Friday, October 31, 2014

OpenStack 10/31/2014 (p.m.)


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

OpenStack 10/27/2014 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, ACLU, video

    • Invasion of the Data Snatchers

      Data snatchers?? They are NOT science fiction. And they’re closer than you think.

      New technologies are making it easier for private companies and the government to learn about everything we do - in our homes, in our cars, in stores, and within our communities. As they collect vast amounts of data about us, things are getting truly spooky!

      Our video might make you laugh, but a future without any privacy is just scary.

      Isn't it time we regained control over our personal information?


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

OpenStack 10/19/2014 (p.m.)


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

OpenStack 10/17/2014 (a.m.)

  • I'm informed that Comey will also call for legislation outlawing communication by whispering because of technical difficulties in law enforcement monitoring of such communications. 

    Tags: surveillance state, FBI, Comey, encryption

    • In his first major policy speech as director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey on Thursday plans to wade deeper into the debate between law enforcement agencies and technology companies about new programs intended to protect personal information on communication devices.

      Mr. Comey will say that encryption technologies used on these devices, like the new iPhone, have become so sophisticated that crimes will go unsolved because law enforcement officers will not be able to get information from them, according to a senior F.B.I. official who provided a preview of the speech.

      The speech was prompted, in part, by the new encryption technology on the iPhone 6, which was released last month. The phone encrypts emails, photos and contacts, thwarting intelligence and law enforcement agencies, like the National Security Agency and F.B.I., from gaining access to it, even if they have court approval.

    • The F.B.I. has long had concerns about devices “going dark” — when technology becomes so sophisticated that the authorities cannot gain access. But now, Mr. Comey said he believes that the new encryption technology has evolved to the point that it will adversely affect crime solving.

      He will say in the speech that these new programs will most severely affect state and local law enforcement agencies, because they are the ones who most often investigate crimes like kidnappings and robberies in which getting information from electronic devices in a timely manner is essential to solving the crime.

    • They also do not have the resources that are available to the F.B.I. and other federal intelligence and law enforcement authorities in order to get around the programs.

      Mr. Comey will cite examples of crimes that the authorities were able to solve because they gained access to a phone.

      “He is going to call for a discussion on this issue and ask whether this is the path we want to go down,” said the senior F.B.I. official. “He is not going to accuse the companies of designing the technologies to prevent the F.B.I. from accessing them. But, he will say that this is a negative byproduct and we need to work together to fix it.”

    • Mr. Comey is scheduled to give the speech — titled “Going Dark: Are Technology, Privacy and Public Safety on a Collision Course?” — at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
    • In the interview that aired on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Mr. Comey said that “the notion that we would market devices that would allow someone to place themselves beyond the law troubles me a lot.”

      He said that it was the equivalent of selling cars with trunks that could never be opened, even with a court order.

      “The notion that people have devices, again, that with court orders, based on a showing of probable cause in a case involving kidnapping or child exploitation or terrorism, we could never open that phone?” he said. “My sense is that we've gone too far when we've gone there.”


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

OpenStack 10/16/2014 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, Snowden, Dropbox, encryption

    • Edward Snowden has hit out at Dropbox and other services he says are “hostile to privacy,” urging web users to abandon unencrypted communication and adjust privacy settings to prevent governments from spying on them in increasingly intrusive ways.

      “We are no longer citizens, we no longer have leaders. We’re subjects, and we have rulers,” Snowden told The New Yorker magazine in a comprehensive hour-long interview.

      There isn’t enough investment into security research, into understanding how metadata could better be protected and why that is more necessary today than yesterday, he said.

    • Edward Snowden has hit out at Dropbox and other services he says are “hostile to privacy,” urging web users to abandon unencrypted communication and adjust privacy settings to prevent governments from spying on them in increasingly intrusive ways.

      “We are no longer citizens, we no longer have leaders. We’re subjects, and we have rulers,” Snowden told The New Yorker magazine in a comprehensive hour-long interview.

      There isn’t enough investment into security research, into understanding how metadata could better be protected and why that is more necessary today than yesterday, he said.

    • The whistleblower believes one fallacy in how authorities view individual rights has to do with making the individual forsake those rights by default. Snowden’s point is that the moment you are compelled to reveal that you have nothing to hide is when the right to privacy stops being a right – because you are effectively waiving that right.

