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Paul Merrell

Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room Shows The Importance Of Privacy Defense In Depth - 0 views

  • Yesterday, news broke that Google has been stealth downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google. Effectively, this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people eavesdropped on. In official statements, Google shrugged off the practice with what amounts to “we can do that”.It looked like just another bug report. "When I start Chromium, it downloads something." Followed by strange status information that notably included the lines "Microphone: Yes" and "Audio Capture Allowed: Yes".
  • Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself – had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room.A brief explanation of the Open-source / Free-software philosophy is needed here. When you’re installing a version of GNU/Linux like Debian or Ubuntu onto a fresh computer, thousands of really smart people have analyzed every line of human-readable source code before that operating system was built into computer-executable binary code, to make it common and open knowledge what the machine actually does instead of trusting corporate statements on what it’s supposed to be doing. Therefore, you don’t install black boxes onto a Debian or Ubuntu system; you use software repositories that have gone through this source-code audit-then-build process. Maintainers of operating systems like Debian and Ubuntu use many so-called “upstreams” of source code to build the final product.Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome, had abused its position as trusted upstream to insert lines of source code that bypassed this audit-then-build process, and which downloaded and installed a black box of unverifiable executable code directly onto computers, essentially rendering them compromised. We don’t know and can’t know what this black box does. But we see reports that the microphone has been activated, and that Chromium considers audio capture permitted.
  • This was supposedly to enable the “Ok, Google” behavior – that when you say certain words, a search function is activated. Certainly a useful feature. Certainly something that enables eavesdropping of every conversation in the entire room, too.Obviously, your own computer isn’t the one to analyze the actual search command. Google’s servers do. Which means that your computer had been stealth configured to send what was being said in your room to somebody else, to a private company in another country, without your consent or knowledge, an audio transmission triggered by… an unknown and unverifiable set of conditions.Google had two responses to this. The first was to introduce a practically-undocumented switch to opt out of this behavior, which is not a fix: the default install will still wiretap your room without your consent, unless you opt out, and more importantly, know that you need to opt out, which is nowhere a reasonable requirement. But the second was more of an official statement following technical discussions on Hacker News and other places. That official statement amounted to three parts (paraphrased, of course):
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  • 1) Yes, we’re downloading and installing a wiretapping black-box to your computer. But we’re not actually activating it. We did take advantage of our position as trusted upstream to stealth-insert code into open-source software that installed this black box onto millions of computers, but we would never abuse the same trust in the same way to insert code that activates the eavesdropping-blackbox we already downloaded and installed onto your computer without your consent or knowledge. You can look at the code as it looks right now to see that the code doesn’t do this right now.2) Yes, Chromium is bypassing the entire source code auditing process by downloading a pre-built black box onto people’s computers. But that’s not something we care about, really. We’re concerned with building Google Chrome, the product from Google. As part of that, we provide the source code for others to package if they like. Anybody who uses our code for their own purpose takes responsibility for it. When this happens in a Debian installation, it is not Google Chrome’s behavior, this is Debian Chromium’s behavior. It’s Debian’s responsibility entirely.3) Yes, we deliberately hid this listening module from the users, but that’s because we consider this behavior to be part of the basic Google Chrome experience. We don’t want to show all modules that we install ourselves.
  • If you think this is an excusable and responsible statement, raise your hand now.Now, it should be noted that this was Chromium, the open-source version of Chrome. If somebody downloads the Google product Google Chrome, as in the prepackaged binary, you don’t even get a theoretical choice. You’re already downloading a black box from a vendor. In Google Chrome, this is all included from the start.This episode highlights the need for hard, not soft, switches to all devices – webcams, microphones – that can be used for surveillance. A software on/off switch for a webcam is no longer enough, a hard shield in front of the lens is required. A software on/off switch for a microphone is no longer enough, a physical switch that breaks its electrical connection is required. That’s how you defend against this in depth.
  • Of course, people were quick to downplay the alarm. “It only listens when you say ‘Ok, Google’.” (Ok, so how does it know to start listening just before I’m about to say ‘Ok, Google?’) “It’s no big deal.” (A company stealth installs an audio listener that listens to every room in the world it can, and transmits audio data to the mothership when it encounters an unknown, possibly individually tailored, list of keywords – and it’s no big deal!?) “You can opt out. It’s in the Terms of Service.” (No. Just no. This is not something that is the slightest amount of permissible just because it’s hidden in legalese.) “It’s opt-in. It won’t really listen unless you check that box.” (Perhaps. We don’t know, Google just downloaded a black box onto my computer. And it may not be the same black box as was downloaded onto yours. )Early last decade, privacy activists practically yelled and screamed that the NSA’s taps of various points of the Internet and telecom networks had the technical potential for enormous abuse against privacy. Everybody else dismissed those points as basically tinfoilhattery – until the Snowden files came out, and it was revealed that precisely everybody involved had abused their technical capability for invasion of privacy as far as was possible.Perhaps it would be wise to not repeat that exact mistake. Nobody, and I really mean nobody, is to be trusted with a technical capability to listen to every room in the world, with listening profiles customizable at the identified-individual level, on the mere basis of “trust us”.
  • Privacy remains your own responsibility.
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    And of course, Google would never succumb to a subpoena requiring it to turn over the audio stream to the NSA. The Tor Browser just keeps looking better and better. https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
Gary Edwards

Skynet rising: Google acquires 512-qubit quantum computer; NSA surveillance to be turne... - 0 views

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    "The ultimate code breakers" If you know anything about encryption, you probably also realize that quantum computers are the secret KEY to unlocking all encrypted files. As I wrote about last year here on Natural News, once quantum computers go into widespread use by the NSA, the CIA, Google, etc., there will be no more secrets kept from the government. All your files - even encrypted files - will be easily opened and read. Until now, most people believed this day was far away. Quantum computing is an "impractical pipe dream," we've been told by scowling scientists and "flat Earth" computer engineers. "It's not possible to build a 512-qubit quantum computer that actually works," they insisted. Don't tell that to Eric Ladizinsky, co-founder and chief scientist of a company called D-Wave. Because Ladizinsky's team has already built a 512-qubit quantum computer. And they're already selling them to wealthy corporations, too. DARPA, Northrup Grumman and Goldman Sachs In case you're wondering where Ladizinsky came from, he's a former employee of Northrup Grumman Space Technology (yes, a weapons manufacturer) where he ran a multi-million-dollar quantum computing research project for none other than DARPA - the same group working on AI-driven armed assault vehicles and battlefield robots to replace human soldiers. .... When groundbreaking new technology is developed by smart people, it almost immediately gets turned into a weapon. Quantum computing will be no different. This technology grants God-like powers to police state governments that seek to dominate and oppress the People.  ..... Google acquires "Skynet" quantum computers from D-Wave According to an article published in Scientific American, Google and NASA have now teamed up to purchase a 512-qubit quantum computer from D-Wave. The computer is called "D-Wave Two" because it's the second generation of the system. The first system was a 128-qubit computer. Gen two
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    Normally, I'd be suspicious of anything published by Infowars because its editors are willing to publish really over the top stuff, but: [i] this is subject matter I've maintained an interest in over the years and I was aware that working quantum computers were imminent; and [ii] the pedigree on this particular information does not trace to Scientific American, as stated in the article. I've known Scientific American to publish at least one soothing and lengthy article on the subject of chlorinated dioxin hazard -- my specialty as a lawyer was litigating against chemical companies that generated dioxin pollution -- that was generated by known closet chemical industry advocates long since discredited and was totally lacking in scientific validity and contrary to established scientific knowledge. So publication in Scientific American doesn't pack a lot of weight with me. But checking the Scientific American linked article, notes that it was reprinted by permission from Nature, a peer-reviewed scientific journal and news organization that I trust much more. That said, the InfoWars version is a rewrite that contains lots of information not in the Nature/Scientific American version of a sensationalist nature, so heightened caution is still in order. Check the reprinted Nature version before getting too excited: "The D-Wave computer is not a 'universal' computer that can be programmed to tackle any kind of problem. But scientists have found they can usefully frame questions in machine-learning research as optimisation problems. "D-Wave has battled to prove that its computer really operates on a quantum level, and that it is better or faster than a conventional computer. Before striking the latest deal, the prospective customers set a series of tests for the quantum computer. D-Wave hired an outside expert in algorithm-racing, who concluded that the speed of the D-Wave Two was above average overall, and that it was 3,600 times faster than a leading conventional comput
Paul Merrell

