Wednesday, April 20, 2016

OpenStack 04/20/2016 (p.m.)

  • Tags: driverless-cars, Beverly-Hills

    • An uncontested vote by the Beverly Hills City Council could guarantee a chauffeur for all residents in the near future. However, instead of a driver, the newly adopted program foresees municipally-owned driverless cars ready to order via a smartphone app.

      Also known as autonomous vehicles, or AV, driverless cars would appear to be the next big thing not only for people, but local governments as well – if the Beverly Hills City Council can get its AV development program past a few more hurdles, that is. The technology itself has some challenges ahead as well.

    • In the meantime, the conceptual shuttle service, which was unanimously approved at an April 5 city council meeting, is being celebrated.
    • Naming Google and Tesla in its press release, Beverly Hills must first develop a partnership with a manufacturer that can build it a fleet of unmanned cars. There will also be a need to bring in policy experts. All of these outside parties will have a chance to explore the program’s potential together at an upcoming community event.

      The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will host a summit this fall that will include expert lectures, discussions, and test drives. Er, test rides.

      Already in the works for Beverly Hills is a fiber optics cable network that will, in addition to providing high-speed internet access to all residents and businesses, one day be an integral part of a public transit system that runs on its users’ spontaneous desires.

      Obviously, Beverly Hills has some money on hand for the project, and it is also an ideal testing space as the city takes up an area of less than six square miles. Another positive factor is the quality of the city’s roads, which exceeds that of most in the greater Los Angeles area, not to mention California and the whole United States.

      “It can’t find the lane markings!” Volvo’s North American CEO, Lex Kerssemakers, complained to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last month, according to Reuters. “You need to paint the bloody roads here!”

      Whether lanes are marked or signs are clear has made a big difference in how successfully the new technology works.

      Unfortunately, the US Department of Transportation considers 65 percent of US roads to be in poor condition, so AV cars may not be in the works for many Americans living outside of Beverly Hills quite as soon.


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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

OpenStack 04/16/2016 (p.m.)

  • The Fourth Amendment argument that people have a right to know when their property has been searched or seized is particularly interesting to me. If adopted by the Courts, that could spell the end of surveillance gag orders. 

    Tags: surveillance state, Microsoft, DoJ, litigation, 4th-Amendment, 1st Amendment, gag-orders

    • “WE APPRECIATE THAT there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”

      With those words, Smith announced that Microsoft was suing the Department of Justice for the right to inform its customers when the government is reading their emails.

      The last big fight between the Justice Department and Silicon Valley was started by law enforcement, when the FBI demanded that Apple unlock a phone used by San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook.

      This time, Microsoft is going on the offensive. The move is welcomed by privacy activists as a step forward for transparency — though it’s also for business reasons.

    • Secret government searches are eroding people’s trust in the cloud, Smith wrote — including large and small businesses now keeping massive amounts of records online. “The transition to the cloud does not alter people’s expectations of privacy and should not alter the fundamental constitutional requirement that the government must — with few exceptions — give notice when it searches and seizes private information or communications,” he wrote.

      According to the complaint, Microsoft received 5,624 federal demands for customer information or data in the past 18 months. Almost half — 2,576 — came with gag orders, and almost half of those — 1,752 — had “no fixed end date” by which Microsoft would no longer be sworn to secrecy.

      These requests, though signed off on by a judge, qualify as unconstitutional searches, the attorneys argue. It “violates both the Fourth Amendment, which affords people and businesses the right to know if the government searches or seizes their property, and the First Amendment, which enshrines Microsoft’s rights to talk to its customers and to discuss how the government conducts its investigations — subject only to restraints narrowly tailored to serve compelling government interests,” they wrote.


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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

OpenStack 04/13/2016 (a.m.)

  • Tags: Panama-Papers, technology, open-source

    • Then we put the data up, but the problem with Solr was it didn’t have a user interface, so we used Project Blacklight, which is open source software normally used by librarians. We used it for the journalists. It’s simple because it allows you to do faceted search—so, for example, you can facet by the folder structure of the leak, by years, by type of file. There were more complex things—it supports queries in regular expressions, so the more advanced users were able to search for documents with a certain pattern of numbers that, for example, passports use. You could also preview and download the documents. ICIJ open-sourced the code of our document processing chain, created by our web developer Matthew Caruana Galizia.

      We also developed a batch-searching feature. So say you were looking for politicians in your country—you just run it through the system, and you upload your list to Blacklight and you would get a CSV back saying yes, there are matches for these names—not only exact matches, but also matches based on proximity. So you would say “I want Mar Cabra proximity 2” and that would give you “Mar Cabra,” “Mar whatever Cabra,” “Cabra, Mar,”—so that was good, because very quickly journalists were able to see… I have this list of politicians and they are in the data!

