Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 24/9/2014: GNOME 3.14 Released, Bash Has a Bug

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Google Brings Coreboot To 64-bit ARM
    As of today there's now mainline Coreboot support for 64-bit ARM (AArch64) thanks to work originally done by Google.

  • Open source middleware is everywhere in financial services
    The UK economy is growing at its fastest rate since 2007, according to the Office of National Statistics, and the financial services sector is playing a major role in supporting this recovery. Renewed confidence in the City is driving up demand for effective IT. However, mirroring austerity measures put in place to help get national economies back on track, most (if not all) banks these days have cost reduction programmes in place.

  • UNICEF launches RapidPro open source app store
    The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has launched RapidPro, an open-source platform of apps that can help governments to quickly deliver important information in real time. It can also be used to connect communities to lifesaving services.

  • 5 New Enterprise Open Source Projects to Watch
    The open source software community is nothing if not prolific, and exciting new projects arrive on the scene practically every day. Keeping up with it all can be a formidable challenge; on the other hand, failing to do so could mean you miss out on something great.

    Nowhere is that more true than in enterprises, where upstart new contenders can change the way business is done almost overnight. Take Docker, for example. Though it only just launched last year, the container technology tool has taken the enterprise world by storm, becoming a fundamental part of the way many businesses work.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla: Phasing Out Certificates with SHA-1 based Signature Algorithms
        We plan to add a security warning to the Web Console to remind developers that they should not be using a SHA-1 based certificate. We will display an additional, more prominent warning if the certificate will be valid after January 1, 2017, since we will reject that certificate after that date. We plan to implement these warnings in the next few weeks, so they should be appearing in released versions of Firefox in early 2015. We may implement additional UI indicators later. For instance, after January 1, 2016, we plan to show the “Untrusted Connection” error whenever a newly issued SHA-1 certificate is encountered in Firefox. After January 1, 2017, we plan to show the “Untrusted Connection” error whenever a SHA-1 certificate is encountered in Firefox.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • InfiniDB bows out of the database wars the open-source way
      Consolidation is a natural part of any industry’s maturation, especially a segment as fiercely competitive as the database space, which has witnessed a massive influx of new players in recent years each vying for their own slice of the market. The resulting overlap in products and capabilities is starting to claim its first victims.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Towns in Umbria region switch to LibreOffice
      The public administrations of the Italian cities Todi and Terni are switching to LibreOffice, announces LibreUmbria. The regional project is assisting the Umbria region's public administrations to use this free software suite of office productivity tools.


    • Tor Challenge hits it out of the park
      If you need to be anonymous online, or evade digital censorship and surveillance, the Tor network has your back. And it's more than a little bit stronger now than it was this spring, thanks to the Tor Challenge.

      Tor is a publicly accessible, free software-based system for anonymizing Internet traffic. It relies on thousands of computers around the world called relays, which route traffic in tricky ways to dodge spying. The more relays, the stronger and faster the network.

      We'd like to warmly thank our allies at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for organizing the Tor Challenge and inviting us to join them in promoting it. And most of all, thanks to the 1,635 of you who started a relay! (The FSF would have started one too, but we've already been running ours for a while.)

    • GNU Parallel 20140922 ('Scotland') released

    • MediaGoblin 0.7.1 released
      MediaGoblin 0.7.1 has been released! This is a bugfix release building on MediaGoblin 0.7.0.

    • RCS savannah project page
      On the project page for RCS on savannah, the intro blurb now has a proper link to CVS, as well as a link to the tip jar page.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • MSA takes open-source pitch to faculty
      But rather than pushing for a bill at the state Legislature, this year the Minnesota Student Association is focusing its open-source efforts on winning over faculty members one by one.

    • Darkcoin Releases RC5, Prepares to Open Source Darksend
      Almost a month after releasing RC4, the Darkcoin team is back again with its much-awaited client upgrade, Release Candidate 5.

      As assured by the project’s core developer Evan Duffield, this new client easily fixes the concerns raised in security review, published earlier by renowned security expert Kristov Atlas. This includes the improvisation of Darksend’s anonymity effectiveness. Other fixes that has been implemented in RC5 is: Enforcement of masternode payments; improved Darksend speed; and Added Darksend overview screen so users can see what’s happening.

    • Bitsmart: Open-Source DIY Bitcoin Wallet with Raspberry Pis

    • Open Data, OpenCorporates, OpenOil
      Open data can play a crucial role in helping us navigate such mazes. In the world of business, the key store of open information is OpenCorporates, which I've written about several times. But OpenCorporates is just the start; what's really exciting is the way that people are starting to use its growing resources to investigate companies and their industries. A particularly good example of this is a project called OpenOil

    • Share your genetic story with openSNP
      Once you fall down the genealogical rabbit hole, it's hard to find your way back out. My journey began with my grandfather, a polio survivor confined to a wheelchair who took to computers in his later years. One of his passions was researching his ancestors, and the tool he used to collect his findings was Brøderbund's Family Tree Maker. I was fascinated by the charts and tables that he'd print out on his bubble jet printer, but I didn't have the patience for all the data entry.

    • Open Data

      • EC unveils open data site on EU cohesion funding
        The European Commission in July unveiled the Cohesion Policy Data platform - offering information and open data on the performance of EU Cohesion Policy. The policy determines one-third of the total EU budget: each year the EU invests about 50 billion euro in economic development at the national and regional level. The new open data platform shows how the funding is distributed between countries, by categories of regions, and with details on the different funds and policy objectives.

