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Older News Picks  
  • Q. & A.: Edward Snowden Speaks to Peter Maass
  • Tuesday, August 13 2013 @ 04:09 PM EDT
  • Peter Maass: Why did you seek out Laura and Glenn, rather than journalists from major American news outlets (N.Y.T., W.P., W.S.J. etc.)? In particular, why Laura, a documentary filmmaker?

    Edward Snowden: After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism. From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period.

    Laura and Glenn are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures. She had demonstrated the courage, personal experience and skill needed to handle what is probably the most dangerous assignment any journalist can be given — reporting on the secret misdeeds of the most powerful government in the world — making her an obvious choice. - New York Times

  • Watch Perseid Meteor Shower Live
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 09:17 PM EDT

    Watch the Great Perseid Meteor Shower live on Slooh. We will pull a live feed from our all-sky camera located on the top of Mt. Teide in the Canary Islands - over 8,000 feet up where skies are nice and dark. - Slooh Space Camera

  • PortKit: UX Metaphor Equivalents for iOS & Android
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 09:09 PM EDT
  • PortKit shows you each Cocoa UI Element in iOS 6 / iOS 7 and its Android widget version, side by side, so you can compare and find the correct equivalent when porting an app. We are a Brisbane based company that develops iPhone & iPad Apps and Android Applications and we wanted a simple way to visualise, reference and compare UI elements, and have quick access to documentation and the respective naming conventions. - Kintek

  • Obama's White House Loses Top IP Czar
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 07:51 PM EDT
  • Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for the White House, is stepping down. Appointed in 2009, she was responsible for working with various government agencies and helping strategize policy and action on the IP front. She was given the position with widespread support from the entertainment industry ... - Hollywood Reporter

  • Every Important Person In Bitcoin Just Got Subpoenaed By New York's Financial Regulator
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 07:37 PM EDT
  • “We believe that – for a number of reasons – putting in place appropriate regulatory safeguards for virtual currencies will be beneficial to the long-term strength of the virtual currency industry,” said NYSDFS superintendent Benjamin Lawsky in a statement.

    The department is starting out by subpoenaing 22 digital-currency companies and investors to get a lay of the Bitcoin land. They sent letters to the major Bitcoin players asking them to hand over information regarding their money laundering controls, consumer protection practices, source of funding, pitch books (for Bitcoin start-ups) and investment strategies (for Bitcoin investors). The recipients of the subpoenas are nationwide and include everyone on the “people making real money on Bitcoin” list, such as Bitcoin exchanges and processors, “ mining equipment” maker Butterfly Labs, and major investors, such as the Winklevosses, Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz, and Google’s venture fund. (Full list below.) - Kashmir Hill, Forbes

  • Full Text: Holder’s Remarks At American Bar Association
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 07:32 PM EDT
  • It’s imperative that we maximize our resources by focusing on protecting national security; combating violent crime; fighting against financial fraud; and safeguarding the most vulnerable members of our society.

    This means that federal prosecutors cannot – and should not – bring every case or charge every defendant who stands accused of violating federal law. Some issues are best handled at the state or local level....

    As we come together this morning, this same promise must lead us all to acknowledge that – although incarceration has a significant role to play in our justice system – widespread incarceration at the federal, state, and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable. It imposes a significant economic burden – totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone – and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.

    As a nation, we are coldly efficient in our incarceration efforts. While the entire U.S. population has increased by about a third since 1980, the federal prison population has grown at an astonishing rate – by almost 800 percent. It’s still growing – despite the fact that federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity. Even though this country comprises just 5 percent of the world’s population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. - Talking Points Memo

  • First 100 Pages of Aaron Swartz’s Secret Service File Released
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 06:26 PM EDT
  • The heavily redacted documents released today confirm earlier reports that the Secret Service was interested in a “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” that Swartz and others had penned in 2008. In May 2011, a Secret Service agent and a detective from the Cambridge police department interviewed a friend of Swartz and inquired specifically about the political statement. The friend noted that Swartz and his coauthors “believe that the open access movement is a human rights issue.”...

