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Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

The-Speculative-Invoicing-Handbook.pdf - 0 views

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    "Stage One: Put The Kettle On So you've received a letter, you feel intruded upon and threatened. You're wondering if you even did w hat you've been accused of - well, at least, what your connection , has been accused of... You're not the first and you're unlikely to be the last to get one of these 'nastygrams'. The first step to managing the situation you've been put in is to tackle it calmly. You have been invited to play a game. This particular game requires careful thought and rational, planned actions. It is not best played while emotions are running high; never do anything in haste. You're reading this handbook so you've clearly used your head so far and are on the right track. If you've not already done so, make yourself a cuppa and sit down to read the rest of this. Relax... you're among friends now. Welcome to the team."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

The Linux Foundation Launches First Linux-Based Civil Infrastructure Project - 0 views

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    "By Linux_Foundation - April 4, 2016 - 3:57pm Civil Infrastructure Platform to provide software building blocks that support reliable transportation, power, oil and gas, and health care infrastructure"
Matteo Spreafico

TWEET IDEAS: 13 Things to Do on Twitter Besides Tweet - 1 views

Gary Edwards

Flash Wars: The Many Enemies and Obstacles of Flash [Part 2 of 3] - AppleInsider Comments - 0 views

  • Throughout 2007, Apple stripped nearly every vestige of Flash from its corporate site and other products, and began recommending that developers use open standards instead. As noted in Gone in a Flash: More on Apple’s iPhone Web Plans, last summer Apple published a document titled "Optimizing Web Applications and Content for iPhone," which not only listed Flash as the single bullet point item under a listing of "unsupported technologies," but went on to explicitly encourage developers to "stick with standards," and use CSS, JavaScript, and Ajax instead.
  • Microsoft has already begun leveraging its Windows and Office monopolies to distribute Silverlight as a Flash-killer on both the Windows PC desktop and on the Mac. When Microsoft releases a Mac product, it can only mean one thing: it's working hard to kill a cross platform threat to Windows.
  • the new Cocoa iPhone/iPod Touch SDK not only offers Adobe insufficient means to develop a Flash plugin, but also clearly forbids the development of runtimes designed to advance competing platforms on top of the native Cocoa environment, whether Flash, Silverlight, or Java.
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  • Apple is fighting for control of media distribution with open standards! What is it you do not get about Mpeg4, AAC, MP3 and H.264?
  • Silverlight will just not play H264 content : as usual, microsoft has adopted a look alike, incompatible video format : VC1. About why Quicktime is better that Flash when it comes to serious H264 usage, you may want to have a look at the following note/demonstration of a quicktime+javascript player : http://blog.vrarchitect.net/post/200...ter-than-Flash In short : Quicktime can reach any frame of a video. Flash just reach the I-Frames. So if you have a GOP/keyframing of 250 for instance, you can see only one frame every 10s of video (to be honest, most classical gop implies a frame every one or two seconds)
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    Excellent comment focused on the clash between Flash and Apple. Apple promotes JavaScript, CSS and AJAX: the WebKit- SproutCore recipe
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Gary Edwards

Flash Wars: Adobe Fights for AIR with the Open Screen Project [Part 3 of 3] | AppleInsider - 0 views

  • Two areas where Flash can offer real value is in displaying and packaging video on the web, and in serving as a Java replacement for developing applets. Here's a look at how Adobe is working to defend its strengths in the face of competition, and how its efforts to open the Flash specification in the Open Screen Project play into these efforts.
  • proprietary FLV video container format
  • more advanced and open H.264 video codec
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  • Apple's ability to disrupt the status quo in video playback is evident in its deal with Google to vend YouTube videos to the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Apple TV as straight H.264 rather than Google's existing mix of a Flash-based player and its archaic GVI file format based upon AVI.
  • As Apple's hardware-based H.264 playback in mobile devices begins to define how to reach affluent customers with content, Flash will increasingly lose any allure on the PC desktop as well, as developers won't want to target PCs and mobiles using two different systems.
  • Adobe seems to be hoping that nobody notices these problems and that its vigilant marketing efforts can entrance the public into thinking that a drawing app extended into an animation tool and then retrofitted into a monstrous hack of a development platform is a superior technology basis for building web apps compared to the use of modern open standards created expressly to promote true interoperability by design rather than retroactively.
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    Part two of the Prince McClean Adobe-Flash history. Excellent history involves Adobe SVG, Microsoft VmL-XAML-Silverlight, Apple WebKit, Sun (Java) as they battle for dominance over web applications and the future of the Web itself.
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Gary Edwards

