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Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Experts worry governments, 'commercial pressures' will undermine online freedom | PCWorld - 0 views

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    "Nick Mediati @dtnick Jul 5, 2014 1:32 PM e-mail print Internet experts hope the Internet has plenty of good days ahead of it, but are still worried that various factors will put a damper on the open Internet we know today. That's the takeaway of a new study from the Pew Research Center, which polled 1400 experts to gauge their views on the future of online freedom. "
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    "Nick Mediati @dtnick Jul 5, 2014 1:32 PM e-mail print Internet experts hope the Internet has plenty of good days ahead of it, but are still worried that various factors will put a damper on the open Internet we know today. That's the takeaway of a new study from the Pew Research Center, which polled 1400 experts to gauge their views on the future of online freedom. "
Paul Merrell

Expert System Guns for Google with Semantic Search, Advertising - 0 views

  • Would-be Google AdSense rival Expert System launches its Cogito Semantic Advertiser tool, which discerns the meaning and context of words to provide more relevant ads. By leveraging semantic technologies, Expert System joins a cadre of search providers that includes Microsoft-owned Powerset, Hakia, Yedda and Zoomix.
  • The problem is that AdSense relies on keyword frequency but doesn't drill down into the semantics—the meaning in the words. Cogito Semantic Advertiser attempts to go further by using semantic intelligence to analyze the text on each page and ensure that ads are placed appropriately to increase click-through rates.
  • Asher told me Cogito Semantic Advertiser understands content based on four key methodologies: studying the morphology of words; looking at parts of speech; sentence logic, or the reduction of sentences to subject, verb and object; and disambiguation, which in the case of the jaguar story paired with the Jaguar car ad would determine whether or not the text referred to a car or an animal.
Paul Merrell

