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03.21.14

Confirmed: US Government Pays Microsoft to Violate Users’ Privacy

Posted in Microsoft at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Everyone “Scroogled” by Microsoft

Xbox

Summary: Microsoft is working against citizens of the United States, at the expense of citizens of the United States, according to new leaks

AT THE end of last year it was revealed that the CIA had paid companies like Microsoft (plus telecoms) for illegal surveillance on law-abiding citizens. It’s not just about the NSA, which is very close to Microsoft. Some correctly point out that the panic over NSA helps distract from an even worse offender, which is the FBI, maker of CIPAV for Windows. The FBI uses DDOS and malware against US citizens, essentially cracking and doing online what it did back in the days of COINTELPRO.

Yesterday we wrote about Microsoft's censorship and privacy being worse than China's, citing the fact that Microsoft staff gets access to users’ data and abusing this access (here is another new article about it). Also consider how Microsoft ‘research’ is now behaving like the NSA, drawing connections between everyone and making it public too.

According to this new explosive report, the “Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) hackers have reportedly obtained documents that reveal how much money the FBI pays Microsoft each time agents try to obtain or view an individual customer’s communication information.”

In other words, Microsoft is profiting from privacy abuse. To quote further: “While the public now has a basic figure showing how much taxpayer money is dedicated to surveillance, these numbers only include Microsoft – whereas the taxpayer cost for companies like Verizon, Google, and others are almost certainly in the millions as well.”

But we don’t know about all those other companies, do we? Microsoft is the company which goes out of its way to facilitate mass surveillance, as PRISM leaks helped prove.

Symantec and (In)’Security’ Firms Still Kings of GNU/Linux FUD

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Security at 12:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Articles about GNU/Linux and “malware” are more like misinformation that the press is awash with this week

AFTER some exaggerated panic over GnuTLS we hear a lot of noise about some Windows malware that’s claimed to be coming from UNIX and GNU/Linux servers. One ‘minor’ fact that the likes of Symantec (Symantec and others) always fail to point out is that lazy/negligent people (worse than human error) are to blame, not GNU/Linux.

SJVN wrote this good response (“Linux and botnets: It’s not Linux’s fault!”) which points out: “With Darlloz, which tends to attack devices such as small office/home office (SOHO) Internet routers, it’s one way of infection is to try 13 combinations of the default user names and passwords on a device. If the gadget’s owner has done the bare minimal of security: Change the blasted default user ID and/or password, they can’t be infected. That’s it!”

Don’t relay baseless reports which leave out the real security problem, which is Windows, the operating system with back doors (by design).

DRM Watch: Impact on the Web, TPM, Lockdowns, and Games

Posted in News Roundup at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM

    After Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s keynote talk at SXSW, he answered a question about the controversial plan to add DRM to next version of HTML. HTML 5, a standard currently under debate at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the latest battleground in the long-running war over the design of general-purpose computers. Berners-Lee defended the proposition, and claimed that without it, more of the Web would be locked up in un-searchable, unlinkable formats like Flash.

    Some in the entertainment industry have long harboured fantasies about redesigning computers to disobey their owners, as part of a profit-maximisation strategy that depends on being able to charge you piecemeal for the right to use the files on your hard-drive.

  • A clear-eyed guide to Mac OS X’s actual security risks

    Apple does not support the Trusted Platform Module [9] that Microsoft will require all PC makers to support starting next year…

  • Keurig’s next generation of coffee machines will have DRM lockdown

    Keurig is setting itself up to attempt a type of coffee “DRM” on the pods used in its coffee-making machines, according to a report from Techdirt. Keurig’s next-gen machines would be unable to interact with third-party coffee pods, thus locking customers into buying only the Keurig-branded K-cups or those of approved partners.

  • The day the Mario Kart died: Nintendo’s kill switch and the future of online consoles

    Nintendo fans, mark your calendars for May 20, 2014. As Nintendo announced yesterday, that’s the last day you’ll be able to use the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to play hundreds of online games on the Wii and Nintendo DS. Single-player modes for those games will still work, of course, but any parts of the games that require an Internet connection will be completely non-functional in a matter of months.

  • House Passes Cellphone Unlocking Bill While New Provision Causes Withdrawals

    The Unlocking Consumer Choice Act (H.R. 1123), which was introduced in March by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was widely supported by members on both sides of the aisle.

  • The Reason Some Games Are Delayed For Linux In Humble Indie Bundles

    Humble feel it would harm their reputation to ask a developer to sit out and wait for the next bundle for the sake of a Linux version.