  • Programming

    • Out in the Open: The Site That Teaches You to Code Well Enough to Get a Job
      Wanna be a programmer? That shouldn’t be too hard. You can sign-up for an iterative online tutorial at a site like Codecademy or Treehouse. You can check yourself into a “coding bootcamp” for a face-to-face crash course in the ways of programming. Or you could do the old fashioned thing: buy a book or take a class at your local community college.

    • PyPy 2.4 "Snow White" Released

    • CLike: A New, "Simple C-Like" Programming Language
      One of the latest programming languages out there is now CLike, a language inspired by the C programming language but with an extensible syntax and typed macros support.

    • Why Python 4.0 won't be like Python 3.0
      Newcomers to python-ideas occasionally make reference to the idea of "Python 4000" when proposing backwards incompatible changes that don't offer a clear migration path from currently legal Python 3 code. After all, we allowed that kind of change for Python 3.0, so why wouldn't we allow it for Python 4.0?

      I've heard that question enough times now (including the more concerned phrasing "You made a big backwards compatibility break once, how do I know you won't do it again?"), that I figured I'd record my answer here, so I'd be able to refer people back to it in the future.


  • Security

    • Google’s war on spam and how encryption could finally win it – for the spammers
      When you cut the knees out from under a complex society, as Edward Snowden and the NSA have done to the internet over the past year or so, the effects ripple outward unpredictably. Right away, there was a rush on cryptography software, which immediately threatened the online status quo; privacy software might just as accurately be called “anti-analytics” or “anti-big-data” software, and your details and behavioral data (tracking cookies) are the lifeblood of the online economy. That looming problem can only get so big while encryption solutions remain clunky and intimidating to newbies — but pressure is mounting for more aggressive, far-reaching protection of online traffic. In particular, large email providers are looking forward to a future in which they must try to protect a user’s inbox while encryption prevents them from knowing virtually anything about it. By using encryption to protect ourselves from Google, hackers, and the NSA, we could be making ourselves vulnerable to spam.

    • Security advisories for Wednesday

    • My free software will respect users or it will be bullshit
      The four freedoms are only meaningful if they result in real-world benefits to the entire population, not a privileged minority. If your approach to releasing free software is merely to ensure that it has an approved license and throw it over the wall, you're doing it wrong. We need to design software from the ground up in such a way that those freedoms provide immediate and real benefits to our users. Anything else is a failure.

    • Bash specially-crafted environment variables code injection attack
      Bash or the Bourne again shell, is a UNIX like shell, which is perhaps one of the most installed utilities on any Linux system. From its creation in 1980, bash has evolved from a simple terminal based command interpreter to many other fancy uses.

    • Unix/Linux Bash: Critical security hole uncovered

    • SHELL SHOCK: Big bad Bash bug blows hole in Unix, Linux web servers

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Bombing Is Good For You
      If bombing a country really made it better, we would have made a paradise of Iraq by now. Instead it is a total disaster, with access to electricity, drinking water, education and health services all far worse than they were before we started bombing it. That is even without the growth of the Caliphate, or ISIS, a direct result first of our deposing Saddam and conniving in the intolerant Shia rule of Maliki, and then of our connivance in arming and funding anyone willing to fight Assad.

    • Syria Becomes the 7th Predominantly Muslim Country Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate
      The U.S. today began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan.

      That means that Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq.

    • Barack Obama, War President
      “A decade of war is now ending,” Barack Obama proclaimed from the steps of the Capitol in the first minutes of his presidency. “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”
    • Reluctant Warrior Bombs Yet Another Country
      It does make one wonder: What would an enthusiastic warrior look like to the corporate media? Would bombing eight countries in six years be enough?

    • Washington informed Syria before airstrikes
      The Syrian foreign ministry said Tuesday that Washington informed Damascus’ envoy to the United Nations before launching airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria, attacks that activists said inflicted casualties among jihadi fighters and civilians on the ground.

    • Britain will be 'at war' by weekend as RAF is set to blitz ISIS
      America and its Arab allies launched a devastating blitz on Islamic State strongholds in Syria yesterday as Britain was poised to join in.

    • Obama among most aggressive US Presidents: CNN

    • O, bomber! Obama bombs 7th country in 6 years
      American jets hit targets in Syria on Tuesday in the US-led fight against Islamic State. Although the US has not declared war since 1942, this is the seventh country that Barack Obama, the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, has bombed in as many years.

    • Reality Check: Obamawar
      Okay, now the anti-war president is at war. This makes sense. Sure it does. Remember in 1964 when LBJ’s campaign included this nugget: “We are not about to send American boys nine- or 10-thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves?” Then Nixon got elected in ’68 with a secret plan to end the Vietnam War and escalated it to horrifically criminal heights by bombing peaceful, sovereign nations “back to the stone age.” Oh, and remember when George W. Bush spoke in the late-summer of 2000 of a “humble foreign policy?” They can’t help it. I

    • Here are the seven countries the United States has bombed since 9/11
      The US began airstrikes in Syria today, fulfilling president Barack Obama’s vow to “degrade and destroy” the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State. The Pentagon said it deployed bombers, fighters, armed drones, and cruise missiles against IS forces in the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria and along the Iraq border. Military aircraft from Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates took part in the strikes, US officials told the New York Times.

    • Syria: US begins air strikes on Islamic State targets
      The US and five Arab allies have launched the first strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.

      The Pentagon said warplanes, drones and Tomahawk missiles were used to targeted several areas including IS stronghold Raqqa. At least 70 IS militants were killed, Syrian activists say.

    • Sweden 'missed' global opportunities
      These drones kill more civilians than the United States wants to make out.

    • Edward Snowden Wins Sweden’s ‘Alternative Nobel’

    • US Drone Attack Kills 10 in Pakistan
      At least 10 militants were killed today in a US drone attack in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, officials said.