For sale: Systems that can secretly track where cellphone users go around the globe - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent. The technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks: They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people’s travels over days, weeks or longer, according to company marketing documents and experts in surveillance technology.
  • The world’s most powerful intelligence services, such as the National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ, long have used cellphone data to track targets around the globe. But experts say these new systems allow less technically advanced governments to track people in any nation — including the United States — with relative ease and precision.
  • It is unclear which governments have acquired these tracking systems, but one industry official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive trade information, said that dozens of countries have bought or leased such technology in recent years. This rapid spread underscores how the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar surveillance industry makes advanced spying technology available worldwide. “Any tin-pot dictator with enough money to buy the system could spy on people anywhere in the world,” said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, a London-based activist group that warns about the abuse of surveillance technology. “This is a huge problem.”
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  • Security experts say hackers, sophisticated criminal gangs and nations under sanctions also could use this tracking technology, which operates in a legal gray area. It is illegal in many countries to track people without their consent or a court order, but there is no clear international legal standard for secretly tracking people in other countries, nor is there a global entity with the authority to police potential abuses.
  • tracking systems that access carrier location databases are unusual in their ability to allow virtually any government to track people across borders, with any type of cellular phone, across a wide range of carriers — without the carriers even knowing. These systems also can be used in tandem with other technologies that, when the general location of a person is already known, can intercept calls and Internet traffic, activate microphones, and access contact lists, photos and other documents. Companies that make and sell surveillance technology seek to limit public information about their systems’ capabilities and client lists, typically marketing their technology directly to law enforcement and intelligence services through international conferences that are closed to journalists and other members of the public.
  • Yet marketing documents obtained by The Washington Post show that companies are offering powerful systems that are designed to evade detection while plotting movements of surveillance targets on computerized maps. The documents claim system success rates of more than 70 percent. A 24-page marketing brochure for SkyLock, a cellular tracking system sold by Verint, a maker of analytics systems based in Melville, N.Y., carries the subtitle “Locate. Track. Manipulate.” The document, dated January 2013 and labeled “Commercially Confidential,” says the system offers government agencies “a cost-effective, new approach to obtaining global location information concerning known targets.”
  • (Privacy International has collected several marketing brochures on cellular surveillance systems, including one that refers briefly to SkyLock, and posted them on its Web site. The 24-page SkyLock brochure and other material was independently provided to The Post by people concerned that such systems are being abused.)
  • Verint, which also has substantial operations in Israel, declined to comment for this story. It says in the marketing brochure that it does not use SkyLock against U.S. or Israeli phones, which could violate national laws. But several similar systems, marketed in recent years by companies based in Switzerland, Ukraine and elsewhere, likely are free of such limitations.
  • The tracking technology takes advantage of the lax security of SS7, a global network that cellular carriers use to communicate with one another when directing calls, texts and Internet data. The system was built decades ago, when only a few large carriers controlled the bulk of global phone traffic. Now thousands of companies use SS7 to provide services to billions of phones and other mobile devices, security experts say. All of these companies have access to the network and can send queries to other companies on the SS7 system, making the entire network more vulnerable to exploitation. Any one of these companies could share its access with others, including makers of surveillance systems.
  • Companies that market SS7 tracking systems recommend using them in tandem with “IMSI catchers,” increasingly common surveillance devices that use cellular signals collected directly from the air to intercept calls and Internet traffic, send fake texts, install spyware on a phone, and determine precise locations. IMSI catchers — also known by one popular trade name, StingRay — can home in on somebody a mile or two away but are useless if a target’s general location is not known. SS7 tracking systems solve that problem by locating the general area of a target so that IMSI catchers can be deployed effectively. (The term “IMSI” refers to a unique identifying code on a cellular phone.)
  • Verint can install SkyLock on the networks of cellular carriers if they are cooperative — something that telecommunications experts say is common in countries where carriers have close relationships with their national governments. Verint also has its own “worldwide SS7 hubs” that “are spread in various locations around the world,” says the brochure. It does not list prices for the services, though it says that Verint charges more for the ability to track targets in many far-flung countries, as opposed to only a few nearby ones. Among the most appealing features of the system, the brochure says, is its ability to sidestep the cellular operators that sometimes protect their users’ personal information by refusing government requests or insisting on formal court orders before releasing information.
  • Another company, Defentek, markets a similar system called Infiltrator Global Real-Time Tracking System on its Web site, claiming to “locate and track any phone number in the world.” The site adds: “It is a strategic solution that infiltrates and is undetected and unknown by the network, carrier, or the target.”
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    The Verint company has very close ties to the Iraeli government. Its former parent company Comverse, was heavily subsidized by Israel and the bulk of its manufacturing and code development was done in Israel. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comverse_Technology "In December 2001, a Fox News report raised the concern that wiretapping equipment provided by Comverse Infosys to the U.S. government for electronic eavesdropping may have been vulnerable, as these systems allegedly had a back door through which the wiretaps could be intercepted by unauthorized parties.[55] Fox News reporter Carl Cameron said there was no reason to believe the Israeli government was implicated, but that "a classified top-secret investigation is underway".[55] A March 2002 story by Le Monde recapped the Fox report and concluded: "Comverse is suspected of having introduced into its systems of the 'catch gates' in order to 'intercept, record and store' these wire-taps. This hardware would render the 'listener' himself 'listened to'."[56] Fox News did not pursue the allegations, and in the years since, there have been no legal or commercial actions of any type taken against Comverse by the FBI or any other branch of the US Government related to data access and security issues. While no real evidence has been presented against Comverse or Verint, the allegations have become a favorite topic of conspiracy theorists.[57] By 2005, the company had $959 million in sales and employed over 5,000 people, of whom about half were located in Israel.[16]" Verint is also the company that got the Dept. of Homeland Security contract to provide and install an electronic and video surveillance system across the entire U.S. border with Mexico.  One need not be much of a conspiracy theorist to have concerns about Verint's likely interactions and data sharing with the NSA and its Israeli equivalent, Unit 8200. 
Gary Edwards

