Award-winning security research reveals a host of never-seen, currently unblockable web-tracking techniques

Who Left Open the Cookie Jar? A Comprehensive Evaluation of Third-Party Cookie Policies won the Distinguished Paper prize at this year's Usenix Security Conference; its authors, researchers at Belgium's Catholic University in Leuven, revealed a host of devastating, never-seen tracking techniques for identifying web-users who were using privacy tools supplied by browser-vendors and third-party tracking-blocking tools. Read the rest

Talking copyright, internet freedom, artistic business models, and antitrust with Steal This Show

I'm on the latest episode of Torrentfreak's Steal This Show podcast (MP3), where I talk with host Jamie King about "Whether file-sharing & P2P communities have lost the battle to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, and why the ‘copyfight’ is still important; how the European Copyright Directive eats at the fabric of the Web, making it even harder to compete with content giants; and why breaking up companies like Google and Facebook might be the only way to restore an internet — and a society — we can all live with." Read the rest

Darknet paper, the 3D printed gun edition

In 2002, Microsoft security researcher Peter Biddle (previously) published The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution, a paper that argued that DRM would always fail and that traditional forms of censorship would be harder and harder to execute online (it also coined the term "Darknet"); today, in honor of America's mass freakout over 3D printed guns, he's published an updated version, which mostly consists of adding "this applies to guns, too" over and over again, for people who are unclear on the concept. Read the rest

Joi Ito's dissertation, The Practice of Change: using networks, not markets, to solve problems

Joi Ito (previously) is the Director of MIT's Media Lab, an appointment that raised a few eyebrows because Joi never got an undergrad degree, much less a doctorate. Read the rest

Big Tech's active moderation promise is also a potential source of eternal commercial advantage over newcomers

Farhad Manjoo (previously) writes in the New York Times about his cautious optimism that the big platforms are finally taking some steps to prevent harassment, but he also worries that this is setting the stage for a new era in tech, one in which the rules guarantee that Big Tech never has to worry about being challenged by upstarts. Read the rest

Google DRM for Email can be disabled by ticking a few boxes in Firefox

Last week, I linked to a critique of Google's new "confidential mode" for Gmail and Google Docs, which purports to allow you to send people documents without letting them print, copy or forward them. Read the rest

Authoritarians used to be scared of social media, now they rule it

A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats. Read the rest

As hoax-fueled lynchings continue in India, Whatsapp puts limits on video-forwarding

The viral hoax video purporting to show child-snatchers kidnapping Indian children continues to fuel lynchmobs, whose death toll has climbed to more than two dozen victims. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg and his empire of oily rags

Surveillance capitalism sucks: it improves the scattershot, low-performance success-rate of untargeted advertising (well below 1 percent) and doubles or triples it (to well below 1 percent!). Read the rest

The internet, 2008-2018: what's changed?

In 2008, Telstra Chief Scientist Geoff Huston wrote an informative and important retrospective on the shifts in internet technology since 1998; now, ten years later, he's written another one, tracing the remarkable shifts (and weirdly unbudgeable technological icebergs) in the past decade's worth of internet changes, advances and retreats. Read the rest

China has perfected the internet control playbook and now it's exporting it to the world

After decades of back-and-forth over internet freedom, China has figured out a method for allowing people to use the internet for social and business purposes, but not for political reform -- a combination of huge boiler-rooms full of censors, centralization of internet services under tight government control, and control over standards to ensure that surveillance and censorship are always possible. Read the rest

70+ internet pioneers to the EU: you are transforming the internet into a "tool for automated surveillance and control" SHARE THIS!

In one week, an EU committee will vote on a pair of extreme copyright proposals that will ban linking to news articles without permission, and force internet platforms to spy on all the pictures, text, video, audio and code their users post, sending it to AIs designed to catch copyright infringement and automatically censor anything that might violate copyright. Read the rest

Uganda enacts unenforceable, ridiculous anti-"gossip" internet tax

At the urging of Uganda's corrupt dictator Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan parliament has enacted legislation imposing a daily tax on anyone using social media platforms; Museveni said the measure would curb "gossip," while Matia Kasaija claimed it would fund security and electrification efforts. Read the rest

Court rules that Trump can't block people on Twitter

A New York federal judge has ruled that Donald Trump can't block people he doesn't like on Twitter, because he uses Twitter to communicate his edicts and policies as President of the United States, and the US government can't exclude communications based on viewpoint, as this violates the First Amendment. Read the rest

"I Agree": Visualizing terms of service with long scrolls of colored paper

"I Agree" is a Dima Yarovinsky's art installation for Visualizing Knowledge 2018, with printouts of the terms of service for common apps on scrolls of colored paper, creating a bar chart of the fine print that neither you, nor anyone else in the history of the world, has ever read. Read the rest

Britain's Great Firewall blocks access to official Disney sites, internet safety guides, VPNs, and coding sites for kids

In the decade since the UK rolled out its Great Firewall, the project of somehow dividing the entire internet into "good" and "bad" (or even "all-ages" and "adult") has run into a series of embarrassing gaffes, blocking rape crisis sites while letting through all sorts of ghastly porn -- and at every turn, the Conservative government's response has been to double down on internet censorship, expanding it from a parental filter to an opt-out porn filter, whose biggest backers have repeatedly demonstrated their technical incompetence. Read the rest

Amazon orders Signal to stop using AWS to defeat censorship

Repressive autocracies like Egypt, Oman, and the UAE ban Signal and other encrypted messaging apps, using national firewalls to try to block their traffic; Signal evades these blocks by using "domain fronting," in which the service's cloud provider shows up as the origin of its traffic, forcing countries to block Google or Amazon to get at a single service hiding behind them. Read the rest

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