EU Stumbles On Buying Microsoft Alternatives -- Micosoft -- InformationWeek - 0 views

  • Ellinides said in an interview arranged by a spokeswoman for Commissioner Siim Callas, who oversees procurement, that studies showed the costs of moving to open source outweighed the benefits. He said it may be time for a new study.
  • "For the moment we are working in a Microsoft environment," said Christos Ellinides, director of corporate IT solutions and services, who recommends software for the Commission.
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    This is too funny. While Neelie Kroes is banging the open source - open standards drum, the head of the EU Commissions IT dept is buying Microsoft! The money quote: "Ellinides said in an interview arranged by a spokeswoman for Commissioner Siim Callas, who oversees procurement, that studies showed the costs of moving to open source outweighed the benefits. He said it may be time for a new study.
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Gary Edwards

A Cloudy Forecast for the Enterprise - Here comes Google | InternetNews Realtime IT News - - 0 views

  • Cloud computing will give rise to the 'power collaborator', who will "connect with people and find dispersed information across an organization and make it relevant," said speaking in Boston at the Enterprise 2.0 conference continuing through Thursday. The concept of cloud computing and Enterprise 2.0 Web-based applications and interactivity has apparently struck a positive chord with a fair number of businesses. Up to 69% cite collaboration as a key reason for the appeal of such environments, according to a survey released this week by AIIM, a non-profit group that tackles issues involving document management, content, records, and business processes. Other factors include: Improved agility and responsiveness (56%), faster communications (55%); increased innovation (39%); and a reduction in IT costs (36%).
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    Google moves into the Enterprise Cloud arena, and has some interesting things to say: Cloud computing will give rise to the 'power collaborator', who will "connect with people and find dispersed information across an organization and make it relevant," said speaking in Boston at the Enterprise 2.0 conference continuing through Thursday.
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Gary Edwards

Flex/Flash: About Singleton, Threads and Flex | Blogging about Software Development - 0 views

  • Flex applications are, like Flash applications, compiled into an SWF file. Once a user visits the webpage containing your Flex application, the SWF file is downloaded to and run from the client computer. Instead of a seperate session each user receives their own copy of your Flex application. The client computer runs the Flash VM, which in turn fires up the local copy of your Flex application. Furthermore, Flex uses the Actionscript scripting language. The current version is Actionscript 3. Actionscript 3 is single-threaded. By now you probably already see where this is going. The single-threaded nature of Flex applications means synchronization is not required.
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    Flex applications are, like Flash applications, compiled into an SWF file. Once a user visits the webpage containing your Flex application, the SWF file is downloaded to and run from the client computer. Instead of a seperate session each user receives their own copy of your Flex application. The client computer runs the Flash VM, which in turn fires up the local copy of your Flex application. Furthermore, Flex uses the Actionscript scripting language. The current version is Actionscript 3. Actionscript 3 is single-threaded. By now you probably already see where this is going. The single-threaded nature of Flex applications means synchronization is not required.
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Gary Edwards

Is the W3C to Blame for the Breaking of the Web? | Continuing Intermittent Incoherency » Power vs. Authority - 0 views

  • Consider the recent CSS features added by WebKit: transformations, animations, gradients, masks, et cetera. They’ve very nearly _run out_ of standards to implement, so they’re starting to implement the wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if stuff. If I’m not mistaken, this is the exact sort of thing you’re wishing for.
  • Changing the renderer (which is what we’re taking about when we talk about upgrading “the web”) goes hand-in-hand today with upgrading the *rest* of the browser as well, which requires the user to care…and users (to a one) don’t give a flying leap about CSS 2.1 support.
    • Gary Edwards
       
      Note to marbux: the browser is the layout/rendering engine for web applications and services. Nothing happens on the web unless and until the browser, or a browser RiA alternative, implements a compliant end user interface. Focus on the browser layout engines, and Web applications will follow.
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    Another article taking up the issue of "Blame the W3C" for what increasingly looks like a proprietary Web future. The author is an Ajax-DOJO supporter, and he tries to defend the W3C by saying it's not their job, they don't have the "power" or the "authority" to push the Web forward. About the best they can do is, at the end of the day, try to corral big vendors into agreement. Meanwhile, the Web has become the wild wild west with browser vendors innovating into their corporate web stacks where vast profits and future monopolies rest. For me, WebKit represents the best effort insisting that the Web remain Open. It's OSS with excellent big vendor support. And they are pushing the envelope. Finally!
Paul Merrell

Open letter to Google: free VP8, and use it on YouTube - Free Software Foundation - 0 views