Google Open Source Blog: Bidding farewell to Google Code - 1 views

  • Beginning today, we have disabled new project creation on Google Code. We will be shutting down the service about 10 months from now on January 25th, 2016. Below, we provide links to migration tools designed to help you move your projects off of Google Code. We will also make ourselves available over the next three months to those projects that need help migrating from Google Code to other hosts. March 12, 2015 - New project creation disabled. August 24, 2015 - The site goes read-only. You can still checkout/view project source, issues, and wikis. January 25, 2016 - The project hosting service is closed. You will be able to download a tarball of project source, issues, and wikis. These tarballs will be available throughout the rest of 2016. Google will continue to provide Git and Gerrit hosting for certain projects like Android and Chrome. We will also continue maintaining our mirrors of projects like Eclipse, kernel.org and others. How To Migrate Your Data Off Google Code
Paul Merrell

2nd Cir. Affirms That Creation of Full-Text Searchable Database of Works Is Fair Use | ... - 0 views

  • The fair use doctrine permits the unauthorized digitization of copyrighted works in order to create a full-text searchable database, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled June 10.Affirming summary judgment in favor of a consortium of university libraries, the court also ruled that the fair use doctrine permits the unauthorized conversion of those works into accessible formats for use by persons with disabilities, such as the blind.
  • The dispute is connected to the long-running conflict between Google Inc. and various authors of books that Google included in a mass digitization program. In 2004, Google began soliciting the participation of publishers in its Google Print for Publishers service, part of what was then called the Google Print project, aimed at making information available for free over the Internet.Subsequently, Google announced a new project, Google Print for Libraries. In 2005, Google Print was renamed Google Book Search and it is now known simply as Google Books. Under this program, Google made arrangements with several of the world's largest libraries to digitize the entire contents of their collections to create an online full-text searchable database.The announcement of this program triggered a copyright infringement action by the Authors Guild that continues to this day.
  • Part of the deal between Google and the libraries included an offer by Google to hand over to the libraries their own copies of the digitized versions of their collections.In 2011, a group of those libraries announced the establishment of a new service, called the HathiTrust digital library, to which the libraries would contribute their digitized collections. This database of copies is to be made available for full-text searching and preservation activities. Additionally, it is intended to offer free access to works to individuals who have “print disabilities.” For works under copyright protection, the search function would return only a list of page numbers that a search term appeared on and the frequency of such appearance.
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  • Turning to the fair use question, the court first concluded that the full-text search function of the Hathitrust Digital Library was a “quintessentially transformative use,” and thus constituted fair use. The court said:the result of a word search is different in purpose, character, expression, meaning, and message from the page (and the book) from which it is drawn. Indeed, we can discern little or no resemblance between the original text and the results of the HDL full-text search.There is no evidence that the Authors write with the purpose of enabling text searches of their books. Consequently, the full-text search function does not “supersede[ ] the objects [or purposes] of the original creation.”Turning to the fourth fair use factor—whether the use functions as a substitute for the original work—the court rejected the argument that such use represents lost sales to the extent that it prevents the future development of a market for licensing copies of works to be used in full-text searches.However, the court emphasized that the search function “does not serve as a substitute for the books that are being searched.”
  • The court also rejected the argument that the database represented a threat of a security breach that could result in the full text of all the books becoming available for anyone to access. The court concluded that Hathitrust's assertions of its security measures were unrebutted.Thus, the full-text search function was found to be protected as fair use.
  • The court also concluded that allowing those with print disabilities access to the full texts of the works collected in the Hathitrust database was protected as fair use. Support for this conclusion came from the legislative history of the Copyright Act's fair use provision, 17 U.S.C. §107.
Paul Merrell

Google Open Sources Google XML Pages - O'Reilly News - 0 views

  • OSCON 2008, Gonsalves made the announcement that, after several years of consideration, Google was releasing Google XML Pages (or GXP) under the Apache Open Source License.
  • At OSCON 2008, Gonsalves made the announcement that, after several years of consideration, Google was releasing Google XML Pages (or GXP) under the Apache Open Source License.
  • Originally developed as a Python interpreter that produced Java source code, gxp was rewritten in 2006-7 to be a completely Java based application. The idea behind gxp is fairly simple (and is one that is used, in slightly different fashion, for Microsoft's XAML and Silverlight) - a web designer can declare a number of XML namespaces that define specific libraries on an XHTML or GXP container element, intermixing GXP and XHTML code in order to perform conditional logic, invoke server components, define state variables or create template modules. This GXP code is then parsed and used to generate the relevant Java code, which in turn is compiled into a server module invoked from within a Java servlet engine such as Tomcat or Jetty and cached on the server.
Paul Merrell

Judge "Disturbed" To Learn Google Tracks 'Incognito' Users, Demands Answers | ZeroHedge - 1 views

  • A US District Judge in San Jose, California says she was "disturbed" over Google's data collection practices, after learning that the company still collects and uses data from users in its Chrome browser's so-called 'incognito' mode - and has demanded an explanation "about what exactly Google does," according to Bloomberg.
  • In a class-action lawsuit that describes the company's private browsing claims as a "ruse" - and "seeks $5,000 in damages for each of the millions of people whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016," US District Judge Lucy Koh said she finds it "unusual" that the company would make the "extra effort" to gather user data if it doesn't actually use the information for targeted advertising or to build user profiles.Koh has a long history with the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary, previously forcing the Mountain View, California-based company to disclose its scanning of emails for the purposes of targeted advertising and profile building.In this case, Google is accused of relying on pieces of its code within websites that use its analytics and advertising services to scrape users’ supposedly private browsing history and send copies of it to Google’s servers. Google makes it seem like private browsing mode gives users more control of their data, Amanda Bonn, a lawyer representing users, told Koh. In reality, “Google is saying there’s basically very little you can do to prevent us from collecting your data, and that’s what you should assume we’re doing,” Bonn said.Andrew Schapiro, a lawyer for Google, argued the company’s privacy policy “expressly discloses” its practices. “The data collection at issue is disclosed,” he said.Another lawyer for Google, Stephen Broome, said website owners who contract with the company to use its analytics or other services are well aware of the data collection described in the suit. -Bloomberg
  • Koh isn't buying it - arguing that the company is effectively tricking users under the impression that their information is not being transmitted to the company."I want a declaration from Google on what information they’re collecting on users to the court’s website, and what that’s used for," Koh demanded.The case is Brown v. Google, 20-cv-03664, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose), via Bloomberg.
Paul Merrell

NSA Director Finally Admits Encryption Is Needed to Protect Public's Privacy - 0 views

