Online security is a disaster and the people who investigate it are being sued into silence

The only thing worse than driving a car with defective brakes is unknowingly driving a car with defective brakes -- and learning about them the hard way. Read the rest

Report: iCloud plan puts China's Apple users at risk

According to The Hong Kong Free Press, Apple is set to hand over the keys to the the accounts of iCloud users in China to a company owned by the surveillance and censorship-happy Chinese government.

Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) will take over the operation of Apple's Chinese data center at the end of February, making GCBD responsible for all legal and financial transactions between the Apple and China's iCloud users. Once GCBD is running the show, Apple will be responsible for investing one billion USD to build a new server farm in Guiyang and to provide technical support in the interest of preserving data security.

Apple's doesn't like telling folks what iCloud user data they're able to read. The information could be limited to the size of uploaded files and where those files were uploaded, or as comprehensive as being able to browse through the photos taken with an iPhone. That China's communist government, which is big on watching the digital doings of its citizens, censorship and political activism could will soon have access to the iCloud account information of every iPhone, iPad or Mac user in China pretty troubling. 

This isn't the first time that Apple has bowed to pressure from the Chinese government, either. At the ass end of 2017, they happily removed close to 700 VPN apps from the Chinese iTunes App Store, making it extremely difficult for iOS users to view uncensored content. So, say good bye to news stories about China and the rest of the world that hasn't been approved by Chinese state censors. Read the rest

China's Internet Czar has been purged

It's been months since Xi Jinping secured another five years in office and got his second five-year plan through Chinese Communist Party, and he's cleaning house: last week, the Chinese state news agency announced that Lu Wei, one of the most powerful internet policymakers in the world, had been fired, purged from the Party, and would be prosecuted for corruption. Read the rest

Canada's SOPA moment: Canadian telco giants pushing for site blocking without court orders

SOPA may be a distant memory for the Internet community, but Canada now finds itself in its own SOPA moment. Telecom giant Bell leads a coalition of companies and associations in seeking support for a wide-ranging website blocking plan that could have similarly harmful effects on the Internet, representing a set-back for privacy, freedom of expression, and net neutrality. While that need not be the choice - Canada’s Copyright Act already features some of the world’s toughest anti-piracy laws - the government and the CRTC, Canada's telecom regulator, are faced with deciding on the merits of a website blocking plan that is best described as a disproportionate, unconstitutional proposal sorely lacking in due process.

Everyone Creates: a website celebrating the creativity that the internet has unlocked for millions of people

When we debate copyright policy on the internet, the story is pitched as "creators vs technology," but that leaves out the millions of people who create, but who are not part of the traditional entertainment industry -- people whose self-expression, artistic fulfillment, and audiences matter every bit as much as the audiences for creators who sign on to the big labels, studios, publishers and news bureaux. Read the rest

Cloudflare terminate Sci-Hub domains, declining to challenge court order

Cloudflare has terminated service to Sci-Hub, the site that provides paywall-free access to virtually all scholarly work, citing Aaron Swartz as inspiration -- Cloudflare previously serviced the sci-hub.la, sci-hub.tv, and sci-hub.tw domains, but in response to an injunction obtained by the American Chemical Society, they will no longer provide that service. Read the rest

Trump administration is contemplating nationalizing the 5g infrastructure, but Ajit Pai is staunchly opposed

A leaked White House Powerpoint deck published by Axios reveals that some elements in the Trump administration are trying to sell a plan for the US government to build the nation's "5g" wireless infrastructure, hardened against Chinese surveillance and attacks, and then lease access to the private telcoms sector; the network architecture could then be reproduced and given to US allies to help them defend themselves against Chinese attacks. Read the rest

City of Sarajevo bans unsanctioned utterances of its name, threatens Facebook groups

The proprietors of every Facebook page containing the word "Sarajevo" in its title reportedly received demand letters from the city government of Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia, threatening legal action unless the proprietors pay a royalty for permission to use the city's name in their pages. Read the rest

Peter Thiel, "libertarian," wants to buy Gawker's archive, which would give him the power to censor stories he didn't like

Libertarian wisdom holds that "the answer to bad speech is more speech," but if you're a Peter Thiel libertarian (that is, the kind of "freedom lover" who doesn't think women should vote, wants to spy on everyone in the world, and secretly wields power to censor the free press), then "the answer to bad speech is secretly backing lawsuits by washed-up pro-wrestlers in order to kill a media outlet whose reporting you don't like." Read the rest

Twitter complies with Germany's new hate-speech laws by cutting off the account of a satirical magazine that mocks hate speech

When a German neo-Nazi politician tweeted that German police were trying to "to appease the barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes of men," her account was briefly suspended -- but when the satirical magazine Titanic put up its own tweet mocking the Nazi, their account was suspended, too. Read the rest

The Paradox of Tolerance: should intolerance be tolerated?

With the rise of white nationalist groups whose allies in government extend all the way to the President of the United States, tech companies are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding where tolerance begins and ends -- where they have a duty to step in and silence certain kinds of speech. Read the rest

Trump attempts to silence a publisher

Orange Julius is insisting a book that is not favorable towards him fail to be published. Trump's legal team has sent an 11-page letter to the publisher, demanding the book not be printed.

Via the NYT:

“Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book, the article, or any excerpts or summaries of either of them, to any person or entity, and that you issue a full and complete retraction and apology to my client as to all statements made about him in the book and article that lack competent evidentiary support,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Charles J. Harder, a prominent libel lawyer based in Beverly Hills, Calif., and was sent to Mr. Wolff and Steve Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt & Co. It follows a similar cease-and-desist letter sent by Mr. Harder on Wednesday night to Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, who is quoted in the book making derogatory comments about the president and his family.

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Ars Technica's Dan Goodin is being sued by Keeper Security over an article about a defect in its password manager

On December 15, Ars Technica ran a story by veteran security reporter Dan Goodin in which Goodin reported on a disclosure by Google researcher Tavis Ormandy, who had discovered that Keeper Security's password manager, bundled with Windows 10, was vulnerable to a password stealing bug that was very similar to a bug that had been published more than a year before. Read the rest

Bell is leading the push to end Canadian Net Neutrality with a secret, extrajudicial Star Chamber that will decide what Canadians can and can't see

Canada has a grotesquely concentrated telcoms sector and a grotesquely concentrated media sector, and thanks to a series of extremely anticompetitive mergers, the two sectors are one in the same. Read the rest

Edition of Fahrenheit 451 that can only be read by burning the pages

Next year, French graphic design house Super Terrain will publish this very special edition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 that can only be read by burning the pages.

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Chinese internet censors really enjoy the work

Chinese social media platforms allow state internet censors to directly suppress individual posts as well as keywords, and an army of young, cool internet censors labor in a swanky office in the Wisdom Mountain Twin Towers in the eastern city of Tianjin to prevent discussions of Tiananmen Square, the missteps of party members, or gaps between the doctrines of the Communist Party and the day-to-day life in China. Read the rest

Spanish tech activists publish a "how-to guide for preserving fundamental rights on the Internet"

As the Spanish government was hacking the Catalonian independence movement, shutting down the .cat top-level domain, and engaging mass-blocking of websites and apps to control information about yesterday's referendum on Catalonian independence, the Xnet collective published a basic (but wide-ranging) guide to "preserving fundamental rights on the Internet," suitable for anyone living under the kind of state suppression that Spain underwent. Read the rest

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