After uncovering a ferocious horde of hidden spyware in official Android apps the Yale Privacy Lab and Exodus have pitched in with F-Droid's app store that only allows apps that include their source-code and whose licenses require anyone who modifies them to also include the source.
They argue that the proliferation of spyware in Android stems from the project's "original sin": a directive to create an alternative Linux ecosystem that eliminated the "GNU" part of "GNU/Linux": that is, the part of the licensing regime that required programmers who modified open projects to make their projects open, too. In so doing, Google created a constellation of apps and tools that can be trojanized without violating the software license and without any way to audit the modifications and spot the malicious code.
Google’s choice to limit copyleft’s presence in Android, its disdain for reciprocal licenses, and its begrudging use of copyleft only when it “made sense to do so” are just symptoms of a deeper problem. In an environment without sufficient transparency, malware and trackers can thrive.
Android’s privacy and security woes are amplified by cellphone companies and hardware vendors, which bolt on dodgy Android apps and hardware drivers. Sure, most of Android is still open-source, but the door is wide open to all manners of software trickery you won’t find in an operating system like Debian GNU/Linux, which goes to great length to audit its software packages and protect user security.
Android Users: To Avoid Malware, Try the F-Droid App Store [Sean O'Brien and Michael Kwet/Wired]
Maria Farrell admits that comparing smartphones to abusive men (they try to keep you from friends and family, they make it hard to study or go to work, they constantly follow you and check up on you) might seem to trivialize domestic partner violence, but, as she points out, feminists have long been pointing out […]
Purism (previously) is a company that crowdfunds free/open laptops and phones whose design goal is to have no proprietary software, even at the lowest levels. The company is best known for its Purism laptops, and I'm very fond of mine (it didn't end up replacing my Thinkpad, only because I'm addicted to the trackpoint for […]
"Differential privacy" (previously) is a promising, complicated statistical method for analyzing data while preventing reidentification attacks that de-anonymize people in aggregated data-sets.
If you’re part of the maker community, you know Make:. Though Make: magazine is off the shelves as of this year, the eBooks and resources put out by Maker Media are still a fantastic resource for the new generation of tinkerers, hackers, and robotics geeks. If you’re in that tribe, listen up: they’ve released a […]
Life isn’t getting any less hectic, and pressure cookers are a quick, healthy solution for a growing number of kitchens. But if you thought your Instant Pot was versatile, there’s a major upgrade on the market: The Yedi 9-in-1 Total Package Instant Programmable Pressure Cooker. If you’ve somehow never used a pressure cooker before, try […]
When it comes to data analytics or deep learning, there’s one language behind the apps and algorithms that power the biggest companies of today: Python. The best part about this tool is that as versatile as it is, it’s actually fairly easy to learn. But mastery? For that, you need more than just a beginners’ […]