  • NSA Director Finally Admits Encryption Is Needed to Protect Public’s Privacy The new stance denotes a growing awareness within the government that Americans are not comfortable with the State’s grip on their data. By Carey Wedler | AntiMedia | January 22, 2016 Share this article! https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&to&su=NSA%20Director%20Finally%20Admits%20Encryption%20Is%20Needed%20to%20Protect%20Public%E2%80%99s%20Privacy&body=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mintpress
  • Rogers cited the recent Office of Personnel Management hack of over 20 million users as a reason to increase encryption rather than scale it back. “What you saw at OPM, you’re going to see a whole lot more of,” he said, referring to the massive hack that compromised the personal data about 20 million people who obtained background checks. Rogers’ comments, while forward-thinking, signify an about face in his stance on encryption. In February 2015, he said he “shares [FBI] Director [James] Comey’s concern” about cell phone companies’ decision to add encryption features to their products. Comey has been one loudest critics of encryption. However, Rogers’ comments on Thursday now directly conflict with Comey’s stated position. The FBI director has publicly chastised encryption, as well as the companies that provide it. In 2014, he claimed Apple’s then-new encryption feature could lead the world to “a very dark place.” At a Department of Justice hearing in November, Comey testified that “Increasingly, the shadow that is ‘going dark’ is falling across more and more of our work.” Though he claimed, “We support encryption,” he insisted “we have a problem that encryption is crashing into public safety and we have to figure out, as people who care about both, to resolve it. So, I think the conversation’s in a healthier place.”
  • At the same hearing, Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch declined to comment on whether they had proof the Paris attackers used encryption. Even so, Comey recently lobbied for tech companies to do away with end-to-end encryption. However, his crusade has fallen on unsympathetic ears, both from the private companies he seeks to control — and from the NSA. Prior to Rogers’ statements in support of encryption Thursday, former NSA chief Michael Hayden said, “I disagree with Jim Comey. I actually think end-to-end encryption is good for America.” Still another former NSA chair has criticized calls for backdoor access to information. In October, Mike McConnell told a panel at an encryption summit that the United States is “better served by stronger encryption, rather than baking in weaker encryption.” Former Department of Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff, has also spoken out against government being able to bypass encryption.
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  • Regardless of these individual defenses of encryption, the Intercept explained why these statements may be irrelevant: “Left unsaid is the fact that the FBI and NSA have the ability to circumvent encryption and get to the content too — by hacking. Hacking allows law enforcement to plant malicious code on someone’s computer in order to gain access to the photos, messages, and text before they were ever encrypted in the first place, and after they’ve been decrypted. The NSA has an entire team of advanced hackers, possibly as many as 600, camped out at Fort Meade.”
  • Rogers statements, of course, are not a full-fledged endorsement of privacy, nor can the NSA be expected to make it a priority. Even so, his new stance denotes a growing awareness within the government that Americans are not comfortable with the State’s grip on their data. “So spending time arguing about ‘hey, encryption is bad and we ought to do away with it’ … that’s a waste of time to me,” Rogers said Thursday. “So what we’ve got to ask ourselves is, with that foundation, what’s the best way for us to deal with it? And how do we meet those very legitimate concerns from multiple perspectives?”
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Google Code Shutting Down - InternetNews. - 0 views

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    "It wasn't Google shooting itself in the foot that is the prime cause of Google Code's demise, but rather the extreme success of Github. "
Gary Edwards

The real reason Google is making Chrome | Computerworld Blogs - 0 views

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    Good analysis by Stephen Vaughan-Nichols. He gets it right. Sort of. Stephen believes that Chrome is desinged to kill MSOffice. Maybe, but i think it's way too late for that. IMHO, Chrome is designed to keep Google and the Open Web in the game. A game that Microsoft is likely to run away with. Microsoft has built an easy to use transiton bridge form MSOffice desktop centric "client/server" computing model to a Web centirc but proprietary RiA-WebStack-Cloud model. In short, there is an on going great transtion of traditional client/server apps to an emerging model we might call client/ WebStack-Cloud-RiA /server computing model. As the world shifts from a Web document model to one driven by Web Applications, there is i believe a complimentary shift towards the advantage Micorsoft holds via the desktop "client/server" monopoly. For Microsoft, this is just a transtion. Painful from a monopolist profitability view point - but unavoidably necessary. The transition is no doubt helped by the OOXML <> XAML "Fixed/flow" Silverlight ready conversion component. MS also has a WebStack-Cloud (Mesh) story that has become an unstoppable juggernaut (Exchange/SharePoint/SQL Server as the WebSTack). WebKit based RiA challengers like Adobe Apollo, Google Chrome, and Apple SproutCore-Cocoa have to figure out how to crack into the great transition. MS has succeeded in protecting their MSOffice monopoly until such time as they had all the transtion pieces in place. They have a decided advantage here. It's also painfully obvious that the while the WebKit guys have incredible innovation on their side, they are still years behind the complete desktop to WebStack-RiA-Cloud to device to legacy servers application story Microsoft is now selling into the marketplace. They also are seriously lacking in developer tools. Still, the future of the Open Web hangs in the balance. Rather than trying to kill MSOffice, i would think a better approach would be that of trying to
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    There are five reasons why Google is doing this, and, if you read the comic book closely - yes, I'm serious - and you know technology you can see the reasons for yourself. These, in turn, lead to what I think is Google's real goal for Chrome.
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    I'm still keeping the door open on a suspicion that Microsoft may have planned to end the life of MS Office after the new fortress on the server side is ready. The code base is simply too brittle to have a competitive future in the feature wars. I can't get past my belief that if Microsoft saw any future in the traditional client-side office suite, it would have been building a new one a decade ago. Too many serious bugs too deeply buried in spaghetti code to fix; it's far easier to rebuild from the ground up. Word dates to 1984, Excel to 1985, Powerpoint to 1987, All were developed for the Mac, ported years later to Windows. At least Word is still running a deeply flawed 16-bit page layout engine. E.g., page breaks across subdocuments have been broken since Word 1.0. Technology designed to replace yet still largely defined by its predecessor, the IBM Correcting Selectric electro-mechanical typewriter. Mid-80s stand-alone, non-networked computer technology in the World Wide Web era? Where's the future in software architecture developed two decades ago, before the Connected World? I suspect Office's end is near. Microsoft's problem is migrating their locked-in customers to the new fortress on the server side. The bridge is OOXML. In other words, Google doesn't have to kill Office; Microsoft will do that itself. Giving the old cash cow a face lift and fresh coat of lipstick? That's the surest sign that the old cow's owner is keeping a close eye on prices in the commodity hamburger market while squeezing out the last few buckets of milk.
Paul Merrell

