French Parliament votes to imprison tech execs for refusal to decrypt

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Amendment 90 to France's penal reform bill provides for five year prison sentences and €350,000 fines for companies that refuse to accede to law enforcement demands to decrypt devices. Read the rest

Apple vs FBI: The privacy disaster is inevitable, but we can prevent the catastrophe

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My new Guardian column, Forget Apple's fight with the FBI – our privacy catastrophe has only just begun, explains how surveillance advocates have changed their arguments: 20 years ago, they argued that the lack of commercial success for privacy tools showed that the public didn't mind surveillance; today, they dismiss Apple's use of cryptographic tools as a "marketing stunt" and treat the proportionality of surveillance as a settled question. Read the rest

Some ad-blockers are tracking you, shaking down publishers, and showing you ads

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The ad-subsidized Web is at a crossroads: faced with pressure from social media platform, publishers are accepting ever-more-intrusive ads, which combine with the mounting public concern over privacy and tracking to encourage ad-blocking, which, in turn, makes publishers more desperate and more biddable to the darkest surveillance and pop-up desires of advertisers. Read the rest

Today, Congress finally showed it's willing to fight the FBI on encryption

FBI Director James Comey arrives for a House Judiciary hearing on "The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 1, 2016. REUTERS

It took a while, but FBI director Jim Comey got a little bit of the grilling he has earned in the FBI vs. Apple case. Freedom of the Press Foundation's Trevor Timm writes on today's House Judiciary Committee hearings on Capitol Hill, at which both the government and the Cupertino tech giant were represented.

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On whistleblowers and secrecy: What author Barry Eisler said to a room of ex-intelligence officers

Whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning in the installation "Anything to Say?" by Italian artist Davide Dormino. REUTERS

Author and former CIA officer Barry Eisler spoke at the Association of Former Intelligence Officers opposite ex-CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden on Monday. Below, an adaptation of his opening remarks about the importance of whistleblowers and government transparency. Eisler's new novel, "God's Eye View," inspired by the Snowden revelations, is available now on Amazon.

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Watch it live: U.S. Senate floor speeches on proposed Digital Security Commission

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From the camp of two lawmakers who recently introduced Senate legislation to establish “an independent National Commission on Security and Technology Challenges,” news that Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) will join their Senate colleagues in discussing the legislation on the Senate Floor. You can watch it live, and you should. Today at 3pm ET/12pm PT.

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Nissan yanks remote-access Leaf app -- 4+ weeks after researchers report critical flaw

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The remote access Leaf app has been recalled by Nissan, more than a month after researchers went to the company to report that they could remotely drain the battery and download the log of all the car's movements. Read the rest

U.S. lawmakers expected to introduce major encryption bill

L: House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX). R: Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

Two lawmakers are reported to be planning to unveil details of a major encryption bill Wednesday, as the FBI's battle with Apple continues and a debate grows over what role government should play in regulating technology.

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To improve national security, improve crypto usability

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Scout Sinclair Brody (previously) is executive director of Simply Secure, a nonprofit I volunteer for that works on impriving the usability of privacy tools so that normal people can understand and benefit from them. Read the rest

NH bill would explicitly allow libraries to run Tor exit nodes

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Inspired by the Library Freedom Project's uncompromising bravery in the face of a DHS threat against a town library in Kilton, NH, that was running a Tor exit node to facilitate private, anonymous communication, the New Hampshire legislature is now considering a bill that would explicitly permit public libraries to "allow the installation and use of cryptographic privacy platforms on public library computers for library patrons use." Read the rest

California parents: file this form to ask for your kids' school records to be kept private

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There's a hard-fought lawsuit underway about whether California schools failed in their duty to provide special ed to students, and as a part of that, the court has ordered disclosure of the school records of every California so the plaintiffs can analyze them. Read the rest

Feds say Apple's pro-privacy response to iPhone hacking order is a 'marketing stunt'

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple said no to the government, and the government is pissed.

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Apple update unbricks phones disabled by Error 53

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Apple has apologized to users whose phones were bricked by a recent update that interpreted third-party repairs as attempts to hack the device. It also released a new update that revives the dead handsets through iTunes.

Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.

Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.

We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.

Previously. Read the rest

Can Apple crack the San Bernardino killers' iPhone for the FBI? Sure, if they build an 'FBiOS'

An Apple logo at a retail location in San Francisco, 2014. REUTERS

The iPhone battle between the FBI and Apple isn't about getting help unlocking a terrorist's phone. It's about our government forcing Apple to invent a customized-on-demand version of its iOS operating system, effectively stripped of all security and privacy features. Command performance coding. As security researcher Dan Guido describes it in his widely cited technical explainer blog post, what they're asking for is an 'FBiOS.'

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The first-ever tech expert on Obama's NSA advisory board is *A*W*E*S*O*M*E*

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The president's NSA advisory board grew teeth in the wake of the Snowden revelations, and they have done good service in identifying the civil liberties issues raised by the NSA's program of secret mass surveillance. Read the rest

FBI demands iPhone backdoor access; Tim Cook tells them to get lost

Apple CEO Tim Cook

The FBI has ordered Apple to provide it backdoor access to the iPhone operating system, writes CEO Tim Cook in a letter to customers published Wednesday. Apple opposes the order, he says, because it would be impossible to do so without putting millions of customers' privacy at risk.

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

The circumstances of the order center on the investigation into last year's San Bernardino terror shootings in California: "Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession."

Once a backdoor exists, no-one can control who copies the keys, picks the locks, or kicks it down with brute force:

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

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UK surveillance bill condemned by a Parliamentary committee, for the third time

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Paul Strasburger sits in the House of Lords as a Libdem peer; he sits on the Joint Select Committee that is the latest Parliamentary group to scrutinise the Investigatory Powers Bill (AKA the Snoopers Charter) and, as with the previous investigations, he's concluded that the spying bill is a dangerous, poorly drafted, overbroad dog's breakfast. Read the rest

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