Saturday, April 25, 2015

OpenStack 04/25/2015 (p.m.)

  • Finally! A proposal for mass-surveillance reform that goes far beyond prior overly-modest proposals backed by ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc., that were based on negotiation with members of Congress. This proposal is backed by a wide range of other organizations. A must-read.

    Tags: surveillance state, mass-surveillance, legislation, NSA-reform, must-read

    • April 21, 2015

      Dear Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Grassley, and Ranking Member Leahy:

      We urge you to end mass surveillance of Americans. Among us are civil liberties organizations from across the political spectrum that speak for millions of people, businesses, whistleblowers, and experts. The impending expiration of three USA PATRIOT Act provisions on June 1 is a golden opportunity to end mass surveillance and enact additional reforms.

      Current surveillance practices are virtually limitless. They are unnecessary, counterproductive, and costly. They undermine our economy and the public’s trust in government. And they undercut the proper functioning of government.

      Meaningful surveillance reform entails congressional repeal of laws and protocols the Executive secretly interprets to permit current mass surveillance practices. Additionally, it requires Congress to appreciably increase transparency, oversight, and accountability of intelligence agencies, especially those that have acted unconstitutionally.

    • A majority of the House of Representatives already has voted against mass surveillance. The Massie-Lofgren amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act [i] garnered 293 votes in support of defunding “backdoor searches.” Unfortunately, that amendment was not included in the “CRomnibus"[ii] despite overwhelming support.  We urge you to act once again to vindicate our fundamental liberties.

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

OpenStack 04/25/2015 (a.m.)

  • Looks like all that online lobbying from the internet community worked. 

    Tags: Comcast, time-warner, merger

    • Fourteen months after unveiling a $45.2 billion merger that would create a new Internet and cable giant, Comcast Corp. is planning to walk away from its proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said.

      The decision marks a swift unraveling of a deal that awaited federal approval for more than a year. Opposition from the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission took shape over the past week, leaving officials of the two companies to conclude the deal wouldn’t pass muster.

    • Comcast’s board will meet to finalize the decision on Thursday, and an announcement may come as soon as Friday, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Time Warner Cable executives plan to tell shareholders on an earnings conference call next Thursday how the company can survive independently, the person said.
    • On Wednesday, FCC staff joined lawyers at the Justice Department opposing the transaction. That day, FCC officials told representatives of the two companies they are leaning toward concluding the merger doesn’t help consumers, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

      The FCC’s plan to call a hearing effectively killed the deal’s chances of success. An FCC hearing can take months to complete and drag out the approval process beyond the companies’ time frame for completion. Bloomberg News reported last week that Justice Department staff was leaning against the deal. Senators including Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, also voiced opposition.

      “Comcast’s withdrawal of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable would be spectacularly good news for consumers,” Michael Copps, a Democratic former FCC commissioner working with Common Cause to oppose the deal, said in a statement.


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

Friday, April 17, 2015

OpenStack 04/18/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: Wikileaks, Sony-hack, documents

    • Julian Assange says data ‘belongs in the public domain’ and says hacked files shed light on extent of cooperation between government and Hollywood
  • I'm pushing for no legislation. Let section 215 sunset in peace.

    Tags: surveillance state, 215-sunset, USA-Freedom-Act

    • When the premiere surveillance reform bill of 2014 is reintroduced in the current Congress, it can count on antipathy and even opposition from many of the civil libertarian activists who pushed it to the brink of passage last year.

      The USA Freedom Act, a bill that aims to stop the National Security Agency (NSA) from its daily collection of US phone records in bulk, is set for a 2015 revamp after failing in the Senate last November. Supporters pledge to unveil it late this week or early next week.

    • This time, as reported by the Guardian, the bill is shaping up to be the preferred piece of legislation to extend the lifespan of a controversial part of the Patriot Act, known as Section 215. The NSA uses Section 215 to justify its domestic mass surveillance. The FBI considers it critical for terrorism and espionage investigations outside typical warrant or subpoena channels. Section 215 expires on 1 June.