Protocols of the Hackers of Zion? « LobeLog - 0 views

  • When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Google chairman Eric Schmidt on Tuesday afternoon, he boasted about Israel’s “robust hi-tech and cyber industries.” According to The Jerusalem Post, “Netanyahu also noted that ‘Israel was making great efforts to diversify the markets with which it is trading in the technological field.'” Just how diversified and developed Israeli hi-tech innovation has become was revealed the very next morning, when the&nbsp;Russian cyber-security firm Kaspersky Labs, which&nbsp;claims&nbsp;more than 400 million users internationally, announced that sophisticated spyware with the hallmarks of Israeli origin (although no country was explicitly identified) had targeted three European hotels that had been venues for negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, one of the first news sources to break the story, reported that Kaspersky itself had been hacked by malware whose code was remarkably similar to that of a virus attributed to Israel. Code-named “Duqu” because it used the letters DQ in the names of the files it created, the malware had first been detected in 2011.&nbsp;On Thursday, Symantec, another cyber-security firm, announced it too had discovered Duqu 2 on its global network, striking undisclosed telecommunication sites in Europe, North Africa, Hong Kong, and&nbsp; Southeast Asia. It said that Duqu 2 is much more difficult to detect that its predecessor because it lives exclusively in the memory of the computers it infects, rather than writing files to a drive or disk. The original Duqu shared coding with — and was written on the same platform as — Stuxnet, the computer worm&nbsp; that partially disabled enrichment centrifuges in Iranian nuclear power plants, according to a 2012 report in The New York Times. Intelligence and military experts said that Stuxnet was first tested at Dimona, a nuclear-reactor complex in the Negev desert that houses Israel’s own clandestine nuclear weapons program. While Stuxnet is widely believed to have been a joint Israeli-U.S. operation, Israel seems to have developed and implemented Duqu on its own.
  • Coding of the spyware that targeted two Swiss hotels and one in Vienna—both sites where talks were held between the P5+1 and Iran—so closely resembled that of Duqu that Kaspersky has dubbed it “Duqu 2.” A Kaspersky report contends that the new and improved Duqu would have been almost impossible to create without access to the original Duqu code.&nbsp;Duqu 2’s one hundred “modules” enabled the cyber attackers to commandeer infected computers, compress video feeds&nbsp; (including those from hotel surveillance cameras), monitor and disrupt telephone service and Wi-Fi, and steal electronic files. The hackers’ penetration of computers used by the front desk would have allowed them to determine the room numbers of negotiators and delegation members. Duqu 2 also gave the hackers the ability to operate two-way microphones in the hotels’ elevators and control their alarm systems.
Paul Merrell

Internet Giants Erect Barriers to Spy Agencies - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • As fast as it can, Google is sealing up cracks in its systems that Edward J. Snowden revealed the N.S.A. had brilliantly exploited. It is encrypting more data as it moves among its servers and helping customers encode their own emails. Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are taking similar steps.
  • After years of cooperating with the government, the immediate goal now is to thwart Washington — as well as Beijing and Moscow. The strategy is also intended to preserve business overseas in places like Brazil and Germany that have threatened to entrust data only to local providers. Google, for example, is laying its own fiber optic cable under the world’s oceans, a project that began as an effort to cut costs and extend its influence, but now has an added purpose: to assure that the company will have more control over the movement of its customer data.
  • A year after Mr. Snowden’s revelations, the era of quiet cooperation is over. Telecommunications companies say they are denying requests to volunteer data not covered by existing law. A.T.&amp;T., Verizon and others say that compared with a year ago, they are far more reluctant to cooperate with the United States government in “gray areas” where there is no explicit requirement for a legal warrant.
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  • Eric Grosse, Google’s security chief, suggested in an interview that the N.S.A.'s own behavior invited the new arms race.“I am willing to help on the purely defensive side of things,” he said, referring to Washington’s efforts to enlist Silicon Valley in cybersecurity efforts. “But signals intercept is totally off the table,” he said, referring to national intelligence gathering.“No hard feelings, but my job is to make their job hard,” he added.
  • In Washington, officials acknowledge that covert programs are now far harder to execute because American technology companies, fearful of losing international business, are hardening their networks and saying no to requests for the kind of help they once quietly provided.Continue reading the main story Robert S. Litt, the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all 17 American spy agencies, said on Wednesday that it was “an unquestionable loss for our nation that companies are losing the willingness to cooperate legally and voluntarily” with American spy agencies.
  • Many point to an episode in 2012, when Russian security researchers uncovered a state espionage tool, Flame, on Iranian computers. Flame, like the Stuxnet worm, is believed to have been produced at least in part by American intelligence agencies. It was created by exploiting a previously unknown flaw in Microsoft’s operating systems. Companies argue that others could have later taken advantage of this defect.Worried that such an episode undercuts confidence in its wares, Microsoft is now fully encrypting all its products, including Hotmail and Outlook.com, by the end of this year with 2,048-bit encryption, a stronger protection that would take a government far longer to crack. The software is protected by encryption both when it is in data centers and when data is being sent over the Internet, said Bradford L. Smith, the company’s general counsel.
  • Mr. Smith also said the company was setting up “transparency centers” abroad so that technical experts of foreign governments could come in and inspect Microsoft’s proprietary source code. That will allow foreign governments to check to make sure there are no “back doors” that would permit snooping by United States intelligence agencies. The first such center is being set up in Brussels.Microsoft has also pushed back harder in court. In a Seattle case, the government issued a “national security letter” to compel Microsoft to turn over data about a customer, along with a gag order to prevent Microsoft from telling the customer it had been compelled to provide its communications to government officials. Microsoft challenged the gag order as violating the First Amendment. The government backed down.
  • Hardware firms like Cisco, which makes routers and switches, have found their products a frequent subject of Mr. Snowden’s disclosures, and their business has declined steadily in places like Asia, Brazil and Europe over the last year. The company is still struggling to convince foreign customers that their networks are safe from hackers — and free of “back doors” installed by the N.S.A. The frustration, companies here say, is that it is nearly impossible to prove that their systems are N.S.A.-proof.
  • In one slide from the disclosures, N.S.A. analysts pointed to a sweet spot inside Google’s data centers, where they could catch traffic in unencrypted form. Next to a quickly drawn smiley face, an N.S.A. analyst, referring to an acronym for a common layer of protection, had noted, “SSL added and removed here!”
  • Facebook and Yahoo have also been encrypting traffic among their internal servers. And Facebook, Google and Microsoft have been moving to more strongly encrypt consumer traffic with so-called Perfect Forward Secrecy, specifically devised to make it more labor intensive for the N.S.A. or anyone to read stored encrypted communications.One of the biggest indirect consequences from the Snowden revelations, technology executives say, has been the surge in demands from foreign governments that saw what kind of access to user information the N.S.A. received — voluntarily or surreptitiously. Now they want the same.
  • The latest move in the war between intelligence agencies and technology companies arrived this week, in the form of a new Google encryption tool. The company released a user-friendly, email encryption method to replace the clunky and often mistake-prone encryption schemes the N.S.A. has readily exploited.But the best part of the tool was buried in Google’s code, which included a jab at the N.S.A.'s smiley-face slide. The code included the phrase: “ssl-added-and-removed-here-; - )”
Gary Edwards

The Monkey On Microsoft's Back - Forbes.com - 0 views

  • The new technology, dubbed TraceMonkey, promises to speed up Firefox's ability to deliver complex applications. The move heightens the threat posed by a nascent group of online alternatives to Microsoft's most profitable software: PC applications, like Microsoft Office, that allow Microsoft to burn hundreds of millions of dollars on efforts to seize control of the online world. Microsoft's Business Division, which gets 90% of its revenues from sales of Microsoft Office, spat out $12.4 billion in operating income for the fiscal year ending June 30. Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ), however, is playing a parallel game, using profits from its online advertising business to fund alternatives to Microsoft's desktop offerings. Google already says it has "millions" of users for its free, Web-based alternative to desktop staples, including Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint software. The next version of Firefox, which could debut by the end of this year, promises to speed up such applications, thanks to a new technology built into the developer's version of the software last week. Right now, rich Web applications such as Google Gmail rely on a technology known as Javascript to turn them from lifeless Web pages into applications that respond as users mouse about a Web page. TraceMonkey aims to turn the most frequently used chunks of Javascript code embedded into Web pages into binary form--allowing computers to hustle through the most used bits of code--without waiting around to render all of the code into binary form.
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    I did send a very lenghthy comment to Brian Caulfield, the Forbes author of this article. Of course, i disagreed with his perspective. TraceMonkey is great, performing an acceleration of JavaScript in FireFox in much the same way that Squirrel Fish accelleratees WebKit Browsers. What Brian misses though is that the RiA war that is taking place both inside and outside the browser (RIA = fully functional Web applications that WILL replace the "client/server" apps model)
Paul Merrell

