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Older News Picks  
  • Bezos' Washington Post deal comes as tech focuses on news business
  • Saturday, August 10 2013 @ 09:38 AM EDT
  • Newspapers, because they still have high-quality writers, should be able to attract smart contributors who can extend the networking of writing and reporting. But he knows many newspapers are still leery of user-generated content.

    "It’s what every newspaper should have done," Herman said. "And they all missed the boat."

    [PJ: I don't think that is enough. There has to be a way to replace the money from ads, particularly classified ads, which used to be the bread and butter that funded news in print. News can't be self-sustaining, because people won't pay for it, particularly not for in-depth reporting on stories they need to know but don't find irresistable. And that's where Bezos can work some magic, I think.] - Chris O'Brien, L.A. Times

  • Data, meet spies: The unfinished state of Web crypto
  • Saturday, August 10 2013 @ 08:47 AM EDT
  • A survey of major Web companies shows that only Google has configured its Web servers to support forward secrecy by default.

    Forward secrecy means an organization with the means to tap into Tier 1 Internet providers "can't decrypt previously recorded traffic," says Adam Langley, a software engineer at Google. "Forward security means you can't go back in time." ...

    Gamma International, which sells interception gear to governments, boasts in its marketing literature (PDF) that its FinFisher targets Web encryption....

    A recent survey by Netcraft found that browser support for forward secrecy "varied significantly." Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the survey found, "does particularly poorly" and is generally unable to make a fully secure connection when connecting to Web sites that use more mainstream ciphers for forward secrecy.

    Netcraft said that while Apple's Safari browser supports many ciphers used for forward secrecy, sometimes it will default to a less secure channel. "Web servers respecting the browser's preferences will end up selecting a non-[forward secret] cipher suite," even if the Web server itself would prefer otherwise, Netcraft said. Firefox, Opera, and Google's Chrome browser performed better. - Declan McCullagh, CNET

  • NSA 'secret backdoor' paved way to U.S. phone, e-mail snooping
  • Saturday, August 10 2013 @ 08:38 AM EDT
  • Another directive signed by Attorney General Eric Holder indicates the NSA can keep encrypted data it intercepts forever -- giving its supercomputers plenty of time in the future to attempt a brute force attack on master encryption keys it's unable to penetrate today. Holder secretly authorized the NSA to retain domestic encrypted data "for a period sufficient to allow thorough exploitation." - Declan McCullagh, CNET

  • NSA to Axe 90 Percent of System Administrators, Adopt Automation Instead
  • Saturday, August 10 2013 @ 08:32 AM EDT
  • The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) said it will get rid of a majority of its system administrators in favor of automation. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, said that the agency will cut 90 percent of its system administrators and put automation in their place. ...The NSA said that automation was an idea presented before the Snowden fiasco, but now that that has happened, it's working hard to roll it out and eliminate human workers that could snitch about private surveillance programs.

    "At the end of the day it's about people and trust," said Alexander. "No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies. There were no mistakes like that at all." - Tiffany Kaiser, Daily Tech

  • Lavabit chief predicts 'long fight' with feds (Q&A)
  • Saturday, August 10 2013 @ 08:14 AM EDT
  • Q: What's the key issue here? Why did you shut down Lavabit?

    Levison: For me it wasn't about protecting a single user, but protecting the privacy of all my users, coupled with the fact that I wasn't able to discuss it publicly. I believe that people have the right to know what their government is doing. I had an issue with me doing what they wanted me to do without them disclosing it. We've had a couple of dozen court orders served to us over the past 10 years, but they've never crossed the line...

    Q: Until now?

    Levison: I can neither confirm nor deny "until now." Are you familiar with the case of Aaron Swartz, familiar with the accusations of prosecutorial misconduct? There may be parallels between that case and this. What's worse is that I can't tell you what that abuse was.... Just the idea of secret laws, so to speak, bothers me tremendously. That should almost be a constitutional change. We've shown that some of our most important freedoms can't be trusted to Congress, they need to be placed in the Constitution. Going beyond that, as an Internet service provider, there needs to be a more clear definition of our protections.

    Right now, as a third-party litigation, we effectively have no rights. There's no legal framework that we can fight with or against anything that is unjust. They're abusing their secrecy to hide their surveillance methods.