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    With your purchase of On2, you now own both the world's largest video site (YouTube) and all the patents behind a new high performance video codec -- VP8. Just think what you can achieve by releasing the VP8 codec under an irrevocable royalty-free license and pushing it out to users on YouTube? You can end the web's dependence on patent-encumbered video formats and proprietary software (Flash). This ability to offer a free format on YouTube, however, is only a tiny fraction of your real leverage. The real party starts when you begin to encourage users' browsers to support free formats. There are lots of ways to do this. Our favorite would be for YouTube to switch from Flash to free formats and HTML, offering users with obsolete browsers a plugin or a new browser (free software, of course). Apple has had the mettle to ditch Flash on the iPhone and the iPad -- albeit for suspect reasons and using abhorrent methods (DRM) -- and this has pushed web developers to make Flash-free alternatives of their pages. You could do the same with YouTube, for better reasons, and it would be a death-blow to Flash's dominance in web video. If you care about free software and the free web (a movement and medium to which you owe your success) you must take bold action to replace Flash with free standards and free formats. Patented video codecs have already done untold harm to the web and its users, and this will continue until we stop it. Because patent-encumbered formats were costly to incorporate into browsers, a bloated, ill-suited piece of proprietary software (Flash) became the de facto standard for online video. Until we move to free formats, the threat of patent lawsuits and licensing fees hangs over every software developer, video creator, hardware maker, web site and corporation -- including you. You can use your purchase of On2 merely as a bargaining chip to achieve your own private solution to the problem, but that's both a cop-out and a strategic mistake. Without making VP
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Gallo report: Copyright dogmatism wins a battle, not the war Submitted on 01 June 2010 | La Quadrature du Net - 1 views

  • Brussels, June 1st 2010 - The vote, in JURI committee of the European Parliament on the Gallo report "Enforcement of intellectual property", including the rapporteur's repressive amendments, reflects the asphyxiating influence of corporate lobbies on EU policy-making. The ALDE group, which had stood for fundamental freedoms on several occasions, this time sided with the entertainment industries. This vote should make EU citizens react and convince MEPs about the stakes of our evolving digital societies. Beyond the vote of the Gallo report in plenary session, there are other upcoming legislative battles where the public interest of creativity and access to knowledge can be upheld against an obsolete vision of copyright.
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    Gallo Report on the future of EU copyright: repression or reflexion ? Submitted on 25 May 2010 in * copyright * proposals * Gallo * press release * Read more * Twitter * Facebook * Delicious * Digg * MySpace * Français Paris, May 25th, 2010 - The Gallo Report on the future of "intellectual property rights" (IPR) enforcement will be voted on June 1st, at 9 AM,1 in the Committee for Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament. Since no compromise was found between the members of the committee, two visions will frontally oppose. While the rapporteur -- French sarkozyst EPP member Marielle Gallo -- is pushing for more repression to tackle online file-sharing, some positive amendments from all the other political groups2 seek to end the dogmatic repression and call for the consideration of alternative schemes to fund creation. Every citizen concerned by the future of copyright in Europe and by the open nature of the Internet should express their views to the Members of the JURI committee3. 1. 1. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/calendarCom.do?langu... 2. 2. http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Rapport_Gallo_Amendments 3. 3. La Quadrature's wiki-based tool Political Memorycan be used for this purpose.
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    Perhaps The (Only One) Association that cares about Internet Citizens' Freedoms here in Europe...
Paul Merrell

Technology News: Tech Law: Court Ruling Grants Email the Cloak of Privacy - 0 views

  • The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down a ruling that delights privacy advocates and Fourth Amendment purists: In U.S. v. Warshak, it found that the government should have obtained a search warrant before seizing and searching defendant Stephen Warshak's emails, which were stored by email service providers.
  • It is an important ruling, because it is the first time a federal court of appeals has extended the Fourth Amendment to email with such careful consideration, and it is likely to be influential on both legal and practical levels
  • The decision is particularly important because the Stored Communications Act does allow the government to secretly obtain emails without a warrant in many situations, according to the EFF, which filed an amicus brief in the case.
Paul Merrell

Emergence of Cloud Technology Raises Complex Copyright Issues, Lawyers Say | BNA - 1 views

