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01.22.14

Snowden’s Defence, Snowden Q & A, Privacy Advantage in Industry, The Coming End of Facebook

Posted in Action at 4:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Bits of news about privacy (mostly from today but also slightly older)

Libel Against Snowden

Snowden Q & A

NSA

  • Obama’s NSA smoke and mirrors

    He is quite blatantly playing to public ignorance when he says that he is doing these essentially unnecessary things, as Wittes points out, to “maintain the trust of the American people, and people around the world.” It is an odd way to build trust when you find public concerns unfounded but try to sound like you’re all for reform. Conservatives are hoping all of this is atmospheric nonsense to calm his base, while the intelligence community goes along its way and all that follow-up — like the Trayvon Martin civil rights investigation by the Justice Department — goes nowhere.

  • NSA Surveillance Program Still Unconstitutional Despite Proposed Changes

    Freedom is the great deity of the west, the goddess central to American identity; the idea being that individuals have autonomy—good or bad, wise or foolish, controversial or conventional—to live their lives with minimal interference from the government.

  • Ex-CIA Director And Current Surveillance Task Force Member Mike Morell Parrots Talking Points To Defend Bulk Collections

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    This “theory” that the NSA was hamstrung by its lack of access to millions of irrelevant call records practically debunks itself at this point. The defenders of these programs can’t seem to find a better rhetorical device than this one, which has been completely eviscerated by dozens of intelligence experts and the 9/11 Commission itself.

    Morell’s position on the surveillance review task force seems to be as a “devil’s advocate” — someone placed on the board by the president to ensure no one gets too carried away trying to protect Americans’ rights or limit the NSA’s power.

  • Gov’t used Surveillance of MLK in Bid to Destroy Him: Now they want us to just Trust Them

    Among the ironies of Barack Obama trying to sell us the gargantuan NSA domestic spying program is that such techniques of telephone surveillance were used against the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in an attempt to destroy him and stop the Civil Rights movement. Had the republic’s most notorious peeping tom, J. Edgar Hoover, succeeded in that quest, Obama might never have been president, or even been served in Virginia restaurants.

  • Some States Have a Sneaky Plan to Stop the NSA

    So far, six states (Missouri, California, Oklahoma, Kansas, Washington, and Indiana) have introduced bills that target the NSA.

International

  • One Planet, One Internet: A Call To the International Community to Fight Against Mass Surveillance

    The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building a global surveillance infrastructure to “master the internet” and spy on the world’s communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet’s backbone with surveillance equipment. They have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law.

  • Germany’s Privacy Stance Boosts Berlin’s Tech Startups

    CEO Felix Langhof insists that corporations formed during the internet era have a systemic blind spot towards this new market, simply because the practice of attaching their ID to their customers’ actions is now so deeply engrained.

  • TrustyCon vs. RSA and NSA: New conference pushes trustworthy agenda (but Microsoft-funded, i.e. NSA)

    Who do you trust? That’s a question asked increasingly by a security industry with a growing sense that the National Security Agency (NSA) has sought to weaken encryption or get backdoors into computers, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden to the media. Now, trust is also the theme of a new conference called TrustyCon that will vie for attention on Feb. 27 in San Francisco while the big RSA Conference for security pros is also taking place in that city.

  • Davos Dispatch: Tech Titans On Life-Changing Gadgets And NSA Reform

    Benioff said the discussion about the NSA and data privacy over the last 6 months is “way overdue… Only through transparency will we get back to trust… Trust will drive customer choice because the customer has to have the choice about exactly where they want their data and how to manage it and see it and it cannot be anonymous. I think our model is closest to where we need to go: customers can choose what country their data is run out of. They can go into the data center, see it and monitor it. Tech vendors have to provide this kind of transparency and can’t pin it on the government.”

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The following are a bit older:

When Microsoft Deletes Windows and GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The abusive monopolist continue to find new ways to marginalise GNU/Linux while making it look like an accident or ‘for security’; meanwhile, however, sometimes it’s Windows — not GNU/Linux — that stops working

We have written extensively about (U)EFI and what it means to GNU/Linux, warning about what’s becoming a reality now (Microsoft “kills the bootloader”). This sounds like the Vista 8.1 bricking issue. To quote Steven Rosenberg, “So I figured I’d upgrade the Windows 8 portion of my Windows/Fedora dual-booting (and naturally EFI-running) system to the presumably shinier, newer Windows 8.1 with the offer of an upgrade via the Microsoft Store.

“Big fucking mistake.”

