Apple Store employees fired after accusations of snooping on customers' devices for sexual selfies and sharing them

Last October, an Apple Store in Brisbane, Australia terminated some of its employees after they were accused of searching customers' devices for sexually explicit selfies and sharing them with colleagues, rating them on a scale of 1-10. Read the rest

Court rules against UK government's surveillance legislation

A European court has ruled that the UK cannot subject its citizens to indiscriminate data collection unless the data retained is being used solely to fight serious crime, reports the BBC.

The verdict concerns an earlier incarnation of Britain's blanket domestic surveillance plans brought to court by opponensts. It does not specifically address the recently-passed "Snooper's Charter," though experts say it will lead directly to a legal challenge against it. The charter, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Act, requires phone companies and internet providers to maintain records of users' online activity for a year.

One irony of it is that an original champion of the challenge, David Davis, is now Britain's Brexit chief: he left the case after a change of personal circumstances led to a sharp change in his principles regarding privacy.

Mr Davis, who had long campaigned on civil liberties issues, left the case after Theresa May appointed him to her cabinet in July.

Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, who is one of those bringing the case, said: "This ruling shows it's counter-productive to rush new laws through Parliament without a proper scrutiny."

The Home Office said it would be putting forward "robust arguments" to the Court of Appeal.

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Europe's top court says UK surveillance rules are unconstitutional

Last July, the European Court of Jutice's Advocate General ruled that the UK's mass surveillance regime was unconstitutional, triggering an appeal to the ECJ itself, which has affirmed that under European law, governments cannot order retention of all communications data; they must inform subjects after surveillance has concluded; must only engage in mass surveillance in the pursuit of serious crime; and must get independent, judicial authorization. Read the rest

Librarians must resist trumpism

Radical librarian Jason Griffey (previously) wants librarians to continue their 21st century leadership in the resistance to surveillance and persecution -- a proud record that includes the most effective stands against GW Bush's Patriot Act -- by pledging to make libraries safe havens from trumpism and its evils: electronic surveillance; racial and gender-based discrimination; and the assertion that ideology trumps empirical reality. Read the rest

U.S. to disclose number of Americans our government spied on as soon as January 2017

The United States intelligence community has promised lawmakers it will provide as soon as January 2017 a public estimate of the number of Americans whose digital communications were subject to surveillance under the pretense of capturing foreign espionage, according to a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers' letter that Reuters saw and reports here.

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After ACLU investigation, Twitter blocks US surveillance "fusion centers" from monitoring tool

The ACLU of Northern California recently published a leaked email showing that Dataminr -- a Twitter-monitoring company partially owned by Twitter itself -- was selling access to US domestic surveillance "fusion centers" where local, state and federal agencies pool resources to spy on their targets. Read the rest

Bruce Schneier's four-year plan for the Trump years

1. Fight the fights (against more government and commercial surveillance; backdoors, government hacking); 2. Prepare for those fights (push companies to delete those logs; remind everyone that security and privacy can peacefully co-exist); 3. Lay the groundword for a better future (figure out non-surveillance internet business models, privacy-respecting law enforcement, and limits on corporate surveillance); 4. Continue to solve the actual problems (cybercrime, cyber-espionage, cyberwar, the Internet of Things, algorithmic decision making, foreign interference in our elections). Read the rest

EFF is gathering data on illegal surveillance of Dakota Access Pipeline water protectors

During the Standing Rock confrontations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation got reports of police use of IMSI Catchers -- secretive surveillance devices used to gather data from nearby cellphones, often called Stingrays or Dirtboxes -- so it dispatched lawyers and technologists to monitor the situation, and filed 20 public records requests with law enforcement agencies. Read the rest

Snowden on fake news, Twitter features, and the rule of law

Edward Snowden's Periscope interview with Jack Dorsey -- hosted by the Pardon Snowden campaign ranged over a lot of territory, including the special problems of metadata surveillance (metadata can be "more intrusive" than content "because it can be understood at scale"); asymmetry in privacy (where "an increasing imbalance of power" arises between citizens, with no privacy, and officials with all the privacy: "We can't even see their tax-returns"); the problems of relying on the rule of law in a "global context" where surveillance crosses borders and jurisdictions; and fake news, which Snowden thinks can't be solved by asking Google to be a "referee" but rather when "We talk and we share and we point out what is true." Read the rest

When tech leaders meet with Trump tomorrow, here's what they need to tell him

Execs representing the biggest tech companies in America are gathering for a meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow in New York; these companies have it in their power to spy on us, locate us, censor us, and terminally compromise the free and open internet. Read the rest

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama's blackness, America's white supremacy, and Trump's victory

Ta-Nehisi Coates's 17,000-word history of the Obama presidency in the Atlantic is called "My President Was Black," but it's about the very special kind of blackness that Obama embodied -- not because whites saw the biracial politician differently, but because Obama's extraordinarily supportive white family and unique boyhood in Hawai'i spared him the racial trauma visited on other young black people in America. Read the rest

Why the FBI would be nuts to try to use chatbots to flush out terrorists online

Social scientist/cybersecurity expert Susan Landau (previously) and Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neil take to Lawfare to explain why it would be a dangerous mistake for the FBI to use machine learning-based chatbots to flush out potential terrorists online. Read the rest

William Gibson on individual privacy, governmental secrecy and the future of history

In a thoughtful New York Times editorial, science fiction giant William Gibson mediates on the difference between the privacy that individuals have and deserve, the privacy that governments assert ("What does it mean, in an ostensible democracy, for the state to keep secrets from its citizens?"), and what this will mean for the historians of the future. Read the rest

Virginia State cops have blown a fortune on useless cellphone spying gear

Muckrock has been sending Freedom of Information requests to state police forces to find out how they're using "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers/Stingrays), and they hit the motherlode with the Virginia State Police. Read the rest

Out of 8 companies surveyed, only Twitter would rule out helping Trump build a database of Muslims

Trump's Muslim database promise was extreme, even by Trump's standards; worse news, the US tech industry has built out a surveillance capability that would let him do it. Read the rest

British politicians exempt themselves from warrantless spying under the Snoopers Charter

The Snoopers Charter is the most invasive surveillance law ever passed by a "democracy", requiring service providers to retain records of virtually everything you do online and with your phone, and then allowing virtually "everyone" to search that data, without a warrant or even record-keeping, so it's virtually impossible to catch systemic abuse of the system. Read the rest

Double your donations to EFF and help dismantle mass surveillance in the Trump era

Aaron at the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "Every dollar you give during the Power Up Your Donation campaign means two dollars for EFF—that’s double the support for building privacy-enhancing tools, stopping illegal government surveillance, fighting censorship, promoting encryption, and more. It means double the impact as we prepare for grave challenges to our civil liberties in the months to come. Join the campaign and power up your donation today!" Read the rest

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