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Internet of Things, Part 1: God's Gift to the NSA
February 12, 2014
The NSA's salivary glands no doubt started working overtime when it became apparent that technological advances were moving the world toward an Internet of Things -- a world where everything would be connected to everything else wirelessly or over the Web. Almost two years ago, David Petraeus, then director of the CIA, enthused that the IoT would transform surveillance techniques.
Mass Surveillance: The Day We Fight Back
February 10, 2014
Well it's been roughly eight months since the first major leaks about the NSA's PRISM surveillance program began to appear, and at last a coordinated global protest is imminent. Scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Feb. 11, The Day We Fight Back involves thousands of participating websites as well as protests, speaking events, street theater performances and more.
Unable to Dent Wallet, France Attacks Google's Pride
February 10, 2014
France's top administrative court ruled that Google must display a notice on its French search page saying that the company was fined by a local privacy watchdog. Google plans to fight the fine, but will have to adorn its Google.fr page with the humiliating message in the meantime. In January, French privacy regulators followed through on previous threats by fining Google roughly $200,000.
Internet Domain Names Get More Character
February 04, 2014
Tuesday ushered in a series of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that for the first time in Web history, include Arabic, Chinese and Russian characters. The new gTLDs -- which are the suffixes to Web addresses, such as ".com" and ".net" -- were approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. ICANN invited applications for new domain names in 2012, at a cost of $185,000 a pop.
Strong Man Snowden Rings the Bell in Geekland
February 03, 2014
Openness is changing the world, as a very wise writer pointed out not so very long ago, and what better example than the parade of government-spying revelations we've seen in recent months? It's clearly a different world since Edward Snowden appeared on the scene -- though not everyone agrees on whether it's a better one or not. In the eyes of some, he deserves a peace prize.
Departures, Arrivals, Surveillance: Canada Used Airport WiFi Snooparound
January 31, 2014
Canadian authorities used information culled from a free Internet service at a major national airport to track the wireless devices of scores of travelers. The Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CESC, received information from the unnamed airport's free WiFi system and then used that data to track travelers whose devices later popped up at WiFi locations in other parts of the country.
Snowden in the Running for Nobel Peace Prize
January 30, 2014
A group of Norwegian lawmakers nominated former NSA contactor Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize. Saying that his bottomless pit of surveillance revelations contributes to stability and transparency, the lawmakers submitted the nomination to the Nobel Foundation. President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, meaning Obama and his secret-leaking foil could soon have something in common.
US, British Intelligence Scoop Data From Smartphone Apps
January 28, 2014
Don't get angry, but... U.S. and British intelligence agencies have long been mining data from smartphone apps such as the wildly popular Angry Birds. The National Security Agency and its British brethren at the Government Communications Headquarters reportedly have targeted the swell of data moving to and fro on mobile apps, based on previously secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Google Buys DeepMind to Dig Deeper Into Data
January 27, 2014
News that Google is purchasing artificial intelligence company DeepMind for between $500 million and $650 million surfaced Monday. The first commercial applications of DeepMind are in simulations, e-commerce and games. "These are the areas most likely to benefit from -- and generate revenue from -- AI," aid Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
Privacy Board Urges Shutdown of 'Illegal' NSA Data Dig
January 23, 2014
The United States National Security Agency should end its controversial bulk telephone metadata collection program, recommended the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The board's report, issued Thursday, says Section 215 of the U.S. Patriot Act, which provides the foundation for the NSA's authority, "does not provide an adequate legal basis to support the program."
Bitcoin's Popularity Attracts Malware Writers
January 22, 2014
Most folks know the value of money, but few know the latest value of a Bitcoin, a virtual currency prone to wide price swings. Those swings haven't deterred those on the digital leading edge from speculating in the currency -- or bad app writers from plotting ways to steal it. "Bitcoins -- and indeed any digital property of any value -- will be a theft target," said Bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik.
Nest CEO Promises to Preserve Privacy
January 21, 2014
Nest CEO Tony Fadell took on one of the many lingering questions about Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of the company: What will become of its privacy policy? Any changes to Nest's privacy policy will be opt-in, and the company will be "transparent" about those changes to its users, Fadell promised. This assurance from Fadell is almost as significant as Google's acquisition of Nest.
Wife of Indian Minister Dead After Exposing Husband on Twitter
January 20, 2014
The wife of Shashi Tharoor, an Indian minister and member of parliament, was found dead in a luxury hotel in New Delhi days after exposing her husband's alleged infidelity via Twitter. The cause of death is not known, but a forensic expert reportedly dubbed it a "sudden, unnatural death." Private messages between Tharoor and a Pakistani journalist popped up on Tharoor's Twitter account Wednesday.
The Blackphone vs. the NSA
January 20, 2014
Well Linux bloggers have made it plain from the get-go that privacy is among their top concerns for 2014, and recent events have done nothing to shift that focus. President Obama's momentous speech proposing NSA reforms wasn't the only clarion call last week. We also heard from Mozilla, which appealed to security researchers to help keep Firefox source code unadulterated and backdoor-free.
Obama's NSA Reforms Draw Tepid Response
January 18, 2014
In a keenly anticipated speech, President Obama on Friday announced reforms to the NSA's surveillance activities, but his pronouncements failed to please just about everyone. "We heard nothing in his speech or proposal that will repair the damage that has been done to the tech industry and the future of the Internet," said Matt Simons, director of social justice at ThoughtWorks.
Passwords Flow Freely at Starbucks
January 16, 2014
Starbucks has admitted storing users' passwords in plain text on its mobile apps, creating security and privacy risks. Anyone with access to a customer's phone could obtain that person's user name, password and email address by connecting the device to a computer and opening a file. The clear text reportedly also displays a string of geolocation data that could put customer privacy at risk.
Pentagon Wary of New Chinese Missile Vehicle
January 16, 2014
Last week, China's military took its new "ultra-high speed missile vehicle" -- or "hypersonic glide vehicle," if you prefer -- for its first test drive, raising eyebrows among U.S. defense officials. The hypersonic aircraft, capable of maneuvering at a mindboggling 10 times the speed of sound -- that's more than 7,500 miles per hour -- is designed to deliver warheads through U.S. missile defenses.
Blackphone Aims to Keep Spooks in the Dark
January 15, 2014
Silent Circle and Geeksphone have teamed up to create the Blackphone -- a smartphone designed to truly protect users' privacy. Carrier- and vendor-independent, the Blackphone allows users to make and receive phone calls securely, as well as transfer and store files, swap secure text messages, and conduct video chats without compromising their privacy, the companies claim.
NSA's Radio Spying Could Backfire
January 15, 2014
The United States National Security Agency's surveillance efforts reportedly include radio transmissions from circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into computers. This apparently has been going on since 2008. "This is pretty cool," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "You could embed a transmitter in a USB dongle or memory card or mouse plugin or USB plugin."
Facebook to Share User Data With Russian Search Engine
January 15, 2014
Facebook will start peddling user data to Yandex, Russia's top search engine, as part of a deal between the two tech giants. Yandex will get full access to public data from users in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Yandex will use the data in question -- which includes posts and comments that have not been classified as "private" -- to enhance its search results.

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