  • NEW YORK—The emergence of cloud technology as an electronic content infrastructure in the entertainment industry raises complex copyright issues, attorneys said at a Sept. 15 panel discussion.Increased reliance on cloud-based distribution platforms and business models in the industry “creates novel and inevitably ambiguous copyright issues,” according to Daniel E. Schnapp, who moderated the discussion at a Copyright Society of the U.S.A. luncheon.At stake is the balance between copyright holders' exclusive rights to reproduce and publicly perform their works versus the ability of consumers and service providers to make lawful use of the content through emerging technologies without infringement, he suggested.
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    The recording industry is worried about cloud computing. Hollywood was probably there too. 
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    Entertainment Industry should care more about quality, accessibility and price of their productions instead of being always blaming technology and forcing restrictive legislation...
Paul Merrell

FBI director: Cover up your webcam | TheHill - 0 views

  • The head of the FBI on Wednesday defended putting a piece of tape over his personal laptop's webcam, claiming the security step was a common sense one that most should take.  “There’s some sensible things you should be doing, and that’s one of them,” Director James Comey said during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.ADVERTISEMENT“You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen,” he added. “They all have a little lid that closes down on them.“You do that so that people who don’t have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.”Comey was pilloried online earlier this year, after he revealed that he puts a piece of tape over his laptop camera to keep away prying eyes. The precaution is a common one among security advocates, given the relative ease of hacking laptop cameras.  
  • But many found it ironic for Comey, who this year launched a high profile battle against Apple to gain access to data locked inside of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorists. Many viewed that fight as a referendum on digital privacy.Comey was “much mocked for that,” he acknowledged on Wednesday.But he still uses the tape on his laptop.“I hope people lock their cars,” he said. “Lock your doors at night… if you have an alarm system, you should use it.”“It’s not crazy that the FBI director cares about personal security as well,” the FBI director added. “So I think people ought to take responsibility for their own safety and security.”
Paul Merrell

Archiveteam - 0 views

  • HISTORY IS OUR FUTURE And we've been trashing our history Archive Team is a loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage. Since 2009 this variant force of nature has caught wind of shutdowns, shutoffs, mergers, and plain old deletions - and done our best to save the history before it's lost forever. Along the way, we've gotten attention, resistance, press and discussion, but most importantly, we've gotten the message out: IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. This website is intended to be an offloading point and information depot for a number of archiving projects, all related to saving websites or data that is in danger of being lost. Besides serving as a hub for team-based pulling down and mirroring of data, this site will provide advice on managing your own data and rescuing it from the brink of destruction. Currently Active Projects (Get Involved Here!) Archive Team recruiting Want to code for Archive Team? Here's a starting point.
  • Archive Team is a loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage. Since 2009 this variant force of nature has caught wind of shutdowns, shutoffs, mergers, and plain old deletions - and done our best to save the history before it's lost forever. Along the way, we've gotten attention, resistance, press and discussion, but most importantly, we've gotten the message out: IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. This website is intended to be an offloading point and information depot for a number of archiving projects, all related to saving websites or data that is in danger of being lost. Besides serving as a hub for team-based pulling down and mirroring of data, this site will provide advice on managing your own data and rescuing it from the brink of destruction.
  • Who We Are and how you can join our cause! Deathwatch is where we keep track of sites that are sickly, dying or dead. Fire Drill is where we keep track of sites that seem fine but a lot depends on them. Projects is a comprehensive list of AT endeavors. Philosophy describes the ideas underpinning our work. Some Starting Points The Introduction is an overview of basic archiving methods. Why Back Up? Because they don't care about you. Back Up your Facebook Data Learn how to liberate your personal data from Facebook. Software will assist you in regaining control of your data by providing tools for information backup, archiving and distribution. Formats will familiarise you with the various data formats, and how to ensure your files will be readable in the future. Storage Media is about where to get it, what to get, and how to use it. Recommended Reading links to others sites for further information. Frequently Asked Questions is where we answer common questions.
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    The Archive Team Warrior is a virtual archiving appliance. You can run it to help with the ArchiveTeam archiving efforts. It will download sites and upload them to our archive - and it's really easy to do! The warrior is a virtual machine, so there is no risk to your computer. The warrior will only use your bandwidth and some of your disk space. It will get tasks from and report progress to the Tracker. Basic usage The warrior runs on Windows, OS X and Linux using a virtual machine. You'll need one of: VirtualBox (recommended) VMware workstation/player (free-gratis for personal use) See below for alternative virtual machines Partners with and contributes lots of archives to the Wayback Machine. Here's how you can help by contributing some bandwidth if you run an always-on box with an internet connection.
Paul Merrell