    The government says it’s identified 14,500 pages of documents for release on a rolling basis. It estimates it will take six months to process them.

    [PJ: It appears that there was a snitch in this case. Look at page 97.] - Kevin Poulsen, Wired

  • The NSA Is Commandeering the Internet
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 04:41 PM EDT
  • It turns out that the NSA's domestic and world-wide surveillance apparatus is even more extensive than we thought. Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we've learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it's easier that way.

    I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight....

    This is why you have to fight. When it becomes public that the NSA has been hoovering up all of your users' communications and personal files, what's going to save you in the eyes of those users is whether or not you fought. Fighting will cost you money in the short term, but capitulating will cost you more in the long term. Already companies are taking their data and communications out of the US. - Bruce Schneier, The Atlantic

  • Prenda parties ordered to pay more than $63K to Doe Defendants in Minnesota
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 04:34 PM EDT
  • The last paragraph in this order is worth mentioning: it preemptively kills any Prenda’s trolling lawsuit in Minnesota’s Hennepin County (if the gang dares to return to trolling, which is highly unlikely).

    Plaintiff Guava LLC, Michael K. Dugas, Esq., Alpha Law Firm LLC and any of their agents, officers, directors, employees, representatives, affiliates, and successors, are hereby enjoined from filing any future civil action against the John Does or the ISPs, without first posting a bond with the Court in the amount of $10,000, or such other amount as the Court deems appropriate, and without first obtaining a certificate of authority from the Minnesota Secretary of State. - FightCopyrightTrolls

  • Cops more likely to kill you than Terrorists
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 04:28 PM EDT
  • The next time you hear some whining coward (by that, I mean the majority of the American public) apologizing for the loss of our civil liberties in the name of “safety” from “terrorism,” remind them of this fact: You are eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist. (source)

    It is a little more nuanced than that, but the point is well taken. (nuance [PDF]) - Marc J. Randazza, Legal Satyricon

  • Federal Circuit: Preliminary Injunctions More Available in Trade Secret Than Patent Cases
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 04:14 PM EDT
  • Core Labs v. Spectrum Tracer Services (Fed. Cir. 2013) ...

    Patent plaintiffs have been having some difficulty proving irreparable harm at the preliminary injunction stage. Here, however, the Core Labs requested the PI as a mechanism to support its Texas state law trade secret rights. Under Texas state law, a defendant's possession of a plaintiffs' trade secret rights is sufficient to create a presumption of irreparable harm. In general, irreparable harm tends to be easier to show in trade secret cases as compared with patent cases since information secrecy is so difficult regain once it is lost. - Patently O

  • A Robust Social Graph of the United States
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 04:09 PM EDT
  • Some years ago, to wit, at the beginning of 1995 we were having a debate at the Harvard Law School about Public Key Encryption. Two on two. On one side Jamie Gorelick, then the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, and Stewart Baker, then as now at Steptoe & Johnson when he isn't in the United States government making horrendous social policy. On the other side, Danny Weitzner, now in the White House, and me. And we spent the afternoon talking back and forth about whether we should have to escrow our keys with the United States government, whether the clipper chip was going to work and many other very interesting subjects now as obsolete as Babylonia. And after it was all over, we walked across the Harvard campus for dinner at the Harvard Faculty Club and on the way across the campus Jamie Gorelick said to me "Eben, on the basis of nothing more than your public statements this afternoon I have enough to order the interception of your telephone conversations." In 1995 that was a joke. It was a joke in bad taste when told to a citizen by an official of the United States Justice Department. But it was a joke. And we all laughed because everybody knew you couldn't do that.

    So we ate our dinner, and the table got cleared and all the plates went away, and the port and walnuts got scattered around, and Stewart Baker looked up and said "alright, we'll let our hair down", and he had none then and he has none now, but "we'll let our hair down" Stewart said, "we're not going to prosecute your client Mr Zimmerman. We've spent decades in a holding action against Public Key Encryption it's worked pretty well but it's almost over now, we're gonna let it happen." And then he looked around the table and he said, "but nobody here cares about anonymity do they?" A cold chill went up my spine.