      The identity of those killed was not known immediately.

    • U.S. Drones Kill Eight Militants in NW Pakistan
      U.S. drones Wednesday fired missiles at a compound and vehicle and killed at least eight militants in a restive Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

    • Sri Lanka condemns use of drones to counter terrorism
      Sri Lanka has condemned the use of drones by certain countries for combating terrorism and said it violates the international humanitarian law.

      The Sri Lankan delegation at the UN Human Rights Council has said the use of remotely piloted aircraft or armed drones result in killing of civilians and the matter should be "promptly investigated".

    • Why Drones Don’t Cut It in Syria
      Drones can perform a critical intelligence role by staying the air a long time and providing a good overview but without a pilot on board they have a limited ability to distinguish between combatants and civilians and quickly make sense out of confusing situations on the ground.

    • Drone crashes in south Yemen: witnesses
      A drone similar those used by the United States to track down and attack suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen crashed in the southern part of the country on Tuesday, witnesses and a local official said.

    • Suspected U.S. drone crashes in Yemen
      An aircraft believed to be a U.S. unmanned aerial drone crashed Tuesday in Yemen’s southern Shabwah province, eyewitnesses have said.

    • Israel Uses Gaza and West Bank to Test Weapons For Sale
      To illustrate this disturbing fact, Israel just wrapped up its annual drone conference during which it showcased drones that had just successfully been deployed during the devastating Operation Protective Edge in Gaza where 2,100 Palestinians were killed.

    • US vows more airstrikes on Syria
      US President Barack Obama says air strikes unleashed against the Islamic State group in Syria send a clear message the world is united in confronting them.

    • Bombing ISIS will do more harm than good. Here’s why
      ISIS may think they have a monopoly over the truth, but all they’ve shown is their own arrogance as they bask in their fantasy caliphate. Their stupidity and arrogance means they will destroy themselves. But recent history suggests that the current bombing campaign in civilian areas risks radicalising a new generation of already marginalised young men.

    • Suddenly Khorasan: New US Enemy Came Out of Nowhere
      It was no surprise when the Obama Administration began attacking ISIS targets in Syria last night. What was surprising was that the US also attacked a group known as Khorasan, then hyped what a huge, “imminent” threat they supposedly are.

    • Six Totally Shocking, Crazy, Outrageous Predictions About the War Against the Islamic State
      As you've probably heard, the US-led Coalition of the Willing to Be Seen Putting the Hurt on the Islamic State just made an overnight delivery of live ordinance to Islamic State targets throughout Syria, and they really blew the heck out of some stuff. Meanwhile, the White House and Pentagon have taken the field in the battle for public opinion armed with briefings, statements, videos, pictures, calls, and other weapons of mass communication.

    • Syria Airstrikes: PM In Talks Over UK Role
    • Government told to reveal plans for drone strikes outside war zones
      The British government has been warned it may face legal action if it fails to consult Parliament and the public on the redeployment of drones outside declared war zones.

    • Expanding US Strikes to ISIS in Syria, Has Obama Opened New Phase of "Perpetual War"?
      The United States has launched airstrikes in Syria targeting the Islamic State, as well as members of a separate militant organization known as the Khorasan group. The Pentagon says U.S. forces launched 47 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles from warships in the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf. In addition, U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighters, bombers and drones took part in the airstrikes. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 20 Islamic State fighters were killed in strikes that hit at least 50 targets in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor provinces in Syria’s east. The United States says Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had either participated or supported the strikes against the Islamic State, which has seized swaths of Syria and Iraq. The United States acted alone against the Khorasan group, saying it "took action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests." The Syrian government claims the United States had informed it of the pending attacks hours before the strikes began. Meanwhile, the United States has expanded its bombing of Iraq, launching new strikes around Kirkuk. To discuss this development, we are joined by two guests: Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College who has written extensively about the Islamic State, and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group CodePink and author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

    • US Expands Global ‘War On Terror’ By Striking ISIS Targets In Syria
      The United States and several of its Gulf Arab allies launched at least 50 air and missile strikes on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) strongholds in Syria on Tuesday, opening a new, far more complicated front in the battle against the militants, as well as marking the start of a new chapter in the ongoing US-proclaimed global “war on terror.”

    • 8 civilians, incl. 3 kids, killed in US-led strikes on Syria - monitor
      Eight civilians, three of them children, have been killed in the US-led air strikes on Al-Qaeda Nusra front positions, Reuters reported, citing Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    • Bombs away over Syria
      I’m all in favor of doing something about ISIS, but as the bombs fall over Syria, may I ask: How many unilateral bombing campaigns does a left-wing President get to launch before the Nobel committee has to consider taking his Peace Prize away?
    • Shock and Awe in Syria: It Never Works
      The Syrian government acknowledged that the US gave fair warning it would bomb Raqqah to the Syrian ambassador to the UN. That is, the US may not militarily be coordinating with Syria, but it does inform the regime of enough information to avoid a shoot-down.

      Not only ISIL positions but also some targets of the Jabhat al-Nusra or Succor Front (the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria) were struck by the US and its allies. Once you enter a war, it doesn’t stay limited.

      The US deployed not only fighter jets but also drone strikes and Tomahawk missiles, presumably fired from a destroyer from the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. It targeted suspected arms depots, the mayor’s mansion (used by ISIL as its HQ in Raqqah), and checkpoints, among other things. Dozens of ISIL fighters were said to be killed and more wounded.
    • Lest We Forget: remembering the airstrikes of the past
      I remember the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and how, for a moment, I was seduced by the notion that we needed to re-run World War 2, ousting Saddam, the new Hitler.