      “When you say, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about this right.’ You’re saying, ‘I don’t have this right, because I’ve got to the point where I have to justify it.’ The way rights work is, the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights – you don’t have to justify why you need freedom of speech.”

      In that situation, it becomes OK to live in a world where one is no longer interested in privacy as such – a world where Facebook, Google and Dropbox have become ubiquitous, and where there are virtually no safeguards against the wrongful use of the information one puts there.

    • In particular, Snowden advised web users to “get rid” of Dropbox. Such services only insist on encrypting user data during transfer and when being stored on the servers. Other services he recommends instead, such as SpiderOak, encrypt information while it’s on your computer as well.

      “We're talking about dropping programs that are hostile to privacy,” Snowden said.

      The same goes for social networks such as Facebook and Google, too. Snowden says they are “dangerous” and proposes that people use other services that allow for encrypted messages to be sent, such as RedPhone or SilentCircle.

  • Tags: surveillance state, UN-report, digital-privacy

    • The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.

      Central to the Rapporteur’s findings is the distinction between “targeted surveillance” — which “depend[s] upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization” — and “mass surveillance,” whereby “states with high levels of Internet penetration can [] gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites.” In a system of “mass surveillance,” the report explained, “all of this is possible without any prior suspicion related to a specific individual or organization. The communications of literally every Internet user are potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.”

    • Mass surveillance thus “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications,” it declared. As a result, “it is incompatible with existing concepts of privacy for States to collect all communications or metadata all the time indiscriminately.”

      In concluding that mass surveillance impinges core privacy rights, the report was primarily focused on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty enacted by the General Assembly in 1966, to which all of the members of the “Five Eyes” alliance are signatories. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1992, albeit with various reservations that allowed for the continuation of the death penalty and which rendered its domestic law supreme. With the exception of the U.S.’s Persian Gulf allies (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar), virtually every major country has signed the treaty.

      Article 17 of the Covenant guarantees the right of privacy, the defining protection of which, the report explained, is “that individuals have the right to share information and ideas with one another without interference by the State, secure in the knowledge that their communication will reach and be read by the intended recipients alone.”

    • The report’s key conclusion is that this core right is impinged by mass surveillance programs: “Bulk access technology is indiscriminately corrosive of online privacy and impinges on the very essence of the right guaranteed by article 17. In the absence of a formal derogation from States’ obligations under the Covenant, these programs pose a direct and ongoing challenge to an established norm of international law.”

      The report recognized that protecting citizens from terrorism attacks is a vital duty of every state, and that the right of privacy is not absolute, as it can be compromised when doing so is “necessary” to serve “compelling” purposes. It noted: “There may be a compelling counter-terrorism justification for the radical re-evaluation of Internet privacy rights that these practices necessitate. ”

      But the report was adamant that no such justifications have ever been demonstrated by any member state using mass surveillance: “The States engaging in mass surveillance have so far failed to provide a detailed and evidence-based public justification for its necessity, and almost no States have enacted explicit domestic legislation to authorize its use.”

    • Instead, explained the Rapporteur, states have relied on vague claims whose validity cannot be assessed because of the secrecy behind which these programs are hidden: “The arguments in favor of a complete abrogation of the right to privacy on the Internet have not been made publicly by the States concerned or subjected to informed scrutiny and debate.”

      About the ongoing secrecy surrounding the programs, the report explained that “states deploying this technology retain a monopoly of information about its impact,” which is “a form of conceptual censorship … that precludes informed debate.” A June report from the High Commissioner for Human Rights similarly noted “the disturbing lack of governmental transparency associated with surveillance policies, laws and practices, which hinders any effort to assess their coherence with international human rights law and to ensure accountability.”

      The rejection of the “terrorism” justification for mass surveillance as devoid of evidence echoes virtually every other formal investigation into these programs. A federal judge last December found that the U.S. Government was unable to “cite a single case in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack.” Later that month, President Obama’s own Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies concluded that mass surveillance “was not essential to preventing attacks” and information used to detect plots “could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders.”