    And I thought, "OK, Stewart, I understand how it is. You're going to let there be Public Key Encryption because the bankers are going to need it. And you're going to spend the next 20 years trying to stop people from being anonymous ever again, and I'm going to spend those 20 years trying to stop you." So far I must say from my friend Mr. Baker has been doing better than I had hoped, and I have been doing even worse than I had feared. Partly because of the thug in a hoodie, and partly for other reasons. We are on the verge of the elimination of the human right to be alone. We are on the verge of the elimination of the human right to do your own thinking, in your own place, in your own way without anybody knowing. Somebody in this room just proved a couple of minutes ago that if he shops at a particular web-store using one browser, he gets a different price than on the other. Because one of the browsers is linked to his browsing history. Prices, offers, commodities, opportunities, are now being based upon the data mining of everything. A senior government official in this government said to me after the United States changed its rules about how long they keep information on everybody about whom nothing is suspected - you all do know about that right? Rainy Wednesday on the 21st of March, long after the close of business, Department of Justice and the DNI, that's the Director of National Intelligence, put out a joint press release announcing minor changes in the Ashcroft rules, including a minor change that says that all personally identifiable information in government databases at the National Center for Counter-Terrorism that are based around people of whom nothing is suspected, will no longer be retained as under the Ashcroft rules for a maximum of 180 days, the maximum has now been changed to 5 years. Which is infinity.

    I told my students in my classroom, the only reason they said 5 years was they couldn't get the sideways eight into the font for the press release, so they used an approximation. So I was talking to a senior government official of this government about that outcome and he said well you know we've come to realize that we need a robust social graph of the United States. That's how we're going to connect new information to old information. I said let's just talk about the constitutional implications of this for a moment. You're talking about taking us from the society we have always known, which we quaintly refer to as a free society, to a society in which the United States government keeps a list of everybody every American knows. So if you're going to take us from what we used to call a free society to a society in which the US government keeps a list of everybody every American knows, what should be the constitutional procedure for doing this? Should we have, for example, a law? He just laughed. Because of course they didn't need a law. They did it with a press release on a rainy Wednesday night after everybody went home, and you live there now. - Eben Moglen, Innovation Under Austerity, SFLC

  • Judge rules New York police's 'stop and frisk' tactics unconstitutional
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 10:34 AM EDT
  • The New York City Police Department's controversial "stop and frisk" crime-fighting tactics violate the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

    U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said the city police adopted a policy of "indirect racial profiling" by targeting racially defined groups for stops.

    The practice resulted in disproportionate, discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics that the city's highest officials "turned a blind eye" toward.

    "No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life," Scheindlin wrote in her opinion. - Bernard Vaughan, Reuters

  • Spy access to NZ used as bargaining tool
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 09:22 AM EDT
  • Lawyers acting for Southern Cross Cable quoted a former CIA and NSA director who urged the Senate to "exploit" access to data for an intelligence edge....

    The FCC was told the number of internet connections passing through the US was dropping....

    Tech Liberty director Thomas Beagle said any use of American services and networks exposed data to being captured by the US.

    But shifting to other countries "will just expose you to surveillance from their national governments".

    "It seems that we now have the choice between taking the time to understand and implement secure encryption or choosing services based on which governments we don't mind spying on us."

    [PJ: And if they retain emails for 5 years, who is to say that they won't be able to read those emails then?] - David Fisher, New Zealand Herald

  • ZTE to sell ZTE Open Firefox OS phone on eBay US and UK
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 08:52 AM EDT
  • ZTE today announced that sales of the ZTE Open Firefox OS phone will start soon on the ZTE store on eBay US and UK. Recently launched with Telefónica in Spain, Venezuela and Colombia, the ZTE Open will now be available for the first time in Orange priced at $79.99 (£59.99) and will be unlocked to allow use on all mobile networks. - ZTE

  • The NSA is turning the internet into a total surveillance system
  • Monday, August 12 2013 @ 08:48 AM EDT
  • According to the New York Times, the NSA is searching the content of virtually every email that comes into or goes out of the United States without a warrant. To accomplish this astonishing invasion of Americans' privacy, the NSA reportedly is making a copy of nearly every international email. It then searches that cloned data, keeping all of the emails containing certain keywords and deleting the rest – all in a matter of seconds.