Asia Times | Say hello to the Russia-China operating system | Article - 0 views

  • Google cuts Huawei off Android; so Huawei may migrate to Aurora.&nbsp;Call it mobile Eurasia integration; the evolving Russia-China strategic partnership may be on the verge of spawning its own operating system – and that is not a metaphor. Aurora is a mobile operating system currently developed by Russian Open Mobile Platform, based in Moscow. It&nbsp;is based on the Sailfish operating system, designed by Finnish technology company Jolla, which featured a batch of Russians in the development team. Quite a few top coders at Google and Apple also come from the former USSR – exponents of a brilliant scientific academy tradition.
  • Aurora could be regarded as part of Huawei’s fast-evolving Plan B. Huawei is now turbo-charging the development and implementation of its own operating system, HongMeng, a process that started no less than seven years ago. Most of the work on an operating system is writing drivers and APIs (application programming interfaces). Huawei would be able to integrate their code to the Russian system in no time.
  • No Google? Who cares? Tencent, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo are already testing the HongMeng operating system, as part of a batch of one million devices already distributed. HongMeng’s launch is still a closely guarded secret by Huawei, but according to CEO Richard Yu, it could happen even before the end of 2019 for the Chinese market, running on smartphones, computers, TVs and cars. HongMeng is rumored to be 60% faster than Android.
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  • The HongMeng system may also harbor functions dedicated to security and protection of users’ data. That’s what’s scaring Google the most; Huawei developing a software impenetrable to hacking attempts. Google is actively lobbying the Trump administration to add another reprieve – or even abandon the Huawei ban altogether. By now it’s clear Team Trump has decided to wield a trade war as a geopolitical and geoeconomic weapon. They may have not calculated that other Chinese producers have the power to swing markets. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo, for instance, are not (yet) banned in the US market, and combined they sell more than Samsung. They could decide to move to Huawei’s operating system in no time.
  • The existence of Lineage operating system is proof that Huawei is not facing a lot of hurdles developing HongMeng – which will be compatible with all Android apps. There would be no problem to adopt Aurora as well. Huawei will certainly open is own app store to compete with Google Play.
Paul Merrell

Hey ITU Member States: No More Secrecy, Release the Treaty Proposals | Electronic Front... - 0 views

  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in December in Dubai, an all-important treaty-writing event where ITU Member States will discuss the proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR). The ITU is a United Nations agency responsible for international telecom regulation, a bureaucratic, slow-moving, closed regulatory organization that issues treaty-level provisions for international telecommunication networks and services. The ITR, a legally binding international treaty signed by 178 countries, defines the boundaries of ITU’s regulatory authority and provides "general principles" on international telecommunications. However, media reports indicate that some proposed amendments to the ITR—a negotiation that is already well underway—could potentially expand the ITU’s mandate to encompass the Internet.
  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in December in Dubai, an all-important treaty-writing event where ITU Member States will discuss the proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR). The ITU is a United Nations agency responsible for international telecom regulation, a bureaucratic, slow-moving, closed regulatory organization that issues treaty-level provisions for international telecommunication networks and services. The ITR, a legally binding international treaty signed by 178 countries, defines the boundaries of ITU’s regulatory authority and provides "general principles" on international telecommunications. However, media reports indicate that some proposed amendments to the ITR—a negotiation that is already well underway—could potentially expand the ITU’s mandate to encompass the Internet. In similar fashion to the secrecy surrounding ACTA and TPP, the ITR proposals are being negotiated in secret, with high barriers preventing access to any negotiating document. While aspiring to be a venue for Internet policy-making, the ITU Member States do not appear to be very open to the idea of allowing all stakeholders (including civil society) to participate. The framework under which the ITU operates does not allow for any form of open participation. Mere access to documents and decision-makers is sold by the ITU to corporate “associate” members at prohibitively high rates. Indeed, the ITU’s business model appears to depend on revenue generation from those seeking to ‘participate’ in its policy-making processes. This revenue-based principle of policy-making is deeply troubling in and of itself, as the objective of policy making should be to reach the best possible outcome.
  • 83. Building an inclusive development-oriented Information Society will require unremitting multi-stakeholder effort. We thus commit ourselves to remain fully engaged—nationally, regionally and internationally—to ensure sustainable implementation and follow-up of the outcomes and commitments reached during the WSIS process and its Geneva and Tunis phases of the Summit. Taking into account the multifaceted nature of building the Information Society, effective cooperation among governments, private sector, civil society and the United Nations and other international organizations, according to their different roles and responsibilities and leveraging on their expertise, is essential. 84. Governments and other stakeholders should identify those areas where further effort and resources are required, and jointly identify, and where appropriate develop, implementation strategies, mechanisms and processes for WSIS outcomes at international, regional, national and local levels, paying particular attention to people and groups that are still marginalized in their access to, and utilization of, ICTs.
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  • Civil society has good reason to be concerned regarding an expanded ITU policy-making role. To begin with, the institution does not appear to have high regard for the distributed multi-stakeholder decision making model that has been integral to the development of an innovative, successful and open Internet. In spite of commitments at WSIS to ensure Internet policy is based on input from all relevant stakeholders, the ITU has consistently put the interests of one stakeholder—Governments—above all others. This is discouraging, as some government interests are inconsistent with an open, innovative network. Indeed, the conditions which have made the Internet the powerful tool it is today emerged in an environment where the interests of all stakeholders are given equal footing, and existing Internet policy-making institutions at least aspire, with varying success, to emulate this equal footing. This formula is enshrined in the Tunis Agenda, which was committed to at WSIS in 2005:
  • EFF, European Digital Rights, CIPPIC and CDT and a coalition of civil society organizations from around the world are demanding that the ITU Secretary General, the&nbsp; WCIT-12 Council Working Group, and ITU Member States open up the WCIT-12 and the Council working group negotiations, by immediately releasing all the preparatory materials and Treaty proposals. If it affects the digital rights of citizens across the globe, the public needs to know what is going on and deserves to have a say. The Council Working Group is responsible for the preparatory work towards WCIT-12, setting the agenda for and consolidating input from participating governments and Sector Members. We demand full and meaningful participation for civil society in its own right, and without cost, at the Council Working Group meetings and the WCIT on equal footing with all other stakeholders, including participating governments. A transparent, open process that is inclusive of civil society at every stage is crucial to creating sound policy.
  • Indeed, the ITU’s current vision of Internet policy-making is less one of distributed decision-making, and more one of ‘taking control.’ For example, in an interview conducted last June with ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin raised the suggestion that the union might take control of the Internet: “We are thankful to you for the ideas that you have proposed for discussion,” Putin told Touré in that conversation. “One of them is establishing international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).” Perhaps of greater concern are views espoused by the ITU regarding the nature of the Internet. Yesterday, at the World Summit of Information Society Forum,&nbsp;Mr. Alexander Ntoko, head of the Corporate Strategy Division of the ITU, explained the proposals made during the preparatory process for the WCIT, outlining a broad set of topics that can seriously impact people's rights. The categories include "security," "interoperability" and "quality&nbsp;of services," and the possibility that ITU recommendations and regulations will be not only binding on the world’s nations, but enforced.
  • Rights to online expression are unlikely to fare much better than privacy under an ITU model. During last year’s IGF in Kenya, a voluntary code of conduct was issued to further restrict free expression online. A group of nations (including China, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) released a Resolution for the UN General Assembly titled, “International Code of Conduct for Information Security.”&nbsp; The Code seems to be designed to preserve and protect national powers in information and communication. In it, governments pledge to curb “the dissemination of information that incites terrorism, secessionism or extremism or that undermines other countries’ political, economic and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment.” This overly broad provision accords any state the right to censor or block international communications, for almost any reason.
  • EFF Joins Coalition Denouncing Secretive WCIT Planning Process June 2012 Congressional Witnesses Agree: Multistakeholder Processes Are Right for Internet Regulation June 2012 Widespread Participation Is Key in Internet Governance July 2012 Blogging ITU: Internet Users Will Be Ignored Again if Flawed ITU Proposals Gain Traction June 2012 Global Telecom Governance Debated at European Parliament Workshop
Paul Merrell