    I think that there's a lot more that will come out, and that needs to come out. - Seth Rosenblatt, CNET News

  • Apple wins U.S. ban on older Samsung devices in mixed ruling
  • Saturday, August 10 2013 @ 08:02 AM EDT
  • In a mixed ruling Friday, the ITC said some of Samsung's older devices infringe on two of Apple's patents, while finding no violations in four other patents....

    Samsung spokesman Adam Yates issued the following statement over the decision:

    We are disappointed that the ITC has issued an exclusion order based on two of Apple's patents. However, Apple has been stopped from trying to use its overbroad design patents to achieve a monopoly on rectangles and rounded corners. The proper focus for the smartphone industry is not a global war in the courts, but fair competition in the marketplace. Samsung will continue to launch many innovative products, and we have already taken measures to ensure that all of our products will continue to be available in the United States. - Josh Lowensohn, CNET

  • Judge scolds Apple for lack of remorse in e-book antitrust case
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 09:49 PM EDT
  • A federal judge took Apple to task on Friday for showing no contrition about potentially defrauding its customers of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    "None of the publishers nor Apple have expressed any remorse" about colluding to fix electronic book prices in 2010, said District Judge Denise Cote, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of New York. "They are, in a word, unrepentant." - Joab Jackson, PCWorld

  • ITC Orders Import Ban on Some Samsung Devices
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 06:59 PM EDT
  • The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday ordered a ban on the import and sale of some Samsung Electronics Co. mobile devices after finding they infringed on two Apple Inc. patents.

    The trade body, however, rejected other claims made by Apple and found that Samsung committed no violations with respect to four other patents held by the iPhone maker.

    As part of its findings, the ITC overturned an administrative judge's earlier finding that Samsung infringed a potentially important Apple patent on phone design.

    The ITC said Samsung can continue to import and sell its infringing devices during a two-month period in which the Obama administration can review Friday's order. - Wall St. Journal

  • Obama sets plans to improve privacy in NSA surveillance
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 06:56 PM EDT
  • Opening a news conference with a prepared statement, Obama outlined "specific steps that we're going to be taking very shortly to move the debate forward."

    They include:...

    Appointment of a new high-level group of outside experts "to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies," Obama said. "We need new thinking for a new era."

    The advisory group will release an interim report within 60 days and a full report by the end of the year, he said. - USA Today

  • Obama Addresses Surveillance and National Security in News Conference
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 04:44 PM EDT
  • The Obama administration on Friday released documents related to the legal basis for surveillance efforts. The document below, the first of two expected, is the Justice Department’s legal memorandum explaining why the government believes it is lawful under a provision of the Patriot Act known as Section 215 for the National Security Agency to collect and store logs of every phone call dialed or received in the United States.

    Read the document. - Michael D. Shear, N.Y. Times

  • Obama Offers Plan Meant to Ease Concerns on Surveillance
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 04:41 PM EDT
  • “It’s right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives,” Mr. Obama said, adding: “It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well.”

    Among other steps, Mr. Obama announced the creation of a high-level task force of outside intelligence and civil liberties specialists to advise the government about how to balance security and privacy as computer technology makes it possible to gather ever more information about people’s private lives.

    The president also threw his administration’s support behind a proposal to change the procedures of the secret court that approves electronic spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to make its deliberations more adversarial. - Charlie Savage and Michael D. Shear, N.Y. Times

  • LibrePlanet 2013
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 04:17 PM EDT
  • The videos on this site were recorded during LibrePlanet 2013. LibrePlanet is the annual conference of the Free Software Foundation.

    This site is running MediaGoblin, an extraordinarily great piece of media hosting software. - LibrePlanet

  • Apple faces major day in court on patents and e-books
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 03:07 PM EDT
  • First, the company will be squaring off against the Justice Department in a hearing about possible remedies for the company’s practices in developing its e-book business, which a judge recently ruled were in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act....

    Second, the ITC will be ruling on a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Apple against Samsung. The ruling may include a decision to levy an import ban on some Samsung products, if the panel finds that the products are, in fact, infringing upon Apple’s intellectual property....