Siding with HTML over XHTML, My Decision to Switch - Monday By Noon - 0 views

  • Publishing content on the Web is in no way limited to professional developers or designers, much of the reason the net is so active is because anyone can make a website. Sure, we (as knowledgeable professionals or hobbyists) all hope to make the Web a better place by doing our part in publishing documents with semantically rich, valid markup, but the reality is that those documents are rare. It’s important to keep in mind the true nature of the Internet; an open platform for information sharing.
  • XHTML2 has some very good ideas that I hope can become part of the web. However, it’s unrealistic to think that all web authors will switch to an XML-based syntax which demands that browsers stop processing the document on the first error. XML’s draconian policy was an attempt to clean up the web. This was done around 1996 when lots of invalid content entered the web. CSS took a different approach: instead of demanding that content isn’t processed, we defined rules for how to handle the undefined. It’s called “forward-compatible parsing” and means we can add new constructs without breaking the old. So, I don’t think XHTML is a realistic option for the masses. HTML 5 is it.
    • Gary Edwards
       
      Great quote from CSS expert Hakon Wium Lie.
  • @marbux: Of course i disagree with your interop assessment, but I wondered how it is that you’re missing the point. I think you confuse web applications with legacy desktop – client/server application model. And that confusion leads to the mistake of trying to transfer the desktop document model to one that could adequately service advancing web applications.
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    A CMS expert argues for HTML over XHTML, explaining his reasons for switching. Excellent read! He nails the basics. for similar reasons, we moved from ODF to ePUB and then to CDf and finally to the advanced WebKit document model, where wikiWORD will make it's stand.
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    See also my comment on the same web page that explains why HTML 5 is NOT it for document exchange between web editing applications. .
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    Response to marbux supporting the WebKit layout/document model. Marbux argues that HTML5 is not interoperable, and CSS2 near useless. HTML5 fails regarding the the interop web appplications need. I respond by arguing that the only way to look at web applications is to consider that the browser layout engine is the web application layout engine! Web applications are actually written to the browser layout/document model, OR, to take advantage of browser plug-in capabilities. The interoperability marbux seeks is tied directly to the browser layout engine. In this context, the web format is simply a reflection of that layout engine. If there's an interop problem, it comes from browser madness differentials. The good news is that there are all kinds of efforts to close the browser gap: including WHATWG - HTML5, CSS3, W3C DOM, JavaScript Libraries, Google GWT (Java to JavaScript), Yahoo GUI, and the my favorite; WebKit. The bad news is that the clock is ticking. Microsoft has pulled the trigger and the great migration of MSOffice client/server systems to the MS WebSTack-Mesh architecture has begun. Key to this transition are the WPF-.NET proprietary formats, protocols and interfaces such as XAML, Silverlight, LINQ, and Smart Tags. New business processes are being written, and old legacy desktop bound processes are being transitioned to this emerging platform. The fight for the Open Web is on, with Microsoft threatening to transtion their entire business desktop monopoly to a Web platfomr they own. ~ge~
Gary Edwards

Skynet rising: Google acquires 512-qubit quantum computer; NSA surveillance to be turned over to AI machines Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind! - 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
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Legal Scholars Warn Against 10 Year Prison for Online Pirates - TorrentFreak - 0 views

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    " Ernesto on August 15, 2015 C: 70 News Legal experts and activists are protesting a UK Government proposal to increase the maximum jail term for online piracy from two to ten years. The proposed extension is disproportionate, ineffective and puts casual file-sharers at risk of long jail sentences, they argue."
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    " Ernesto on August 15, 2015 C: 70 News Legal experts and activists are protesting a UK Government proposal to increase the maximum jail term for online piracy from two to ten years. The proposed extension is disproportionate, ineffective and puts casual file-sharers at risk of long jail sentences, they argue."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

A public marketplace for hackers-what could possibly go wrong? | Ars Technica - 0 views