Microsoft Demos Real-Time Translation Over Skype - Slashdot - 1 views

  • "Today at the first annual Code Conference, Microsoft demonstrated its new real-time translation in Skype publicly for the first time. Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft's VP of Skype and Lync, compares the technology to Star Trek's Universal Translator. During the demonstration, Pall converses in English with a coworker in Germany who is speaking German. 'Skype Translator results from decades of work by the industry, years of work by our researchers, and now is being developed jointly by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. The demo showed near real-time audio translation from English to German and vice versa, combining Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, and neural network-based speech recognition.'"
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    Haven't yet explored to see what's beneath the marketing hype. And I'm less than excited about the Skype with its NSA tendrils being the vehicle of audio translations of human languages. But given the progress in: [i] automated translations of human texts; [ii] audio screenreaders; and [iii] voice-to-text transcription, this is one we saw coming. Slap the three technologies together and wait until processing power catches up to what's needed to produce a marketable experience. After all, the StarTrek scriptwriters saw this coming too.   Ray Kurzweil, now at Google, should get a lot of the pioneer credit here. His revolutionary optical character recognition algorithms soon found themselves redeployed in text-to-speech synthesis and speech recognition technology. From Wikipedia: "Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer Kurzweil K250 capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition." Not bad for a guy the same age as my younger brother. But Microsoft's announcement here may be more vaporware than hardware in production and lines of executable code. Microsoft has a long history of vaporware announcements to persuade potential customers to hold off on riding with the competition.  And the Softies undoubtedly know that Google's human language text translation capabilities are way out in front and that the voice to text and text to speech API methods have already found a comfortable home in Android and Chromebook. What does Microsoft have that's ready to ship if anything? I'll check it out tomorrow. 
Gary Edwards

Readium at the London Book Fair 2014: Open Source for an Open Publishing Ecosystem: Rea... - 0 views

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    excerpt/intro: Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Readium Foundation (Readium.org), an independent nonprofit launched in March 2013 with the objective of developing commercial-grade open source publishing technology software. The overall goal of Readium.org is to accelerate adoption of ePub 3, HTML5, and the Open Web Platform by the digital publishing industry to help realize the full potential of open-standards-based interoperability. More specifically, the aim is to raise the bar for ePub 3 support across the industry so that ePub maintains its position as the standard distribution format for e-books and expands its reach to include other types of digital publications. In its first year, the Readium consortium added 15 organizations to its membership, including Adobe, Google, IBM, Ingram, KERIS (S. Korea Education Ministry), and the New York Public Library. The membership now boasts publishers, retailers, distributors and technology companies from around the world, including organizations based in France, Germany, Norway, U.S., Canada, China, Korea, and Japan. In addition, in February 2014 the first Readium.org board was elected by the membership and the first three projects being developed by members and other contributors are all nearing "1.0" status. The first project, Readium SDK, is a rendering "engine" enabling native apps to support ePub 3. Readium SDK is available on four platforms-Android, iOS, OS/X, and Windows- and the first product incorporating Readium SDK (by ACCESS Japan) was announced last October. Readium SDK is designed to be DRM-agnostic, and vendors Adobe and Sony have publicized plans to integrate their respective DRM solutions with Readium SDK. A second effort, Readium JS, is a pure JavaScript ePub 3 implementation, with configurations now available for cloud based deployment of ePub files, as well as Readium for Chrome, the successor to the original Readium Chrome extension developed by IDPF as the
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    excerpt/intro: Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Readium Foundation (Readium.org), an independent nonprofit launched in March 2013 with the objective of developing commercial-grade open source publishing technology software. The overall goal of Readium.org is to accelerate adoption of ePub 3, HTML5, and the Open Web Platform by the digital publishing industry to help realize the full potential of open-standards-based interoperability. More specifically, the aim is to raise the bar for ePub 3 support across the industry so that ePub maintains its position as the standard distribution format for e-books and expands its reach to include other types of digital publications. In its first year, the Readium consortium added 15 organizations to its membership, including Adobe, Google, IBM, Ingram, KERIS (S. Korea Education Ministry), and the New York Public Library. The membership now boasts publishers, retailers, distributors and technology companies from around the world, including organizations based in France, Germany, Norway, U.S., Canada, China, Korea, and Japan. In addition, in February 2014 the first Readium.org board was elected by the membership and the first three projects being developed by members and other contributors are all nearing "1.0" status. The first project, Readium SDK, is a rendering "engine" enabling native apps to support ePub 3. Readium SDK is available on four platforms-Android, iOS, OS/X, and Windows- and the first product incorporating Readium SDK (by ACCESS Japan) was announced last October. Readium SDK is designed to be DRM-agnostic, and vendors Adobe and Sony have publicized plans to integrate their respective DRM solutions with Readium SDK. A second effort, Readium JS, is a pure JavaScript ePub 3 implementation, with configurations now available for cloud based deployment of ePub files, as well as Readium for Chrome, the successor to the original Readium Chrome extension developed by IDPF as the
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Achieving Impossible Things with Free Culture and Commons-Based Enterprise : Terry Hanc... - 0 views

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    "Author: Terry Hancock Keywords: free software; open source; free culture; commons-based peer production; commons-based enterprise; Free Software Magazine; Blender Foundation; Blender Open Movies; Wikipedia; Project Gutenberg; Open Hardware; One Laptop Per Child; Sugar Labs; licensing; copyleft; hosting; marketing; design; online community; Debian GNU/Linux; GNU General Public License; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; TAPR Open Hardware License; collective patronage; women in free software; Creative Commons; OScar; C,mm,n; Free Software Foundation; Open Source Initiative; Freedom Defined; Free Software Definition; Debian Free Software Guidelines; Sourceforge; Google Code; digital rights management; digital restrictions management; technological protection measures; DRM; TPM; linux; gnu; manifesto Publisher: Free Software Magazine Press Year: 2009 Language: English Collection: opensource"
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    "Author: Terry Hancock Keywords: free software; open source; free culture; commons-based peer production; commons-based enterprise; Free Software Magazine; Blender Foundation; Blender Open Movies; Wikipedia; Project Gutenberg; Open Hardware; One Laptop Per Child; Sugar Labs; licensing; copyleft; hosting; marketing; design; online community; Debian GNU/Linux; GNU General Public License; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; TAPR Open Hardware License; collective patronage; women in free software; Creative Commons; OScar; C,mm,n; Free Software Foundation; Open Source Initiative; Freedom Defined; Free Software Definition; Debian Free Software Guidelines; Sourceforge; Google Code; digital rights management; digital restrictions management; technological protection measures; DRM; TPM; linux; gnu; manifesto Publisher: Free Software Magazine Press Year: 2009 Language: English Collection: opensource"
Gary Edwards

Wary of Upsetting Mighty Microsoft, Acer Limits Use Android for Phones, Not Netbooks. - 0 views

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    "For a netbook, you really need to be able to view a full Web for the total Internet experience, and Android is not that yet," Jim Wong, head of Acer's IT products, said Tuesday while introducing a new line of computers."

