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


When 23andme and Ancestry.com 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

Snowden for drones: The Intercept's expose on US drone attacks, revealed by a new leaker

The Drone Papers is The Intercept's collection of eight blockbuster articles analyzing a leaked 2013 Pentagon study that evaluated the US drone assassination campaigns in Yemen and Somalia. The documents come from a US intelligence source who said, "This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong."

1980: the Director of the FBI mixes up KISS & The Who, confusing the hell out of FBI agents


Michael from Muckrock writes, "Before rock legends KISS embarked on their 1980 'Unmasked' Tour of Europe, then FBI Director William H. Webster put out a request to field offices for information regarding instances of 'civil unrest' associated with the band's concerts, particularly an incident in Texas which escalated to open attacks on police. The field officers' response was unanimous - they had no idea what the Director was talking about. That and more details await in the FBI's files on KISS." Read the rest

Information leakage shows DEA blew millions on the secret phone trackers it won't admit it bought


Michael from Muckrock says, "Over the past ten years, the Drug Enforcement Administration has spent millions of dollars on cell phone tracking. Federal purchasing documents that are already posted online indicate the make and model of the tracking device, and often even the DEA field office that bought it, according to federal payment records reviewed by MuckRock." Read the rest

Economics research considered unreplicable


Andrew C. Chang and Phillip Li undertook a study of "67 papers published in 13 well-regarded economics journals" for the US Federal Reserve and attempted to replicate their conclusions, using the code and data-sets provided by the authors: in two-thirds of cases, they were unable to replicate the findings without help with the authors; with the help of authors, they were still only able to replicate 49% of the papers. Read the rest

Kim Davis isn't doing her job. Again.

Rowan County, KY Clerk Kim Davis [Reuters]

Kim Davis isn't doing her job again. Michael from Muckrock writes, "This time, she's falling short on responding to public records requests, particularly one relating to her controversial visit with Pope Francis." Read the rest

Algorithmic guilt: defendants must be able to inspect source code in forensic devices


Some day, you may be the defendant in a criminal trial that turns on whether the software in a forensic device reached a reliable conclusion about a DNA test or other piece of evidence. Wouldn't you like to have your own experts check the source code on that device? Read the rest

NZ government leaks on TPP: copyright terms will go to life plus 70 years


An official New Zealand government bulletin on yesterday's conclusion of the still-secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations accidentally confirmed something we all believed was in there all along: an extension of copyright terms to match the USA's bizarre, evidence-free, century-plus terms. 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

Now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is finalized, the real fight starts


For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a "trade deal" that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world's biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty. Read the rest

Dieselgate for TVs: Samsung accused of programming TVs to cheat energy efficiency ratings


The European Commission is probing whether Samsung televisions' sensed when they were being tested for energy efficiency and changed their power consumption to get better ratings than they deserved. Read the rest

KARMA POLICE: GCHQ's plan to track every Web user in the world


The KARMA POLICE program is detailed in newly released Snowden docs published on The Intercept; it began as a project to identify every listener to every Internet radio station (to find people listening to jihadi radio) and grew into an ambitious plan to identify every Web user and catalog their activities from porn habits to Skype contacts. Read the rest

The Snowden Treaty: protecting the world's whistleblowers in the age of privacy breaches


The Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers [PDF] (AKA "The Snowden Treaty") was created by David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald's partner, who was detained by UK police under terrorism legislation while transiting through London's Heathrow airport with a encrypted thumbdrive containing some of the Snowden leaks. Read the rest

FTC clobbers Roca Labs, the terrible weight-loss company that banned negative reviews


If you follow my tweets of interesting stories from one year ago, you'll have seen the Roca Labs saga popping up again. Roca sold a "non-surgical gastric bypass" that was mostly made from industrial food-thickeners that were supposed to gunk up your stomach and fill you up. Read the rest

Yet another pre-installed spyware app discovered on Lenovo computers


A factory refurbished Thinkpad shipped with Windows 7 and a scheduler app that ran once a day, collecting usage data about what you do with your computer and exfiltrating it to an analytics company. Read the rest

Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks with Edward Snowden


This week on the Startalk podcast, America's best-loved astronomer talks with my favorite whistleblower (MP3). Read the rest

How to send email like a non-metaphorical boss


When Enron collapsed and got hit with a lawsuit requesting discovery on its internal email, its top bosses decided that they'd skip spending money on pricey lawyers to go through the archive and remove immaterial messages -- instead, the dumped the entire corpus of internal mail, including their employees' personal messages. Read the rest

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