Boing Boing 

Open "Chromecast killer" committed suicide-by-DRM


The Matchstick, a Firefox-OS-based Chromecast-style device, kickstarted on the promise of bringing open, user-rights-respecting video to our homes -- then they decided to add DRM.

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Windows 10 defaults to keylogging, harvesting browser history, purchases, and covert listening

By default, Microsoft gets to see your location, keystrokes and browser history -- and listen to your microphone, and some of that stuff is shared with "trusted [by Microsoft, not by you] partners."

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The Free Software Foundation is hiring a deputy director!

If working as an EFF activist isn't your thing, perhaps helping to run the Free Software Foundation in Boston will be more to your liking?

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Tell the Copyright Office not to criminalize using unapproved goop in a 3D printer

3D printing giant Stratasys has asked the US Copyright Office to deny a proposal that would legalize jailbreaking your 3D printer in order to use your own feedstock.

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FBI's crypto backdoor plans require them to win the war on general purpose computing


The FBI wants backdoors in all your crypto, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron made backdoors an election promise, but as Stanford lawyer/computer scientist Jonathan Mayer writes, there's no way to effectively backdoor modern platforms without abolishing the whole idea of computers as we know them, replacing them with an imaginary and totalitarian computing ecosystem that does not exist and probably never will.

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If privacy was really dead, would everyone be trying so hard to kill it?


A reader writes, "SF author Peter Watts writes about the ever-encroaching assault on our privacy and how relocating their arguments from the Internet to meatspace illustrates how ridiculous they are, and reasons to be cheerful because of the governments of the 'free world''s determination to eliminate the last shreds of our privacy."

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Leaked US cybersecurity report singles out crypto as essential for security of private data

A newly released document from the Snowden trove is a five-year "cyber-threat" forecast that stresses the importance of strong civilian use of cyrptography as crucial to protecting private data, especially the industrial secrets sought by foreign spies.

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War on General Purpose Computers is the difference between utopia and dystopia


My Wired op-ed, How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us to Greater Harm, warns that we've learned the wrong lesson from the DRM wars: we've legitimized the idea that we can and should design computers to disobey their owners and hide their operations from them in order to solve our problems (and that we should protect this design decision by making it a felony to disclose flaws in devices, lest these flaws be used to jailbreak them).

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Sore losers: How casinos went after two guys who found a video poker bug


John Kane, who'd lost a fortune to Video King machines, discovered a subtle bug that let him win big -- so the casinos put him in handcuffs.

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Petition: make it safe to report security flaws in computers


Laws like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act put security researchers at risk of felony prosecution for telling you about bugs in the computers you put your trust in, turning the computers that know everything about us and watch everything we do into reservoirs of long-lived pathogens that governments, crooks, cops, voyeurs and creeps can attack us with.

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CEO of stalkerware company arrested

Hammad Akbar, a Pakistani national and CEO of Invocode, marketers of Stealthgenie, was arrested in LA on Saturday and charged with a variety of offenses related to making, marketing and selling "interception devices."

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Senate passes phone unlocking bill


The Senate has approved a bill (which already passed in the House) that makes it legal for you to unlock the phones you own so you can choose which carrier you use.

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Network neutrality for self-driving cars


David Weinberger's Would a Google car sacrifice you for the sake of the many? explores many philosophical conundra regarding self-driving cars, including the possibility that the rich and powerful might literally buy their way into the fast-lane. This is the premise of my 2005 story "Human Readable," which appears in my collection With a Little Help (there's also a spectacular audio edition, read by Spider Robinson).

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Ethiopia: the first "off-the-shelf" surveillance state


"They Know Everything We Do", a new, exhaustive report from Human Rights Watch, details the way the young state of modern Ethiopia has become a kind of pilot program for the abuse of "off-the-shelf" surveillance, availing itself of commercial products from the US, the UK, France, Italy and China in order to establish an abusive surveillance regime that violates human rights and suppresses legitimate political opposition under the guise of a anti-terrorism law that's so broadly interpreted as to be meaningless.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is representing a victim of Ethiopian state surveillance: Mr. Kidane had his computer hacked by Ethiopian spies while he was in the USA, and they planted spyware that gave them access to his Skype and Google traffic.

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How Miss Teen USA's sextortionist got caught

This week, the FBI arrested a 19-year-old computer science student named Jared James Abrahams for tricking young women into installing malicious software on their computers, software that let him covertly operate their webcams and microphones, as well as capturing their keystrokes and plundering their hard-drives. Abrahams captured nude photos of his victims, then threatened to release them to the victims' social media accounts unless they performed live, on-camera sex-acts for him. At least one of his victims was a minor. Another of his victims was Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, who turned him into the FBI.

Ars Technica's Nate Anderson has a spellbinding account of Abrahams's crimes, and the way that the FBI tracked him down, and he places Abrahams in the larger context of "RATers" (crooks who operate Remote Access Trojans -- the kind of malware used by Abrahams). This phenomenon is also the subject of one of the chapters in Anderson's excellent book The Internet Police: How Crime Went Online, and the Cops Followed, and few journalists are better qualified to write about the subject.

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MEP explains the security problem with militarizing the Internet

The Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake has a fantastic, must-read essay on the problem with "cyber-war." She lays out the case for securing the Internet (and the world of people and systems that rely on it) through fixing vulnerabilities and making computers and networks as secure and robust as possible, rather than relying on weaknesses in security as vectors for attacking adversaries.

Mass surveillance, mass censorship, tracking and tracing systems, as well as hacking tools and vulnerabilities can be used to harm people as well as our own security in Europe. Though overregulation of the internet should never be a goal in and of itself, regulation of this dark sector is much needed to align our values and interests in a digital and hyper-connected world. There are many European examples. FinFisher software, made by UK’s Gamma Group was used in Egypt while the EU condemned human rights violations by the Mubarak regime. Its spread to 25 countries is a reminder that proliferation of digital arms is inevitable.

Vupen is perhaps best labelled as an anti-security company in France that sells software vulnerabilities to governments, police forces and others who want to use them to build (malicious) software that allows infiltrating in people’s or government’s computers.

It is unclear which governments are operating on this unregulated market, but it is clear that the risk of creating a Pandora’s box is huge if nothing is done to regulate this trade by adopting reporting obligations. US government has stated that American made, lawful intercept technologies, have come back as a boomerang when they were used against US interests by actors in third countries. Other companies, such as Area Spa from Italy designed a monitoring centre, and had people on the ground in Syria helping the Assad government succeed in anti-democratic or even criminal behaviour by helping the crackdown against peaceful dissidents and demonstrators.

It's just not good policy to make the people who are supposed to be securing our computers dependent on insecurity in computers to achieve that end.

In defense of digital freedom (via Techdirt)

Cory's Berlin talk: "It's not a fax machine connected to a waffle iron"

Here's the video of "It's not a fax machine connected to a waffle iron," the talk I gave at the Re:publica conference in Berlin this week: "Lawmakers treat the Internet like it's Telephone 2.0, the Second Coming of Video on Demand, or the World's Number One Porn Distribution Service, but it's really the nervous system of the 21st Century. Unless we stop the trend toward depraved indifference in Internet law, making – and freedom – will die."

re:publica 2013 - Cory Doctorow: It's not a fax machine connected to a waffle iron