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

Freedom of the Press releases an automated, self-updating report card grading news-sites on HTTPS

Secure the News periodically checks in with news-sites to see how many of them implement HTTPS -- the secure protocol that stops your ISP and people snooping on it from knowing which pages you're looking at and from tampering with them -- and what proportion of them default to HTTPS. Read the rest

50 million people in Myanmar can now get Facebook, and they're spreading a trumpian ethnic cleansing movement

Myanmar has been a technologically backwards authoritarian state for much of the past 50 years, with less than 1% of the country connected to the net, until 2015, when the country held its first elections in decades, a moment that was swiftly followed by a relaxation in telcoms controls and widespread access to the internet via mobile devices. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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