Yes, well, it’s a “big fucking mistake” to get a machine that’s EFI-running, too. Microsoft works closely with Intel, which is in bed with the intelligence community, and that’s not to mention the company’s strong ties with the NSA and potential use of (U)EFI to remotely brick motherboards, as we correctly predicted. The whole proposition of (U)EFI is innately dangerous, just like proprietary software (a lot of GNU/Linux-running PCs have Skype installed, which gives Microsoft and the NSA control over those machines, too).

Anyway, back to Rosenberg’s rant: “I go into Windows 8 and do the upgrade. It tells me at some point that “there will be several reboots.”

“The first reboot was the last. Windows would no longer boot. (Luckily Fedora continued to boot during this whole nightmare.) When I tried to start Windows 8, I got a blue-screen error with the code 0xc000000f.

“I went into Recovery Mode via the BIOS.

“The automatic repair didn’t work. Then I went to Advanced Options, then to the Windows command prompt, to start trying hacks.”

So much for security, eh? Remotely-controlled machine bricking is as far as “security” goes. A lot of GNU/Linux users have experienced problems like the above, but in their case it was GNU/Linux that stopped working and Windows that got itself a monopoly.

Rosenberg concludes: “At this point, I just don’t care anymore. I will leave Windows 8 as is and continue ignoring it and using Linux 100 percent of the time as I usually do, and I’m very, very close to wiping Windows 8 entirely and single-booting Linux on this drive.

“This is bush-league, user-abusing bullshit. Microsoft, you messed up. Windows 8.1 upgrade via Microsoft Store gets an “F.”‘

Heise Breaks Promise: Takes ‘H Online’ Offline, Essentially Deleting Thousands of High-Quality FOSS Articles

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 3:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Heise Verlag

Summary: Heinz Heise, a publisher based in Hannover (Germany), puts an end to English-speaking coverage of FOSS and then buries all the articles

ONE OF THE BEST resources of GNU/Linux and FOSS news ceased publication of further/new material last year. Its editor, however, said that the articles would continue to be made available. Wikipedia and many other important sites link to those articles. There is also coverage of misconduct by Microsoft, so it’s not FOSS-exclusive.

“There is also coverage of misconduct by Microsoft, so it’s not FOSS-exclusive.”Well, there has been some bad news for a couple of days now. We tried to find an explanation for it and we have spoken to some former writers of the site, hoping to get in touch with the management (same thing we did with QuinStreet to help restore the excellent resource Linux Devices). There’s no success so far.

We need to take action now. Please pressure Heise (maybe by petitioning) to restore the site or hand over copyrights (or permission for use) of articles back to writers so that they can resurrect the information themselves, at their own expense. What Heise has done here is vile deletionism, a form of revisionism. According to Wikipedia, “In July 2006, Heise Security was launched in the UK.[2] It mostly featured translated news from the German site, but also featured locally relevant stories. The UK version of Heise Online came in February 2008. In February 2009, the UK site was renamed to The H, and located at h-online.com.[3] In July 2013, The H was closed down because it proved difficult to monetize traffic to the website.[4]”

The promise that this site would continue to stand was not kept.

Let’s say that the site did not make money. Is that a good enough reason to burn the books (no longer hosting the site/pages)? We need to fight to bring back online the articles. A group of people put many thousands of days of their lives to produce the stories — the stories which benefit all.

Microsoft’s State-Imposed Indoctrination and Back Doors

Posted in Microsoft at 2:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft is trying to make the Chinese use software and services with back doors (including remote deletion of FOSS by Microsoft), just like in the US and UK

HOW DOES Microsoft save itself from Linux world domination (notably thanks to Android), other than waving some vapourware like Vista 9 (Windows 9)? Well, there’s always Vista 7 to fall back on, as Vista 8 is probably Microsoft’s most hated operating system ever (sales or “licensing” deals have been worse than with Vista). Watch this coverage from Microsoft partners at Ars and Microsoft’s longtime booster Nick Kolakowski, who now works for Slashdot and writes nonsense like: “HP is pushing Windows 7 laptops and desktops as “back by popular demand.” If that doesn’t irritate Microsoft, nothing will.”

“No wonder China is now working on its own operating system for mobile, called COS.”How is that irritating? HP is pushing Windows after numerous Microsoft moles entered HP's management. Sosumi wrote in IRC:” I’d rather have HP offering at the very least an Ubuntu option” (but no, that’s not even an option).

In even more disturbing news, following shallow reports from IDG about Microsoft's attempts to promote itself as "open" in China (while deleting Free/Open Source software like Tor from Windows) there is new nonesense [1] about Bing (censorship disguised as search) promotion in China. Who is Microsoft kidding? And given the company’s strong ties with the NSA is it really shocked that Chinese people don’t want to use Microsoft services? Remember that Windows has NSA back doors and Microsoft gives the NSA easy access to its datacentres. Microsoft recently decided to hop onto users’ computers without even telling them, then delete files from their systems (Microsoft should have remotely removed Windows [2,3], not Tor). What kind of fool in China would still pursue development with Windows? No wonder China is now working on its own operating system (for mobile), called COS.