    • Last Sunday, April 3, the first stories emerging from the leaked dataset known as the Panama Papers were published by a global partnership of news organizations working in coordination with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, or ICIJ. As we begin the second week of reporting on the leak, Iceland’s Prime Minister has been forced to resign, Germany has announced plans to end anonymous corporate ownership, governments around the world launched investigations into wealthy citizens’ participation in tax havens, the Russian government announced that the investigation was an anti-Putin propaganda operation, and the Chinese government banned mentions of the leak in Chinese media.

      As the ICIJ-led consortium prepares for its second major wave of reporting on the Panama Papers, we spoke with Mar Cabra, editor of ICIJ’s Data & Research unit and lead coordinator of the data analysis and infrastructure work behind the leak. In our conversation, Cabra reveals ICIJ’s years-long effort to build a series of secure communication and analysis platforms in support of genuinely global investigative reporting collaborations.

    • For communication, we have the Global I-Hub, which is a platform based on open source software called Oxwall. Oxwall is a social network, like Facebook, which has a wall when you log in with the latest in your network—it has forum topics, links, you can share files, and you can chat with people in real time.
    • We had the data in a relational database format in SQL, and thanks to ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) software Talend, we were able to easily transform the data from SQL to Neo4j (the graph-database format we used). Once the data was transformed, it was just a matter of plugging it into Linkurious, and in a couple of minutes, you have it visualized—in a networked way, so anyone can log in from anywhere in the world. That was another reason we really liked Linkurious and Neo4j—they’re very quick when representing graph data, and the visualizations were easy to understand for everybody. The not-very-tech-savvy reporter could expand the docs like magic, and more technically expert reporters and programmers could use the Neo4j query language, Cypher, to do more complex queries, like show me everybody within two degrees of separation of this person, or show me all the connected dots…
    • We believe in open source technology and try to use it as much as possible. We used Apache Solr for the indexing and Apache Tika for document processing, and it’s great because it processes dozens of different formats and it’s very powerful. Tika interacts with Tesseract, so we did the OCRing on Tesseract.

      To OCR the images, we created an army of 30–40 temporary servers in Amazon that allowed us to process the documents in parallel and do parallel OCR-ing. If it was very slow, we’d increase the number of servers—if it was going fine, we would decrease because of course those servers have a cost.

    • For the visualization of the Mossack Fonseca internal database, we worked with another tool called Linkurious. It’s not open source, it’s licensed software, but we have an agreement with them, and they allowed us to work with it. It allows you to represent data in graphs. We had a version of Linkurious on our servers, so no one else had the data. It was pretty intuitive—journalists had to click on dots that expanded, basically, and could search the names.

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

Thursday, April 07, 2016

OpenStack 04/07/2016 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, encryption, WhatsApp

    • For most of the past six weeks, the biggest story out of Silicon Valley was Apple’s battle with the FBI over a federal order to unlock the iPhone of a mass shooter. The company’s refusal touched off a searing debate over privacy and security in the digital age. But this morning, at a small office in Mountain View, California, three guys made the scope of that enormous debate look kinda small.

      Mountain View is home to WhatsApp, an online messaging service now owned by tech giant Facebook, that has grown into one of the world’s most important applications. More than a billion people trade messages, make phone calls, send photos, and swap videos using the service. This means that only Facebook itself runs a larger self-contained communications network. And today, the enigmatic founders of WhatsApp, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, together with a high-minded coder and cryptographer who goes by the pseudonym Moxie Marlinspike, revealed that the company has added end-to-end encryption to every form of communication on its service.

    • This means that if any group of people uses the latest version of WhatsApp—whether that group spans two people or ten—the service will encrypt all messages, phone calls, photos, and videos moving among them. And that’s true on any phone that runs the app, from iPhones to Android phones to Windows phones to old school Nokia flip phones. With end-to-end encryption in place, not even WhatsApp’s employees can read the data that’s sent across its network. In other words, WhatsApp has no way of complying with a court order demanding access to the content of any message, phone call, photo, or video traveling through its service. Like Apple, WhatsApp is, in practice, stonewalling the federal government, but it’s doing so on a larger front—one that spans roughly a billion devices.
    • The FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment for this story. But many inside the government and out are sure to take issue with the company’s move. In late 2014, WhatsApp encrypted a portion of its network. In the months since, its service has apparently been used to facilitate criminal acts, including the terrorist attacks on Paris last year. According to The New York Times, as recently as this month, the Justice Department was considering a court case against the company after a wiretap order (still under seal) ran into WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption.

      “The government doesn’t want to stop encryption,” says Joseph DeMarco, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in cybercrime and has represented various law enforcement agencies backing the Justice Department and the FBI in their battle with Apple. “But the question is: what do you do when a company creates an encryption system that makes it impossible for court-authorized search warrants to be executed? What is the reasonable level of assistance you should ask from that company?”


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

Saturday, April 02, 2016

OpenStack 04/02/2016 (p.m.)

