Friday, October 30, 2015

OpenStack 10/31/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, Snowden, EU-Parliament, resolution, charges, extradition

      • The European Parliament narrowly adopted a nonbinding but nonetheless forceful resolution on Thursday urging the 28 nations of the European Union to recognize Edward J. Snowden as a “whistle-blower and international human rights defender” and shield him from prosecution.

        On Twitter, Mr. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked millions of documents about electronic surveillance by the United States government, called the vote a “game-changer.” But the resolution has no legal force and limited practical effect for Mr. Snowden, who is living in Russia on a three-year residency permit.

        Whether to grant Mr. Snowden asylum remains a decision for the individual European governments, and none have done so thus far.

        Still, the resolution was the strongest statement of support seen for Mr. Snowden from the European Parliament. At the same time, the close vote — 285 to 281 — suggested the extent to which some European lawmakers are wary of alienating the United States.

    • The resolution calls on European Union members to “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties.”

      In June 2013, shortly after Mr. Snowden’s leaks became public, the United States charged him with theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act of 1917. By then, he had flown to Moscow, where he spent weeks in legal limbo before he was granted temporary asylum and, later, a residency permit.

      Four Latin American nations have offered him permanent asylum, but he does not believe he could travel from Russia to those countries without running the risk of arrest and extradition to the United States along the way.

    • The White House, which has used diplomatic efforts to discourage even symbolic resolutions of support for Mr. Snowden, immediately criticized the resolution.

      “Our position has not changed,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington.

      “Mr. Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and faces felony charges here in the United States. As such, he should be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process.”

      Jan Philipp Albrecht, one of the lawmakers who sponsored the resolution in Europe, said it should increase pressure on national governments.

    • “It’s the first time a Parliament votes to ask for this to be done — and it’s the European Parliament,” Mr. Albrecht, a German lawmaker with the Greens political bloc, said in a phone interview shortly after the vote, which was held in Strasbourg, France. “So this has an impact surely on the debate in the member states.”

      The resolution “is asking or demanding the member states’ governments to end all the charges and to prevent any extradition to a third party,” Mr. Albrecht said. “That’s a very clear call, and that can’t be just ignored by the governments,” he said.


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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

OpenStack 10/28/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: DMCA-exemptions, auto-software, VW-scandal, video-games, remixers

    • David Mao, the Librarian of Congress, has issued new rules pertaining to exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) after a 3 year battle that was expedited in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal.
    • Opposition to this new decision is coming from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the auto industry because the DMCA prohibits “circumventing encryption or access controls to copy or modify copyrighted works.”

      For example, GM “claimed the exemption ‘could introduce safety and security issues as well as facilitate violation of various laws designed specifically to regulate the modern car, including emissions, fuel economy, and vehicle safety regulations’.”

      The exemption in question is in Section 1201 which forbids the unlocking of software access controls which has given the auto industry the unique ability to “threaten legal action against anyone who needs to get around those restrictions, no matter how legitimate the reason.”

      Journalist Nick Statt points out that this provision “made it illegal in the past to unlock your smartphone from its carrier or even to share your HBO Go password with a friend. It’s designed to let corporations protect copyrighted material, but it allows them to crackdown on circumventions even when they’re not infringing on those copyrights or trying to access or steal proprietary information.”

    • Kit Walsh, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), explained that the “‘access control’ rule is supposed to protect against unlawful copying. But as we’ve seen in the recent Volkswagen scandal—where VW was caught manipulating smog tests—it can be used instead to hide wrongdoing hidden in computer code.”

      Walsh continued: “We are pleased that analysts will now be able to examine the software in the cars we drive without facing legal threats from car manufacturers, and that the Librarian has acted to promote competition in the vehicle aftermarket and protect the long tradition of vehicle owners tinkering with their cars and tractors. The year-long delay in implementing the exemptions, though, is disappointing and unjustified. The VW smog tests and a long run of security vulnerabilities have shown researchers and drivers need the exemptions now.”

      As part of the new changes, gamers can “modify an old video game so it doesn’t perform a check with an authentication server that has since been shut down” and after the publisher cuts of support for the video game.

    • Another positive from the change is that smartphone users will be able to jailbreak their phone and finally enjoy running operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer.

      And finally, those who remix excerpts from DVDs, Blu – Ray discs or downloading services will be allowed to mix the material into theirs without violating the DMCA.


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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

OpenStack 10/27/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, police, body-cameras, Taser, Microsoft, cloud-services, Azure

    • Microsoft has joined forces with Taser to combine the Azure cloud platform with law enforcement management tools.
    • Taser’s Axon body camera data management software on Evidence.com will run on Azure and Windows 10 devices to integrate evidence collection, analysis, and archival features as set forth by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy.

