profiles of our behavior are semi-fictional stories, pieced together from the digital traces we leave as we go about our days. No matter how many articles we read about this process, grasping its significance is no easy thing. It turns out that to understand the weird experience of being the target of all this surveillance — how we are characters in semi-true narratives constructed by algorithms and data analysts — an actual novel can be the best medium.

Book of Numbers, released earlier this month, is the latest exhibit. Written by Joshua Cohen, the book has received enthusiastic notices from the New York Times and other outlets as an ambitious “Internet novel,” embedding the history of Silicon Valley in a dense narrative about a search engine called Tetration. Book of Numbers was written mostly in the wake of the emergence of WikiLeaks and was finished as a trove of NSA documents from Edward Snowden was coming to light. Cohen even adjusted last-minute details to better match XKeyscore, a secret NSA computer system that collects massive amounts of email and web data; in Book of Numbers,Tetration has a function secreted within it that automatically reports searches to the government. As Tetration’s founder puts it, “All who read us are read.”’

READ MORE…

Think it’s cool Facebook can auto-tag you in pics? So does the government

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

State-of-the-art facial recognition technology, which had been the stuff of hypothetical privacy nightmares for years, is becoming a startling reality. It is increasingly being deployed all around the United States by giant tech companies, shady advertisers and the FBI – with few if any rules to stop it.

In recent weeks, both Facebook and Google launched facial recognition to mine the photos on your phone, with both impressive and disturbing results. Facebook’s Moments app can recognize you even if you cover your face. Google Photos can identify grown adults from decades-old childhood pictures.

Some people might find it neat when it’s only restricted to photos on their phone. But advertisers, security companies and just plain creepy authority figures have also set up their own systems at music festivals, sporting events and even some churches to monitor attendees, which is bound to disturb even those who don’t give a second thought to issues like the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.’

READ MORE…

Net Of Insecurity: A Disaster Foretold — And Ignored

Craig Timberg writes for The Washington Post:

The seven young men sitting before some of Capitol Hill’s most powerful lawmakers weren’t graduate students or junior analysts from some think tank. No, Space Rogue, Kingpin, Mudge and the others were hackers who had come from the mysterious environs of cyberspace to deliver a terrifying warning to the world.

Your computers, they told the panel of senators in May 1998, are not safe — not the software, not the hardware, not the networks that link them together. The companies that build these things don’t care, the hackers continued, and they have no reason to care because failure costs them nothing. And the federal government has neither the skill nor the will to do anything about it.

“If you’re looking for computer security, then the Internet is not the place to be,” said Mudge, then 27 and looking like a biblical prophet with long brown hair flowing past his shoulders. The Internet itself, he added, could be taken down “by any of the seven individuals seated before you” with 30 minutes of well-choreographed keystrokes.

The senators — a bipartisan group including John Glenn, Joseph I. Lieberman and Fred D. Thompson — nodded gravely, making clear that they understood the gravity of the situation. “We’re going to have to do something about it,” Thompson said.

What happened instead was a tragedy of missed opportunity, and 17 years later the world is still paying the price in rampant insecurity.’

READ MORE…

AT&T fined $100 million for internet speed cap on “unlimited” data plans

Brian Fund reports for The Independent:

The Federal Communications Commission slapped AT&T with a $100 million fine Wednesday, accusing the country’s second-largest cellular carrier of improperly slowing down Internet speeds for customers who had signed up for “unlimited” data plans.

The FCC found that when customers used up a certain amount of data watching movies or browsing the Web, AT&T “throttled” their Internet speeds so that they were much slower than normal. Millions of AT&T customers were affected by the practice, according to the FCC.

The fine, which AT&T says it will fight, is the largest ever levied by the agency.

AT&T implemented the practice in 2011, prompting thousands of customers to complain to the FCC, according to an agency statement.

By not properly disclosing the policy to consumers who thought they were getting “unlimited” data, the company violated the FCC’s rules on corporate transparency, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.’

READ MORE…

Alan Rusbridger steps down after 20 years as Guardian editor

Dominic Ponsford and William Turvill report for Press Gazette:

Alan Rusbridger steps down today after 20 years as Guardian editor, handing over the reins to deputy editor Katharine Viner.

Under Rusbridger, The Guardian won newspaper of the year four times at the British Press Awards and last year it became the first UK newspaper to win the Pulitzer Prize for the Edward Snowden revelations about US state surveillance.

Rusbridger took over from Peter Preston at a time when the paper’s print circulation was solidly above 400,000 and it did not yet have a website.

He leaves with less than half the daily print sales (176,157, according ABC) but with a digital footprint of more than 7m daily browsers. Some 63 per cent of The Guardian’s web readership now comes from outside the UK.

According to the National Readership Survey, The Guardian is the fourth most-read national newspaper brand in the UK (in print and online) with 16.3m readers a month. This puts it ahead of The Sun and a whisker behind The Daily Telegraph.

As editor-in-chief of Guardian News and Media, which includes The Observer, Rusbridger has led an “open journalism” approach, committing to free online access while raising the daily print cover price to £1.80. He took GNM “digital-first” in 2011, ruling that from that point on digital rather than print was The Guardian’s main priority.’

READ MORE…

The Silk Road: Who was the real Dread Pirate Roberts?