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Submission + - When Hiding Passwords Is Stupid — or Worse! (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Except in crucial enterprise environments or especially elevated security situations, it should be common practice for user interfaces to provide a method for the user to see their passwords or other data as they enter it if they choose to do so — a simple enabling checkbox with an appropriate warning would suffice. And this would be the display of the entire password or other input, not just a flash of each letter as it’s being typed.

Submission + - "Does Google Make Junk Solicitation Phone Calls?" (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Google Questions & Unofficial Answers: “Does Google Make Junk Solicitation Phone Calls?”

It seems like almost every day I get junk solicitation phone calls “from Google.” They call about my Google business local listings, about my not being on the first page of Google search results, and so on — and they want me to pay them to “fix” this stuff. When I look up the Caller ID numbers they use, I often finds pages of people claiming they’re Google phone numbers. Sometimes the Caller ID display actually says Google! Is Google really doing this?

Negative. NONE of these calls are from Google. Zero. Zilch. Nada ...

Submission + - Care About Science and Tech? Our Job One: STOP TRUMP (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: But when a publication with the stature of Scientific American raises the red flag about a major presidential candidate, it’s time for everyone in the tech and science fields to take notice and do some serious soul searching.

Because the dangerous, ignorant, fascist, racist, misogynist, continually lying monster that is Donald Trump is significantly of own creation.

We must now come to terms with this truth while we still can, much as ultimately did J. Robert Oppenheimer relating to his key role in the creation of nuclear weapons.

Submission + - Right-Wing Internet Sites in Panic over FBI Smartphone App Solicitation (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Right-wing sites are spinning this as “the government is going to turn all our smartphones into bugs!” That clearly is not the goal here.

First, we know that there are already a large number apps available for these phones that provide many of the capabilities asked for in this solicitation. We can be sure that governments are already using these off-the-shelf apps for surveillance purposes.

But the solicitation technical requirements reveal the government’s main “problems” in this regard: authentication and chain of custody.

Submission + - Was Facebook Correct Blocking Video During Fatal Korryn Gaines Confrontation? (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: The main reason I haven’t commented on this case publicly to date is that, frankly, I’ve been thinking about it and didn’t come to any immediate conclusions.

One way I try to analyze complicated Internet-related issues is to see if I can think of parallels in the “non-Internet” world that might shed some light on the matter.

Such parallels do exist in this case, and suggest that the most problematic aspect of the technology-related portion of this tragedy wasn’t the videos being posted per se, but rather the feedback Gaines was receiving from her followers in real time.

Submission + - How Some ISPs Could Subvert Your Local Network Security (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: You can see the problem. If your local net has typically lax security, and you don’t have your own firewall downstream of that ISP modem, the modem Wi-Fi security could be disabled remotely, your local network sucked dry late one night, and security restored by the morning. You might not even have a clue that any of this occurred.

Submission + - The Sensible Safeguards Needed Now for Pokémon GO (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: As I noted above, PoGo is but the beginning of what will certainly be a long line of innovative and important augmented reality mobile apps. And that makes getting the real world implications of this tech in line with real world requirements and impacts as quickly as possible — without stifling innovation.

The most important requirement is to give more control to municipalities and persons who are impacted by these applications and their users.

Submission + - The Coming Government Showdown over Live Video Streaming (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Over the last few days, we’ve dramatically seen the force of Internet live video streaming, and the obvious hints of policy battles to come regarding this powerful technology are clearly emerging.

Beyond the tragic images of a man shot to death by police in his car, and then a sniper in Dallas who ultimately killed five officers, we’ve already seen other ugly shadows of what might become the new normal, including a streamed rape and suicide — both streamed by the perpetrators themselves for maximal publicity.

And yes, this is only the beginning. For while it has been possible to stream live video from portable devices since years ago, only now has the concept reached a critical mass, an “inflection” point where it is likely to have enormous impact on society at large.

Submission + - How Ancient Monopolies Keep You from Getting Decent Internet Service (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Many of us tend to assume that here in U.S. we have the most advanced technologies on the planet. So it may be startling to learn that by global Internet standards, numerous experts consider us to be living in something of a Stone Age Internet nation.

The reality is stark. Many countries in the world pay far less for their Internet services than we do, and get much faster and more reliable services in the bargain. While many countries have set a national goal of fiber optics directly connecting every home and business, here in the United States phone companies still are arguing that snail’s pace Net connections should qualify as broadband.

Submission + - A Rare Endorsement: When the Disk Drive Fails (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: As a matter of policy, I almost never make commercial endorsements. But I’m making an extremely rare exception today, because I feel that this particular firm may be able to save a whole lot of people a whole lot of grief. Recently, I was called upon to help deal with a disk failure situation that rapidly appeared to be fairly hopeless. The disk in question was in a laptop (Linux ext3 format filesystem), and it had failed suddenly and hard — very hard. None of my usual tricks could revive it ...

Submission + - Google, Hillary, and the Search Conspiracy Kooks (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: I'll let you in on a little secret. I have better ways to spend my Saturdays than writing blog posts about nutso conspiracy theories. Seriously, I really do. But the conspiracy fanatics are again on a wacky rampage, this time with the ludicrous claim that Google is purposely manipulating search results to favor Hillary Clinton over racist, misogynist con-man Donald Trump ...

Submission + - Why Free Speech Is Even More Important Than Privacy (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Combine this with the escalating RTBF demands of France and other countries for global censorship powers over Google’s and other firms’ search results, and it becomes clear why privacy itself can be decimated under RTBF and similar forms of censorship.

Because if individual governments — some of whom already impose draconian information controls domestically — gain global censorship powers, we can’t possibly assume that we even know what’s really going on in respect to negative impacts on our privacy!

Submission + - SPAM: Another Trust Problem for Google: Bricking Devices in People's Homes

Lauren Weinstein writes: Such is the case currently with word that on just a couple of months notice, Alphabet is dropping support of home automation products from Revolv — a firm that Alphabet acquired less than two years ago. Reportedly this was announced on a website, without any proactive notification to existing users who have purchased these devices.

Withdrawal of support from these products doesn't only mean that you don't get updates in the future — it apparently means that these devices will stop working entirely and become useless (and not particularly inexpensive) chunks of garbage as a result.

It could be argued that Alphabet has operated Revolv at arm's length, and that it's unfair to blame Alphabet (and certainly not Google) for this situation.

This argument just doesn't wash.

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