“Here in the UK it’s no better because Microsoft is now taking over schools again, under the pretense (or pretext) of “education”.”Here in the West it’s a different story. In the US, for example, the government assumes that Microsoft, NSA, and back doors are essential. According to [4], there is still a lot of FUD against FOSS and Ken (Helios) responds frustratingly. As Will Hill put it: “There’s more to this than FUD in this corruption, there’s secrecy and legal threats too. The same thing has been carried out everywhere. I wish Ken had paid the $2,000 and broken his agreement to keep it a secret. It’s outrageous and probably against the law to keep public spending like that a secret. People need to break agreements like that and then demand their money back for looking at it. Maybe he should have written a check and immediately had it cancelled.”

Here in the UK it’s no better because Microsoft is now taking over schools again [5], under the pretense (or pretext) of “education”. This is corrupt. A lot of British schools still use Windows XP and there’s no budget for new computers. They should migrate to GNU/Linux within weeks or a few months, but with Microsoft guarding the hen house it’s unlikely to happen. Schools in the UK will continue to have back doors from Microsoft and the NSA, who can always blame bugs and leave them unpatched for over a decade, as Windows XP serves to show, and as reported by the Microsoft press (it took Microsoft more than 12 years to fix a serious Windows bug).

“Post-Vista PC sales have been slowing down, especially lately, because many people are moving to Android phones and tablets, and many people see their existing XP machines that can’t run the latest bloated versions of Windows as “good enough” to run their office software and web browser.”
      –Ryan Farmer
Ryan Farmer, a former Microsoft MVP, wrote in our IRC channels: “We need to keep an eye out on what happens to Product Activation after Windows XP goes EOL. If Microsoft stops activating re-installs of Windows XP, we should be sure to beat them over the head with that and remind users of supported versions what will happen to them later. XP is the first version of Windows with Product Activation that is going to go end of life. It has been about 13 years since I first wondered what would happen when XP went EOL. It took a long time for the answer because Microsoft didn’t plan to support Windows XP for even half as long as they did. The Windows “Longhorn” / Vista catastrophe set them back several years, and they ended up having to extend Windows XP’s lifecycle to cover all of the people that refused Vista. Post-Vista PC sales have been slowing down, especially lately, because many people are moving to Android phones and tablets, and many people see their existing XP machines that can’t run the latest bloated versions of Windows as “good enough” to run their office software and web browser.

“Well, there are like millions and millions of people who might have activation difficulties after April. Their computers can’t run anything newer from Microsoft. I suspect they’ll be pissed, if they understand what just happened.”

At the end of the day what we have here is a criminal company that distorts the system, infiltrates the state, and imposes itself on young individuals through the state. Microsoft is not just classical corruption (bribery etc. as we have just demonstrated) but also systemic corruption.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. In China, Microsoft steps up efforts with Bing, Windows Azure

    Bing has barely any market share in China, but Microsoft hopes to change that in the next year or two by investing more resources into the local version of the search engine.

  2. If Microsoft thinks old Tor clients are risky, why not Windows XP?
  3. How to protect your Windows XP system after April 2014
  4. Blame FUD for Microsoft’s Dominance in Schools

    At that time, the last thing we worried about was spending a couple of hundred dollars on software. I probably had $200 in the spare change jar in the library. We lived in a big house, with a comfortable six figure income. Life was good. A purchase like this wasn’t anything to worry about. It wasn’t the cash outlay that bothered me. It was the fact that a public school was requesting we purchase a specific brand of software.

    Having been a Linux user for a number of years, I knew there were other options and I made it a point to talk with someone at the school. How many people with minimal incomes were being asked to shell out this kind of money when other options were available? How many of our tax dollars were being spent on software that was completely unnecessary?

    I am no stranger to the Austin Independent School District. Unfortunately, my claim to fame and the events that led to said infamy are well known. It’s a shame that it had to happen the way it did but again…split second decisions and all that…

  5. Microsoft To Prepare 160,000 Teachers For The New Curriculum

    Microsoft will provide free study materials to around 160,000 primary teachers as part of the “First Class Computing” initiative.