      As per the partnership, Taser will utilize Azure’s machine learning and computing technologies to store police data on Microsoft’s government cloud. In addition, redaction capabilities of Taser will be improved which will assist police departments that are subject to bulk data requests.

      Currently, Taser is operating on Amazon Web Services; however this deal may entice police departments to upgrade their technology, which in turn would drive up sales of Windows 10.

      This partnership comes after Taser was given a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) last year, who ordered 7,000 body cameras equipped with 800 Axom body cameras for their officers in response to the recent deaths of several African Americans at the hands of police.

    • In order to ensure Taser maintains a monopoly on police body cameras, the corporation acquired contracts with police departments all across the nation for the purchase of body cameras through dubious ties to certain chiefs of police.

      The corporation announced in 2014 that “orders for body cameras [has] soared to $24.6 million from October to December” which represents a 5-fold increase in profits from 2013.

      Currently, Taser is in 13 cities with negotiations for new contracts being discussed in 28 more.

      Taser, according to records and interviews, allegedly has “financial ties to police chiefs whose departments have bought the recording devices.”

      In fact, Taser has been shown to provide airfare and luxury hotels for chiefs of police when traveling for speaking engagements in Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE); and hired them as consultants – among other perks and deals.

      Since 2013, Taser has been contractually bound with “consulting agreements with two such chiefs’ weeks after they retired” as well as is allegedly “in talks with a third who also backed the purchase of its products.”


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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

OpenStack 10/25/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, decryption, hardening, HTTPS, SSH, VPN, 1024-bit-Diffie-Hellman

    • In a post on Wednesday, researchers Alex Halderman and Nadia Heninger presented compelling research suggesting that the NSA has developed the capability to decrypt a large number of HTTPS, SSH, and VPN connections using an attack on common implementations of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm with 1024-bit primes. Earlier in the year, they were part of a research group that published a study of the Logjam attack, which leveraged overlooked and outdated code to enforce "export-grade" (downgraded, 512-bit) parameters for Diffie-Hellman. By performing a cost analysis of the algorithm with stronger 1024-bit parameters and comparing that with what we know of the NSA "black budget" (and reading between the lines of several leaked documents about NSA interception capabilities) they concluded that it's likely NSA has been breaking 1024-bit Diffie-Hellman for some time now.

      The good news is, in the time since this research was originally published, the major browser vendors (IE, Chrome, and Firefox) have removed support for 512-bit Diffie-Hellman, addressing the biggest vulnerability. However, 1024-bit Diffie-Hellman remains supported for the forseeable future despite its vulnerability to NSA surveillance. In this post, we present some practical tips to protect yourself from the surveillance machine, whether you're using a web browser, an SSH client, or VPN software.

      Disclaimer: This is not a complete guide, and not all software is covered.


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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

OpenStack 10/17/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: Google-Books, litigation, fair-use, copyright law

    • A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that Google's massive effort to scan millions of books for an online library does not violate copyright law, rejecting claims from a group of authors that the project illegally deprives them of revenue.

      The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected infringement claims from the Authors Guild and several individual writers, and found that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law.

    • Google argued that the effort would actually boost book sales by making it easier for readers to find works, while introducing them to books they might not otherwise have seen.

      A lawyer for the authors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

      Google had said it could face billions of dollars in potential damages if the authors prevailed.

      Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who oversaw the case at the lower court level, dismissed the litigation in 2013, prompting the authors' appeal.

      Chin found Google's scanning of tens of millions of books and posting "snippets" online constituted "fair use" under U.S. copyright law.

      A unanimous three-judge appeals panel said the case "tests the boundaries of fair use," but found Google's practices were ultimately allowed under the law.

      "Google’s division of the page into tiny snippets is designed to show the searcher just enough context surrounding the searched term to help her evaluate whether the book falls within the scope of her interest (without revealing so much as to threaten the author’s copyright interests)," Circuit Judge Pierre Leval wrote for the court.

    • The 2nd Circuit had previously rejected a similar lawsuit from the Authors Guild in June 2014 against a consortium of universities and research libraries that built a searchable online database of millions of scanned works.

      The case is Authors Guild v. Google Inc, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-4829.


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

Monday, October 12, 2015

OpenStack 10/13/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, EU, data privacy, litigation

    • On Tuesday, the European court of justice, Europe’s supreme court, lobbed a grenade into the cosy, quasi-monopolistic world of the giant American internet companies.

