Mark Zuckerberg's 3,000 word blog post about his plan to create a parallel set of Facebook services that contain long-overdue privacy protections has plenty to please both the regulators who are increasingly ready to fine the company billions and possibly even break it up, but also privacy advocates who will rightly cheer the announcement that the service will be increasing its end-to-end encryption offerings, only storing data in countries with good track records on human rights and the rule of law, and allowing users to mark some of their conversations as ephemeral, designed to be permanently deleted after a short while.
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The Library of Congress has published its latest digital strategy, laying out a bold plan to "exponentially grow" its collections through digital acquisitions; "maximize the use of content" by providing machine-readable rights data and using interoperable formats and better search; to support data-driven research with giant bulk-downloadable corpuses of materials and metadata; to improve its website; to syndicate Library assets to other websites; to crowdsource the acquisition of new materials; to experiment with new tools and techniques; and to preserve digital assets with the same assiduousness that the Library has shown with its physical collection for centuries.
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One effect of the Snowden leaks is that the NSA now makes an annual disclosure of the extent of its domestic surveillance operations; that's how we know that the NSA collected 534 million phone call and text message records (time, date, location, from, to -- but not the content), which more than triples its surveillance takings in 2016.
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After the DNC hack, security experts began playing close attention to the security of servers associated with the Trump campaign, on the assumption that if the Democrats had been targeted, the Republicans would be, too. Read the rest
Though he "harmed American interests," says Eric Holder, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's leaks "were also a public service." Read the rest
In Evaluating the privacy properties of telephone metadata, a paper by researchers from Stanford's departments of Law and Computer Science published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors analyzed metadata from six months' worth of volunteers' phone logs to see what kind of compromising information they could extract from them. Read the rest
In just a few short years, ransomware -- malware that encrypts all the files on the computer and then charges you for a key to restore them -- has gone from a clever literary device for technothrillers to a cottage industry to an epidemic to a public menace. Read the rest
"It's only metadata," is the catch-all excuse for mass surveillance -- after all, if spies aren't capturing what your message says why should you care if they're getting who sent it, what its subject line is, where you and the sender are, and everything you do before and after receiving the message? Read the rest
Ton Siedsma, a lawyer for the Dutch civil liberties group Bits of Freedom, volunteered to have a week's worth of his phone's metadata collected and analyzed by researchers from Ghent University and by Mike Moolenaar. Read the rest
Michael writes, "Watching Australia's Attorney-General try to explain why tracking Australians' web histories is not such a big deal resembles listening to a dirty joke told by a ten-year-old, i.e. it leaves one with the distinct impression the speaker is trying to seem like they understand something they've only heard about secondhand." Read the rest
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has rounded up the five most discredited arguments advanced by apologists for NSA spying, including "The NSA has Stopped 54 Terrorist Attacks with Mass Spying"; Just collecting call detail records isn’t a big deal"; "There Have Been No Abuses of Power"; "Invading Privacy is Okay Because It’s Done to Prevent Terrorist Attacks"; and "There’s Plenty of Oversight From Congress, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and Agency Watchdogs." Each of these claims is meticulously debunked in the post. Read the rest
The European Court of Justice, the highest court in the EU, has invalidated the European Parliament's Data Retention Directive, which required phone companies and ISPs to store your clicks, email subjects and to/from info, your location data, and other sensitive "metadata" for up to two years. The ECJ cited the UN Human Rights Committee's condemnation of this sort of data-retention and its call for the USA to halt its surveillance. We have Digital Rights Ireland and AK Vorrat Austria to thank for the ruling. Read the rest
The Intercept, the "fearless, adversarial journalism" venture launched by Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, launched with a big boom today.
Lead story on the site right now, which is https by default (and straining under launch day load at the moment) explores "The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program."
The Intercept will initially focus on NSA stories based on documents provided by Edward Snowden, and this is one such story. Read the rest
The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed 22 declarations in First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA. The briefs are from a wide variety of groups -- environmentalists, gun-rights activists, religious groups, human-rights workers, drug-policy advocates -- who all have one thing in common: "hey each depend on the First Amendment's guarantee of free association. EFF argues that if the government vacuums up the records of every phone call—who made the call, who received the call, when and how long the parties spoke—then people will be afraid to join or engage with organizations that may have dissenting views on political issues of the day." Read the rest
NSA boss James Clapper has officially responded to the allegations that the agency intercepted 70,000,000 French phone calls with a narrowly worded, misleading denial. Tim Cushing at Techdirt does us the kremlinological service of finely parsing the NSA word-game and showing us what Clapper doesn't deny: Read the rest
In the current installment of my podcast, I read aloud (MP3) a recent Guardian column, "Metadata – a wartime drama, which imagines a dialog between Alan Turing and Winston Churchill that might have taken place if the UK Home Secretary Theresa May had been Turing's line-manager. Read the rest