Shaking My Head - Medium - 0 views

  • Last month, at the request of the Department of Justice, the Courts approved changes to the obscure Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which governs search and seizure. By the nature of this obscure bureaucratic process, these rules become law unless Congress rejects the changes before December 1, 2016.Today I, along with my colleagues Senators Paul from Kentucky, Baldwin from Wisconsin, and Daines and Tester from Montana, am introducing the Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act (bill, summary), a bill to protect millions of law-abiding Americans from a massive expansion of government hacking and surveillance. Join the conversation with #SMHact.
  • For law enforcement to conduct a remote electronic search, they generally need to plant malware in — i.e. hack — a device. These rule changes will allow the government to search millions of computers with the warrant of a single judge. To me, that’s clearly a policy change that’s outside the scope of an “administrative change,” and it is something that Congress should consider. An agency with the record of the Justice Department shouldn’t be able to wave its arms and grant itself entirely new powers.
  • These changes say that if law enforcement doesn’t know where an electronic device is located, a magistrate judge will now have the the authority to issue a warrant to remotely search the device, anywhere in the world. While it may be appropriate to address the issue of allowing a remote electronic search for a device at an unknown location, Congress needs to consider what protections must be in place to protect Americans’ digital security and privacy. This is a new and uncertain area of law, so there needs to be full and careful debate. The ACLU has a thorough discussion of the Fourth Amendment ramifications and the technological questions at issue with these kinds of searches.The second part of the change to Rule 41 would give a magistrate judge the authority to issue a single warrant that would authorize the search of an unlimited number — potentially thousands or millions — of devices, located anywhere in the world. These changes would dramatically expand the government’s hacking and surveillance authority. The American public should understand that these changes won’t just affect criminals: computer security experts and civil liberties advocates say the amendments would also dramatically expand the government’s ability to hack the electronic devices of law-abiding Americans if their devices were affected by a computer attack. Devices will be subject to search if their owners were victims of a botnet attack — so the government will be treating victims of hacking the same way they treat the perpetrators.
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  • As the Center on Democracy and Technology has noted, there are approximately 500 million computers that fall under this rule. The public doesn’t know nearly enough about how law enforcement executes these hacks, and what risks these types of searches will pose. By compromising the computer’s system, the search might leave it open to other attackers or damage the computer they are searching.Don’t take it from me that this will impact your security, read more from security researchers Steven Bellovin, Matt Blaze and Susan Landau.Finally, these changes to Rule 41 would also give some types of electronic searches different, weaker notification requirements than physical searches. Under this new Rule, they are only required to make “reasonable efforts” to notify people that their computers were searched. This raises the possibility of the FBI hacking into a cyber attack victim’s computer and not telling them about it until afterward, if at all.
Paul Merrell

Save Firefox! | Electronic Frontier Foundation - 0 views

  • The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), once the force for open standards that kept browsers from locking publishers to their proprietary capabilities, has changed its mission. Since 2013, the organization has provided a forum where today's dominant browser companies and the dominant entertainment companies can collaborate on a system to let our browsers control our behavior, rather than the other way. This system, "Encrypted Media Extensions" (EME) uses standards-defined code to funnel video into a proprietary container called a "Content Decryption Module." For a new browser to support this new video streaming standard -- which major studios and cable operators are pushing for -- it would have to convince those entertainment companies or one of their partners to let them have a CDM, or this part of the "open" Web would not display in their new browser. This is the opposite of every W3C standard to date: once, all you needed to do to render content sent by a server was follow the standard, not get permission. If browsers had needed permission to render a page at the launch of Mozilla, the publishers would have frozen out this new, pop-up-blocking upstart. Kiss Firefox goodbye, in other words.
  • The W3C didn't have to do this. No copyright law says that making a video gives you the right to tell people who legally watch it how they must configure their equipment. But because of the design of EME, copyright holders will be able to use the law to shut down any new browser that tries to render the video without their permission. That's because EME is designed to trigger liability under section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which says that removing a digital lock that controls access to a copyrighted work without permission is an offense, even if the person removing the lock has the right to the content it restricts. In other words, once a video is sent with EME, a new company that unlocks it for its users can be sued, even if the users do nothing illegal with that video. We proposed that the W3C could protect new browsers by making their members promise not to use the DMCA to attack new entrants in the market, an idea supported by a diverse group of W3C members, but the W3C executive overruled us saying the work would go forward with no safeguards for future competition. It's even worse than at first glance. The DMCA isn't limited to the USA: the US Trade Representative has spread DMCA-like rules to virtually every country that does business with America. Worse still: the DMCA is also routinely used by companies to threaten and silence security researchers who reveal embarrassing defects in their products. The W3C also declined to require its members to protect security researchers who discover flaws in EME, leaving every Web user vulnerable to vulnerabilities whose disclosure can only safely take place if the affected company decides to permit it.
  • The W3C needs credibility with people who care about the open Web and innovation in order to be viable. They are sensitive to this kind of criticism. We empathize. There are lots of good people working there, people who genuinely, passionately want the Web to stay open to everyone, and to be safe for its users. But the organization made a terrible decision when it opted to provide a home for EME, and an even worse one when it overruled its own members and declined protection for security research and new competitors. It needs to hear from you now. Please share this post, and spread the word. Help the W3C be the organization it is meant to be.
Paul Merrell

