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Privacy

Controversial Surveillance Firm Blue Coat Was Granted a Powerful Encryption Certificate (vice.com) 113

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard (edited for clarity): A controversial surveillance company called Blue Coat Systems -- whose products have been detected in Iran and Sudan -- was recently issued a powerful encryption certificate by Symantec. The certificate, and the authority that comes with it, could allow Blue Coat Systems to more easily snoop on encrypted traffic. But Symantec downplayed concern from the security community. Blue Coat, which sells web-monitoring software, was granted the power in September last year, but it was only widely noticed this week. The company's devices are used by both government and commercial customers for keeping tabs on networks or conducting surveillance. In Syria, the technology has been used to censor web sites and monitor the communications of dissidents, activists and journalists.Blue Coat assures that it is not going to utilize the certificates to snoop on us. The Register reports: We asked Blue Coat how it planned to use its new powers -- and we were assured that its intermediate certificate was only used for internal testing and that the certificate is no longer in use. "Symantec has reviewed the intermediate CA issued to Blue Coat and determined it was used appropriately," the two firms said in a statement. "Consistent with their protocols, Symantec maintained full control of the private key and Blue Coat never had access to it. Blue Coat has confirmed it was used for internal testing and has since been discontinued. Therefore, rumors of misuse are unfounded."
Social Networks

Fired Reddit Exec Launches Competing Site (thenextweb.com) 273

An anonymous reader writes: "Dan McComas, the former second-in-command at Reddit -- and vocal critic of its more inflammatory groups -- wants to build a better Reddit, one that focuses on 'healthy, positive communities,'" reports TheNextWeb. Raising $3 million, Imzy.com quietly launched earlier this year with over 500 discussion forums, aspiring to become an advertising-free space where content creators can interact with their fans. Moderators and users of Imzy can be "tipped" with online payments from other users, while the site hopes to remain advertising-free by taking a cut from on-site transactions. But "at its core though, Imzy wants to provide a safe place to share and discuss without the fear of being harassed, a problem Reddit has struggled with for several years."
ISS

NASA Feed 'Goes Down As Horseshoe UFO Appears On ISS Live Cam' (mirror.co.uk) 412

schwit1 quotes a report from Mirror Online: NASA has been accused of an alien cover up after a live International Space Station feed appearing to show a horseshoe UFO suddenly went down. Conspiracy theorists are having a field day over the sighting of the strange U-shaped object hovering on the horizon of the the ISS. They claim NASA 'cut the live feed' after the glowing blue object flew too close to the space station. Some have even gone as far to say NASA's funding should be cut over their 'great alien deception.' Scott Waring of UFO Sightings Daily first discovered the UFO. He passed the footage on to Tyler Glockner who uploaded the video to his YouTube channel secureteam10. What do you think: is it an alien spaceship or something more likely such as a reflection from a station window?
Censorship

Apple's iTunes Movies and iBooks Stores Mysteriously Go Down In China (appleinsider.com) 14

tedlistens writes: China-based customers of the iTunes movies and books stores reported network errors beginning on Thursday. Apple did not comment, but Apple Insider offers an unverified report that the storefronts have been closed "due to a pending government investigation into Apple's business practices." Apple first opened its doors to its movie and e-book online stores in China last September, which included the activation of Apple Music services. While the music streaming services remain operational, the movie and e-book stores are not. China's censorship laws and strict regulations in general have been tough for U.S. companies like Apple to navigate. Last year, Apple was actively disabling its iOS News app for its Chinese customers, a move many believe to be in adherence of China's censorship policies. Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services, denied those claims.
The Internet

Cyber Commander Says It's 'Not Realistic' To Shut Down Internet (washingtonexaminer.com) 123

An anonymous reader links to a report on Washington Examiner: It simply would not be possible to shut down areas of the Internet that terrorists use to conduct malicious activity, the head of U.S. Cyber Command told a Senate panel on Tuesday. "In a very simplistic way, people ask why can't we shut down that part of the Internet. ... Why are we not able to infiltrate that more?" Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., asked Cyber Command leader Adm. Mike Rogers during a hearing on the agency's budget for fiscal 2017. Manchin maintained it was a common question from his constituents. "I've had people ask me, can't you just stop it from that area of the world where all the problems are coming, be it Syria or in parts of Iraq or Iran," he said. "I'm not just trying to find an answer, because that question is asked like shut her down, like you do your telephone, but it doesn't work that way," Manchin concluded.
Australia

Aussie Pirates Have Another Year Not To Worry About Warnings 25

An anonymous reader shares an article on TorrentFreak: Internet pirates in Australia may now have at least another year, possibly longer, not to worry about a "three strikes" style system landing on their shores. According to Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton, copyright holders and ISPs will give the new site blocking regime a chance to get established before revisiting the graduated response. Somewhat explains why this gentleman -- if he was indeed downloading copyright infringing content -- has been able to get away with all the torrenting he has done.
Censorship

