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

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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

For two years, criminals stole sensitive information using malware hidden in individual pixels of ad banners

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Eset's report on Stegano, a newly discovered exploit kit, reveals an insanely clever, paranoid, and devastatingly effective technique used by criminals to infect their victims' computers by hiding malicious code in plain sight on websites that accepted their innocuous-seeming banner ads. Read the rest

The kickstarted Pebble smartwatch is now a division of Fitbit, so they may "reduce functionality" on all the watches they ever sold

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If you're one of the 60% of Pebble employees who didn't get a job offer from Fitbit, the company's new owner, you're probably not having a great Christmas season -- but that trepedation is shared by 100% of Pebble customers, who've just learned (via the fine print on an update on the Pebble Kickstarter page) that the company may soon "reduce functionality" on their watches. Read the rest

Quitting Facebook feels GREAT

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It's been six years since I quite Facebook and not a day goes by that I don't realize that my life is better for it. Read the rest

Figuring out Donald Trump's media diet by mining his tweets

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Data journalists pulled 26,234 of Trump's 34,062 tweets (dating from Jun 1 2015 to Nov 17 2016) from the Twitter API and analyzed them for news-sources, producing a long, detailed analysis complemented by interactive graphics. Read the rest

Pirate Party invited to form Iceland's next government

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Though the October polls that predicted a great showing for the Pirate Party in the Icelandic elections turned out to be wrong, that election did end with a deeply divided parliament that has been unable to find enough common ground upon which to form a new government. Read the rest

China's We Chat "shadow-bans" messages with forbidden keywords, but only for China-based accounts

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The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) continues its excellent work, this time with a deep investigative piece on a sneaky form of censorship in China's popular We Chat service, where messages posted to group chats that contain words on a government blacklist are made invisible to other participants in the chat, while the original poster still sees it, giving the illusion that everyone's read the controverial message but no one found it worth commenting upon. Read the rest

Trumpism in Gambia: "marbles" election sparks internet shutdown

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Deji writes, "Gambia is a small country but this story is pretty crazy. The president, who is seeking his 6th term, is using Trump rhetoric surrounding the 'rigging of elections.' People are voting by using marbles. Meanwhile, opposition activists and journalists have been arrested -- and the government STILL shut off the internet. It seems the president has lost his marbles." Read the rest

The hacker who took over San Francisco's Muni got hacked

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Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Light Rail system (the Muni) had to stop charging passengers to ride because a ransomware hacker had taken over its network and encrypted the drives of all of its servers. Read the rest

The Internet Archive is putting a Trump-resistant mirror of the web in Canada

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The Internet Archive is augmenting its existing mirrors -- one in San Francisco, one in Amsterdam, one at the Library of Alexandria (that is: San Andreas fault, below sea level, military dictatorship) -- with a copy in Canada, on the premise that "lots of copies keep stuff safe." Read the rest

NTP: the rebirth of ailing, failing core network infrastructure

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Network Time Protocol is how the computers you depend on know what time it is (this is critical to network operations, cryptography, and many other critical functions); NTP software was, until recently, stored in a proprietary format on a computer that no one had the password for (and which had not been updated in a decade), and maintained almost entirely by one person. Read the rest

People really, really suck at using computers

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The OECD's 2011-2015, 33 country, 215,942-person study of computer skills paints a deceptively grim picture of the average level of computer proficiency around the world -- deceptive because it excludes over-65s, who research shows to be, on average, less proficient than the 16-65 cohort sampled. Read the rest

Tech companies: you have 63 days to make these 5 changes to protect your users before Trump is sworn in

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When the next president takes office, he brings with him an anti-encryption, anti-free-press, Islamophobic, racist, anti-transparency agenda that will depend on the tech sector's massive databases of identifiable information and their sophisticated collection capabilities to bring his agenda to fruition. Read the rest

Iphones secretly send your call history to Apple's cloud, even after you tell them not to

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Apple has acknowledged that its Icloud service is a weak link in its security model, because by design Apple can gain access to encrypted data stored in its customers' accounts, which means that the company can be hacked, coerced or tricked into revealing otherwise secure customer data to law enforcement, spies and criminals. Read the rest

The surveillance economy has 67 days to disarm before Trump is sworn in

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The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples' private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama's powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage. Read the rest

The internet's core infrastructure is dangerously unsupported and could crumble (but we can save it!)

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Nadia Eghbal's Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure is a long, detailed report on the structural impediments to maintaining key pieces of free/open software that underpin the internet -- it reveals the startling fragility of tools that protect the integrity, safety, privacy and finances of billions of people, which are often maintained by tiny numbers of people (sometimes just one person). Read the rest

Edward Snowden to Trump campaign: "old laptops" could vet 800,000 emails in "minutes-to-hours"

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As the FBI announced that it had reviewed the emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop and determined that there was no incriminating material about Hillary Clinton on them, the Trump campaign roared with incredulity, insisting that it was inconceivable that the FBI could have vetted 800,000 emails in 8 days. Read the rest

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