Daily Archives: June 25, 2016
Crypto backdoors, the overuse of opaque algorithms, turning companies into law enforcement agencies, and online attacks on critical infrastructure have all been attacked by the Global Commission on Internet Governance in a new report published on Wednesday.
The body, which was set up in 2014 by UK-based Chatham House and the Canadian Centre for International Governance Innovation, has presented its 140-page-long One Internet report to provide “high-level, strategic advice and recommendations to policy makers, private industry, the technical community, and other stakeholders interested in maintaining a healthy Internet.”
It comes out in favour of strict legal controls on the aggregation of personal metadata, net neutrality, open standards, and the mandatory public reporting of high-threshold data breaches. Along the way, it offers opinions on areas such as the sharing economy, blockchains, the Internet of Things, IPv6, and DNSSEC.
The Global Commission was chaired by Carl Bildt, and consists of 29 members drawn from various fields and from around the world, including policy and government, academia, and civil society.
On the hot topic of crypto, the report says: “Governments should not compromise or require third parties to weaken or compromise encryption standards, for example, through hidden ‘backdoors’ into the technology as such efforts would weaken the overall security of digital data flows and transactions.”
It also recognises that the aggregation of metadata poses particular challenges: “Legal thresholds for lawfully authorised access to communications data must be redefined to ensure that the aggregated collection of metadata—such as an individual’s full browsing history—are treated with the same respect for privacy as access to the actual content of a communication, and should only be made under judicial authority.”
Also on the subject of privacy, the report calls for “Greater respect for the privacy of foreign citizens’ data,” which it believes would weaken calls for data localisation. However, it rather optimistically goes on: “One example of this is the 2016 move by the United States and Europe to negotiate new Privacy Shield principles to replace the now defunct Safe Harbour Framework.” As Ars has reported, it looks increasingly likely that the Privacy Shield framework will not provide enough respect for EU citizens’ data, and that it will therefore be thrown out by the Court of Justice of the European Union in due course.
Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have been knocking on the doors of activists and community organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, asking about their plans for the Republican National Convention in July.
As the city gears up to welcome an estimated 50,000 visitors, and an unknown number of protesters, some of the preparations and restrictions put in place by officials have angered civil rights activists. But the latest string of unannounced home visits by local and federal police marks a significant escalation in officials’ efforts to stifle protest, they say.
“The purpose of these door knocks is simple: to intimidate the target and others in efforts to discourage people from engaging in lawful First Amendment activities,” Jocelyn Rosnick, a coordinator with the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote in a statement denouncing the home visits.
More than a dozen people in the Cleveland area have reported being visited this week by local police, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Secret Service.
Michael Nelson, an attorney and the president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, said that police officers visited the parents of one of his clients, a young woman who was among 71 people arrested in May 2015 following the acquittal of a police officer in the deaths of two unarmed people.
With their dangerous crusade for an anti-encryption bill in Congress all but dead (for now), the FBI and US justice department are now engaged in a multi-pronged attack on all sorts of other privacy rights – this time, with much less public scrutiny.
A report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office harshly criticized the FBI last week for its little discussed but frequently used facial recognition database and called on the bureau to implement myriad privacy and safety protections. It turns out the database has far more photos than anyone thought – 411.9m to be exact – and the vast majority are not mugshots of criminals, but driver’s license photos from over a dozen states and passport photos of millions of completely innocent people. The feds searched it over 36,000 times from 2011 to 2015 (no court order needed) while also apparently having no idea how accurate it is.
Worse, the FBI wants its hundreds of millions of facial recognition photos – along with its entire biometric database that includes fingerprints and DNA profiles – to be exempt from important Privacy Act protections. As the Intercept reported two weeks ago: “Specifically, the FBI’s proposal would exempt the database from the provisions in the Privacy Act that require federal agencies to share with individuals the information they collect about them and that give people the legal right to determine the accuracy and fairness of how their personal information is collected and used.”
In Congress, Senate Republicans are pushing for a vote this week on controversial new warrantless surveillance measures that would let the FBI use unconstitutional National Security Letters to get email records and internet browsing history from countless US citizens – without going to a judge or court at all. The Senate leadership is bringing the measure up to vote by invoking the Orlando attack, despite the fact that we know the FBI had no problem surveilling the Orlando killer when he was previously investigated. It is a blatant attempt to exploit the tragedy in order to gain powers the FBI has long asked for (powers, by the way, the FBI is already reportedly using, despite the justice department telling them it’s basically illegal).
San Francisco-based startup Impossible Foods might have just achieved the impossible – making plants tastes like meat. Their Impossible Burger is made entirely of plants, but sizzles on the grill, oozes fat and reportedly tastes like a delicious cooked beef patty.
Red meat consumption around the world is at an all time high, but producing high quantities of meat to satisfy demand is not sustainable and it’s already taking a heavy toll on the environment. In recent years, experts have been busy coming up with alternatives to animal meat, like switching to a protein-rich insect-based diet, growing meat in the lab and even artificial meat made from sewage mud. But one San-Francisco company may have discovered a much more viable solution – a mashup of plant-based ingredients that tastes just like real meat. Impossible Foods has been working on an alternative to meat for the last five years, and its soon-to-be-launched Impossible Burger is already receiving high praise for its likeness to beef patties in taste, texture and appearance.
Surging local and international demand for avocados is fuelling a crime wave in New Zealand.
Since January there have been close to 40 large-scale thefts from avocado orchards in the north island of New Zealand, with as many as 350 fruit stolen at a time.
Avocados are selling for between NZ$4-6 each (£2-3) across the country, after a poor season last year and increasing local demand.
According to New Zealand Avocado in 2015 an additional 96,000 New Zealand households began purchasing avocados, and local growers – largely geared towards the lucrative export market – have been unable to keep up with the surge in demand.
The recent thefts have taken place in the middle of the night, with the crop either “raked” from the tree and collected in blankets or sheets on the ground, or hand-picked and driven away to pop-up road-side stalls, grocery stores or small-scale sushi, fruit and sandwich shops in Auckland.
Sergeant Aaron Fraser of Waihi said there had been “spates” of avocado thefts during his time in the police but nothing as sustained as the current activity.