      I remember the generals and their briefings that told us that the precision weapons used in airstrikes protected civilians, and reading news reports that said otherwise.

      I remember that Britain and America armed Saddam Hussein in the first place.
    • The Islamic State terrorists aren’t just our enemy: they’re our legacy
      In the past year the United States has expanded its drone warfare campaign into Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Somalia, beyond the traditional Afghan-Pakistani battleground. The story of a young eastern Afghani man, Miya Jan, was widely reported throughout the western media last year. A United States drone strike changed his life forever: it killed his brother, his sister-in-law and their child.
    • If A Bank Can Be Liable For Terrorism, Are The Saudis Next?
      A Brooklyn jury’s verdict holding a Jordanian bank liable for Hamas terrorist attacks, combined with a federal appeals court’s reinstatement of a similar lawsuit against National Westminster Bank, is ratting international banking as well as policymakers at the U.S. State Dept. In both cases U.S. courts rejected traditional deference to foreign laws and sovereign immunity and showed a willingness to apply American tort law to overseas terrorist attacks.

    • Behind Obama’s Historic U.S.-Led Arab Coalition Conducting Airstrikes In Syria
      Qatar, a proven financier of Hamas, played a supporting role in the airstrikes.

    • Obama Launches an Unconstitutional War on ISIS in Syria
      Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution vests the power "to declare war" in the hands of Congress. But as the world now knows, President Barack Obama took it upon himself last night to launch an undeclared war against ISIS in Syria. Just like President George W. Bush before him, Obama believes his vast war powers as commander in chief trump whatever old-fashioned limitations the text of the Constitution happens to impose on the presidency.

      This is not Obama's first undeclared war, of course. That would be his 2011 war in Libya, which he also launched after refusing to obtain congressional authorization as required by the Constitution. Nor is it Obama's only unilateral exercise of unprecedented executive power. That list of misdeeds is growing too long to summarize in a short blog post. As Obama himself bragged in January 2014, "I've got a pen and I've got a phone.... And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward."
    • Oliver Stone says Putin 'a strong person', backs Crimea actions
      US film director Oliver Stone said in an interview published Tuesday he admired Russian President Vladimir Putin and understood his actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Climate Crisis? That's Not News

    • What Chuck Todd Talks About Instead of Talking About Climate
      Not talking about the largest climate march in history (Action Alert, 9/22/14) left Chuck Todd with some time to fill up on NBC's Meet the Press. Some of it he spent explaining his theory that the 2014 midterms are really a battle between Chick-fil-A and Starbucks. (Republicans like the chicken franchise, apparently, whereas Democrats prefer the coffee chain.)

    • WSJ's Noxious Climate Coverage Surrounding Historic March
      The Wall Street Journal sandwiched their coverage of the largest climate change march in history between commentaries that cast doubt on global warming and the need for action, fulfilling the newspaper's trend of pushing harmful rhetoric against international climate negotiations.

  • Finance

    • Civilization-Threatening Crises? Nope, Can't Think of Any
      I suppose if you're in the economic class that sells a house for $4.5 million that you bought two years ago for $4 million, then, yes, there are a lot of interesting restaurants you can eat at in New York City. If you're not in that class, it might be easier to recognize that New York is also one of the most unequal and most segregated cities in the US.

    • Tesco troubles could spark 'race to bottom'
      The troubled supermarket giant, which yesterday (Monday), announced it had overstated its half-year profit guidance by €£250m, has been battling falling sales as discount chains such as Aldi and Lidl gain popularity.

    • Tesco crisis: ‘They say every little helps, but supermarket’s demands are never little’
      To shoppers reading about Tesco’s €£250m black hole with their jaws to the floor, the most extraordinary thing about it could be this: none of Tesco’s suppliers are surprised.

      For years we have been bullied and browbeaten by Tesco’s buyers, who demand a lowball price for our goods then keep screwing us for more as the contract goes on.

      You see, with Tesco, after you’ve agreed a price for your product, often through a tender process if it’s own label, you never know how much extra they’re going to demand back from you further down the line. They say every little helps, but when it comes to its demands of suppliers, with Tesco it’s never little.

      So, for example, did you know that Tesco will try to charge us for the shortfall in their profits if they drop the price of our products halfway through our contract period? Did you know that they will try to bill us for wastage if our goods are unsold and go off?

      As Aldi and Lidl eat into Tesco’s market share, this has been a growing problem. But many suppliers are starting to say: “No. If you drop your prices halfway through our contract, that’s your problem, not ours. If you can’t get enough shoppers into your stores to buy our product, that’s out of our control too. Don’t try to bill us retrospectively because you can’t run your business properly.”

    • For real politics, don’t look to parliament but to an empty London housing estate
      This weekend, while commentators yawped on about local democracy, and Ed Miliband vowed he’d close the chasm between the rich and the rest of us by a whole couple of centimetres, a bunch of young women in east London just got on and did it.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Facebook Plans to Cut Ties With ALEC
      Just one day after Google announced it was cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), fellow tech giant Facebook announced that they are "not likely" to renew their ALEC membership next year.

      “We re-evaluate our memberships on an annual basis and are in that process now,” a Facebook representative wrote in a September 23 e-mail to the San Francisco Chronicle. “While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015.”

    • WI ALEC Plagiarists Criticize Burke for Copying Jobs Plan
      Two Wisconsin Republicans who have copied-and-pasted model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and passed the bills off as their own ideas are claiming that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is not suited for office because her jobs plan contained language borrowed from other candidates.