    • Three Democratic Senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote in The New York Times that “the usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated” and “we have yet to see any proof that it provides real, unique value in protecting national security.” A study by the centrist New America Foundation found that mass metadata collection “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism” and, where plots were disrupted, “traditional law enforcement and investigative methods provided the tip or evidence to initiate the case.” It labeled the NSA’s claims to the contrary as “overblown and even misleading.”

      While worthless in counter-terrorism policies, the UN report warned that allowing mass surveillance to persist with no transparency creates “an ever present danger of ‘purpose creep,’ by which measures justified on counter-terrorism grounds are made available for use by public authorities for much less weighty public interest purposes.” Citing the UK as one example, the report warned that, already, “a wide range of public bodies have access to communications data, for a wide variety of purposes, often without judicial authorization or meaningful independent oversight.”

    • The report was most scathing in its rejection of a key argument often made by American defenders of the NSA: that mass surveillance is justified because Americans are given special protections (the requirement of a FISA court order for targeted surveillance) which non-Americans (95% of the world) do not enjoy. Not only does this scheme fail to render mass surveillance legal, but it itself constitutes a separate violation of international treaties (emphasis added):

      The Special Rapporteur concurs with the High Commissioner for Human Rights that where States penetrate infrastructure located outside their territorial jurisdiction, they remain bound by their obligations under the Covenant. Moreover, article 26 of the Covenant prohibits discrimination on grounds of, inter alia, nationality and citizenship. The Special Rapporteur thus considers that States are legally obliged to afford the same privacy protection for nationals and non-nationals and for those within and outside their jurisdiction. Asymmetrical privacy protection regimes are a clear violation of the requirements of the Covenant.

    • That principle — that the right of internet privacy belongs to all individuals, not just Americans — was invoked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when he explained in a June, 2013 interview at The Guardian why he disclosed documents showing global surveillance rather than just the surveillance of Americans: “More fundamentally, the ‘US Persons’ protection in general is a distraction from the power and danger of this system. Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%.

      The U.N. Rapporteur was clear that these systematic privacy violations are the result of a union between governments and tech corporations: “States increasingly rely on the private sector to facilitate digital surveillance. This is not confined to the enactment of mandatory data retention legislation. Corporates [sic] have also been directly complicit in operationalizing bulk access technology through the design of communications infrastructure that facilitates mass surveillance. ”

    • The latest finding adds to the growing number of international formal rulings that the mass surveillance programs of the U.S. and its partners are illegal. In January, the European parliament’s civil liberties committee condemned such programs in “the strongest possible terms.” In April, the European Court of Justice ruled that European legislation on data retention contravened EU privacy rights. A top secret memo from the GCHQ, published last year by The Guardian, explicitly stated that one key reason for concealing these programs was fear of a “damaging public debate” and specifically “legal challenges against the current regime.”

      The report ended with a call for far greater transparency along with new protections for privacy in the digital age. Continuation of the status quo, it warned, imposes “a risk that systematic interference with the security of digital communications will continue to proliferate without any serious consideration being given to the implications of the wholesale abandonment of the right to online privacy.” The urgency of these reforms is underscored, explained the Rapporteur, by a conclusion of the United States Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that “permitting the government to routinely collect the calling records of the entire nation fundamentally shifts the balance of power between the state and its citizens.”


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

OpenStack 10/07/2014 (p.m.)

  • Tags: mergers, time-warner, FCC

    • On Friday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said that it has extended its time to file responses and oppositions for the Comcast/Time Warner merger from October 8 to October 29. This is due to a motion filed by DISH Network, which said that Comcast didn't fully respond to the Commission's Request to Responses and Oppositions.

      The FCC is taking 180 days to determine if the Comcast and Time Warner merger will be in the best interest of the public. As of Friday, the investigation was at day 85, and it will resume once October 29 arrives. Originally, the investigation was expected to be complete on January 6, 2015.

      According to Reuters, a number of competitors and consumer advocates have rejected the merger, stating that the combined entity will have too much power over American consumers' viewing habits. Comcast disagrees of course, indicating that Time Warner is not a competitor and that their combined forces would bring better subscription services to a larger consumer audience.

    • Back in August, the FCC sent questions to both Comcast and Time Warner Cable asking for additional information about their broadband and video services, such as their Web traffic management practices. However, the FCC said on Friday that both companies failed to provide enough answers to please the merger reviewers. Comcast disagrees but said it will work with the reviewers to provide the missing information.