He Was a Hacker for the NSA and He Was Willing to Talk. I Was Willing to Listen. - 2 views

  • he message arrived at night and consisted of three words: “Good evening sir!” The sender was a hacker who had written a series of provocative memos at the National Security Agency. His secret memos had explained — with an earthy use of slang and emojis that was unusual for an operative of the largest eavesdropping organization in the world — how the NSA breaks into the digital accounts of people who manage computer networks, and how it tries to unmask people who use Tor to browse the web anonymously. Outlining some of the NSA’s most sensitive activities, the memos were leaked by Edward Snowden, and I had written about a few of them for The Intercept. There is no Miss Manners for exchanging pleasantries with a man the government has trained to be the digital equivalent of a Navy SEAL. Though I had initiated the contact, I was wary of how he might respond. The hacker had publicly expressed a visceral dislike for Snowden and had accused The Intercept of jeopardizing lives by publishing classified information. One of his memos outlined the ways the NSA reroutes (or “shapes”) the internet traffic of entire countries, and another memo was titled “I Hunt Sysadmins.” I felt sure he could hack anyone’s computer, including mine. Good evening sir!
  • The sender was a hacker who had written a series of provocative memos at the National Security Agency. His secret memos had explained — with an earthy use of slang and emojis that was unusual for an operative of the largest eavesdropping organization in the world — how the NSA breaks into the digital accounts of people who manage computer networks, and how it tries to unmask people who use Tor to browse the web anonymously. Outlining some of the NSA’s most sensitive activities, the memos were leaked by Edward Snowden, and I had written about a few of them for The Intercept. There is no Miss Manners for exchanging pleasantries with a man the government has trained to be the digital equivalent of a Navy SEAL. Though I had initiated the contact, I was wary of how he might respond. The hacker had publicly expressed a visceral dislike for Snowden and had accused The Intercept of jeopardizing lives by publishing classified information. One of his memos outlined the ways the NSA reroutes (or “shapes”) the internet traffic of entire countries, and another memo was titled “I Hunt Sysadmins.” I felt sure he could hack anyone’s computer, including mine.
  • I got lucky with the hacker, because he recently left the agency for the cybersecurity industry; it would be his choice to talk, not the NSA’s. Fortunately, speaking out is his second nature.
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  • He agreed to a video chat that turned into a three-hour discussion sprawling from the ethics of surveillance to the downsides of home improvements and the difficulty of securing your laptop.
  • In recent years, two developments have helped make hacking for the government a lot more attractive than hacking for yourself. First, the Department of Justice has cracked down on freelance hacking, whether it be altruistic or malignant. If the DOJ doesn’t like the way you hack, you are going to jail. Meanwhile, hackers have been warmly invited to deploy their transgressive impulses in service to the homeland, because the NSA and other federal agencies have turned themselves into licensed hives of breaking into other people’s computers. For many, it’s a techno sandbox of irresistible delights, according to Gabriella Coleman, a professor at McGill University who studies hackers. “The NSA is a very exciting place for hackers because you have unlimited resources, you have some of the best talent in the world, whether it’s cryptographers or mathematicians or hackers,” she said. “It is just too intellectually exciting not to go there.”
  • “If I turn the tables on you,” I asked the Lamb, “and say, OK, you’re a target for all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. How do you feel about being a target and that kind of justification being used to justify getting all of your credentials and the keys to your kingdom?” The Lamb smiled. “There is no real safe, sacred ground on the internet,” he replied. “Whatever you do on the internet is an attack surface of some sort and is just something that you live with. Any time that I do something on the internet, yeah, that is on the back of my mind. Anyone from a script kiddie to some random hacker to some other foreign intelligence service, each with their different capabilities — what could they be doing to me?”
  • The Lamb’s memos on cool ways to hunt sysadmins triggered a strong reaction when I wrote about them in 2014 with my colleague Ryan Gallagher. The memos explained how the NSA tracks down the email and Facebook accounts of systems administrators who oversee computer networks. After plundering their accounts, the NSA can impersonate the admins to get into their computer networks and pilfer the data flowing through them. As the Lamb wrote, “sys admins generally are not my end target. My end target is the extremist/terrorist or government official that happens to be using the network … who better to target than the person that already has the ‘keys to the kingdom’?” Another of his NSA memos, “Network Shaping 101,” used Yemen as a theoretical case study for secretly redirecting the entirety of a country’s internet traffic to NSA servers.
  • “You know, the situation is what it is,” he said. “There are protocols that were designed years ago before anybody had any care about security, because when they were developed, nobody was foreseeing that they would be taken advantage of. … A lot of people on the internet seem to approach the problem [with the attitude of] ‘I’m just going to walk naked outside of my house and hope that nobody looks at me.’ From a security perspective, is that a good way to go about thinking? No, horrible … There are good ways to be more secure on the internet. But do most people use Tor? No. Do most people use Signal? No. Do most people use insecure things that most people can hack? Yes. Is that a bash against the intelligence community that people use stuff that’s easily exploitable? That’s a hard argument for me to make.”
  • I mentioned that lots of people, including Snowden, are now working on the problem of how to make the internet more secure, yet he seemed to do the opposite at the NSA by trying to find ways to track and identify people who use Tor and other anonymizers. Would he consider working on the other side of things? He wouldn’t rule it out, he said, but dismally suggested the game was over as far as having a liberating and safe internet, because our laptops and smartphones will betray us no matter what we do with them. “There’s the old adage that the only secure computer is one that is turned off, buried in a box ten feet underground, and never turned on,” he said. “From a user perspective, someone trying to find holes by day and then just live on the internet by night, there’s the expectation [that] if somebody wants to have access to your computer bad enough, they’re going to get it. Whether that’s an intelligence agency or a cybercrimes syndicate, whoever that is, it’s probably going to happen.”
  • There are precautions one can take, and I did that with the Lamb. When we had our video chat, I used a computer that had been wiped clean of everything except its operating system and essential applications. Afterward, it was wiped clean again. My concern was that the Lamb might use the session to obtain data from or about the computer I was using; there are a lot of things he might have tried, if he was in a scheming mood. At the end of our three hours together, I mentioned to him that I had taken these precautions—and he approved. “That’s fair,” he said. “I’m glad you have that appreciation. … From a perspective of a journalist who has access to classified information, it would be remiss to think you’re not a target of foreign intelligence services.” He was telling me the U.S. government should be the least of my worries. He was trying to help me. Documents published with this article: Tracking Targets Through Proxies & Anonymizers Network Shaping 101 Shaping Diagram I Hunt Sys Admins (first published in 2014)
Paul Merrell