    Training will be given as the schools in the UK prepare for the introduction of the new curriculum in September 2014 that will place a lot more emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

Microsoft Caught AstroTurfing Again, But Is Criminal Prosecution Imminent? (Unlikely)

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 2:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Microsoft has yet again been caught bribing people to illegally generate fake, widely-distributed positive coverage, but don’t count on any legal action against Microsoft

TIME AFTER TIME, as we have covered in great length with many examples of Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, the monopolist got away with illegal activity, ranging from bribes to editors to bribes to people who edit Wikipedia. Microsoft also bribed professors, famous bloggers, and committee members. Normally it seems like Microsoft can just get away with anything. It’s like the NSA.

“Microsoft, as always, is hiding behind its shadowy PR agencies in order to make the bribes harder to see.”Microsoft is exceptionally corrupt a company with a long history of crime and abuses (with no real response from the state, which is also bribed by Microsoft), so AstroTurfing for Xbox is hardly a surprise. Microsoft, as always, is hiding behind its shadowy PR agencies in order to make the bribes harder to see. Not too longer ago Microsoft bribed people to post positive comments in Reddit about products like Xbox. This shouldn’t shock anyone. It’s quite normal, but rarely does the corporate media cover it.

This time too coverage of another scandal comes mostly from small technology news sites. To quote: “The line between traditional, paid advertising and organic editorial content on the Internet can sometimes be hazy. A recent stealth promotional campaign between Microsoft and Machinima highlights just how hazy that line has become, and how behind-the-scenes payments can drive ostensibly independent opinion-mongering on by users on services like YouTube.”

Over the years I repeatedly complained to the FTC about what was clearly illegal behaviour by Microsoft. But complaining to the US government about Microsoft is a bit like complaining to the US government about the NSA. Microsoft is connected to NSA/CIA (it receives money from the CIA and works with the NSA), so just like them, Microsoft enjoys infuriating protection from the state. Right now the company is sort of treated like a part of covert criminal enforcement (hailed by the state for tackling its own virus plots), even though what it actually does can be classified as criminal activity (including financial fraud that it got caught engaging in until the SEC let it get away with for a small fine). Given the futility of the FTC, iophk asked: “What about complaining to the BBB?”

“Even with sufficient corporate press coverage it seems unlikely that someone will be held accountable and receive punishment.”Now that Microsoft is bribing governments (Ballmer seemingly escaped on time) there’s plenty of discussion in our IRC channels, trying to assess if and how Microsoft can be held accountable for clearly illegal behaviour. Forbes has covered this scandal and there is an overview of coverage in IDG [1] (some are Xbox foes), so there’s no lack of evidence and reporting on the matter. This is the exception, not the norm (the coverage, not the type of activity). iophk said: “When I checked a while back there were lots of complaints but all glossed over.” As Slashdot put it [2], “breaks FTC disclosure rules (PDF). Microsoft has a well-known history of astroturfing, but is this the first proof of them doing it illegally?” No, hardly! We covered about a dozen such examples (the ones we know about), but the media failed to report on them.

Even with sufficient corporate press coverage it seems unlikely that someone will be held accountable and receive punishment. Microsoft was thinking it would not get caught, but this time it was wrong. Well, often enough it’s caught bribing but rarely is it paying a fine or even receiving negative publicity for it, so why not take the risk anyway?

The main problem here is that inaction from regulatory bodies and law enforcement will send Microsoft the signal that the practice is still worth pursuing. It is “astroturfing still,” iophk argued, and “if they stopped paying, you’d probably hear nothing of MS again ever, at least nothing positive” (Microsoft has been artificially injecting coverage about itself for several decades and we gave a lot of examples).

“According to a leaked copy of the full legal agreement behind the promotion,” said one article, “video creators “may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its Games” and must keep the details of the promotional agreement confidential” (i.e. hide one’s participation in illegal practices).

iopkh says that “more such whistleblowers are needed to show this thing as it is” and he rightly notes that “the long history of astroturfing is not yet mentioned. Press has a short memory, if even they covered the problem in the first place.”

The conclusion, as Sosumi puts it, is that “every time you see a positive Microsoft review” you can assume AstroTurfing. And moreover, “if you raise too many concerns about a product or just give a negative note, you’re out” (that’s how journalists are being pressured to self-censor).

iophk says that “if the astroturfing and bribery went away, you’d stop hearing virtually anything positive about MS” (there’s not much of it left, unless it’s paid for).

The most important point of this post is that we should eagerly pursue legal action. Failing to do so assures that Microsoft will continue to do this. Microsoft has done this for decades.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft paying YouTube personalities for positive Xbox One endorsements

    Forget the console wars of years past—the bombs dropped on E3 stages, the quippy ads with lines like, “Genesis does what Nintendon’t.” Those days are gone. We’ve now entered the Cold War phase of the console wars, a period of secrecy and cloak-and-dagger tactics.

