Someone just snuck warrantless email access into the Senate's secret intelligence bill

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Every year, the Senate passes a secret bill (that is, a bill whose text is a secret during its debate) that re-authorizes intelligence agencies' surveillance powers; this year, someone (possibly chairman Richard Burr, R-NC and/or Tom Cotton, R-AR) has snuck in an amendment that would give the FBI the power to demand warrantless access to Americans' email and browsing history, using National Security Letters, a controversial, widely used secret police order. Read the rest

Study shows detailed, compromising inferences can be readily made with metadata

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In Evaluating the privacy properties of telephone metadata, a paper by researchers from Stanford's departments of Law and Computer Science published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors analyzed metadata from six months' worth of volunteers' phone logs to see what kind of compromising information they could extract from them. Read the rest

Edward Snowden performs radical surgery on a phone to make it "go black"

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If you think that your phone may have been hacked so that your adversaries can watch you through the cameras and listen through the mics, one way to solve the problem is to remove the cameras and microphones, and only use the phone with a headset that you unplug when it's not in use. Read the rest

Tor Project is working on a web-wide random number generator

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Random number generators are the foundation of cryptography -- that's why the NSA secretly sabotaged the RNG standard that the National Institute for Standards and Technology developed. Read the rest

Programmers' stress levels can accurately predict the quality of their code

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In Using (bio)metrics to predict code quality online, presented at the ACM's 38th International Conference on Software Engineering, two Swiss researchers presented their work on monitoring programmers' biometrics to predict the quality of the code they were writing.

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A look at digital habits of 13 year olds shows desire for privacy, face-to-face time

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Sonia Livingstone, an LSE social psychology prof, gives us a peek into the results from The Class, a year-long, deep research project into the digital lives and habits of a class of 13 year olds at an ordinary school. Read the rest

US Gov't survey: Half of Americans reluctant to shop online due to privacy & security fears

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A study by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration found that half of American Internet users are "deterred" from engaging in online transactions because of fears over privacy and security breaches. Read the rest

Anal fisting site breached: 100K passwords, usernames, email addresses and IPs extracted

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Rosebuttboard.com is a forum for people whose sexual activities include inserting large items into their anuses; the site has been breached by a hacker, who now has details on over 100,000 of its users. Read the rest

Mapbox: up-to-date satellite imagery

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Google Maps and similar services are most useful, but who has the most recent space footage of your neighborhood? Check out mapbox, a Landsat viewer that tells you when the satellite image you're looking at was taken, and when a new snap is scheduled. The zoom level really isn't useful for anything at a life-lived level – with the exception of recent weather, disasters, etc – but all services should expose metadata like this. Read the rest

Brazil judge orders WhatsApp blocked for 72 hours, affecting 100 million people

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A state judge in the Brazilian state of Sergipe has ordered all mobile phone operators in the country to block Facebook-owned WhatsApp for 72 hours, nationwide. Those five telecom providers put the ban into effect today, and it affects about 100 million people. In Brazil, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app.

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Waze is an awesome driving app that also lets hackers stalk you

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I use and love Waze every day to make driving in Los Angeles manageable for me. I still use it despite periodic bursts of tech news reports that the app leaves me vulnerable to security attacks and surveillance.

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UK spy agencies store sensitive data on millions of innocent people, with no safeguards from abuse

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Privacy International won a lawsuit forcing the UK government to publish thousands of pages of records on the use of "Bulk Personal Datasets" by the spy agencies GCHQ, MI5 and MI6. Read the rest

FBI paid at least $1.3 million to hack into the San Bernardino iPhone

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The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that the FBI payed more than $1m to get into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone after Apple refused to create software to bypass its encryption. The Washington Post reports that a one-off $1.3m price tag was admitted, obliquely, by FBI Director James Comey by comparison with his own salary.

Federal authorities have not publicly revealed who helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, which was at the center of an extended fight between the government and Apple. The Justice Department had maintained that only Apple could help it access the phone without erasing all of its data before abruptly saying it had gotten help from an outside party and no longer needed Apple’s assistance.

According to people familiar with the issue, the FBI cracked the phone with the help of professional hackers who were paid a one-time flat fee. Law enforcement officials have said recently that the FBI has found no links to foreign terrorists on the phone, though they are still hoping that geolocation data on the device could help reveal what the attackers did during an 18-minute period after the shooting.

The FBI's attempts to compel Apple's cooperation backfired after CEO Tim Cook publicly accused the Bureau of exploiting the case to try and gain backdoor access to iPhones in general. The phone ultimately yielded no useful information.
“But it was, in my view, worth it,” the FBI director said of what it cost to access the phone’s data.
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Edward Snowden provides vocals on a beautiful new Jean-Michel Jarre composition

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Jarre tapped the whistleblower for vocals on "Exit," a track from Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise, a new electronic music album that drops in three weeks. Read the rest

Ron Wyden vows to filibuster anti-cryptography bill

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Senators Richard Burr [R-NC] and Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] finally introduced their long-rumored anti-crypto bill, which will ban US companies from making products with working cryptography, mandating that US-made products have some way to decrypt information without the user's permission. Read the rest

Let's Encrypt is actually encrypting the whole Web

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Let's Encrypt (previously) a joint EFF-Mozilla-Linux Foundation project that lets anyone easily create an SSL certificate for free in minutes and install and configure it so that visitors to their Websites will be shielded from surveillance, came out of beta this week, and it's already making a huge difference. Read the rest

Cassetteboy's latest video is an amazing, danceable anti-Snoopers Charter mashup

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Cassetteboy, last seen with this amazing video about David Cameron's relationship with dead pigs, is back with a new video that mashes up the UK Prime Minister and Home Secretary/Sith Lord Theresa May describing the real powers in the notorious Snoopers Charter (a far-reaching spying bill), set to the Police's "I'll Be Watching You" (what else?). Read the rest

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