What to Do About Lawless Government Hacking and the Weakening of Digital Security | Electronic Frontier Foundation - 0 views

  • In our society, the rule of law sets limits on what government can and cannot do, no matter how important its goals. To give a simple example, even when chasing a fleeing murder suspect, the police have a duty not to endanger bystanders. The government should pay the same care to our safety in pursuing threats online, but right now we don’t have clear, enforceable rules for government activities like hacking and "digital sabotage." And this is no abstract question—these actions increasingly endanger everyone’s security
  • The problem became especially clear this year during the San Bernardino case, involving the FBI’s demand that Apple rewrite its iOS operating system to defeat security features on a locked iPhone. Ultimately the FBI exploited an existing vulnerability in iOS and accessed the contents of the phone with the help of an "outside party." Then, with no public process or discussion of the tradeoffs involved, the government refused to tell Apple about the flaw. Despite the obvious fact that the security of the computers and networks we all use is both collective and interwoven—other iPhones used by millions of innocent people presumably have the same vulnerability—the government chose to withhold information Apple could have used to improve the security of its phones. Other examples include intelligence activities like Stuxnet and Bullrun, and law enforcement investigations like the FBI’s mass use of malware against Tor users engaged in criminal behavior. These activities are often disproportionate to stopping legitimate threats, resulting in unpatched software for millions of innocent users, overbroad surveillance, and other collateral effects.  That’s why we’re working on a positive agenda to confront governmental threats to digital security. Put more directly, we’re calling on lawyers, advocates, technologists, and the public to demand a public discussion of whether, when, and how governments can be empowered to break into our computers, phones, and other devices; sabotage and subvert basic security protocols; and stockpile and exploit software flaws and vulnerabilities.  
  • Smart people in academia and elsewhere have been thinking and writing about these issues for years. But it’s time to take the next step and make clear, public rules that carry the force of law to ensure that the government weighs the tradeoffs and reaches the right decisions. This long post outlines some of the things that can be done. It frames the issue, then describes some of the key areas where EFF is already pursuing this agenda—in particular formalizing the rules for disclosing vulnerabilities and setting out narrow limits for the use of government malware. Finally it lays out where we think the debate should go from here.   
  •  
    "In our society, the rule of law sets limits on what government can and cannot do, no matter how important its goals. "
  •  
    It's not often that I disagree with EFF's positions, but on this one I do. The government should be prohibited from exploiting computer vulnerabilities and should be required to immediately report all vulnerabilities discovered to the relevant developers of hardware or software. It's been one long slippery slope since the Supreme Court first approved wiretapping in Olmstead v. United States, 277 US 438 (1928), https://goo.gl/NJevsr (.) Left undecided to this day is whether we have a right to whisper privately, a right that is undeniable. All communications intercept cases since Olmstead fly directly in the face of that right.
Paul Merrell