      It did so by declaring invalid a decision made by the European commission in 2000 that US companies complying with its “safe harbour privacy principles” would be allowed to transfer personal data from the EU to the US.

      This judgment may not strike you as a big deal. You may also think that it has nothing to do with you.

      Wrong on both counts, but to see why, some background might be useful. The key thing to understand is that European and American views about the protection of personal data are radically different. We Europeans are very hot on it, whereas our American friends are – how shall I put it? – more relaxed.

    • Given that personal data constitutes the fuel on which internet companies such as Google and Facebook run, this meant that their exponential growth in the US market was greatly facilitated by that country’s tolerant data-protection laws. Once these companies embarked on global expansion, however, things got stickier. It was clear that the exploitation of personal data that is the core business of these outfits would be more difficult in Europe, especially given that their cloud-computing architectures involved constantly shuttling their users’ data between server farms in different parts of the world.

      Since Europe is a big market and millions of its citizens wished to use Facebook et al, the European commission obligingly came up with the “safe harbour” idea, which allowed companies complying with its seven principles to process the personal data of European citizens. The circle having been thus neatly squared, Facebook and friends continued merrily on their progress towards world domination. But then in the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden broke cover and revealed what really goes on in the mysterious world of cloud computing.

      At which point, an Austrian Facebook user, one Maximilian Schrems, realising that some or all of the data he had entrusted to Facebook was being transferred from its Irish subsidiary to servers in the United States, lodged a complaint with the Irish data protection commissioner. Schrems argued that, in the light of the Snowden revelations, the law and practice of the United States did not offer sufficient protection against surveillance of the data transferred to that country by the government.

    • The Irish data commissioner rejected the complaint on the grounds that the European commission’s safe harbour decision meant that the US ensured an adequate level of protection of Schrems’s personal data. Schrems disagreed, the case went to the Irish high court and thence to the European court of justice. On Tuesday, the court decided that the safe harbour agreement was invalid. At which point the balloon went up.

      “This is,” writes Professor Lorna Woods, an expert on these matters, “a judgment with very far-reaching implications, not just for governments but for companies the business model of which is based on data flows. It reiterates the significance of data protection as a human right and underlines that protection must be at a high level.”

    • This is classic lawyerly understatement. My hunch is that if you were to visit the legal departments of many internet companies today you would find people changing their underpants at regular intervals. For the big names of the search and social media worlds this is a nightmare scenario.

      For those of us who take a more detached view of their activities, however, it is an encouraging development. For one thing, it provides yet another confirmation of the sterling service that Snowden has rendered to civil society. His revelations have prompted a wide-ranging reassessment of where our dependence on networking technology has taken us and stimulated some long-overdue thinking about how we might reassert some measure of democratic control over that technology. Snowden has forced us into having conversations that we needed to have.

      Although his revelations are primarily about government surveillance, they also indirectly highlight the symbiotic relationship between the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ on the one hand and the giant internet companies on the other. For, in the end, both the intelligence agencies and the tech companies are in the same business, namely surveillance.

    • And both groups, oddly enough, provide the same kind of justification for what they do: that their surveillance is both necessary (for national security in the case of governments, for economic viability in the case of the companies) and conducted within the law. We need to test both justifications and the great thing about the European court of justice judgment is that it starts us off on that conversation.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

OpenStack 10/10/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, encryption, Obama

    • After months of deliberation, the Obama administration has made a long-awaited decision on the thorny issue of how to deal with encrypted communications: It will not — for now — call for legislation requiring companies to decode messages for law enforcement.

      Rather, the administration will continue trying to persuade companies that have moved to encrypt their customers’ data to create a way for the government to still peer into people’s data when needed for criminal or terrorism investigations.

      “The administration has decided not to seek a legislative remedy now, but it makes sense to continue the conversations with industry,” FBI Director James B. Comey said at a Senate hearing Thursday of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

    • To Amie Stepanovich, the U.S. policy manager for Access, one of the groups signing the petition, the status quo isn’t good enough. “It’s really crucial that even if the government is not pursuing legislation, it’s also not pursuing policies that will weaken security through other methods,” she said.

      The FBI and Justice Department have been talking with tech companies for months. On Thursday, Comey said the conversations have been “increasingly productive.” He added: “People have stripped out a lot of the venom.”

      He said the tech executives “are all people who care about the safety of America and also care about privacy and civil liberties.”

      Comey said the issue afflicts not just federal law enforcement but also state and local agencies investigating child kidnappings and car crashes — “cops and sheriffs . . . [who are] increasingly encountering devices they can’t open with a search warrant.”

    • The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting Oct. 1.