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    "Last November, Charles Tendell quietly launched a website called Hacker's List. Its name was literal. In this online marketplace, white-hat security experts could sell their services in bite-size engagements to people with cyber-problems beyond their grasp."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Linux software equivalent to Windows software - LQWiki - 1 views

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    "When migrating to Linux from Windows, a common question is "Where can I get an application for Linux that is similar to XYZ program on Windows?" Fear not! Listed below are programs that could be considered roughly equivalent to certain popular Windows applications. Note that the Linux programs might not have all the features which can be found in Windows proprietary software, but unless you are an expert in some Windows program this should not be a major obstacle. "
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    "When migrating to Linux from Windows, a common question is "Where can I get an application for Linux that is similar to XYZ program on Windows?" Fear not! Listed below are programs that could be considered roughly equivalent to certain popular Windows applications. Note that the Linux programs might not have all the features which can be found in Windows proprietary software, but unless you are an expert in some Windows program this should not be a major obstacle. "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

U.S. Court Grants Order to Wipe Pirate Sites from the Internet | TorrentFreak - 1 views

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    "... The preliminary injunction is unique in its kind, both due to its broadness and the fact that it happened without due process. This has several experts worried, including EFF's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "It's very worrisome that a court would issue a rapid and broad order affecting speech based on allegations, without careful consideration and an opportunity for the targets to defend themselves," McSherry tells TorrentFreak."
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    "... The preliminary injunction is unique in its kind, both due to its broadness and the fact that it happened without due process. This has several experts worried, including EFF's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "It's very worrisome that a court would issue a rapid and broad order affecting speech based on allegations, without careful consideration and an opportunity for the targets to defend themselves," McSherry tells TorrentFreak."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Computer Scientists, Legal Experts Explain To Supreme Court Why APIs Are Not Copyrightable | Techdirt - 0 views

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    "Today, open, uncopyrightable APIs continue to spur the creation and adoption of new technologies. When programmers can freely reimplement or reverse engineer an API without obtaining a costly license or risking a lawsuit, they can create compatible software that the interface's original creator might never have envisioned or had the resources to develop."
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    "Today, open, uncopyrightable APIs continue to spur the creation and adoption of new technologies. When programmers can freely reimplement or reverse engineer an API without obtaining a costly license or risking a lawsuit, they can create compatible software that the interface's original creator might never have envisioned or had the resources to develop."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

LibrePlanet 2016 [March 19-20 MIT Cambridge, Massachusetts] - 0 views

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    "LibrePlanet is an annual conference hosted by the Free Software Foundation for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and address challenges facing the free software movement"
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    "LibrePlanet is an annual conference hosted by the Free Software Foundation for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and address challenges facing the free software movement"
Paul Merrell

Cy Vance's Proposal to Backdoor Encrypted Devices Is Riddled With Vulnerabilities | Just Security - 0 views