China Censors Online Discussion About Panama Papers (bbc.com) 109

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: China appears to be censoring social media posts on the Panama Papers document leak which has named several members of China's elite, including President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law. Hundreds of posts on networks such as Sina Weibo and Wechat on the topic have been deleted since Monday morning. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Panama Papers show that Mr. Deng acquired two offshore companies in 2009, at a time when Mr. Xi was rising in politics. State media appeared to black out the news. But many on microblogging network Sina Weibo and mobile chat network Wechat were discussing the topic on Monday morning, sharing Chinese translations of details of the story, including information on Mr. Deng. A hashtag created on the topic quickly trended. Checks by the BBC found that by the end of the day many of those posts had disappeared, with at least 481 discussions deleted from the hashtag's Weibo topic page, and other posts shared on Wechat also deleted. The website Freeweibo.com, which actively tracks censorship on Weibo, listed "Panama" as the second-most censored term on the network.
Censorship

North Korea Officially Blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (mashable.com) 37

An anonymous reader links to an Associated Press report: North Korea has officially announced it is blocking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and South Korean websites in a move underscoring its concern with the spread of online information. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications announcement was posted this week at the country's main mobile service provider, Koryolink, and other places serving Internet users. Very few North Koreans have Internet access. Typically they can see only a sealed-off, government-sanctioned intranet. But foreigners had previously been able to surf the Web with almost no overt restrictions, though most likely with behind-the-scenes monitoring of their Internet activities.
Crime

Global Majority Backs a Ban On 'Dark Net,' Poll Says (reuters.com) 222

Alastair Sharp reports for Reuters: Seven in 10 people say the 'dark net' -- an anonymous online home to both criminals and activists fearful of government surveillance -- should be shut down, according to a global Ipsos poll released on Tuesday. The findings, from a poll of at least 1,000 people in each of 24 countries, come as policymakers and technology companies argue over whether digital privacy should be curbed to help regulators and law enforcement more easily thwart hackers and other digital threats.
China

China Proposes Foreign Domain Name Censorship (thestack.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes: A new draft law in China could potentially increase domain name restrictions, limiting domestic access to foreign websites. The measures outlined in the 'Internet Domain Name Management Rules' remain unclear, yet they suggest a marked effort to increase censorship on online content. The proposals, released for public comment by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, seek to update existing regulations to censor any domain names not registered within China. Only domain names approved by authorities would be permitted while other names registered outside of China would be blocked automatically.
Science

Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions: Study 266

Reader sittingnut writes: According to a study by Elizabeth Stoycheff from Wayne State University -- which was also referred to in the Washington Post, "knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary, act as moderating agents in the relationship between one's perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online." In other words, knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online. This study adds to the well-researched phenomenon known as "spiral of silence", of people suppressing unpopular opinions to fit in by explicitly examining how government surveillance affects self-censorship. Participants who claimed they don't break any laws and don't have anything to hide and tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.
China

Google Scales the Great Firewall, Falls Off 105 Minutes Later (techinasia.com) 71

An anonymous reader writes: Citizens of mainland China unexpectedly found themselves with unfettered access to Google search late last night, commencing a golden age of censorship-free searching that lasted all of 105 minutes. For the duration of the film Edward Scissorhands, lasting from 11:30pm on Sunday to 1:15am on Monday morning, Google's search -- but not other services like Gmail or YouTube -- was unblocked
Censorship

Have a Political Bumper Sticker? The FBI Might Be Snapping Photos of You (muckrock.com) 192

v3rgEz writes: Tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs, the peace organization that seeks to democratically divert military spending into free food for the needy. But as documents recently obtained by MuckRock show, even such tepid support as a bumper sticker for the outspoken anti-violence organization could land you in FBI files. Read on for yet another example of how the FBI puts war protesters, Juggalos, and animal rights activists in the same category as organized crime and terrorist groups.
Piracy

UK Man Faces Prison For Circumventing UK's Pirate Site Blockade (torrentfreak.com) 130

An anonymous reader writes with news from TorrenFreak that a Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit in the UK has charged a man for operating proxy sites and services that let fellow Internet users in the UK bypass local pirate site blockades. In a first of its kind prosecution, the Bakersfield resident is charged with several fraud offenses and one count of converting and/or transferring criminal property. During the summer of 2014, City of London Police arrested the then 20-year-old Callum Haywood of Bakersfield for his involvement with several proxy sites and services. Haywood was interrogated at a police station and later released on bail. He agreed to voluntarily hand over several domain names, but the police meanwhile continued working on the case. I wonder if the same logic applies to customers of the shrinking number of VPNs that can be used to bypass other kinds of country-level controls.
Censorship

During Sunshine Week, MuckRock Looks At Some of the All-Time Greatest Redactions (muckrock.com) 42

v3rgEz writes: It's currently Sunshine Week, a chance to celebrate government transparency, or, this year, the lack thereof, as it came out that the Obama administration secretly undermined Congressional FOIA reform despite pledges to be the "most transparent administration in history." Transparency site MuckRock has compiled a list of the all-time most egregious redactions to honor the administration's hard work.

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