      Senators Alberta Darling and Leah Vukmir issued a statement on September 20 knocking Burke for lifting portions of her jobs plan from proposals by gubernatorial hopefuls in other states. Burke blamed the copy and paste job on a consultant, who had worked for those same candidates.

  • Censorship

    • Google Inc. Gets Caught Up In China’s Internet Crackdown
      Beijing’s Internet censorship ‘overrides’ Web’s use in ‘commerce or scientific research.’

    • Will America Embrace the Right to be Forgotten?
      By now most of us have been made aware of the profound need for a Google self-appraisal. Whether you’re looking for a new job, a scholarship, or a big promotion—whether you’re seeking public office or just trying to get a date—what the Internet says about you matters, and Google is the most prominent and influential gatekeeper. An entire industry, christened “online reputation management,” sprang up a few years back to help people and businesses manage what Google says about them; as of right now, that industry seems to be dwindling, but interest in matters of online privacy does not.

  • Privacy

    • Discovering the limits of surveillance
      Where are the "limits of surveillance"?

      For internet activists debating that very subject it was when someone in the audience started live-streaming their discussion.

      The panel did not look entirely comfortable with the young man's attempt to beam the "Stop Spying On Us" debate at Manchester's Anthony Burgess Museum to a worldwide audience.

    • BM Foreign Affairs — Role of Intelligence Agencies in the Modern World

    • Jihadist Threat Mutes Debate, Action on NSA Spying
      The heated debate about America's massive electronic spying dragnet is mostly "muted" as foreign jihadists rush in to fight alongside Islamic State (ISIS) militants, Foreign Policy reports.

      The extent of the National Security Agency's electronic snooping – first revealed in documents snatched from the NSA by ex-contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 – shocked the West.

      That was then.

      Today, legislation that would restrict the spy agency's reach – a version of which passed the House – is stuck in the Senate.

    • Intel Committee Chief Says Cyber Bill Could Face Two-Year Wait
      On September 19, 2014, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers followed up on comments he and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss made last week concerning the prospects for cybersecurity information sharing legislation. Chambliss and Rogers have been sounding the alarm that cyber legislation is not likely to get done this year.

    • Everyone agrees that NSA reform legislation is needed. So why hasn't it happened?
      Last year, Edward Snowden made headlines around the world with news of the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. You might have thought that Congress would react by passing legislation to address the issue. But with Congress now on break until after the November elections, that's looking increasingly unlikely.

      Politico's Tony Romm has an in-depth story examining what happened to the leading reform proposal, the USA Freedom Act. It passed the House in May, and a version sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was introduced in July. And then... nothing happened. The calendar ran out without Leahy's proposal getting a vote by the full Senate.

    • Tech’s surveillance hopes stopped in their tracks
    • Fearmongering NSA Reform
      What the law would do is restrict the government's ability to spy on Americans, particularly by requiring the government to justify programs that collect details of the call or Internet use of all citizens under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and other parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Some say we need these programs to fight terror. Yet an assessment by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent government oversight body, found that there were no instances where the nationwide call-metadata program conducted under Section 215 prevented an act of terrorism.

      Put another way: Our country has spent billions on programs under Section 215 that trample the rights of Americans, hamper journalists, and take resources away from more effective counterterrorism efforts – and we have nothing to show for it.

    • Huntsville City Schools monitoring students’ online activity since January
      They say it started with a call from the NSA. In May 2013 Al Lankford, a schools security official, took a call from someone he said identified themselves as with the National Security Agency. They warned of a student who had posted tweets threatening violence against an assistant principal as well as two teachers.

    • Huntsville schools say call from NSA led to monitoring students online
      A secret program to monitor students' online activities began quietly in Huntsville schools, following a phone call from the NSA, school officials say.

    • Parents, readers express mixed emotions about Huntsville school officials monitoring students on social media

    • School Secretly Monitoring Students' Facebook Posts—On Advice from NSA
      A Huntsville, Alabama, public school superintendent says that after taking a friendly call from the NSA, he decided to start secretly monitoring students' social media activities.

      The school board had no idea what he was doing, and the NSA has denied that it would make a phone call concerning a domestic matter. But Superintendent Casey Wardynski says no, it was definitely the NSA who called.

    • Snowden Wins Sweden's 'Alternative Nobel Prize'
      Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has been awarded Sweden's Right Livelihood Honorary Award, often referred to as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize', for his work on press freedom, the award's foundation said on Wednesday.

    • Row as Snowden wins Swedish rights prize
      Sweden's foreign ministry has banned a civil rights group from its premises after news leaked that this year's winner of the Swedish Right Livelihood Award would be whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    • US whistleblower Edward Snowden wins Swedish rights prize

    • ‘Alternative Nobel’ human rights award goes to Snowden
    • Edward Snowden Wins 2014 Right Livelihood Award
      Fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper, were named honorary co-winners on Wednesday of the 2014 Right Livelihood Award.

    • Edward Snowden and Alan Rusbridger receive Right Livelihood award
      Award for whistleblower and Guardian editor recognises their work in exposing mass surveillance by the NSA and others
    • US whistleblower Snowden wins Swedish rights prize

    • Right Livelihood Award to Snowden
      The Stockholm-based Right Livelihood Award Foundation on Wednesday praised Snowden, a former US intelligence agent, for "revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance."

    • Edward Snowden Awarded ‘Alternative Nobel’
      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will be awarded the Right Livelihood Award, a Swedish honor often called “the alternative Nobel Prize”, along with the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, which published his revelations.
    • Asma Jahangir, Edward Snowden win prestigious Swedish human rights award

    • Snowden given ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’
    • Claim: NSA Is Spying on The Whole Of Vienna Including the UN
      Following revelations that the American National Security Agency (NSA) spies on the German Government and had tapped Chancellor Merkel’s private phone, an Austrian journalist has alleged the NSA has a significant listening station in central Vienna, overlooking the United Nations complex there, reports The Local.