    On a related note, Apple and Samsung are also appearing before an appeals court in Washington, D.C., where Apple is arguing that a lower court shouldn’t have allowed Samsung to continue selling devices that were found to have infringed Apple’s patents. - Blair Hanley Frank, GeekWire

  • Amazon says oops, Chromecast not delayed after all
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 01:29 PM EDT
  • Amazon made the comments after many of its customers reported receiving e-mails containing updated delivery estimate dates of October 17 to 30. The company said it will send new e-mails to buyers with updated shipping information.

    "We are actively fulfilling orders and all customers who placed orders prior to August 7 should receive their orders in the coming weeks," an Amazon spokesman told the Journal in an e-mail. Amazon did not indicate why the erroneous e-mails were sent.

    [PJ: But the website still says, "Usually ships within 2 to 3 months."] - Steven Musil, CNET

  • Asus readying new Transformer and MeMO tablets for rollout later this year
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 01:24 PM EDT
  • Taiwanese PC maker Asus plans to launch new tablets in its Transformer and MeMO Pad lines of Android tablets later this year as it aims to build up its brand in the tablet space alongside the Google Nexus 7 series.

    Asus's CEO Jerry Shen made the comments on Friday in an earnings call that also presented slides detailing the company's product roadmap. The slides mentioned product names including "MeMO Pad HD 8", "MeMOFone HD 5", and "PadFone mini", suggesting the company is planning new tablets at varying sizes. - PCWorld

  • Asus kills its line of Windows RT tablets
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 01:22 PM EDT
  • Asustek CEO Jerry Shen confirmed today that his company will no longer produce Windows RT tablets.

    "It's not only our opinion; the industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful," Shen told the Wall Street Journal Friday at a Taipei earnings conference. - Matt Hamblen, ComputerWorld

  • Acer to expand its Android and Chromebook lineup, offer fewer Windows devices
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 01:19 PM EDT
  • Historically, most of Acer's device lineup has been focused on Windows products -- it's the fourth-largest PC maker, after all -- but a less-than-pleasant second quarter seems to have given the company reason to switch its strategy up a bit. According to the Wall Street Journal, Acer is looking into expanding its Google-centric efforts; although it will continue a strong partnership with Microsoft, the Taiwanese manufacturer aims to offer more Chromebooks and Android products, while pushing fewer laptops or tablets sporting Win8.

    [PJ: I dropped my $199 Acer C7 on to the city sidewalk today. Nothing happened to it. It works like a charm. I enjoy it a lot.] - Brad Molen, Engadget

  • Apple’s Tim Cook, tech execs meet with Barack Obama to talk surveillance
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 04:59 AM EDT
  • President Barack Obama hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders on Thursday for a closed-door meeting about government surveillance, sources tell POLITICO.

    The session, which Obama attended himself, followed a similar gathering earlier this week between top administration officials, tech-industry lobbyists and leading privacy hawks, the sources said. Those earlier, off-the-record discussions centered on the controversy surrounding the NSA as well as commercial privacy issues such as online tracking of consumers. - Tony Romm, Politico

  • Silent Circle - Our Unique Story
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 04:56 AM EDT
  • Silent Circle’s team is a unique and eclectic mix of world-renowned cryptographers, Silicon Valley software engineers, German VoIP engineers, Latvian system analysts and former US Navy SEALs & British Special Air Service (SAS) security experts.

    We are Silent Circle: a melting pot of talent founded upon a shared vision of bringing private and secure communications to the citizens of the world; an off-shore, international company with the goal of building the world’s first commercial custom-built encrypted communications network. This goal has included building our own security software suite and our own e-commerce platform, plus the creation of databases, security measures and internal software programs from the ground up, all with one fundamental principle in mind: SECURITY. We are putting a stake in the ground for your right to have private conversations and to conduct business without fear of compromise.

    [PJ: That is the promise Silent Circle just broke. Lavabit is suing. Silent Circle just says that encryption for email was a good idea at the time, but now things are different so they have changed their minds, despite being, they claim, an offshore company.] - Silent Circle

  • Silent Circle follows Lavabit in shuttering encrypted e-mail
  • Friday, August 09 2013 @ 04:48 AM EDT
  • "We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now," the company explained in its post. "We'd considered phasing the service out, continuing service for existing customers, and a variety of other things up until today. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and with your safety we decided that the worst decision is always no decision."

    The company said it would continue to support its Silent Phone, Silent Text, and its Silent Eyes teleconferencing platform, assuring users it collects no encrypted data or metadata about conversations. - Steven Musil, CNET

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