      “As the president has said, the United States will work to ensure that malicious actors can be held to account — without weakening our commitment to strong encryption,” National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh said. “As part of those efforts, we are actively engaged with private companies to ensure they understand the public safety and national security risks that result from malicious actors’ use of their encrypted products and services.”

      But privacy advocates are concerned that the administration’s definition of strong encryption also could include a system in which a company holds a decryption key or can retrieve unencrypted communications from its servers for law enforcement.

      “The government should not erode the security of our devices or applications, pressure companies to keep and allow government access to our data, mandate implementation of vulnerabilities or backdoors into products, or have disproportionate access to the keys to private data,” said Savecrypto.org, a coalition of industry and privacy groups that has launched a campaign to petition the Obama administration.

    • The decision, which essentially maintains the status quo, underscores the bind the administration is in — balancing competing pressures to help law enforcement and protect consumer privacy.

      The FBI says it is facing an increasing challenge posed by the encryption of communications of criminals, terrorists and spies. A growing number of companies have begun to offer encryption in which the only people who can read a message, for instance, are the person who sent it and the person who received it. Or, in the case of a device, only the device owner has access to the data. In such cases, the companies themselves lack “backdoors” or keys to decrypt the data for government investigators, even when served with search warrants or intercept orders.

    • One senior administration official said the administration thinks it’s making enough progress with companies that seeking legislation now is unnecessary. “We feel optimistic,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. “We don’t think it’s a lost cause at this point.”

      Legislation, said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), is not a realistic option given the current political climate. He said he made a recent trip to Silicon Valley to talk to Twitter, Facebook and Google. “They quite uniformly are opposed to any mandate or pressure — and more than that, they don’t want to be asked to come up with a solution,” Schiff said.

      Law enforcement officials know that legislation is a tough sell now. But, one senior official stressed, “it’s still going to be in the mix.”

      On the other side of the debate, technology, diplomatic and commerce agencies were pressing for an outright statement by Obama to disavow a legislative mandate on companies. But their position did not prevail.

    • Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, said absent any new laws, either in the United States or abroad, “companies are in the driver’s seat.” He said that if another country tried to require companies to retain an ability to decrypt communications, “I suspect many tech companies would try to pull out.”
  • Tags: economic-warfare, TPP, agreement-texts

    • Offering a first glimpse of the secret 12-nation “trade” deal in its final form—and fodder for its growing ranks of opponents—WikiLeaks on Friday published the final negotiated text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)’s Intellectual Property Rights chapter, confirming that the pro-corporate pact would harm freedom of expression by bolstering monopolies while and injure public health by blocking patient access to lifesaving medicines.

      The document is dated October 5, the same day it was announced in Atlanta, Georgia that the member states to the treaty had reached an accord after more than five years of negotiations.

      Aside from the WikiLeaks publication, the vast majority of the mammoth deal’s contents are still being withheld from the public—which a WikiLeaks press statement suggests is a strategic move by world leaders to forestall public criticism until after the Canadian election on October 19.

      Initial analyses suggest that many of the chapter’s more troubling provisions, such as broader patent and data protections that pharmaceutical companies use to delay generic competition, have stayed in place since draft versions were leaked in 2014 and 2015.

      Moreover, it codifies a crackdown on freedom of speech with rules allowing widespread internet censorship.

  • "The zombie cookies will allow AOL to “acquire demographic data on users” while simultaneously using their own advertising network to track user browsing history, use pf apps on smartphones and their geo-location coordinates. Earlier this year, ProPublica released a report regarding the advertising company called Turn and their zombie cookies that are used by large tech firms to “come back to life” even after users have deleted them. In the ProPublica report, it was revealed that Turn is “taking advantage of a hidden undeletable number that Verizon uses to monitor customers’ habits on their smartphones and tablets” by respawning those “tracking cookies that users have deleted.” Called unique identifier headers (UIDHs), or perma-cookies, this sneaky monitoring of customers is used “to help marketers create more targeted ads based on their customers’ unique browsing habits.” In 2012, UIDHs were used by Verizon to provide a way for advertisers with “demographic and third-party interest-based segments” to help them deliver “relevant ads” based on mobile devices’ unique identifiers. Shockingly, more than 100 million Verizon customers were affected by this snooping by the corporation, tracking individual customer usage and reporting the findings to the federal government and advertising corporations."

    Tags: surveillance state, AOL, Verizon, Turn, zombie-cookies

    • America Online (AOL) will be resurrecting Verizon’s zombie cookies because they are fabulous data-trackers that cannot be “killed”.

      AOL wants to boost their ad revenue regardless of the infringement on customer privacy they pose and the enabling of hacker attacks they can facilitate.