      The bill’s architects consider the USA Freedom Act the strongest piece of legislation to roll back the domestic reach of US surveillance that Congress will pass. But a new coalition of civil libertarian groups on the left and the right is already looking past the bill, in the hopes of broadening what is possible – something they consider realistic, thanks to the intelligence community’s fervent desire to avoid the expiration of Section 215.


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

OpenStack 04/17/2015 (p.m.)


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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

OpenStack 04/15/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: net-neutrality, FCC, litigation

    •  The United States Telecom Association has filed a lawsuit to overturn the net neutrality rules set by the Federal Communications Commission this past February. In its Monday morning Press Release USTelecom, who represents Verizon and AT&T among others, said it filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia joining a similar law suit filed by Alamo Broadband Inc.
    • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published its net neutrality rules in the Federal Register on Monday and, according to procedure, that began a 60-day countdown until they go into effect (June 12). Their publication also opened a 30-day window for Internet service providers to appeal.  USTelecom and Alamo Broadband wasted no time.  USTelecom filed a previous action preserving the issue according to local court rule prior to the formal petition in March.
    • The rules, which were voted on in February, reclassify broadband under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act and require that ISPs transmit all Web traffic at the same speed. Over 400 pages long, USTelecom filed a CD of the rules as an exhibit with its action.

      This suit is predicted to be the first of many, as broadband groups like AT&T to congressional Republicans have signaled that they plan to fight the decision.

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, 215, litigation, bulk-collection

    • Three cases that likely lay the groundwork for a major privacy battle at the U.S. Supreme Court are pending before federal appeals courts, whose judges are taking their time announcing whether they believe the dragnet collection of Americans' phone records is legal.

      It’s been more than five months since the American Civil Liberties Union argued against the National Security Agency program in New York, three months since legal activist Larry Klayman defended his thus far unprecedented preliminary injunction win in Washington, D.C., and two months since Idaho nurse Anna Smith’s case was heard by appeals judges in Seattle.

      At the district court level, judges handed down decisions about a month after oral arguments in the cases.

      It’s unclear what accounts for the delay. It’s possible judges are meticulously crafting opinions that are likely to receive wide coverage, or that members of the three-judge panels are clashing on the appropriate decision.

    • Attorneys involved in the cases understandably are reluctant to criticize the courts, but all express hope for speedy resolution of their fights against alleged violations of Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.

    • Though it’s difficult to accurately predict court decisions based on oral arguments, opponents of the mass surveillance program may have reason for optimism.
    • Two executive branch review panels have found the dragnet phone program has had minimal value for catching terrorists, its stated purpose. After years of presiding over the collection and months of publicly defending it, President Barack Obama pivoted last year and asked Congress to pass legislation ending the program. A measure to do so failed last year.
  • Tags: Google, European Commission, antitrust, search, Android, DG-Competition

    • BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's competition chief is filing an antitrust complaint alleging Google has been abusing its dominance in Internet searches and is opening a probe into its Android mobile system.

      EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Wednesday she is "concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service."

      Vestager said the separate antitrust probe into Android will investigate whether the Internet giant relies on anti-competitive deals and abuses its dominant position in Europe's mobile market.

      Vestager said her chief goal was to make sure multinationals "do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation".

      Google's general counsel Kent Walker wrote late Tuesday that a "statement of objections" to Google's business practices was to be released by Vestager Wednesday.


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

Friday, April 10, 2015

OpenStack 04/11/2015 (a.m.)