    • NSA 'could be spying on UN' in Vienna
    • Suspected NSA listening post discovered in Vienna
      A series of photos of what is believed to be an NSA-operated listening post on top of a skyscraper in the Austrian capital of Vienna have been circulated by Austrian media Tuesday.

      The IZD Tower building is situated next to the Vienna International Centre that hosts the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), with media reports speculating the suspected listening hut atop the building, which at first glance appears to be a maintenance hut, is used to receive signals from bugs installed at the UN premises.

    • Rekha Basu: Edward Snowden: traitor or patriot?
      If this is what passes for national security or foreign policy, we're all in trouble.


      Knowing all this does not give me confidence in my government, but it does tend to vindicate Snowden's actions. Maybe he did betray the government's trust, but the government has been betraying the people's trust to a far greater degree.

    • Who profits from our new war? Inside NSA and private contractors’ secret plans
      A massive, $7.2 billion Army intelligence contract signed just 10 days ago underscores the central role to be played by the National Security Agency and its army of private contractors in the unfolding air war being carried out by the United States and its Gulf States allies against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    • Your data is the government’s data
      Governments around the world are increasingly demanding their citizens’ data, or rather the user data stored by companies such as Yahoo and Google. These demands have been justified under the veil of national security, tied to the NSA surveillance program brought to light in 2013 by Edward Snowden.

    • Recent poll on anti-terrorism policies tells only half the story
      Yet, this poll tells only half the story. While Americans seem to have re-found fear of international Islamic terrorism — thus the willingness to allow the nation's security enterprise to protect them — there remains a disconnect about this feeling regarding domestic efforts to protect.

      The recent events in Ferguson, Mo. have led to a nationwide dialogue about the "militarization" of police. Polls taken in the wake of police conflicts with protestors in the St. Louis suburb suggest that Americans do fear domestic law enforcement at levels not previously seen. A poll taken by YouGov/Huffington Post, for example, showed that only 28 percent of Americans believe that police use of military weapons is necessary, while 51 percent of respondents believe that police go "too far" in their use of those weapons.
    • Former NSA Chief Calls NSA Data Sharing “Biggest Threat Since Civil War”
      The NSA peeks and pries into our lives in countless ways, violating our privacy and ignoring the Fourth Amendment. But a former NSA chief says one agency activity endangers Americans more than the rest: the routine sharing of warrantless data with state and local law enforcement.

      In an interview earlier this month, William Binney called NSA information sharing “the most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.”

    • CFPB collecting data on 600 million credit accounts despite privacy, security risks
      A Government Accountability Office comprehensive study released by the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee confirms that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is collecting financial data on up to 600 million consumer credit card accounts, without sufficient security and privacy protections to ensure there is no risk of improper collection, use, or release of consumer financial data.

    • It’s Time for a Real Debate on Reader Privacy
      Last week longtime local publisher Howard Owens, founder of the online news site the Batavian, launched a new publication covering Wyoming County in upstate New York. Buried in a parenthetical within his welcome message to readers was a fascinating promise: “We’ll also respect your privacy by not gathering personal data to distribute to multinational media conglomerates for so-called ‘targeted advertising.’”

      This kind of explicit promise regarding reader privacy is increasingly important and all too rare.

    • Jihadists didn't increase security due to NSA leaks
      Edward Snowden's leaks about the NSA haven't caused Islamic terrorists to hide communications behind encryption software, according to a report by Flashpoint Partners.

      The report states that their groups are now using more secure means of communication, but attributed this not to the leaks about the NSA, but to the development of encrypted communications packages made by the terrorists themselves; going against the GCHQ claim that terrorists have increased security measures because of Snowden's information about the NSA.

    • Kim Dotcom and Edward Snowden: New Zealand conducts mass surveillance
      Add New Zealand to the list of governments snooping on you. State surveillance has become a central issue in New Zealand’s national elections, following today’s revelation by the A-Team of whistleblowers who gave details surrounding the creation of a Kiwi mass surveillance operation code-named “Speargun.” Revelation of the secret program could lance prime minister John Key’s reelection bid next week.

    • New Zealand’s prime minister wants to cut the Union Jack out of his country’s flag
      This weekend, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key secured his third term in power after his center-right party won an increased majority in parliament. Key, a popular premier credited with steering the country through the global financial crisis, withstood the challenges of a slew of parties, including an eye-catching intervention by controversial Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who beamed in via video link Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at an Auckland event last week.

    • US gave surveillance data to a country ‘hostile’ to many Americans — Bamford

    • New Questions Raised About NSA-Israel Intelligence Sharing

    • Snowden Reveal Makes Israeli Spies' Protest An American Issue
      Last Friday, 43 veteran and reserve members of Israel's secretive spy organization, Unit 8200, claimed they'd been directed to spy on Palestinians for coercion purposes.

      The group signed an open letter of protest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, accusing the spy agency of targeting innocent Palestinians and collecting data for political purposes, not national security.
    • E.O. 12333: End-Running the Fourth Amendment
      Historians of the Constitutional Era of the United States (1789-2001, RIP) will recall the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, the one that used to protect Americans against unreasonable and unwarranted searches.

      The Supreme Court had generally held that searches required a warrant. That warrant could be issued only after law enforcement showed they had "probable cause." That in turn had been defined by the Court to require a high standard of proof, "a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place."