    [...]

    A copy of the full legal agreement behind the promotion escaped into the wild. In it, there’s a confidentiality section that states unequivocally, “You agree to keep confidential at all times all matters relating to this Agreement, including, without limitation, the Promotional Requirements, and the CPM Compensation, listed above.”

    Additionally, creators “may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its Games” in their videos.

  2. Microsoft Paying for Positive XBox One Coverage on YouTube

    “Microsoft, partnered with Machinima, has put forth a promotion for YouTube personalities: make a video about the XBox One and get money for it. Problematically, they also require the reviewer not to disclose that they’re getting paid (or mention anything negative), which breaks FTC disclosure rules (PDF). Microsoft has a well-known history of astroturfing, but is this the first proof of them doing it illegally?”

Linux Foundation’s Events, LCA 2014, and Other FOSS Events

Posted in Meeting at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Recent events, including announcements related to the Linux Foundation 2014 conferences and some Linux.Conf.Au 2014 coverage

Today’s News About Surveillance and Assassinations by Drone Strikes

Posted in Law at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Snowden receives death threats, receives invitations, induces changes, and improvements in public polls; drone strikes (NSA-aided) policy continues to attract criticism

  • Parliamentary committee wants to hear Snowden on NSA data collection

    A Hungarian parliamentary committee wants to hear former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a witness in its investigation into US eavesdropping, the committee’s head said on Tuesday.

    The parliamentary committee has been set up to examine how data collection by the National Security Agency (NSA) impinged on Hungary and whether there were any international efforts to gain influence in Hungary. It held its first meeting today.

  • Fugitive US leaker Snowden ‘fears for his life’

    The Russian lawyer of Edward Snowden said Tuesday that the fugitive US intelligence leaker has feared for his life since reading of explicit threats against him by unnamed Pentagon officials.

  • ‘I would love to put a bullet in his head’: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden ‘fears for his life after receiving anonymous death threats from Pentagon and NSA’
  • Pentagon & NSA officials say they want Snowden extrajudicially assassinated
  • NSA files: Snowden says ‘I acted alone’ and rubbishes Russian spy claims

    Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden said he acted alone in leaking US government secrets and that suggestions by some politicians he might have had help from Russia were “absurd”, the New Yorker magazine reported on Tuesday.

  • New documents show NSA provided FBI with tips 2-3 times daily

    According to other documents recently declassified, a judge ruled that the NSA can only access telephone metadata when there was a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” (RAS), and the documents noted that the agency often failed to live up to this.

  • Rep. Mike Rogers Keeps Insisting Snowden Is A Russian Spy, Even As NSA/FBI Officials Say No Such Evidence

    Rep. Mike Rogers sure loves the NSA and really, really hates Ed Snowden. It’s at the point where Rogers appears to not care at all about the truth, repeating multiple blatant falsehoods in TV interviews when it comes to Snowden. This past weekend, he went on TV to repeat an old favorite, claiming (without any proof, but just blind speculation) that he thinks that Snowden was a Russian spy all along. On Meet the Press, David Gregory asked Rogers about Snowden’s comments in his interview with Bart Gellman, in which Snowden pointed to Rogers’ (and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s) failure to uphold their role as overseers of the NSA as for why he had to leak the documents he gave to reporters. Rogers disagrees and hints that Snowden “had some help.”

  • Edward Snowden bids to become Glasgow University rector

    Intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden is to stand for the post of student rector at Glasgow University.

  • CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden to stand in Glasgow University student elections
  • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the running to become student rector at Glasgow University
  • Edward Snowden to stand for election as rector of Glasgow University

    US whistleblower Edward Snowden has agreed to stand as a candidate for the post of rector at Glasgow University, it has emerged.

    Snowden, currently seeking asylum in Russia, agreed to stand after being contacted by students at the university who managed to track him down through ‘interlocuters’.

    The Edward Snowden for Rector campaign is urging “all student bodies committed to ending state intrusion into our private lives” to support Snowden’s candidacy and praised his “spirit of daring and self-sacrifice”.

  • US withholding Fisa court orders on NSA bulk collection of Americans’ data

    The Justice Department is withholding documents related to the bulk collection of Americans’ data from a transparency lawsuit launched by the American Civil Liberties Union.

  • PRISM: Obama won’t calm European firms’ suspicions with NSA promises

    As noted by myself and numerous big-name figures in the public and private sector, the damage the PRISM spying scandal could inflict on the global economy and key industries, such as the cloud, is catastrophic. By being caught snooping not only on foreign firms, but also a number of political figures in countries that are supposedly allied with the US, the NSA seriously damaged international trust.

  • NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake Interview Part 2

    After attending a pre-lecture reception, then a one hour lecture, then doing dinner with Thomas Drake, that lasted almost five hours, I got together three days later with Thomas and did what turned out to be an almost 2.5 hour interview. This is the second part of the interview.

  • President Obama’s NSA ‘ruse’

    It was billed as a major speech on reform to the nation’s intelligence programs. But although some genuine reforms were introduced, the speech really wasn’t about reform. It was about saving the NSA’s most controversial tactic, as revealed by Edward Snowden, which is to “collect it all.” Build the haystack, and then find the needle.

  • NSA Surveillance Revives Calls For An All-Encrypted Internet

    There is now literally a daily stream of unauthorized revelations of programs either planned or being implemented by the U.S. National Security Agency, some of which may have enabled outright eavesdropping. In the wake of this watershed leak, many Internet activists are renewing their calls for Internet service providers to encrypt all traffic by default.

    Last November in Vancouver, members of W3C resurrected a discussion left suspended over a decade ago, about the idea of incrementally phasing in a next-generation HTTP that encrypts all packets by default.

    Mark Nottingham, who chairs the IETF’s HTTPbis Working Group, wrote in a Jan. 4 blog post that some objections remain to the use of Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt packets on the application layer of HTTP/2. “It’s a political decision,” wrote Nottingham, “not because doing so casts governments as attackers, but because HTTP is a deployed protocol with lots of existing stakeholders, like proxy vendors, network operators, corporate firewalls, and so on. Requiring encryption with HTTP/2 means that these stakeholders get disenfranchised.”

  • Sen. Feinstein: NSA Metadata ‘Here to Stay’

    She seems less concerned about the prospect of reform than in recent weeks, however, declaring metadata collection “here to stay” and that the “dominant majority” supports President Obama’s attempts to keep the NSA powers intact.

  • Outsourcing the NSA

    That’s a common assumption in many debates about the National Security Agency. We’ve come to think of privacy as a binary question, with government as the sole threat. Now we have to think about other threats, because President Obama is proposing to outsource the NSA’s phone records program.

  • Tennessee bill takes on NSA encryption-breaking facility at Oak Ridge

    The state-level effort to turn off water and electricity to the National Security Agency (NSA) got a major boost today as legislators in Tennessee introduced a bill to ban the state from providing material support to the federal agency.

  • Lawmakers in 6 states demand NSA spying comes to an end
  • Legislators in 6 States Want to Pull the Plug on NSA Spying—Some Literally

    Frustrated with the limited scope of the reforms to the National Security Agency detailed by President Obama on Friday, and the slow pace of Congress in addressing the issue, civil liberties advocates are increasingly taking the privacy fight to state capitols. This month, lawmakers in six states introduced versions of model legislation designed to deny the NSA state resources or cooperation from state officials. The bills cover everything from banning evidence collected by the NSA from being introduced in state courts to shutting off the supply of water and electricity to the agency’s in-state data centers.

  • Poll: Majority oppose NSA, Obama’s address had little impact
  • Pew Survey: Americans More Skeptical of NSA and Snowden
  • It’s Sunday and It’s Snowden

    If recent polling is to be believed, the US public has grown more skeptical about the NSA surveillance programs. Too bad Sunday chat shows are still presenting such a lopsided view.

  • Poll: Support Softens for NSA Spying Activities to Combat Terrorism

    The poll also found that support for the government’s collection of phone and Internet data to combat terrorism, has declined considerably, with only 40 percent approving of the efforts, down from 50 percent in July. Fifty-three percent of Americans now disapprove of the data collection, up from 44 percent in July.

  • Majority Of Americans Don’t Like What The NSA Is Doing
  • What does the NSA Know about Obama?

    National Security Agency (NSA) veterans Bill Binney, Russ Tice and Kirk Wiebe spoke at a Friday news conference at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., with Tice declaring that the spy agency monitored Barack Obama’s telephone conversations—and those of his wife—in 2004, apparently as a result of Obama’s run for the U.S. Senate and emergence as a major figure in the Democratic Party. This should have been big news. However, the claim was ignored or dismissed by most of the major media.

  • Google’s Eric Schmidt denies knowledge of NSA data tapping of firm

    Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has insisted he had no knowledge of the US National Security Agency’s tapping of the company’s data, despite having a sufficiently high security clearance to have been told.

  • IBM’s Full Year Revenues Hit by NSA Scandal

    US tech giant International Business Machines recorded a decline in full year revenues as its sales in emerging markets including China suffered due to the National Security Agency scandal.