    If you emailed a friend, family member or colleague overseas today (or if, from abroad, you emailed someone in the US), chances are that the NSA made a copy of that email and searched it for suspicious information.

    The NSA appears to believe this general monitoring of our electronic communications is justified because the entire process takes, in one official's words, "a small number of seconds". Translation: the NSA thinks it can intercept and then read Americans' emails so long as the intrusion is swift, efficient and silent.

    That is not how the fourth amendment works.

    [PJ: It raises another question: is the NSA, then, counting as "touching", as they put it, the emails they search but don't retain? Because that's a lot of "touching". Do they view the emails searched by keywords but not retained "untouched"?] - Alexander Abdo and Patrick Toomey, The Guardian

  • NSA claims it 'touches' only 1.6 percent of Internet traffic
  • Sunday, August 11 2013 @ 11:25 PM EDT
  • Just hours after President Obama defended the National Security Agency's activities, the foreign surveillance agency released a document in which it claims to review only a small faction of Internet traffic on a daily basis.

    In a seven-page paper [PDF - NASA website] released late Friday titled "The National Security Agency: Missions, Authorities, Oversight and Partnerships", the agency asserts that the amount of data it collects from the global communications apparatus on a daily basis is comparable in size to a dime placed on a basketball court.

    [PJ: That is the same as saying they are *collecting* a basketball court full of data every day. And the geek who sent me the news pick pointed out something else: "Someone who thinks a basketball court can only hold 62.5 dimes has no business signing documents. The reciprocal of 0.016 (1.6 percent) is 62.5. One dime at 1.6 percent would mean a basket ball court could hold 62+ dimes, A modern dime is 0.705 inches in diameter (17.91 millimeters). Inflating that to 64 dimes gives a square 5.64 inches on a side or 31.8096 square inches.

    "While basketball courts vary in size (NBA 94 feet x 50 feet, high school court 84 feet x 50 feet, elementary school 74 feet x 42 feet) we can use the NBA size as a comparison. At a 144 square inches a square foot (12 inches x 12 inches) times 94 x 50 (4700 square feet) we get 676,800 square inches. Divide that by the 31.8096 and we get a ratio of the error in the unsigned statement. The statement was off by a factor of 21,277 and that's a lot of dimes."] - Steven Musil, CNET

  • Innovation under Austerity (transcript)
  • Sunday, August 11 2013 @ 10:37 PM EDT
  • "I wanna do this it would be neat." Which is the primary source of the innovation which drove all of the world's great economic expansion in the last 10 years. All of it. Trillions of dollars of electronic commerce. Those of you old enough to remember when fighting Public Key Encry ption tooth and nail, was the United States government's policy will remember how hard they fought, to prohibit 3.8 trillion dollars worth of electronic commerce from coming into existence in the world.

    We were supposedly proponents of nuclear terrorism and pedophilia in the early 1990s, and all the money that they earned in campaign donations and private equity profits and all the rest of it, is owing to the globalization of commerce we made possible, with the technology they wanted to send our clients to jail for making. That demonstrates neatly I think, to the next generation of policy-makers how thoroughly their adherence to the received wisdom is likely to contribute to the death spiral they now fear they're going to get into. And it should embolden us to point out once again that the way innovation really happens is that you provide young people with opportunities to create on an infrastructure which allows them to hack the real world, and share the results. - Eben Moglen, Innovation Under Austerity

  • FreedomBox: Enabling private conversations online
  • Sunday, August 11 2013 @ 10:14 PM EDT
  • We're building software for smart devices whose engineered purpose is to work together to facilitate free communication among people, safely and securely, beyond the ambition of the strongest power to penetrate. They can make freedom of thought and information a permanent, ineradicable feature of the net that holds our souls.
    Eben Moglen - FreedomBox Foundation

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