    Right. Android runs the webkit/Chromium browser based on the same WebKit code base used by Apple iPhone/Safari, Google Chrome, Palm Pre, Nokia s60 and QT IDE, 280 Atlas WebKit IDE, SproutCore-Cocoa project, KOffice, Sun's javaFX, Adobe AiR, and Eclipse "Blinki", Eclipse SWT, Linux Midori, and the Windows CE IRiS browser - to name but a few. Other Open Web browsers Opera and Mozilla Firefox have embraced the highly interactive and very visual WebKit document and application model. Add to this WebKit tsunami the many web sites, applications and services that adopted the WebKit document model to become iPhone ready.

    Finally there is this; any browser, application or web server seekign to pass the ACiD-3 test is in effect an effort to become fully WebKit compliant.

    Maybe Mr. Wong is talking about the 1998 Internet experience supported by IE8? Or maybe there is a secret OEM agreement lurking in the background here. The kind that was used by Microsoft to stop Netscape and Java way back when.

    The problem for Microsoft is that, when it comes to smartphones, countertops and netbooks at the edge of the Web, they are not competing against individual companies pushing device and/or platform specific services. This time they are competing against the next generation Open Web. An very visual and interactive Open Web defined by the surge the WebKit, Firefox and the many JavaScript communities are leading.

    ge
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    The Information Week page bookmarked says "NON-WORKING URL! The URL (Web address) that has been entered is directing to a non-existent page" Try this instead http://www.informationweek.com/news/hardware/handheld/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=216403510 Acer To Use Android For Phones, Not Netbooks April 8, 2009
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    Microsoft conspiracies have happened in the past and we should watch for them. However, another explanation is that Android does not (yet) support many browser plugins. No doubt that is what the Microsoft drones remind Acer each time they meet with them, along with a pitch for Silverlight 2 !! For me, Silverlight 2 is so rare that I would not, personally, make it a requirement for a "full web". A non-Android Linux distribution on a netbook that ran Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader, OpenOffice.org and AIR when necessary would suit me fine. One day Android may do all these things to, but for now Google has bigger fish to fry!
Paul Merrell

From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users' Online Identities - 1 views