  • Sean Wilentz – Court Historian, NSA Shill, and Lickspittle ‘Liberal’

    So you thought progressives would rally ‘round Edward Snowden’s and Glenn Greenwald’s crusade to rid us of the NSA incubus that’s attached itself to our computers and our daily lives. Well, you were wrong: dead wrong.

    With a few notable exceptions, the “progressive” media matrix – the lefty pundits, thinktanks, academics, and activists who make up the Democratic party’s core intellectual constituency – have reacted to the Snowden revelations with hysterical denunciations, not of the government but of the leaker: the hate emanating from the MSNBC studios is hot enough to burn if you get too close to your television. And it’s not just the pundits: Norman Soloman rightly called the response from progressive Democrats in Congress “murky,” and that’s certainly an understatement. Sure, some of this can be attributed to partisanship, but there’s an ideological motivation for this illiberal stance as well.

    [...]

    Wilentz stretches truth beyond the breaking point when he cites “the high-tech and legal expert Joe Mullin” in support of his thesis that Snowden is motivated by partisan loyalties: he quotes Mullin to the effect that “The Snowden seen in these chats is not the man we see today.” But of course that’s true, since, as Snowden and others have explained, America’s most famous whistleblower was changed by what he came to know about the government’s secret spying apparatus. This is made clear simply by looking at his biography: from high school dropout to Army recruit (he wanted to help “free people from oppression”) to CIA employee and on to the NSA, where he discovered the secret that turned him around and sent him in a direction he never dreamed of. But since the clear pattern of Snowden’s career doesn’t fit in with Wilentz’s agenda, it is steadfastly ignored:

  • Third Party Metadata Storing Is No Better, If Not Worse, Than NSA Spying [Video]

    Friday, while addressing the nation about issues in national surveillance, President Obama said that the time has come to reform NSA and take away its power to obtain metadata from private citizens in bulk. He proposed some changes to the program, most notably that the NSA no longer store Americans’ phone records. The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies recommended that “the providers or a third party retain the bulk records, with government accessing information as needed.”

  • NSA-Proof Twitter Alternative Shows Bitcoin’s Potential

    A Brazilian developer has introduced an alpha version of twister, an open-source, peer-to-peer alternative to Twitter that’s designed to be censorship proof. It’s built using code from Bitcoin, demonstrating possible applications for that technology that go beyond the alternative currency with the same name.

  • Test-driving Twister: The NSA-proof Twitter clone

    Many of you may have heard about Twister – a Peer-To-Peer, decentralized, Twitter-style social network. The idea is an interesting one – to create a social network that nobody can censor and with zero IP address tracking. A sort of “NSA-proof” Twitter, if you will.

    The Twister project builds on top of both BitTorrent and Bitcoin, which, quite frankly, boggles the mind a bit. So, naturally, I had to take this new social network for a spin. Here’s how it went.

  • The Next Big Thing You Missed: Email’s About to Die, Argues Facebook Co-Founder

    When Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz ran the company’s engineering team — in those heady days when Facebook was still taking over the world — he oversaw about 180 employees. You might see that as a glamorous position of power, but Moskovitz will tell you it was a serious pain. Each day, he spent hours just dealing with email. His inbox was jammed with an endless collection of mailing-list missives that didn’t always mean something to him, but each carried the implied expectation that he would take notice and keep up.

  • Russian Spy Nodes Caught Snooping on Facebook Users

    Somewhere in Russia an eavesdropper is operating a network of wiretapped nodes at the edge of the Tor anonymity network. And he’s particularly interested in what you’re doing on Facebook.

    That’s the conclusion of two researchers who used custom software to test Tor exit nodes for sneaky behavior, in a four-month study published yesterday.

  • Scientists detect “spoiled onions” trying to sabotage Tor privacy network

    Rogue Tor volunteers perform attacks that try to degrade encrypted connections.

  • ‘Grounded’ tells a story of armchair politics

    “I was definitely interested in drones kind of early on and was curious about the technology,” Brant said by telephone from New York. “And that kind of moved into some morality issues as well.

    “And I think when I felt that I needed to do more research on them was during the first few months of Obama’s presidency. He had ordered many more drone strikes than Bush had in his eight years.”

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Dreams or drones?