      The basic idea for more or less over 200 years: unless the government has a good, legal reason to look into your business, it couldn't. As communications changed, the Fourth evolved to assert extend those same rights of privacy to phone calls, emails and texts, the same rules applying there as to physical searches.

    • Local Use of Military Equipment is Drawing Scrutiny—But Local Use of Surveillance Equipment and Training Needs Attention Too
      Since the police shooting of Michael Brown and the response in the streets, militarization of the police, especially with surplus military hardware like armored vehicles, has been a hot topic, both in the news and in Congress. And that's a good thing.

      But the equipment we can see on the news isn’t the only thing flowing from our military to local cops. Alongside armored vehicles and guns, local police are getting surveillance technology with help from the federal government. And while we don’t know the full contours of that aid, what we do know is worrisome and should spur further scrutiny, both locally and nationally.

    • American Universities Aid And Abet Unconstitutional Spying: They Can Be Stopped
      The surveillance state doesn’t operate in a vacuum.

      In fact, the NSA and other federal spy agencies depend on support from a wide array of both public and private entities in order to engage in world-wide snooping.

      American colleges and universities count among the institutions supporting dragnet spying. Through more the 170 schools, the NSA recruits and trains future spies and gains valuable research.

    • Access, Partners Recognize Heroes, Villains on Human Rights and Communications Surveillance
      The Principles, endorsed by more than 400 civil society groups worldwide, provide a framework to assess whether government surveillance complies with international human rights obligations. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Principles, which were publicly released on September 22, 2013. Today’s announcement follows on from the Principles Coalition’s Week of Action last week, which highlighted the Principles and promoted their adoption.

    • The Fappening: Gabrielle Union Enlists Help Of FBI After NSFW Photos Leak Of Kim Kardashian, Emily Ratajkowski & More, What’s Apple Doing About This?
    • Are Apple and Google Really on Your Side Against the NSA?
    • On Key Escrows and Backdoors
    • Apple Still Has Plenty of Your Data for the Feds
      But despite these nods to privacy-conscious consumers, Apple still strongly encourages all its users to sign up for and use iCloud, the internet syncing and storage service where Apple has the capability to unlock key data like backups, documents, contacts, and calendar information in response to a government demand. iCloud is also used to sync photos, as a slew of celebrities learned in recent weeks when hackers reaped nude photos from the Apple service. (Celebrity iCloud accounts were compromised when hackers answered security questions correctly or tricked victims into giving up their credentials via “phishing” links, Cook has said.)

      While Apple’s harder line on privacy is a welcome change, it’s important to put it in context. Yes, a leading maker of smartphones, tablets, and laptops is now giving users better tools to lock down some of their most sensitive data. But those users have to know what they’re doing to reap the benefits of the new software and hardware — and in particular it helps if they ignore Apple’s own entreaties to share their data more widely.
    • Justice Department Halts Rand Paul’s NSA Lawsuit
      The U.S. Department of Justice successfully halted Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s pending National Security Agency lawsuit on Monday, which will stay on hold while a similar case questioning the constitutionality of certain surveillance moves forward.

    • Rand Paul's NSA lawsuit put on hold
      Sen. Rand Paul's lawsuit over National Security Agency surveillance was put on hold Monday, pending an appeals court ruling on a parallel case brought before the senator's.

    • Canada's Privacy Debate Goes Online with Streaming Greenwald Event
      Canadian specialty channels and online mediacasters will provide coverage of a talk about online privacy and data security by controversial American author Glenn Greenwald.

      Greenwald’s upcoming presentation will be live streamed and recorded as part of media podcasting and on-demand access plans for the event.
    • War, Whistleblowing and Independent Journalism Panel
      William Binney was the former technical director of the World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group and a senior NSA cryptomathematician at the NSA. He worked there for over three decades, and retired after 9/11 as the agency began to implement domestic spying programs that he says are unconstitutional. He is also a whistleblower, having disclosed information to the Defense Department in 2002 about corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse in the agency related to the use of data collection and analysis program called Trailblazer.

    • Lawmakers want to expand role of government privacy watchdog
      A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to expand the ability of an independent agency to investigate government surveillance activities. The Strengthening Privacy, Oversight and Transparency (SPOT) Act would expand the role of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) — an executive branch watchdog group formed as a result of suggestion from the 9/11 Commission to investigate the privacy implications of counterterrorism policies.

    • Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introduces Bill to Strengthen Privacy Oversight Board
      In an effort to significantly improve the oversight and accountability of the nation's intelligence community, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) spearheaded a bipartisan, bicameral effort to strengthen the government's privacy protection board. The legislation gives the oversight board greater ability to carry out its function of balancing the government's national security and counterterrorism activities with the need to protect the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

    • It’s time to break up the NSA to ensure security and privacy
      A year and a half after the Edward Snowden revelations, with promised reform measures stalled in congress, security expert Bruce Scheier says we should break up the National Security Agency to help build trust and transparency, while preserving its necessary functions.
    • How to use the Tor Browser to surf the web anonymously
      Recently, BoingBoing ran an article about how some librarians in Massachusetts were installing Tor software in all their public PCs to anonymize the browsing habits of their patrons. The librarians are doing this as a stand against passive government surveillance as well as companies that track users online and build dossiers to serve highly-targeted advertising.

    • New app tracks employee moods
      Which means, of course: There's now an app for that. The Niko Niko platform is an emerging service that can measure and track mood data via iOS app, email or a Google Chrome extension. The idea is that managers can pose an emotional question on the platform — e.g., "How do you feel about progress you made on your priorities for the week?" — and team members can indicate how they are feeling on a quick smiley-face scale.
    • Eric Schmidt slams 'paranoid' Assange over accusations in new book
      Google's Eric Schmidt is infuriated with Julian Assange allegations that Google is tied to the US government when it comes to the openness of the internet, which the WikiLeaks founder expressed in his new book 'When Google met WikiLeaks.'