  • The article is wide of the mark, based on analysis of Executive Branch policy rather than the governing law such as the Freedom of Information Act. And I still find it somewhat ludicrous that a third party with knowledge of the defect could succeed in convincing a court that knowledge of a defect in a company's product is trade-secret proprietary information. "Your honor, my client has discovered a way to break into Mr. Tim Cook's house without a key to his house. That is a valuable trade secret that this Court must keep Mr. Cook from learning." Pow! The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes it a crime to access a computer that can connect to the Internet by exploiting a software bug. 

    Tags: surveillance state, Apple, FBI, iPhone, encryption, FOIA, litigation

    • The FBI may be allowed to withhold information about how it broke into an iPhone belonging to a gunman in the December San Bernardino shootings, despite a U.S. government policy of disclosing technology security flaws discovered by federal agencies.

      Under the U.S. vulnerabilities equities process, the government is supposed to err in favor of disclosing security issues so companies can devise fixes to protect data. The policy has exceptions for law enforcement, and there are no hard rules about when and how it must be applied.

      Apple Inc has said it would like the government to share how it cracked the iPhone security protections. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has been frustrated by its inability to access data on encrypted phones belonging to criminal suspects, might prefer to keep secret the technique it used to gain access to gunman Syed Farook's phone.

      The referee is likely to be a White House group formed during the Obama administration to review computer security flaws discovered by federal agencies and decide whether they should be disclosed.

    • Stewart Baker, former general counsel of the NSA and now a lawyer with Steptoe & Johnson, said the review process could be complicated if the cracking method is considered proprietary by the third party that assisted the FBI.

      Several security researchers have pointed to the Israel-based mobile forensics firm Cellebrite as the likely third party that helped the FBI. That company has repeatedly declined comment.


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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

OpenStack 03/31/2016 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, Apple, FBI, Brooklyn, iPhone, security

    • If the U.S. Department of Justice asks a New York court to force Apple Inc to unlock an iPhone, the technology company could push the government to reveal how it accessed the phone which belonged to a shooter in San Bernardino, a source familiar with the situation said.

      The Justice Department will disclose over the next two weeks whether it will continue with its bid to compel Apple to help access an iPhone in a Brooklyn drug case, according to a court filing on Tuesday.

      The Justice Department this week withdrew a similar request in California, saying it had succeeded in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the shooters involved in a rampage in San Bernardino in December without Apple's help.

      The legal dispute between the U.S. government and Apple has been a high-profile test of whether law enforcement should have access to encrypted phone data.

    • Apple, supported by most of the technology industry, says anything that helps authorities bypass security features will undermine security for all users. Government officials say that all kinds of criminal investigations will be crippled without access to phone data.

      Prosecutors have not said whether the San Bernardino technique would work for other seized iPhones, including the one at issue in Brooklyn. Should the Brooklyn case continue, Apple could pursue legal discovery that would potentially force the FBI to reveal what technique it used on the San Bernardino phone, the source said.

      A Justice Department representative did not have immediate comment.

  • It would make a very interesting Freedom of Information Act case if Apple sued under that Act to force disclosure of the security hole iPhone product defect the FBI exploited. I know of no interpretation of the law enforcement FOIA exemption that would justify FBI disclosure of the information. It might be alleged that the information is the trade secret of the company that disclosed the defect and exploit to the the FBI, but there's a very strong argument that the fact that the information was shared with the FBI waived the trade secrecy claim. And the notion that government is entitled to collect product security defects and exploit them without informing the exploited product's company of the specific defect is extremely weak.  Were I Tim Cook, I would have already told my lawyers to get cracking on filing the FOIA request with the FBI to get the legal ball rolling. 

    Tags: surveillance state, Apple, FBI, San-Bernadino, iPhone, security

    • Now that the United States government has cracked open an iPhone that belonged to a gunman in the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting without Apple’s help, the tech company is under pressure to find and fix the flaw.

      But unlike other cases where security vulnerabilities have cropped up, Apple may face a higher set of hurdles in ferreting out and repairing the particular iPhone hole that the government hacked.

      The challenges start with the lack of information about the method that the law enforcement authorities, with the aid of a third party, used to break into the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, an attacker in the San Bernardino rampage last year. Federal officials have refused to identify the person, or organization, who helped crack the device, and have declined to specify the procedure used to open the iPhone. Apple also cannot obtain the device to reverse-engineer the problem, the way it would in other hacking situations.


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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

OpenStack 03/29/2016 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, Apple, FBI, litigation, iPhone, San-Bernadino

    • AFTER MORE THAN a month of insisting that Apple weaken its security to help the FBI break into San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, the government has dropped its legal fight.

      “The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple,” wrote attorneys for the Department of Justice on Monday evening.

      It’s not yet known if anything valuable was stored on the phone, however. “The FBI is currently reviewing the information on the phone, consistent with standard investigatory procedures,” said Department of Justice spokesperson Melanie Newman in a statement.


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