      "We will work with the staff to determine the additional information the FCC is seeking (including the document production that the FCC had asked us to delay filing) and will submit supplemental answers and documents quickly thereafter so that the FCC can complete its review early in 2015," Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice told Reuters.

    • Currently, the FCC is trying to retrieve Comcast's programming and retransmission consent agreements, but media companies have objected to the collection, saying that these documents are highly confidential. However, the documents have made their way to the Justice Department, which is conducting its own review for antitrust issues.

      The delay in the FCC's deadline also stems from a large 850-page document supplied by Comcast. The FCC indicated that this volume of information is critical to the investigation.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Friday, October 03, 2014

OpenStack 10/04/2014 (a.m.)

  • Tags: FCC, enforcement, wifi-hotspots, Marriott, penalties

    • Marriott will cough up $600,000 in penalties after being caught blocking mobile hotspots so that guests would have to pay for its own WiFi services, the FCC has confirmed today. The fine comes after staff at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee were found to be jamming individual hotspots and then charging people up to $1,000 per device to get online.

      Marriott has been operating the center since 2012, and is believed to have been running its interruption scheme since then. The first complaint to the FCC, however, wasn't until March 2013, when one guest warned the Commission that they suspected their hardware had been jammed.

      An investigation by the FCC's Enforcement Bureau revealed that was, in fact, the case. A WiFi monitoring system installed at the Gaylord Opryland would target access points with de-authentication packets, disconnecting users so that their browsing was interrupted.

    • The FCC deemed Marriott's behaviors as contravening Section 333 of the Communications Act, which states that "no person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this chapter or operated by the United States Government."

      In addition to the $600,000 civil penalty, Marriott will have to cease blocking guests, hand over details of any access point containment features to the FCC across its entire portfolio of owned or managed properties, and finally file compliance and usage reports each quarter for the next three years.

    • Update: Marriott has issued the following statement on the FCC ruling:

      "Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft. Like many other institutions and companies in a wide variety of industries, including hospitals and universities, the Gaylord Opryland protected its Wi-Fi network by using FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers. We believe that the Gaylord Opryland's actions were lawful. We will continue to encourage the FCC to pursue a rulemaking in order to eliminate the ongoing confusion resulting from today's action and to assess the merits of its underlying policy."


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

OpenStack 09/27/2014 (a.m.)

  • Tags: U.S., copyright, software, first-sale-doctrine, legislation

    • A bill introduced Sept. 18 would make clear that consumers actually owned the electronic devices, and any accompanying software on that device, that they purchased, according to sponsor Rep. Blake Farenthold's (R-Texas).

      The You Own Devices Act (H.R. 5586) would amend the Copyright Act “to provide that the first sale doctrine applies to any computer program that enables a machine or other product to operate.”

      The bill, which is unlikely to receive attention during Congress's lame-duck legislative session, was well-received by consumer's rights groups.

    • Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §109(a), serves as the foundation for the first sale doctrine. H.R. 5586 would amend Section 109(a) by adding a provision covering “transfer of computer programs.” That provision would state:

      if a computer program enables any part of a machine or other product to operate, the owner of the machine or other product is entitled to transfer an authorized copy of the computer pro gram, or the right to obtain such copy, when the owner sells, leases, or otherwise transfers the machine or other product to another person. The right to transfer provided under this subsection may not be waived by any agreement.

    • ‘Things' Versus Software

      Farenthold had expressed concern during a Sept. 17 hearing on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act over what he perceived was a muddling between patents and copyrights when it comes to consumer products. 

      “Traditionally patent law has protected things and copyright law has protected artistic-type works,” he said. “But now more and more things have software in them and you are licensing that software when you purchase a thing.”

      Farenthold asked the witnesses if there was a way to draw a distinction in copyright “between software that is an integral part of a thing as opposed to an add-on app that you would put on your telephone.”

    • H.R. 5586 seeks to draw that distinction.

      “YODA would simply state that if you want to sell, lease, or give away your device, the software that enables it to work is transferred along with it, and that any right you have to security and bug fixing of that software is transferred as well,” Farenthold said in a statement issued Sept. 19.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.