  • Less than a week after the attacks in Paris — while the public and policymakers were still reeling, and the investigation had barely gotten off the ground — Cy Vance, Manhattan’s District Attorney, released a policy paper calling for legislation requiring companies to provide the government with backdoor access to their smartphones and other mobile devices. This is the first concrete proposal of this type since September 2014, when FBI Director James Comey reignited the “Crypto Wars” in response to Apple’s and Google’s decisions to use default encryption on their smartphones. Though Comey seized on Apple’s and Google’s decisions to encrypt their devices by default, his concerns are primarily related to end-to-end encryption, which protects communications that are in transit. Vance’s proposal, on the other hand, is only concerned with device encryption, which protects data stored on phones. It is still unclear whether encryption played any role in the Paris attacks, though we do know that the attackers were using unencrypted SMS text messages on the night of the attack, and that some of them were even known to intelligence agencies and had previously been under surveillance. But regardless of whether encryption was used at some point during the planning of the attacks, as I lay out below, prohibiting companies from selling encrypted devices would not prevent criminals or terrorists from being able to access unbreakable encryption. Vance’s primary complaint is that Apple’s and Google’s decisions to provide their customers with more secure devices through encryption interferes with criminal investigations. He claims encryption prevents law enforcement from accessing stored data like iMessages, photos and videos, Internet search histories, and third party app data. He makes several arguments to justify his proposal to build backdoors into encrypted smartphones, but none of them hold water.
  • Before addressing the major privacy, security, and implementation concerns that his proposal raises, it is worth noting that while an increase in use of fully encrypted devices could interfere with some law enforcement investigations, it will help prevent far more crimes — especially smartphone theft, and the consequent potential for identity theft. According to Consumer Reports, in 2014 there were more than two million victims of smartphone theft, and nearly two-thirds of all smartphone users either took no steps to secure their phones or their data or failed to implement passcode access for their phones. Default encryption could reduce instances of theft because perpetrators would no longer be able to break into the phone to steal the data.
  • Vance argues that creating a weakness in encryption to allow law enforcement to access data stored on devices does not raise serious concerns for security and privacy, since in order to exploit the vulnerability one would need access to the actual device. He considers this an acceptable risk, claiming it would not be the same as creating a widespread vulnerability in encryption protecting communications in transit (like emails), and that it would be cheap and easy for companies to implement. But Vance seems to be underestimating the risks involved with his plan. It is increasingly important that smartphones and other devices are protected by the strongest encryption possible. Our devices and the apps on them contain astonishing amounts of personal information, so much that an unprecedented level of harm could be caused if a smartphone or device with an exploitable vulnerability is stolen, not least in the forms of identity fraud and credit card theft. We bank on our phones, and have access to credit card payments with services like Apple Pay. Our contact lists are stored on our phones, including phone numbers, emails, social media accounts, and addresses. Passwords are often stored on people’s phones. And phones and apps are often full of personal details about their lives, from food diaries to logs of favorite places to personal photographs. Symantec conducted a study, where the company spread 50 “lost” phones in public to see what people who picked up the phones would do with them. The company found that 95 percent of those people tried to access the phone, and while nearly 90 percent tried to access private information stored on the phone or in other private accounts such as banking services and email, only 50 percent attempted contacting the owner.
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  • Vance attempts to downplay this serious risk by asserting that anyone can use the “Find My Phone” or Android Device Manager services that allow owners to delete the data on their phones if stolen. However, this does not stand up to scrutiny. These services are effective only when an owner realizes their phone is missing and can take swift action on another computer or device. This delay ensures some period of vulnerability. Encryption, on the other hand, protects everyone immediately and always. Additionally, Vance argues that it is safer to build backdoors into encrypted devices than it is to do so for encrypted communications in transit. It is true that there is a difference in the threats posed by the two types of encryption backdoors that are being debated. However, some manner of widespread vulnerability will inevitably result from a backdoor to encrypted devices. Indeed, the NSA and GCHQ reportedly hacked into a database to obtain cell phone SIM card encryption keys in order defeat the security protecting users’ communications and activities and to conduct surveillance. Clearly, the reality is that the threat of such a breach, whether from a hacker or a nation state actor, is very real. Even if companies go the extra mile and create a different means of access for every phone, such as a separate access key for each phone, significant vulnerabilities will be created. It would still be possible for a malicious actor to gain access to the database containing those keys, which would enable them to defeat the encryption on any smartphone they took possession of. Additionally, the cost of implementation and maintenance of such a complex system could be high.
  • Privacy is another concern that Vance dismisses too easily. Despite Vance’s arguments otherwise, building backdoors into device encryption undermines privacy. Our government does not impose a similar requirement in any other context. Police can enter homes with warrants, but there is no requirement that people record their conversations and interactions just in case they someday become useful in an investigation. The conversations that we once had through disposable letters and in-person conversations now happen over the Internet and on phones. Just because the medium has changed does not mean our right to privacy has.