  • The blurb is a bit misleading. This is a project that's been under way since last year; what's new is that they're moving under the Linux Foundation umbrella for various non-technical suoport purposes. By sometime this summer, encrypting web site data and broadcasting it over https is  slated to become a two-click process. Or on the linux command line: $ sudo apt-get install lets-encrypt $ lets-encrypt example.com This is a project that grew out of public disgust with NSA surveillance, designed to flood the NSA (and other bad actors) with so much encrypted data that they will be able to decrypt only a tiny fraction (decryption without the decryption key takes gobs of computer cycles).  The other half of the solution is already available, the HTTPS Everywhere extension for the Chrome, FIrefox, and Opera web browsers by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the TOR Project that translates your every request for a http address into an effort to connect to an https address preferentially before establishing an http connection if https is not available. HTTPS Everywhere is fast and does not noticeably add to your page loading time. If you'd like to effortlessly imoprove your online security and help burden NSA, install HTTPS Everywhere. Get it at https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

    Tags: surveillance state, SSL_TLS, encryption-everywhere

  • Sign up (email address) for updates on a monumental lobbying effort coming up in the next few days when Congress comes back into session and the legislation to "Fast Track" the TPP *and all future trade agrerements* is introduced. From leaked draft portions, we know that the TPP brings us internet censorship and a mass of copyright law changes that have the giant intellectual property corproate folk drooling at the mouth, because they helped write it while the public was excluded. This is your chance to help end secret trade agreements that the public doesn't even get to see until they have already been made into law.

    Tags: internet-freedom, TPP, fast-track, legislation

    • Congress is about to introduce a bill to fast track a secret deal that could lead to global censorship. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We think Internet users everywhere should have a say in decisions that affect the Internet — but if “Fast Track” legislation passes, there is no chance that the public will see the text before the deal is approved. Join the Internet Vote on April 23rd and let’s make it clear to DC how we’re voting: against Fast Track and against Internet censorship. (Learn More)

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

Thursday, April 09, 2015

OpenStack 04/09/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, Facebook, litigation, facial-recognition, biometrics

    • In a Chicago court, several Facebook users filed a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant for allegedly violating its users’ privacy rights to acquire the largest privately held stash of biometric face-recognition data in the world.

      The court documents reveal claims that “Facebook began violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (IBIPA) of 2008 in 2010, in a purported attempt to make the process of tagging friends easier.”

    • This was accomplished through the “tag suggestions” feature provided by Facebook which “scans all pictures uploaded by users and identifies any Facebook friends they may want to tag.”

      The Facebook users maintain that this feature is a “form of data mining [that] violates user’s privacy”.

      One plaintiff said this is a “brazen disregard for its users’ privacy rights,” through which Facebook has “secretly amassed the world’s largest privately held database of consumer biometrics data.”

      Because “Facebook actively conceals” their protocol using “faceprint databases” to identify Facebook users in photos, and “doesn’t disclose its wholesale biometrics data collection practices in its privacy policies, nor does it even ask users to acknowledge them.”

    • This would be a violation of the IBIPA which states it is “unlawful to collect biometric data without written notice to the subject stating the purpose and length of the data collection, and without obtaining the subject’s written release.”

      Because all users are automatically part of the “faceprint’ facial recognition program, this is an illegal act in the state of Illinois, according to the complaint.

      Jay Edelson, attorney for the plaintiffs, asserts the opt-out ability to prevent other Facebook users from tagging them in photos is “insufficient”.

    • Deepface is the name of the new technology researchers at Facebook created in order to identify people in pictures; mimicking the way humans recognize the differences in each other’s faces.

      Facebook has already implemented facial recognition software (FRS) to suggest names for tagging photos; however Deepface can “identify faces from a side view” as well as when the person is directly facing the camera in the picture.

      In 2013, Erin Egan, chief privacy officer for Facebook, said that this upgrade “would give users better control over their personal information, by making it easier to identify posted photos in which they appear.”

      Egan explained: “Our goal is to facilitate tagging so that people know when there are photos of them on our service.”

      Facebook has stated that they retain information from their users that is syphoned from all across the web. This data is used to increase Facebook’s profits with the information being sold for marketing purposes.

      This is the impressive feature of Deepface; as previous FRS can only decipher faces in images that are frontal views of people.

      Shockingly, Deepface displays 97.25% accuracy in identifying faces in photos. That is quite a feat considering humans have a 97.53% accuracy rate.

      In order to ensure accuracy, Deepface “conducts its analysis based on more than 120 million different parameters.”


