Category Archives: Tech

Glenn Greenwald on Why Privacy Matters

I love his response to anyone who suggests that we don’t need privacy if we aren’t doing anything wrong. OK, go ahead and email me the passwords to ALL of your email accounts so I can troll through, read what I want, publish what I find interesting, etc.

Also note the way people like Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerburg, while claiming that privacy doesn’t matter for you, go to great lengths to protect theirs.

Privacy matters. We have the right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures for a reason. The government should have to provide a reason to invade your privacy, you should not have to provide a reason why they should not. This is why the government’s argument against encryption is so important, and backwards.

h/t to Lifehacker for the video.

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FBI Director James Comey Gets Phone Encryption Completely Wrong

Watching 60 Minutes tonight, and in an interview with FBI Director James Comey, he compared Apple and Google’s plans to encrypt phones by default to having car trunks that can never be opened or houses that can never be entered, even with a court order.

Except his comparisons are completely and utterly incorrect. Law enforcement, even with a court order, still requires me to open the trunk, or open the door to my house for them to conduct their search. What they want with mobile devices is the equivalent of having a key to every single house in the country and freedom to enter them without your knowledge. No, I’m sorry, you don’t get to have that.

If law enforcement has a court order to search a seized phone, then it can be presented to the owner and they can be required to enter their passcode. Why is that so hard? Why does the government need access to decrypt personal data on mobile devices without the involvement of the owners of that data?

No. No. No!

 

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Marriott Gets Caught Blocking Mobile Hot Spots

My new toy

As a card carrying Gold level Marriott customer, the wifi situation has always been a source of confusion for me. When I travel for work or personal reasons, I generally stay in the lower end Marriott properties, the Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn and Suites, etc. Those rooms usually come with free wifi.

The more expensive properties, however, charge for wifi. That makes no sense to me, especially when the typical business traveler would have a mobile hot spot anyway. (I have one for my work travel).

On the other hand, if you block mobile hot spots, you can force customers into paying for your wifi, couldn’t you?

They can claim to be trying to protect their network and customers from rogue devices but at the end of the day isn’t that the point of the hot spot? When I just want to surf the web easily, I can connect to the hotel wifi, when I need to do some work, or access some more secured sites, I can connect to my mobile hot spot, use a VPN connection, and not be a target for the other people on the hotel’s wifi network. Best of both worlds, right?

I really don’t enjoy paying more for a room, and for wifi on top of that. Not very nice, Marriott.

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U2 and Apple Combine to Give Away New Album

So, as part of Apple’s product announcements today, they also teamed up with the band U2 to give away their new album to 500 million iTunes users.

In terms of marketing, it’s an interesting ploy. Why charge for the music at all, why not give it away and make your money as a musician from playing live? That might work for a band as huge as U2, I’m not sure every artist would agree with the premise.

On the Technology front, however, I do find this interesting. How do you feel about Apple pushing out an album to your iCloud storage without your consent? For non iCloud users, how do you feel about the fact that this album is no listed as a purchased item in your iTunes library, potentially affecting the genius recommendations in the future, even if you choose not to download it. (It shows as a purchased item regardless of whether you go to the Purchases link and download it or not.

How do you feel about Apple pushing an album out to all iTunes users whether they want it or not?

Update: Ars Technica has some tips for getting rid of it if you really don’t want it.

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The Problem with Total Surveillance

20140529-201524-72924452.jpgI was talking with someone a few weeks ago and the NSA and how the government is snooping on email and social media and all those sorts of things. He mentioned that he finds that most times he bring things like that up, it’s met by the all too common refrain “If you don’t have anything to hide, then what’s the problem?”

Let me tell you what the problem is. Context.

Look, I truthfully don’t have anything to hide. I’m not doing anything illegal, I’m not sleeping around, I’m not hiding money anywhere, I’m not living in fear of the government finding out some deep, dark secret that is going to get me in trouble. What I am afraid of is someone from the government seeing a random email, text message, chat, etc. and taking it out of context. Because then I have to go defend myself from their innuendo.

Let me give you a perfect example. I have a Gmail address. I was lucky enough to get on the gmail train early and I have my name @gmail.com. Unfortunately, I have a pretty common name, and lots of people with that name either forget to type more than just the name @gmail when signing up for things, or go ahead and do that so that they don’t have to deal with the emails. Lots of other folks, when sending email to the Mike they know, manage to only type the name @gmail too. Continue reading

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Google Finds a Predator

Cross posted from the Child Abuse Survivor site

The tech world is alive with news that Google has helped locate and charge a predator based on scanning their email for child pornography images.

Obviously, this is a case of a stupid criminal, if you’re going to share illegal images, using a cloud service provider that already admits to scanning email contents for keywords as part of their advertising plan probably isn’t the most private place to do it.

On the other hand, it is also a sign of the times. Letting third party companies hold your data on their servers puts some legal obligations on them to prevent you from putting certain kinds of data on the service. Simply put, once you attached a known CP image to an email it was stored on Google’s server. Google could be charged with possession by simply leaving it there, negligence for not knowing it was there, and possibly even more if they allowed this person to keep sharing it with their service. So, they kind of have to scan their own servers for known images. Once found, that information has to be turned over to the authorities, which is as it should be. Anyone who works with technology, especially other people’s technology, would be required to do the same.

As someone who is very interested in making sure child pornographers are caught and charged, I like the fact that cloud services are attracting them. Rather than shut down services that allow people to trade images on the internet for fear of letting a few of them do something illegal, I’d rather have this type of thing going on, where they use the technology, but the technology helps the authorities find them too.

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Why Net Neutrality Matters

TechDirt has a good example that should show you what is at stake with net neutrality rules.

For about $12, Sprint will soon let subscribers buy a wireless plan that only connects to Facebook.

For that same price, they could choose instead to connect only with Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest—or for $10 more, enjoy unlimited use of all four. Another $5 gets them unlimited streaming of a music app of their choice.

Think about how this plays out. If you run a website, in order for mobile users to actually be able to reach your site, you’re going to have to negotiate with the mobile carriers to get your site carried so that users can access it. It’s no longer enough to spend money on hosting and building a site, now you have to also pay the carriers. So long to independent voices on the web.

If this type of scenario sounds familiar, it’s basically what we see with cable tv now. All those conflicts that saw you lose a network for a few days or weeks here and there? Now imagine going through these negotiations for every single website? Yeah, no one wants that, except the ISPs who aren’t happy charging you for internet access, they also want to charge the internet for access to you, one website at a time.

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