  • In addition to his weak reasoning for why it would be feasible to create backdoors to encrypted devices without creating undue security risks or harming privacy, Vance makes several flawed policy-based arguments in favor of his proposal. He argues that criminals benefit from devices that are protected by strong encryption. That may be true, but strong encryption is also a critical tool used by billions of average people around the world every day to protect their transactions, communications, and private information. Lawyers, doctors, and journalists rely on encryption to protect their clients, patients, and sources. Government officials, from the President to the directors of the NSA and FBI, and members of Congress, depend on strong encryption for cybersecurity and data security. There are far more innocent Americans who benefit from strong encryption than there are criminals who exploit it. Encryption is also essential to our economy. Device manufacturers could suffer major economic losses if they are prohibited from competing with foreign manufacturers who offer more secure devices. Encryption also protects major companies from corporate and nation-state espionage. As more daily business activities are done on smartphones and other devices, they may now hold highly proprietary or sensitive information. Those devices could be targeted even more than they are now if all that has to be done to access that information is to steal an employee’s smartphone and exploit a vulnerability the manufacturer was required to create.
  • Vance also suggests that the US would be justified in creating such a requirement since other Western nations are contemplating requiring encryption backdoors as well. Regardless of whether other countries are debating similar proposals, we cannot afford a race to the bottom on cybersecurity. Heads of the intelligence community regularly warn that cybersecurity is the top threat to our national security. Strong encryption is our best defense against cyber threats, and following in the footsteps of other countries by weakening that critical tool would do incalculable harm. Furthermore, even if the US or other countries did implement such a proposal, criminals could gain access to devices with strong encryption through the black market. Thus, only innocent people would be negatively affected, and some of those innocent people might even become criminals simply by trying to protect their privacy by securing their data and devices. Finally, Vance argues that David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Opinion, supported the idea that court-ordered decryption doesn’t violate human rights, provided certain criteria are met, in his report on the topic. However, in the context of Vance’s proposal, this seems to conflate the concepts of court-ordered decryption and of government-mandated encryption backdoors. The Kaye report was unequivocal about the importance of encryption for free speech and human rights. The report concluded that:
  • States should promote strong encryption and anonymity. National laws should recognize that individuals are free to protect the privacy of their digital communications by using encryption technology and tools that allow anonymity online. … States should not restrict encryption and anonymity, which facilitate and often enable the rights to freedom of opinion and expression. Blanket prohibitions fail to be necessary and proportionate. States should avoid all measures that weaken the security that individuals may enjoy online, such as backdoors, weak encryption standards and key escrows. Additionally, the group of intelligence experts that was hand-picked by the President to issue a report and recommendations on surveillance and technology, concluded that: [R]egarding encryption, the U.S. Government should: (1) fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards; (2) not in any way subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial software; and (3) increase the use of encryption and urge US companies to do so, in order to better protect data in transit, at rest, in the cloud, and in other storage.
  • The clear consensus among human rights experts and several high-ranking intelligence experts, including the former directors of the NSA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and DHS, is that mandating encryption backdoors is dangerous. Unaddressed Concerns: Preventing Encrypted Devices from Entering the US and the Slippery Slope In addition to the significant faults in Vance’s arguments in favor of his proposal, he fails to address the question of how such a restriction would be effectively implemented. There is no effective mechanism for preventing code from becoming available for download online, even if it is illegal. One critical issue the Vance proposal fails to address is how the government would prevent, or even identify, encrypted smartphones when individuals bring them into the United States. DHS would have to train customs agents to search the contents of every person’s phone in order to identify whether it is encrypted, and then confiscate the phones that are. Legal and policy considerations aside, this kind of policy is, at the very least, impractical. Preventing strong encryption from entering the US is not like preventing guns or drugs from entering the country — encrypted phones aren’t immediately obvious as is contraband. Millions of people use encrypted devices, and tens of millions more devices are shipped to and sold in the US each year.
  • Finally, there is a real concern that if Vance’s proposal were accepted, it would be the first step down a slippery slope. Right now, his proposal only calls for access to smartphones and devices running mobile operating systems. While this policy in and of itself would cover a number of commonplace devices, it may eventually be expanded to cover laptop and desktop computers, as well as communications in transit. The expansion of this kind of policy is even more worrisome when taking into account the speed at which technology evolves and becomes widely adopted. Ten years ago, the iPhone did not even exist. Who is to say what technology will be commonplace in 10 or 20 years that is not even around today. There is a very real question about how far law enforcement will go to gain access to information. Things that once seemed like merely science fiction, such as wearable technology and artificial intelligence that could be implanted in and work with the human nervous system, are now available. If and when there comes a time when our “smart phone” is not really a device at all, but is rather an implant, surely we would not grant law enforcement access to our minds.
  • Policymakers should dismiss Vance’s proposal to prohibit the use of strong encryption to protect our smartphones and devices in order to ensure law enforcement access. Undermining encryption, regardless of whether it is protecting data in transit or at rest, would take us down a dangerous and harmful path. Instead, law enforcement and the intelligence community should be working to alter their skills and tactics in a fast-evolving technological world so that they are not so dependent on information that will increasingly be protected by encryption.
Gary Edwards