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

Thursday, October 08, 2015

OpenStack 10/08/2015 (p.m.)


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

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

OpenStack 10/07/2015 (a.m.)

  • Another take on it from EFF: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/10/europes-court-justice-nsa-surveilance Expected since the Court's Advocate General released an opinion last week, presaging today's opinion.  Very big bucks involved behind the scenes because removing U.S.-based internet companies from the scene in the E.U. would pave the way for growth of E.U.-based companies.  The way forward for the U.S. companies is even more dicey because of a case now pending in the U.S.  The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is about to decide a related case in which Microsoft was ordered by the lower court to produce email records stored on a server in Ireland. . Should the Second Circuit uphold the order and the Supreme Court deny review, then under the principles announced today by the Court in the E.U., no U.S.-based company could ever be allowed to have "possession, custody, or control" of the data of E.U. citizens. You can bet that the E.U. case will weigh heavily in the Second Circuit's deliberations.  The E.U. decision is by far and away the largest legal event yet flowing out of the Edward Snowden disclosures, tectonic in scale. Up to now, Congress has succeeded in confining all NSA reforms to apply only to U.S. citizens. But now the large U.S. internet companies, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Dropbox, etc., face the loss of all Europe as a market. Congress *will* be forced by their lobbying power to extend privacy protections to "non-U.S. persons."  Thank you again, Edward Snowden.

    Tags: surveillance state, NSA-reform, EUCJ, litigation, safe-harbor

    • Europe’s highest court on Tuesday struck down an international agreement that allowed companies to move digital information like people’s web search histories and social media updates between the European Union and the United States. The decision left the international operations of companies like Google and Facebook in a sort of legal limbo even as their services continued working as usual.

      The ruling, by the European Court of Justice, said the so-called safe harbor agreement was flawed because it allowed American government authorities to gain routine access to Europeans’ online information. The court said leaks from Edward J. Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency, made it clear that American intelligence agencies had almost unfettered access to the data, infringing on Europeans’ rights to privacy.

      The court said data protection regulators in each of the European Union’s 28 countries should have oversight over how companies collect and use online information of their countries’ citizens. European countries have widely varying stances towards privacy.

    • Data protection advocates hailed the ruling. Industry executives and trade groups, though, said the decision left a huge amount of uncertainty for big companies, many of which rely on the easy flow of data for lucrative businesses like online advertising. They called on the European Commission to complete a new safe harbor agreement with the United States, a deal that has been negotiated for more than two years and could limit the fallout from the court’s decision.
    • Some European officials and many of the big technology companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, tried to play down the impact of the ruling. The companies kept their services running, saying that other agreements with the European Union should provide an adequate legal foundation.

      But those other agreements are now expected to be examined and questioned by some of Europe’s national privacy watchdogs. The potential inquiries could make it hard for companies to transfer Europeans’ information overseas under the current data arrangements. And the ruling appeared to leave smaller companies with fewer legal resources vulnerable to potential privacy violations.

    • “We can’t assume that anything is now safe,” Brian Hengesbaugh, a privacy lawyer with Baker & McKenzie in Chicago who helped to negotiate the original safe harbor agreement. “The ruling is so sweepingly broad that any mechanism used to transfer data from Europe could be under threat.”

      At issue is the sort of personal data that people create when they post something on Facebook or other social media; when they do web searches on Google; or when they order products or buy movies from Amazon or Apple. Such data is hugely valuable to companies, which use it in a broad range of ways, including tailoring advertisements to individuals and promoting products or services based on users’ online activities.

      The data-transfer ruling does not apply solely to tech companies. It also affects any organization with international operations, such as when a company has employees in more than one region and needs to transfer payroll information or allow workers to manage their employee benefits online.

    • But it was unclear how bulletproof those treaties would be under the new ruling, which cannot be appealed and went into effect immediately. Europe’s privacy watchdogs, for example, remain divided over how to police American tech companies.

      France and Germany, where companies like Facebook and Google have huge numbers of users and have already been subject to other privacy rulings, are among the countries that have sought more aggressive protections for their citizens’ personal data. Britain and Ireland, among others, have been supportive of Safe Harbor, and many large American tech companies have set up overseas headquarters in Ireland.

    • “For those who are willing to take on big companies, this ruling will have empowered them to act,” said Ot van Daalen, a Dutch privacy lawyer at Project Moore, who has been a vocal advocate for stricter data protection rules.

      The safe harbor agreement has been in place since 2000, enabling American tech companies to compile data generated by their European clients in web searches, social media posts and other online activities.


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