Internet Under Attack: Latest News Stories

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Censorship

Traffic

  • We’ve Entered The Age Of ‘Fiber To The Press Release’

    While Google Fiber has managed to get ISPs to compete in the areas it’s deployed, the project has also managed to spawn a new, misleading but entertaining phenomenon I’ve affectionately labeled “fiber to the press release.” In a fiber to the press release deployment, a carrier (usually one with a history of doing the bare minimum on upgrades) proudly proclaims that they too will soon be offering 1 Gbps broadband. The announcement will contain absolutely no hard specifics on how many people will get the upgrades, but the press will happily parrot the announcement and state that “ISP X” has suddenly joined the ultra-fast broadband race. Why spend money on a significant deployment when you can have the press help you pretend you did?

  • Al Franken: Don’t let Comcast “manipulate Internet traffic”

Europe

Control

  • Lexingtonians Consider Municipal Network Options in Kentucky

    Community leaders in Lexington are the latest to stand at a fork in the broadband road. In September, the franchise agreement between the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) and Time Warner Cable expired, resulting in a month-to-month agreement continuation. As they negotiate a new contract, local citizens have called for consideration of a municipal network.

  • No, the U.S. Isn’t ‘Giving Up Control’ of the Internet”

    On a sleepy Friday afternoon last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce dropped what seemed, to many, like a bombshell: It intends to transition its coordinating role over the Internet’s domain name system—those web addresses you type into your browser—to the global Internet community.

End of Week News: Mass Surveillance, Drones, Oversight Failure, Ukraine…

Posted in News Roundup at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mass Surveillance

Drones

  • Obama’s Team Shuns U.N. Human Rights Council Drone Talks

    The United States apparently wants nothing to do with a United Nations Human Rights Council discussion on whether the country’s drone strikes may violate international human rights law.

  • Telecoms contractor could be called to account for drone deaths

    The revelation comes from a high-level review of a complaint that the £23m BT communications line supported drone missions that had accidentally killed between 426 and 1005 civilians in the last decade in the course of strikes on suspected insurgents, according to estimates of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

  • What Can “Forensic Architects” Tell Us About Drone Strikes and Genocide?

    A woman dressed in a black hijab is highlighted by the glare from a computer screen as she works with forensic architects in digitally recreating her home, the scene of a drone strike in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan where five men, one of them her brother-in-law, were directly hit and killed on Oct. 4, 2010. This is the spot where she had laid out a rug in the courtyard, she explains, and where her guests sat one evening when the missile dove into their circle, leaving a blackened dent in the ground and scattering flesh that later, she and her husband had to pick up from off of the ground so they could bury their dead. Morbidly, the reconstruction of a drone strike is similar – the gathering of flecks of information when nothing else is available: through satellite imagery and video, the length of a building’s shadow, the pattern of shrapnel marks on a wall, and the angle of a photo, can help forensic architects determine where a missile struck and determine how it led to civilian deaths.

  • PolitiFact Muddies Truth on Drone Strikes Comment

    With drone strikes, not only is collateral damage recognized as a possible likelihood; it has become an accepted part of our foreign policy. Not only is America firing on citizens of sovereign nations, but they do so knowing that innocent people who had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time are going to die. The old saying about the path of good intentions comes to mind.

  • Domestic Drones Are Inevitable

    As the weekly – sometimes daily – news stories never tire of telling us, domestic drones are coming. And as ABC News reported on March 17, they are arriving faster than the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can suss out the rules over their use. Though it’s technically illegal, and the FAA may issue fines if they catch you, ABC reports that commercial use of drones is starting to happen whether or not the government approves – as long as it doesn’t notice.

  • Locations of drone attacks changing to Afghanistan and Yemen
  • US’ use of armed drones complies with international law – State Dep’t lawyer

    The Pakistani draft, which was obtained by Foreign Policy, urges states to “ensure transparency” in record-keeping on drone strikes and to “conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations whenever there are indications of any violations to human rights caused by their use.” It also calls for the convening of “an interactive panel discussion” on the use of drones.

  • Power Isn’t Funny

    For all of the nonchalant assurances that he is neither a “dictator” nor an “emperor,” Barack Obama is certainly trigger-happy with the power jokes.

  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope – it’s a drone stealing your identity
  • Camus in the Time of Drones

    Lucien rises from bed in the early morning. He dresses quietly, careful not to awaken his wife and infant son. He walks briskly across the city of Algiers in the pre-dawn light to a square that is already thick with people, their gaze fixed on a wooden platform and rising from it the stark outline of a guillotine.

