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Tech Industry Rallies Around Microsoft in Data Privacy Battle With US
December 18, 2014
A coalition of supporting organizations filed 10 amicus briefs with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a U.S. government search warrant for Microsoft customer data stored on a server based in Ireland. The coalition includes 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations.
Berners-Lee Sounds Clarion Call for Universal Web Access
December 15, 2014
The Internet should be a basic human right, but access to it is increasingly unequal around the globe, said World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee last week. The Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, he asserted, but only "if we hard-wire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and Net neutrality into the rules of the game."
Blackphone to Peddle a Few Good Apps
December 10, 2014
Blackphone plans to open an app store for privacy-focused applications to run on its secure smartphone. The store is expected to launch in January. The Blackphone runs PrivatOS, a modified version of Android 4.4.2 that comes bundled with tools that encrypt phone calls, texts, emails and Internet browsing. The app store will feature curated apps selected for their security and privacy chops.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.
Google Releases Consumers From the Scourge of CAPTCHA
December 04, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced the no-CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA, a kinder, gentler way of distinguishing human Web surfers from bots. The new system requires that users confirm their humanity by checking a box to the left of the statement "I'm not a robot." A privacy statement is displayed on the right. If checking the box doesn't work, a window containing distorted text will pop up.
Journalist-Tracking Uber Exec Gets Vague Hand Slap
December 02, 2014
Uber has disciplined a company executive accused of using an internal tool to track a journalist's whereabouts, it said. The company offered no details about the nature of that reprimand, however, or about the possibility of taking similar action against another executive who publicly suggested the possibility of targeting journalists with a smear campaign.
Lollipop's Encryption Takes a Hefty Toll
November 24, 2014
The new full-disk encryption feature that's enabled by default in Android 5.0 Lollipop comes at a hefty price in terms of performance, according to a recent benchmark report. In fact, when full-disk encryption is enabled, random read performance drops by 62.9 percent, while random write performance falls by 50.5 percent, AnandTech reported late last week.
EFF Spearheads Safer Web Initiative
November 24, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced a nonprofit organization that will aim to secure the entire Web. Let's Encrypt, starting in summer 2015, will offer free server certificates to help websites transition from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol. EFF is partnering with Akamai, Mozilla, Cisco, iDenTrust and University of Michigan researchers.
Russian Site Exposes Thousands of Private Videocam Streams
November 20, 2014
A Russian website has been posting live video streams from unprotected webcams in homes and businesses around the globe, Britain's Information Commissioner's Office warned on Thursday. The website has gained access to the webcams using the cameras' default login credentials, which are freely available online but often don't get changed by their owners during the set-up process.
BitTorrent Sync Goes Pro
November 20, 2014
BitTorrent on Wednesday announced new plans for its Sync service, including a premium subscription option, along with other new paid products. Sync, which was released in beta in July, is billed as a cloud-free file-sharing solution. Currently in version 1.4, Sync soon will graduate to version 2.0, with both an improved free version and a Pro version offered by subscription for $39.99 per year.
WhatsApp Battens Down the Hatches
November 19, 2014
WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption and enabled it by default in the latest version of its Android messaging application, partner Open Whisper Systems announced Tuesday. The new feature taps Open Whisper's open source TextSecure encryption protocol to ensure that only a conversation's participants can read the messages they exchange. WhatsApp itself won't be able to decrypt the messages.
IBM Begins New Email Chapter With Intelligent Verse
November 19, 2014
IBM on Tuesday introduced Verse, its entry into the reinventing email derby. Verse, which will be available in both an enterprise and freemium edition, integrates the many ways people communicate with each other every day -- email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social media, video chats and more -- into a single collaboration environment.
Google Glass May Be Saved by Obscurity
November 19, 2014
Whatever happened to Google Glass? In the early days, people got punched in bars, bounced from movie theaters, and pulled over in cars for wearing them, and some establishments outright banned "glassholes" from their premises. Google claimed the white "Cotton" beta model sold out when it held a one-day sale of Google Glass Explorer for United States residents at $1,500 a pop in April.
US Marshals Have Their Own Cellphone Data Slurpfest
November 18, 2014
The United States Marshals Service reportedly is grabbing data from thousands, if not millions, of Americans' cellphones using high-tech devices deployed on five Cessnas. The aircraft operate out of at least five metro-area airports and apparently can cover most of the U.S. population. They are equipped with DRT boxes, popularly known as "dirtboxes," made by a subsidiary of Boeing.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Facebook Lubes PR Gears to Dampen Privacy Worries
November 14, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced Privacy Basics, a set of interactive guides to answer the most commonly questions about how users can control their information on its site. It also aired proposed updates to its terms, data policy and cookies policy; improvements to ad targeting; and expansion of user control over ads. "This is mostly a messaging exercise," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Who Knew Tim Cook Would Fight for the American Way?
November 14, 2014
Ninety-one percent of Americans believe they have lost control of their personal information -- and many also don't trust companies that buy, sell, barter, and combine their habits and activities to better "serve" -- aka "manipulate" -- them, a recent Pew Research survey found. Along similar lines, they don't particularly trust governments either.
Americans Flip-Flop on Personal Data Privacy
November 13, 2014
Despite the publicity about Edward Snowden's controversial leaks, only 43 percent of 607 English-speaking adults surveyed in January had heard a lot about government surveillance efforts, and another 44 percent had heard a little, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. However, 80 percent of the respondents registered concern about government surveillance of communications.
Firefox Develops a Case of Selective Amnesia
November 11, 2014
Roughly 10 years to the day after the release of Firefox 1.0, Mozilla on Monday announced an updated version of its open source browser complete with a new Forget button aimed at protecting users' privacy. Forget asks you only one question, said Firefox Vice President Johnathan Nightingale. "How much do you want to forget?" Once you supply a time frame, "it takes care of the rest."
Verizon, AT&T Are Watching You
November 05, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week renewed its protests against Verizon Wireless' and AT&T's use of supercookies that can't be deleted or disabled to track customers' mobile Web-browsing activities without their knowledge. The carriers' tracking isn't new -- Verizon has been using these supercookies for two years. However, that has not been generally known.
The Trouble With Facebook's Tor Link
November 05, 2014
Facebook recently announced that it was providing access directly over the Tor network. Its purpose was to let users access Facebook without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud. Facebook is providing an SSL certificate which cites its onion address. It will add onion address support for its mobile site later. The Tor link will work only in Tor-enabled browsers.
Dropbox, Microsoft Gang Up on Google
November 04, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a strategic partnership with Dropbox -- only eight days after announcing unlimited cloud storage for Office 365 subscribers in a move widely seen as a frontal attack on Dropbox and Google. The companies will integrate their services forphones, tablets and the Internet, so that users can access and collaborate on Office files either from Dropbox or Microsoft Office.
Russians Scrap Jobs Tribute Over Tim Cook's Being Gay
November 03, 2014
A group of Russian companies called the "Western European Financial Union" on Friday dismantled a 6-foot, 6-inch tribute to Steve Jobs following Apple CEO Tim Cook's announcement that he's gay. The Jobs tribute -- an interactive kiosk in the shape of an iPhone -- had graced the courtyard of the National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics in St. Petersburg.

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