    • Google's Eric Schmidt Calls Julian Assange 'Paranoid' and Says Tim Cook Is Wrong

    • Assange warns about Google’s ‘revolving door’ with the US state dept

    • A state within a state at an alarming rate: Assange says NSA just keeps on growing
      Julian Assange reminisced to RT’s Afshin Rattansi about a meeting he had with Google in 2011 and how the company is in bed with the State Department. He also mentioned that a state within a state is being developed within the USA.

    • Hackers 'could watch you having sex via your smartphone'
      It was revealed earlier this year that GCHQ had operated a secret surveillance project called Optic Nerve which captured images from millions of Yahoo! webcam chats made between people suspected of no crime.

      Leaked documents dated from 2008 to 2010 reveal that Yahoo! was chosen because it was known to be used by “GCHQ targets”. The NSA was also involved, providing software to identify video traffic online and make screenshots searchable once intercepted.

  • Civil Rights

    • Pro-Palestinian activists held after demo at Glasgow defence site

      SIX pro-Palestinian activists have been arrested following a demonstration at the Glasgow premises of defence systems firm Thales UK.
    • ​‘Stop arming Israel!’ Scottish Pro-Palestinian activists occupy Israel-linked arms factory in Glasgow

    • Jason Leopold on the Samir Khan Case
      Over at VICE News, reporter Jason Leopold has this very interesting story about the FBI investigation of Samir Khan, the AQAP propagandist and editor of Inspire magazine, who was killed in the strike against Anwar Al-Aulaqi. Khan, like Al-Aulaqi, was a U.S. citizen, though the government maintains that he was not the target of the strike that killed him. The article is based largely on documents released by the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. While Leopold notes that they are heavily redacted, he actually gleans a lot of worthwhile detail from them.

    • Where do we draw the line on secrecy?

    • CPJ urges US to mitigate threats to journalism, newsgathering
      The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, is writing to express its concern about the effects of intelligence and law enforcement activities undertaken by agencies, over which your administration has oversight, on the free flow of news and other information in the public interest.

    • CPJ Calls on Obama to Defend the Right to Report in the Digital Age
      Global Voices is joining more than 60 other media and press freedom organizations in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists’ campaign for the Right to Report in the Digital Age, targeting the Obama administration. Revelations about surveillance, intimidation, and exploitation of the press have raised unsettling questions about the rights and safety of journalists’ ability to report in the digital age. The revelations also give ammunition to governments seeking to tighten restrictions on media and the Internet.

    • 'Obama's America' filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza avoids prison time in campaign-finance case, plus more movie news: Popcorn Breakfast (video)
      Conservative documentary filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza -- the man behind such anti-Obama films as "2016: Obama's America" and "America" -- was sentenced Tuesday (Sept. 23) to serve eight months in a "community confinement center," five years of probation and to pay a $30,000 fine for a campaign-finance violation to which he pled guilty earlier this year. But in the process, he avoids the hard jail time to which he could have been sentenced (via The New York Times). That story tops this morning's Popcorn Breakfast, my regular three-minute(ish) movie-headlines roundup.

    • Amnesty wants Assam government to guarantee fair trial to detained journalist

    • Amnesty calls for fair trial of detained scribe
      Global human rights body Amnesty International today called for a fair trial for detained TV journalist Jaikhlong Brahma.

      “The Government of Assam must release Jaikhlong Brahma from administrative detention or charge him with recognizably criminal offences, and guarantee him a fair trial which meets international standards,” Amnesty International India said in a release.

    • Obama: The Most Secretive President?
      A presidential administration expected to be more open and transparent than preceding ones has become focused on keeping secrets and preventing legitimate public inquiry.

    • Notes on my struggle with fascism
      In totalitarian America, nonstandard freedom of speech is frowned on, and the police snuff it out. The authorities require any demonstrators to get a permit, thereby allowing them to eliminate the Constitutional right to redress of grievances based on a pretext. The Constitutional right to protest is all or nothing; so soon as you allow the Fascists to demand a permit, the right vanishes. They come up with a pretext to ban what they find distasteful. As usual, the Constitution that is so precious states absolutely nothing about a permit. He who would understand class society must study the pretext.

    • Unfinished Business: The Trickle-Down Effects of the War on ISIS on Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law
      As members of Congress left town for the mid-term election campaigns last week, they managed to leave unresolved almost every important pending national security question before them. Issues of war, torture accountability, NSA surveillance, and even expatriation of terrorists remain to be taken up, by the lame-duck Congress after the elections, or by the next Congress altogether. Given how dysfunctional and divided this Congress has been, maybe doing little or nothing is the best we can hope for. But the questions are not going to go away, and require democratic reckoning. The emerging war with the Islamic State in Syria, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL, will almost certainly color resolution of all the pending questions. President Obama insisted, in his May 2013 speech at the National Defense University, that our democracy demands an end to perpetual war. But he has now, it seems, bequeathed to us a new perpetual war. And as with the war with Al Qaeda, there is a real risk that we will inappropriately discount rule of law, civil liberties, and human rights concerns.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Seed brings locally hosted internet to developing countries
      There are a number of ongoing initiatives trying to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries in terms of internet access. We wrote about Cosmos Browser in one of our earlier articles. We found another such initiative to extend the bliss of the information available in the internet to the 4 billion people who don’t enjoy a reliable internet connection – Project Seed. The goal of the project is to let the light of knowledge reach everyone on the planet.

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