    Last week on Jan. 15, Jeremiah Wright, now pastor emeritus of Trinity UCC, gave the keynote address at the Chicago Teachers Union’s breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King. Between 200 and 300 teachers and local pastors gathered to acknowledge King’s legacy as a crusader for social justice and union rights. Nothing illustrated the difference between the two worlds of religion and politics more clearly, however, than one of Wright’s comments: “King said, ‘I have a dream.’ Barack said, ‘I have a drone.’” – See more at: http://www.crossville-chronicle.com/opinion/x1767992014/LION-AND-THE-LAMB-Dreams-or-drones#sthash.Qp5CDCgv.dpuf

  • Two Former US Officials Criticize Obama’s Counter-Productive Drone War

    Obama has been “ruthless and indifferent to the rule of law,” according to his former counter-terrorism advisor

  • Ownership of WaPo by CIA Contractor Puts U.S. Journalism in Dangerous Terrain

    There is a major conflict of interest in the ownership of The Washington Post by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who holds a $600 million contract with the CIA

  • Congress Moves to Keep Drone Warfare in Hands of CIA Instead of Pentagon

    Members of Congress have decided that the Obama administration should not go through with its plan to shift drone operations from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the Department of Defense (DOD). To make their position clear, lawmakers included language in a classified annex of the new federal budget that restricts funding for the transition and places other limits as well.

  • CoA blocks CIA drones challenge

    The Court of Appeal (CoA) has thrown out a claim challenging the legality of British involvement in US drone strikes because any judgment would be a condemnation of US foreign policy.

  • What Happens When Artificial Intelligence Turns On Us?

    Today, another ethical battle is brewing about making fully autonomous killer drones and battlefield robots powered by advanced A.I.—human-killers without humans in the loop. It’s brewing between the Department of Defense and the drone and robot makers who are paid by the DOD, and people who think it’s foolhardy and immoral to create intelligent killing machines. Those in favor of autonomous drones and battlefield robots argue that they’ll be more moral—that is, less emotional, will target better and be more disciplined than human operators. Those against taking humans out of the loop are looking at drones’ miserable history of killing civilians, and involvement in extralegal assassinations. Who shoulders the moral culpability when a robot kills? The robot makers, the robot users, or no one? Nevermind the technical hurdles of telling friend from foe.

  • The US Army Wants to Replace Up to 25 Per Cent of its Soldiers With Robots

    Cash strapped and somewhat adrift in terms of missions, the US Army is in the midst of an existential crisis. Once ballooning in budget and size, their Army now says it wants to be “a smaller, more lethal, deployable, and agile force.” And it’s going to need robots to do it right.

  • Dishonoring Dr. King

    Yet this side of Dr. King is omitted when his warning about U.S. militarism is more current than ever as a president’s Drones kill civilians, security agencies monitor U.S. citizens and millions remained mired in poverty and despair.

  • Gaza: Palestinian government declares emergency

    The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades – the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza – has issued a statement mourning the deaths of Ahmed Za’anin and his cousin Mohamed Za’anin. It stated that the two martyrs were cadres of the Brigades of the Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa.

Android News of Interest

Posted in GNU/Linux at 5:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Stories about Android, accumulated in the past couple of days

Embedded

  • Can Android Challenge Embedded Linux?

    A line should be drawn between true embedded Linux distros and Android’s solitary distro adapted for embedded consumer functions, said Suse’s Matthias Eckermann. He does not see Android going into enterprise areas involving integrated systems. “With flexibility, Android is one stack and one purpose. That is not the case with a full-fledged embedded Linux used for multiple purposes.”

KitKat

  • Android 4.4 KitKat now on 1.4 percent of all Android devices: Google

    Google has released the official statistics regarding the usage of the various versions of Android. Continuing the trend spotted in the previous month’s report, those devices that are running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and Android 4.4 KitKat are on the rise. Like the last report, most Android devices are running a version of Jelly Bean. Beginning April 2013, the distribution data charts are now based on the data collected from each device when the user visits the Google Play store. Google also stopped including Android 1.6 Donut and Android 2.1 Eclair in the data, as it is gathered from the new version of Google Play store app, which supports Android 2.2 and above.

Cyanogen

  • How Cyanogen plans to be Android’s open-source champion

    The beauty of Android is that it is open source. Well in theory anyway. Google develops and maintains Android and it publishes the source code via the Android Open Source Project. From there smaller manufacturers and custom firmware makers can take the code and build their own Android ROMs. One of the most popular custom Android firmwares is Cyanogenmod. Based on Google’s AOSP code the Cyanogenmod team add a range of new features that aren’t found in vanilla Android. Back in September 2013 Steve Kondik, Koushik Dutta, and a small group of CyanogenMod developers established their own company – Cyanogen, Inc.

Desktop

  • Google Now comes to your desktop

    You must love Google Now on your Android devices, you can have it on your desktop too. Google Now has been integrated with alpha version Chrome browser (Canary). It will provide you with notification cards, based on location, time, weather and other context specific information right on your desktop.

  • Can Android desktops disrupt the PC market?

Games

Apps

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