    [...]

    Camus’ essay on the barbarity of the death penalty was written in 1956, against the backdrop of the executions of hundreds of dissidents during the Soviet crackdown in Hungary, as well as the execution of Algerian revolutionaries condemned to death by French tribunals. He notes that by 1940 all executions in France and England were shielded from the public. If capital punishment was meant to deter crime, why hold the killings in secret? Why not make them a public spectacle?

Venezuela

  • Kerry’s Lonely Crusade Against Venezuela

    Images forge reality, granting a power to television and video and even still photographs that can burrow deep into people’s consciousness without them even knowing it. With a wide variety of sources and people on the ground to talk to, I thought I was immune to the repetitious portrayals of Venezuela as a failed state in the throes of a popular rebellion. But even I was not prepared for what I saw in Caracas: how little of daily life appeared to be affected by the protests, the normality that prevailed in the vast majority of the city. I, too, had been taken in by media imagery.

Secrecy

  • Cohen’s SAC hires CIA-backed Palantir to strengthen surveillance

    SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge-fund firm that agreed to pay a record fine to settle insider-trading charges, moved to boost surveillance by hiring Palantir Technologies, a Central Intelligence Agency-backed software maker.

  • We need Congress to fix the FOIA

    The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a critical law for making sure the public has a fighting chance to get copies of records the government might not want it to see. For more than 40 years, people have used the FOIA to uncover evidence of government waste, fraud, abuse and illegality. More benignly, FOIA has been used to better understand the development and effects – positive and negative—of the federal government’s policies.

  • Udall: Release report on CIA

    Sen. Mark Udall called on the White House again Thursday to declassify a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program during the war on terror.

  • U.S. Senate leader orders probe of alleged CIA computer hacking
  • Details of Illegal Torture That the CIA Doesn’t Want You to Know About

    Senate staffers say the agency tortured prisoners in ways that went beyond what the Bush-era DOJ approved, according to an Al-Jazeera America report.

  • Nancy Pelosi: When Legislators Take on the CIA, ‘They Come After You’

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s remarks in support of fellow legislator Dianne Feinstein, who is embroiled in a dispute with the CIA, ought to be the sort of thing that alarms everyone. After all, another powerful member of Congress claims that the spy agency she is charged with overseeing illegitimately resists checks on its autonomy.

  • Justice Dept. Is Cautious on Joining C.I.A. Fight

    Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Senate Intelligence Committee believe that laws may have been broken in their bitter dispute over top secret documents relating to the C.I.A.’s detention program and who has the right to read them.

  • The CIA Spying Scandal, Watergate and the Decay of American Democracy

    In the nine days since Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency had spied on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers investigating CIA torture programs, the issue has been all but dropped by the political establishment and the media.

Ukraine

  • Deconstructing Putin

    Putin was strongest in his accusations of western hypocrisy. His ironic welcoming of the West having suddenly discovered the concept of international law was very well done. His analysis of the might is right approach the West had previously adopted, and their contempt of the UN over Iraq and Afghanistan, was spot on. Putin also was absolutely right in describing the Kosovo situation as “highly analogous” to the situation in Crimea. That is indeed true, and attempts by the West – including the Guardian – to argue the cases are different are pathetic exercises in special pleading.

    The problem is that Putin blithely ignored the enormous logical inconsistency in his argument. He stated that the Crimean and Kosovo cases were highly analogous, but then used that to justify Russia’s action in Crimea, despite the fact that Russia has always maintained the NATO Kosovo intervention was illegal(and still refuses to recognize Kosovo). In fact of course Russia was right over Kosovo, and thus is wrong over Crimea.

    [...]

    The attempt to downplay Russia’s diplomatic isolation was also a bit strange. He thanked China, though China had very pointedly failed to support Russian in the Security Council. When you are forced to thank people for abstaining, you are not in a strong position diplomatically. He also thanked India, which is peculiar, because the Indian PM yesterday put out a press release saying Putin had called him, but the had urged Putin to engage diplomatically with the interim government in Kiev, which certainly would not be welcome to Putin. I concluded that Putin was merely trying to tell his domestic audience Russia has support, even when it does not.

  • Crisis in Ukraine: Russia Extends its Control over the Black Sea and Strategic Waterways
  • Crimean Tatars Asked to Vacate Land, Regional Official Says

    Ukraine’s breakaway region of Crimea will ask Tatars to vacate part of the land where they now live in exchange for new territory elsewhere in the region, a top Crimean government official has said.

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