US Senate passes CISA, a very bad spying bill dressed up as a cybersecurity bill


CISA won't make you and I any more secure, and it threatens what's left of our online privacy. The very helpful sounding “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” will definitely help the government, though: it'll make it a lot easier for technology companies to share your personal data with the government, and everyone knows that this data never ends up in the wrong hands, so you're fine.

The gaping privacy flaws in CISA didn't stop the Senate from passing it by a wide margin today: 74 to 21. CISA now goes to a conference committee between House and Senate.

Here's the EFF's take, by Mark Jaycox:

CISA passed the Senate today in a 74-21 vote. The bill is fundamentally flawed due to its broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying authorities. The bill now moves to a conference committee despite its inability to address problems that caused recent highly publicized computer data breaches, like unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.

The conference committee between the House of Representatives and the Senate will determine the bill's final language. But no amount of changes in conference could fix the fact that CISA doesn't address the real cybersecurity problems that caused computer data breaches like Target and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Read the rest

Secret surveillance laws make it impossible to have an informed debate about privacy


James Losey's new, open access, peer-reviewed article in the Journal of International Communication analyzes how secret laws underpinning surveillance undermine democratic principles and how transparency from both companies and governments is a critical first step for supporting an informed debate.. Read the rest

Canada's new Liberal majority: better than the Tories, still terrible for the Internet


Justin Trudeau is certainly an improvement on outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He's unlikely to go on burning Canada's archives and warring on its scientists, and he'll probably stop ignoring the murder of hundreds of aboriginal women and girls, and he's not a racist asshole who plays to other racist assholes to keep power. Read the rest

DHS admits it uses Stingrays for VIPs, vows to sometimes get warrants, stop lying to judges


The DHS's newly released policy statement on the use of Stingrays (stationary fake cellphone towers used to track people in a specific location) and Dirt Boxes (airplane-mounted surveillance that tracks whole populations) represents a welcome, if overdue, transparency in the use of cellphone surveillance by federal agencies. Read the rest



Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "The privacy-killing law CISA -- which gives legal immunity to corporations when they share your private data with the U.S. government -- is back on the Senate floor after Internet activists have successfully delayed it many times. This could be our last chance to stop it for good." Read the rest

How a mathematician teaches "Little Brother" to a first-year seminar


Derek Bruff teaches a first-year college writing seminar in mathematics, an unusual kind of course that covers a lot of ground, and uses a novel as some of its instructional material -- specifically, my novel Little Brother. Read the rest

TPP means no more domain privacy


Last summer, thousands of organizations and individuals wrote to ICANN to defend domain-name proxies that keep registrants' personal information private -- a crucial facility used by people in danger of political or personal reprisal, from people fleeing gender violence to dissidents documenting human rights abuses. Read the rest

ORG celebrates its tenth birthday: a decade of UK digital rights!


It's been ten years since Danny O'Brien, Suw Charman and I announced the formation of the UK Open Rights Group at the 2005 Open Tech conference and asked the assembled people to pledge to pay £5/month to help fund a UK-based digital rights group that would fight for their rights online -- and everywhere. Read the rest

23andme & aggregated the world's DNA; the police obliged them by asking for it


When 23andme and began their projects of collecting and retaining the world's DNA, many commentators warned that this would be an irresistible target for authoritarians and criminals, and that it was only a matter of time until cops started showing up at their doors, asking for their customers' most compromising data. Read the rest

UK MPs learn that GCHQ can spy on them, too, so now we may get a debate on surveillance


In 1966, UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson told MPs that the UK spy agencies weren't allowed to tap their phones and that if that changed, he'd tell them about it first. In 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair asserted that this applied to electronic communications. This Monday, UK Home Secretary Theresa May asserted that the "Wilson Doctrine" still applied to MPs. Then, on Wednesday, the investigatory powers tribunal ruled that this was all rubbish. Read the rest

California passes the country's best-ever online privacy law

CA Gov. Jerry Brown at a news conference in Sacramento.

Governor Jerry Brown has signed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which "bars any state law enforcement agency or other investigative entity from compelling a business to turn over any metadata or digital communications—including emails, texts, documents stored in the cloud—without a warrant. It also requires a warrant to track the location of electronic devices like mobile phones, or to search them." Read the rest

Big Data's religious faith denies the reality of failed promises, privacy Chernobyls


Maciej Ceglowski (previously) spoke to a O'Reilly's Strata Big Data conference this month about the toxicity of data -- the fact that data collected is likely to leak, and that data-leaks resemble nuclear leaks in that even the "dilute" data (metadata or lightly contaminated boiler suits and tools) are still deadly when enough of them leak out (I've been using this metaphor since 2008). Read the rest

Global coalition tells Facebook to kill its Real Names policy


The Nameless Coaltion, a global alliance of women's groups, LGBTQ groups, human rights and digital rights groups has asked Facebook to abandon its "Real Names" policy, which puts Facebook users in danger of reprisals including state violence, stalkers, and on-the-job harassment. Read the rest

Primer explains the spying tech your local cops are using


The Electronic Frontier Foundation's new Law Enforcement Technology Primer for Civilian Oversight Bodies is a short, easy-to-understand guide for non-technical people that explains the new surveillance technology that local law-enforcement agencies are increasingly relying upon, often in secret, and without any civilian oversight. Read the rest

EU top court: NSA spying means US servers are not a fit home for Europeans' data


Historically, US companies have been able to get around the (relatively stringent) European data-protection rules thanks to a "Safe Harbor" agreement between the US and the EU -- but Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist, has successfully argued that the NSA's mass surveillance programs violate European law and invalidates the Safe Harbor. Read the rest

Snowden broke a nondisclosure EULA in order to uphold his Constitutional oath


The crooks that Edward Snowden outed (and their complicit overseers in government) like to talk about how Snowden violated an oath when he gave journalists documents that established that security services in at least five countries were breaking their own laws in order to pursue unimaginably aggressive mass surveillance. Read the rest

Mayor of Stockton, CA detained by DHS at SFO, forced to give up laptop password


Mayor Anthony R. Silva was on his way back from a mayor's conference in China when the DHS border guards confiscated his laptop and phones and detained him, telling him he would not be allowed to leave until he gave them his passwords. He has still not had his devices returned. Read the rest

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