Chrome's JavaScript poses challenge to Silverlight | Tech News on ZDNet - 0 views

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    "The biggest rival for Microsoft's next-generation Silverlight web technology will be JavaScript, not Adobe's ubiquitous Flash, according to experts speaking at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Sydney on Friday. " Good article capturing Microsoft's early response to Google Chrome. Not surprisingly they try to pit Chrome against Adobe AiR, and argue that Chrome is a bigger threat to Microsot's XAML-Silverlight RiA than Adobe Flash (AiR). I posted a comment to this article, Divide and Conquer".
Gary Edwards

The story behind Google Chrome - 0 views

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    Google released its second web browser yesterday afternoon, adding additional headroom for web applications stretching the limits of what it's possible to accomplish within a web browser. The Google Chrome team assembled domain experts in various fields over the past six years, both through direct hires and acquisitions, to create a new browser and its critical components from scratch. GMail and Google Maps pushed the Web to its limits, taking advantage of browser technologies invented in Redmond but left dormant for far too long. Contributing to Firefox's core, writing browser extensions, and championing HTML could only take the $150 billion company so far: they needed to own the full browser to push their Web efforts forward at full speed.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft to Google: Get Off of My Cloud - BusinessWeek - 0 views

  • Microsoft's newest facility is drawing lots of oohs and ahs from experts in this specialized field. Most data centers are open, warehouse-style buildings filled with racks of gear. But the first floor of this vast 700,000-square-foot facility looks more like an indoor parking lot, with gear packed into preconfigured shipping containers. Suppliers such as Sun Microsystems (JAVA) and Rackable Systems (RACK) have been advocating similar approaches for years, but this is by far the most ambitious implementation. Each of the containers can hold 2,500 servers, and the floor can hold up to 224 containers. That's a potential maximum of 560,000 servers. "They're pushing the concept to the extreme," Cappuccio says.
  • Microsoft's newest facility is drawing lots of oohs and ahs from experts in this specialized field. Most data centers are open, warehouse-style buildings filled with racks of gear. But the first floor of this vast 700,000-square-foot facility looks more like an indoor parking lot, with gear packed into preconfigured shipping containers. Suppliers such as Sun Microsystems (JAVA) and Rackable Systems (RACK) have been advocating similar approaches for years, but this is by far the most ambitious implementation. Each of the containers can hold 2,500 servers, and the floor can hold up to 224 containers. That's a potential maximum of 560,000 servers. "They're pushing the concept to the extreme," Cappuccio says.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Who Gives the Most Trusted Recommendations? - eMarketer - 1 views