US judge slams surveillance requests as "repugnant to the Fourth Amendment" - World Socialist Web Site - 0 views

  • Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola denied a US government request earlier this month for a search and seizure warrant, targeting electronic data stored on Apple Inc. property. Facciola’s order, issued on March 7, 2014, rejected what it described as only the latest in a series of “overbroad search and seizure requests,” and “unconstitutional warrant applications” submitted by the US government to the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Facciola referred to the virtually unlimited warrant request submitted by the Justice Department as “repugnant to the Fourth Amendment.” The surveillance request sought information in relation to a “kickback investigation” of a defense contractor, details about which remain secret. It is significant, however, that the surveillance request denied by Facciola relates to a criminal investigation, unrelated to terrorism. This demonstrates that the use by the Obama administration of blanket warrants enabling them to seize all information on a person's Internet accounts is not limited to terrorism, as is frequently claimed, but is part of a program of general mass illegal spying on the American people.
  • Facciola’s ruling states in no uncertain terms that the Obama administration has aggressively and repeatedly sought expansive, unconstitutional warrants, ignoring the court’s insistence for specific, narrowly targeted surveillance requests. “The government continues to submit overly broad warrants and makes no effort to balance the law enforcement interest against the obvious expectation of privacy email account holders have in their communications…The government continues to ask for all electronically stored information in email accounts, irrespective of the relevance to the investigation,” wrote Judge Facciola. As stated in the ruling, the surveillance requests submitted to the court by the US government sought the following comprehensive, virtually limitless list of information about the target: “All records or other information stored by an individual using each account, including address books, contact and buddy lists, pictures, and files… All records or other information regarding the identification of the accounts, to include full name, physical address, telephone numbers and other identifies, records of session times and durations, the date on which each account was created, the length of service, the types of service utilized, the Internet Protocol (IP) address used to register each account, log-in IP addresses associated with session times and dates, account status, alternative email addresses provided during registration, methods of connecting, log files, and means of payment (including any credit or bank account number).”
  • Responding to these all-encompassing warrant requests, Judge Facciola ruled that evidence of probable cause was necessary for each specific item sought by the government. “This Court is increasingly concerned about the government’s applications for search warrants for electronic data. In essence, its applications ask for the entire universe of information tied to a particular account, even if it has established probable cause only for certain information,” Facciola wrote. “It is the Court’s duty to reject any applications for search warrants where the standard of probable cause has not been met… To follow the dictates of the Fourth Amendment and to avoid issuing a general warrant, a court must be careful to ensure that probable cause exists to seize each item specified in the warrant application… Any search of an electronic source has the potential to unearth tens or hundreds of thousands of individual documents, pictures, movies, or other constitutionally protected content.” Facciola also noted in the ruling that the government never reported the length of time it would keep the data, or whether it planned to destroy the data at any point.
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  • Facciola’s ruling represents a reversal from a previous ruling, in which a Kansas judge allowed the government to conduct such unlimited searches of Yahoo accounts.
  • In testimony, De and his deputy Brad Wiegmann rejected the privacy board’s advice that the agency limit its data mining to specific targets approved by specific warrants. “If you have to go back to court every time you look at the information in your custody, you can imagine that would be quite burdensome,” said Wiegmann. De further said on the topic, “That information is at the government’s disposal to review in the first instance.” As these statements indicate, the intelligence establishment rejects any restrictions on their prerogative to spy on every aspect of citizens lives at will, even the entirely cosmetic regulations proposed by the Obama administration-appointed PCLOB.
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