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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

OpenStack 03/29/2015 (p.m.)

  • I omitted some stuff about opposition to sunsetting the provisions. They  seem to forget, as does Obama, that the proponents of the FISA Court's expansive reading of section 215 have not yet come up with a single instance where 215-derived data caught a single terrorist or prevented a single act of terrorism. Which means that if that data is of some use, it ain't in fighting terrorism, the purpose of the section.  Patriot Act § 215 is codified as 50 USCS § 1861, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/50/1861 That section authorizes the FBI to obtain an iorder from the FISA Court "requiring the production of *any tangible things* (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)."  Specific examples (a non-exclusive list) include: the production of library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, book customer lists, firearms sales records, tax return records, educational records, or medical records containing information that would identify a person." The Court can order that the recipient of the order tell no one of its receipt of the order or its response to it.   In other words, this is about way more than your telephone metadata. Do you trust the NSA with your medical records? 

    Tags: surveillance state, Patriot-Act, 215-sunset, NSA-reform, legislation

    • The nation’s top technology firms and a coalition of privacy groups are urging Congress to place curbs on government surveillance in the face of a fast-approaching deadline for legislative action.

      A set of key Patriot Act surveillance authorities expire June 1, but the effective date is May 21 — the last day before Congress breaks for a Memorial Day recess.

      In a letter to be sent Wednesday to the Obama administration and senior lawmakers, the coalition vowed to oppose any legislation that, among other things, does not ban the “bulk collection” of Americans’ phone records and other data.

    • We know that there are some in Congress who think that they can get away with reauthorizing the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act without any reforms at all,” said Kevin Bankston, policy director of New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, a privacy group that organized the effort. “This letter draws a line in the sand that makes clear that the privacy community and the Internet industry do not intend to let that happen without a fight.”

      At issue is the bulk collection of Americans’ data by intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency. The NSA’s daily gathering of millions of records logging phone call times, lengths and other “metadata” stirred controversy when it was revealed in June 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      The records are placed in a database that can, with a judge’s permission, be searched for links to foreign terrorists.They do not include the content of conversations.

    • That program, placed under federal surveillance court oversight in 2006, was authorized by the court in secret under Section 215 of the Patriot Act — one of the expiring provisions.

      The public outcry that ensued after the program was disclosed forced President Obama in January 2014 to call for an end to the NSA’s storage of the data. He also appealed to Congress to find a way to preserve the agency’s access to the data for counterterrorism information.

    • Despite growing opposition in some quarters to ending the NSA’s program, a “clean” authorization — one that would enable its continuation without any changes — is unlikely, lawmakers from both parties say.

      Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a leading opponent of the NSA’s program in its current format, said he would be “surprised if there are 60 votes” in the Senate for that.

      In the House, where there is bipartisan support for reining in surveillance, it’s a longer shot still. “It’s a toxic vote back in your district to reauthorize the Patriot Act, if you don’t get some reforms” with it, said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).

      The House last fall passed the USA Freedom Act, which would have ended the NSA program, but the Senate failed to advance its own version.The House and Senate judiciary committees are working to come up with new bipartisan legislation to be introduced soon.

    • The tech firms and privacy groups’ demands are a baseline, they say. Besides ending bulk collection, they want companies to have the right to be more transparent in reporting on national security requests and greater declassification of opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
    • Some legal experts have pointed to a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act that would appear to allow bulk collection to continue even if the authority is not renewed. Administration officials have conceded privately that a legal case probably could be made for that, but politically it would be a tough sell.

      On Tuesday, a White House spokesman indicated the administration would not seek to exploit that clause. “If Section 215 sunsets, we will not continue the bulk telephony metadata program,” National Security Council spokesman Edward Price said in a statement first reported by Reuters.

      Price added that allowing Section 215 to expire would result in the loss of a “critical national security tool” used in investigations that do not involve the bulk collection of data. “That is why we have underscored the imperative of Congressional action in the coming weeks, and we welcome the opportunity to work with lawmakers on such legislation,” he said.


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