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    [ FEBRUARY 18, 2011 "People like me" vs. the experts Social media has put power in the hands of the consumer, giving everyone a publishing platform to push out their thoughts and feelings to the world at large. This has given great power to word-of-mouth, typically considered the most trustworthy form of marketing. But social behavior is changing as it matures. ]
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    *We Do. 'They' Recognize It. Let's Realize The Power we Have and Use It. :)
Maluvia Haseltine

About: OSCON 2009 - O'Reilly Conferences, July 20 - 24, 2009, San Jose, CA - 0 views

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    Now in its eleventh year, OSCON changes scenery, moving to the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California July 20-24, 2009, and bringing together over 3,000 experts, visionaries, and hackers in the trenches to explore all that open source has to offer. 2009 promises interesting developments in Linux, Java, Web, and open source infrastructure.
Gary Edwards

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Introducing Rich Snippets - 0 views

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    Google "Rich Snippets" is a new presentation of HTML snippets that applies Google's algorithms to highlight structured data embedded in web pages. Rich Snippets give end-users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance. Google is currently supporting a very limited subset of data about reviews and people. When searching for a product or service, users can easily see reviews and ratings, and when searching for a person, they'll get help distinguishing between people with the same name. It's a simple change to the display of search results, yet our experiments have shown that users find the new data valuable. For this to work though, both Web-masters and Web-workers have to annotate thier pages with structured data in a standard format. Google snippets supports microformats and RDFa. Existing Web data can be wrapped with some additional tags to accomplish this. Notice that Google avoids mention of RDF and the W3C's vision of a "Semantic Web" where Web objects are fully described in machine readable semantics. Over at the WHATWG group, where work on HTML5 continues, Google's Ian Hickson has been fighting RDFa and the Semantic Web in what looks to be an effort to protect the infamous Google algorithms. RDFa provides a means for Web-workers, knowledge-workers, line-of-business managers and document generating end-users to enrich their HTML+ with machine semantics. The idea being that the document experts creating Web content can best describe to search engine and content management machines the objects-of-information used. The google algorithms provide a proprietary semantics of this same content. The best solution to the tsunami of conten the Web has wrought would be to combine end-user semantic expertise with Google algorithms. Let's hope Google stays the RDFa course and comes around to recognize the full potential of organizing the world's information with the input of content providers. One thing the world desperatel
thinkahol *

Citizen Scientist 2.0 - 4 views

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    What does the future of science look like? About a year ago, I was asked this question. My response then was: Transdisciplinary collaboration. Researchers from a variety of domains-biology, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, economics, law-all coming together, using inputs from each specialized area to generate the best comprehensive solutions to society's more persistent problems. Indeed, it appears as if I was on the right track, as more and more academic research departments, as well as industries, are seeing the value in this type of partnership. Now let's take this a step further. Not only do I think we will be relying on inputs from researchers and experts from multiple domains to solve scientific problems, but I see society itself getting involved on a much more significant level as well. And I don't just mean science awareness. I'm talking about actually participating in the research itself. Essentially, I see a huge boom in the future for Citizen Science.
Paul Merrell

NSA's use of software flaws to hack foreign targets posed risks to cybersecurity - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • To penetrate the computers of foreign targets, the National Security Agency relies on software flaws that have gone undetected in the pipes of the Internet. For years, security experts have pressed the agency to disclose these bugs so they can be fixed, but the agency hackers have often been reluctant. Now with the mysterious release of a cache of NSA hacking tools over the weekend, the agency has lost an offensive advantage, experts say, and potentially placed at risk the security of countless large companies and government agencies worldwide. Several of the tools exploited flaws in commercial firewalls that remain unpatched, and they are out on the Internet for all to see. Anyone from a basement hacker to a sophisticated foreign spy agency has access to them now, and until the flaws are fixed, many computer systems may be in jeopardy. The revelation of the NSA cache, which dates to 2013 and has not been confirmed by the agency, also highlights the administration’s little-known process for figuring out which software errors to disclose and which to keep secret.
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