Chrome update turns browsers into covert listening tools

The default behavior of hotword, a new, black-box module in Chrome (and its free/open cousin, Chromium) causes it to silently switch on your computer's microphone and send whatever it hears to Google. Read the rest

Trends in Chinese mobile UIs

Last December, Dan Grover summarized the unique mobile app UI conventions he'd spotted since moving to China the summer before to work for Wechat, a Chinese mobile messaging app that also incorporates a wallet, Evernote-style functionality, a games platform, a people-finder, a song-matching service, and, of course, an email client. Read the rest

The Internet may not be the question, but it's the answer

My latest Guardian column looks at the fiction and reality of "Internet Utopianism," and the effect that a belief in the transformative power of the Internet has had on movements, companies, and norms. Read the rest

US CIO defies the FBI, orders HTTPS for all government websites

Tony Scott, CIO of the US government, has spit in the eye of assistant FBI director Michael Steinbach, who called on companies "to build technological solutions to prevent encryption above all else." Read the rest

Haunting science fiction about personal obsolescence

Paul Ford's story for Motherboard, "The Last Museum," concerns the obsolescence of a tech exec who's self worth was tied up in streaking past the Zucks and Jobses and Evs and Marissas of today, and is now confronting his own passing strangeness. Read the rest

Internet users care about their privacy but have given up on safeguarding it

It's not a fair trade, and everyone knows it.

Mapping the disciplined ranks of anti-vax Twitter

Anti-vax Twitter consists of several thousand vaccine denialists whose present project is stopping California's mandatory vaccine bill, through campaigns of lockstep tweeting to lawmakers, workplace and home-based harassment of dissenters, and coordinated SEO campaigns that muddy the waters for concerned parents who try to research the subject. Read the rest

Watch: John Waters gave the 2015 commencement address at RISD and CRUSHED IT

Rhode Island School of Design is the alma mater of Talking Heads, the school that gave William Gibson an honorary PhD--and now, this.

Context: the DRM-free audio edition of my essay collection

Downpour has published a DRM-free audio edition of my essay collection Context (with an intro by Tim O'Reilly), the companion volume to my collection Content (introduced by John Perry Barlow). Read the rest

Less than a day left to kill Paraguay's mass surveillance bill

Katitza from EFF writes, "Paraguay is at a vitally important digital civil liberties crossroads, and we're calling on all Paraguayans to help! " Read the rest

Steve Albini declares copyright dead

The legendary music producer follows up on his classic 20 year old rant about the music industry's awfulness with a modern, streaming-era wholesale dismissal of copyright and its business-models. Read the rest

How musicians can piece together a record label from pieces of the Internet

Rutgers law prof Michael Carrier rebuts the RIAA's assertion -- backed by laughably cherry-picked bad stats -- that the number of working musicians is in decline. Read the rest

Screw the techno-determinists -- give me hope instead

In my latest Guardian Column If one thing gives me hope for the future, it’s the cause of ​internet freedom, I talk about the myth that technology activists are "techno-determinists" -- we fight not because we know we'll win, but because we believe there's a possibility that we might not lose. Read the rest

What Sony and Spotify's secret deal really looks like

The nitty-gritty details of Sony's deal with Spotify paint a picture of a very lopsided negotiation indeed, with Sony commanding an unbelievable "most favored nation" status from the streaming music provider that entitles it to top-up payments to match other labels whose music is more popular on the service. Read the rest

Which Colombian ISPs keep your data private?

Karen from the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "EFF is teaming up with groups in Latin America to take our 'Who Has Your Back' report international!" Read the rest

Experimental plugin lets computers share URLs with ultrasonic tones

Tone is an experimental Chrome plugin from Google Research that lets computers share small amounts of information (like URLs) with ultrasonic chirps. Read the rest

Today's terrifying Web security vulnerability, courtesy of the 1990s crypto wars

The Logjam bug allows attackers to break secure connections by tricking the browser and server to communicate using weak crypto -- but why do browsers and servers support weak crypto in the first place? Read the rest

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