  • HERE WAS A SIMPLE AIM at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.” Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs. The mass surveillance operation&nbsp;—&nbsp;code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The revelations about the scope of the British agency’s surveillance are contained in documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Previous reports based on the leaked files have exposed how GCHQ taps into Internet cables to monitor communications on a vast scale, but many details about what happens to the data after it has been vacuumed up have remained unclear.
  • Amid a renewed push from the U.K. government for more surveillance powers, more than two dozen documents being disclosed today by The Intercept reveal for the first time several major strands of GCHQ’s existing electronic eavesdropping capabilities.
  • The surveillance is underpinned by an opaque legal regime that has authorized GCHQ to sift through huge archives of metadata about the private phone calls, emails and Internet browsing logs of Brits, Americans, and any other citizens&nbsp;— all without a court order or judicial warrant
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  • A huge volume of the Internet data GCHQ collects flows directly into a massive repository named Black Hole, which is at the core of the agency’s online spying operations, storing raw logs of intercepted material before it has been subject to analysis. Black Hole contains data collected by GCHQ as part of bulk “unselected” surveillance, meaning it is not focused on particular “selected” targets and instead includes troves of data indiscriminately swept up about ordinary people’s online activities. Between August 2007 and March 2009, GCHQ documents say that Black Hole was used to store more than 1.1 trillion “events”&nbsp;— a term the agency uses to refer to metadata records&nbsp;— with about 10 billion new entries added every day. As of March 2009, the largest slice of data Black Hole held&nbsp;— 41 percent&nbsp;— was about people’s Internet browsing histories. The rest included a combination of email and instant messenger records, details about search engine queries, information about social media activity, logs related to hacking operations, and data on people’s use of tools to browse the Internet anonymously.
  • Throughout this period, as smartphone sales started to boom, the frequency of people’s Internet use was steadily increasing. In tandem, British spies were working frantically to bolster their spying capabilities, with plans afoot to expand the size of Black Hole and other repositories to handle an avalanche of new data. By 2010, according to the documents, GCHQ was logging 30 billion metadata records per day. By 2012, collection had increased to 50 billion per day, and work was underway to double capacity to 100 billion. The agency was developing “unprecedented” techniques to perform what it called “population-scale” data mining, monitoring all communications across entire countries in an effort to detect patterns or behaviors deemed suspicious. It was creating what it said would be, by 2013, “the world’s biggest” surveillance engine “to run cyber operations and to access better, more valued data for customers to make a real world difference.”
  • A document from the GCHQ target analysis center (GTAC) shows the Black Hole repository’s structure.
  • The data is searched by GCHQ analysts in a hunt for behavior online that could be connected to terrorism or other criminal activity. But it has also served a broader and more controversial purpose&nbsp;— helping the agency hack into European companies’ computer networks. In the lead up to its secret mission targeting Netherlands-based Gemalto, the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world, GCHQ used MUTANT BROTH in an effort to identify the company’s employees so it could hack into their computers. The system helped the agency analyze intercepted Facebook cookies it believed were associated with Gemalto staff located at offices in France and Poland. GCHQ later successfully infiltrated Gemalto’s internal networks, stealing encryption keys produced by the company that protect the privacy of cell phone communications.
  • Similarly, MUTANT BROTH proved integral to GCHQ’s hack of Belgian telecommunications provider Belgacom. The agency entered IP addresses associated with Belgacom into MUTANT BROTH to uncover information about the company’s employees. Cookies associated with the IPs revealed the Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn accounts of three Belgacom engineers, whose computers were then targeted by the agency and infected with malware. The hacking operation resulted in GCHQ gaining deep access into the most sensitive parts of Belgacom’s internal systems, granting British spies the ability to intercept communications passing through the company’s networks.
  • In March, a U.K. parliamentary committee published the findings of an 18-month review of&nbsp;GCHQ’s operations and called for an overhaul of the laws that regulate the spying. The committee raised concerns about the agency gathering what it described as “bulk personal datasets” being held about “a wide range of people.” However, it censored the section of the report describing what these “datasets” contained, despite acknowledging that they “may be highly intrusive.” The Snowden documents shine light on some of the core GCHQ bulk data-gathering programs that the committee was likely referring to&nbsp;— pulling back the veil of secrecy that has shielded some of the agency’s most controversial surveillance operations from public scrutiny. KARMA POLICE and MUTANT BROTH are among the key bulk collection systems. But they do not operate in isolation&nbsp;— and the scope of GCHQ’s spying extends far beyond them.
  • The agency operates a bewildering array of other eavesdropping systems, each serving its own specific purpose and designated a unique code name, such as: SOCIAL ANTHROPOID, which is used to analyze metadata on emails, instant messenger chats, social media connections and conversations, plus “telephony” metadata about phone calls, cell phone locations, text and multimedia messages; MEMORY HOLE, which logs queries entered into search engines and associates each search with an IP address; MARBLED GECKO, which sifts through details about searches people have entered into Google Maps and Google Earth; and INFINITE MONKEYS, which analyzes data about the usage of online bulletin boards and forums. GCHQ has other programs that it uses to analyze the content of intercepted communications, such as the full written body of emails and the audio of phone calls. One of the most important content collection capabilities is TEMPORA, which mines vast amounts of emails, instant messages, voice calls and other communications and makes them accessible through a Google-style search tool named XKEYSCORE.
  • As of September 2012, TEMPORA was collecting “more than 40 billion pieces of content a day” and it was being used to spy on people across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, according to a top-secret memo outlining the scope of the program. The existence of TEMPORA was first revealed by The Guardian in June 2013. To analyze all of the communications it intercepts and to build a profile of the individuals it is monitoring, GCHQ uses a variety of different tools that can pull together all of the relevant information and make it accessible through a single interface. SAMUEL PEPYS is one such tool, built by the British spies to analyze both the content and metadata of emails, browsing sessions, and instant messages as they are being intercepted in real time. One screenshot of SAMUEL PEPYS in action shows the agency using it to monitor an individual in Sweden who visited a page about GCHQ on the U.S.-based anti-secrecy website Cryptome.
  • Partly due to the U.K.’s geographic location&nbsp;— situated between the United States and the western edge of continental Europe&nbsp;— a large amount of the world’s Internet traffic passes through its territory across international data cables. In 2010, GCHQ noted that what amounted to “25 percent of all Internet traffic” was transiting the U.K. through some 1,600 different cables. The agency said that it could “survey the majority of the 1,600” and “select the most valuable to switch into our processing systems.”
  • According to Joss Wright, a research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, tapping into the cables allows GCHQ to monitor a large portion of foreign communications. But the cables also transport masses of wholly domestic British emails and online chats, because when anyone in the U.K. sends an email or visits a website, their computer will routinely send and receive data from servers that are located overseas. “I could send a message from my computer here [in England] to my wife’s computer in the next room and on its way it could go through the U.S., France, and other countries,” Wright says. “That’s just the way the Internet is designed.” In other words, Wright adds, that means “a lot” of British data and communications transit across international cables daily, and are liable to be swept into GCHQ’s databases.
  • A map from a classified GCHQ presentation about intercepting communications from undersea cables. GCHQ is authorized to conduct dragnet surveillance of the international data cables through so-called external warrants that are signed off by a government minister. The external warrants permit the agency to monitor communications in foreign countries as well as British citizens’ international calls and emails&nbsp;— for example, a call from Islamabad to London. They prohibit GCHQ from reading or listening to the content of “internal” U.K. to U.K. emails and phone calls, which are supposed to be filtered out from GCHQ’s systems if they are inadvertently intercepted unless additional authorization is granted to scrutinize them. However, the same rules do not apply to metadata. A little-known loophole in the law allows GCHQ to use external warrants to collect and analyze bulk metadata about the emails, phone calls, and Internet browsing activities of British people, citizens of closely allied countries, and others, regardless of whether the data is derived from domestic U.K. to U.K. communications and browsing sessions or otherwise. In March, the existence of this loophole was quietly acknowledged by the U.K. parliamentary committee’s surveillance review, which stated in a section of its report that “special protection and additional safeguards” did not apply to metadata swept up using external warrants and that domestic British metadata could therefore be lawfully “returned as a result of searches” conducted by GCHQ.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, GCHQ appears to have readily exploited this obscure legal technicality. Secret policy guidance papers issued to the agency’s analysts instruct them that they can sift through huge troves of indiscriminately collected metadata records to spy on anyone regardless of their nationality. The guidance makes clear that there is no exemption or extra privacy protection for British people or citizens from countries that are members of the Five Eyes, a surveillance alliance that the U.K. is part of alongside the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. “If you are searching a purely Events only database such as MUTANT BROTH, the issue of location does not occur,” states one internal GCHQ policy document, which is marked with a “last modified” date of July 2012. The document adds that analysts are free to search the databases for British metadata “without further authorization” by inputing a U.K. “selector,” meaning a unique identifier such as a person’s email or IP address, username, or phone number. Authorization is “not needed for individuals in the U.K.,” another GCHQ document explains, because metadata has been judged “less intrusive than communications content.” All the spies are required to do to mine the metadata troves is write a short “justification” or “reason” for each search they conduct and then click a button on their computer screen.
  • Intelligence GCHQ collects on British persons of interest is shared with domestic security agency MI5, which usually takes the lead on spying operations within the U.K. MI5 conducts its own extensive domestic surveillance as part of a program called DIGINT (digital intelligence).
  • GCHQ’s documents suggest that it typically retains metadata for periods of between 30 days to six months. It stores the content of communications for a shorter period of time, varying between three to 30 days. The retention periods can be extended if deemed necessary for “cyber defense.” One secret policy paper dated from January 2010 lists the wide range of information the agency classes as metadata&nbsp;— including location data that could be used to track your movements, your email, instant messenger, and social networking “buddy lists,” logs showing who you have communicated with by phone or email, the passwords you use to access “communications services” (such as an email account), and information about websites you have viewed.
  • Records showing the full website addresses you have visited&nbsp;— for instance, www.gchq.gov.uk/what_we_do&nbsp;— are treated as content. But the first part of an address you have visited&nbsp;— for instance, www.gchq.gov.uk&nbsp;— is treated as metadata. In isolation, a single metadata record of a phone call, email, or website visit may not reveal much about a person’s private life, according to Ethan Zuckerman, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Civic Media. But if accumulated and analyzed over a period of weeks or months, these details would be “extremely personal,” he told The Intercept, because they could reveal a person’s movements, habits, religious beliefs, political views, relationships, and even sexual preferences. For Zuckerman, who has studied the social and political ramifications of surveillance, the most concerning aspect of large-scale government data collection is that it can be “corrosive towards democracy”&nbsp;— leading to a chilling effect on freedom of expression and communication. “Once we know there’s a reasonable chance that we are being watched in one fashion or another it’s hard for that not to have a ‘panopticon effect,’” he said, “where we think and behave differently based on the assumption that people may be watching and paying attention to what we are doing.”
  • When compared to surveillance rules in place in the U.S., GCHQ notes in one document that the U.K. has “a light oversight regime.” The more lax British spying regulations are reflected in secret internal rules that highlight greater restrictions on how NSA databases can be accessed. The NSA’s troves can be searched for data on British citizens, one document states, but they cannot be mined for information about Americans or other citizens from countries in the Five Eyes alliance. No such constraints are placed on GCHQ’s own databases, which can be sifted for records on the phone calls, emails, and Internet usage of Brits, Americans, and citizens from any other country. The scope of GCHQ’s surveillance powers explain in part why Snowden told The Guardian in June 2013 that U.K. surveillance is “worse than the U.S.” In an interview with Der Spiegel in July 2013, Snowden added that British Internet cables were “radioactive” and joked: “Even the Queen’s selfies to the pool boy get logged.”
  • In recent years, the biggest barrier to GCHQ’s mass collection of data does not appear to have come in the form of legal or policy restrictions. Rather, it is the increased use of encryption technology that protects the privacy of communications that has posed the biggest potential hindrance to the agency’s activities. “The spread of encryption … threatens our ability to do effective target discovery/development,” says a top-secret report co-authored by an official from the British agency and an NSA employee in 2011. “Pertinent metadata events will be locked within the encrypted channels and difficult, if not impossible, to prise out,” the report says, adding that the agencies were working on a plan that would “(hopefully) allow our Internet Exploitation strategy to prevail.”
Matteo Spreafico

SAP Network Blogs - 0 views

  • Gravity is a prototype developed by SAP Research in Brisbane, Australia and SAP NetWeaver Development providing real-time, cloud-based collaborative business process modelling within Google Wave.
  • Leveraging the collaborative features of Google Wave, all business process modelling activities get propagated in near real-time to all other participants of the Wave. In addition, participants of the Wave can use all other features provided by Google and its developer community to enrich the collaborative modelling experience.
  • In addition to the near real-time propagation of model content to all participants of a Wave, various features of true real-time collaboration are shown, such as different colour-coding for each individual modeller, history of a model, asynchronous and synchronous editing, and more. The demo also shows how robots (automated components that act as Wave participants) can be leveraged in order to syntactically correct the model on the fly. In the end, we will see how models are exported using BPMN 2.0 XML. They will then be imported into SAP Netweaver BPM for further refinement and execution.
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