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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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!
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.
Lauren Weinstein writes: My initial thought was that this entire set of reports was somehow a joke, but the anger in my inbox (whether triggered by people who actually saw the "feature" or only saw the news reports) is extreme. I still do not really want to believe this was real — but it would certainly not be an isolated example of how Google sometimes drops the ball when considering the impact of changes — even joke changes — on busy external users (mostly non-techie users) with real lives. I don't know that any Gmail users actually lost their jobs over this as has been claimed, but this joke should have been nipped in the bud before it ever deployed outside Google. It shouldn't even have been a close call.
Lauren Weinstein writes: Google Questions & Unofficial Answers: "Is it true that France and other countries are now demanding the right to censor Google Search Results for everyone, everywhere on Earth? Isn't this 'Right To Be Forgotten' stuff getting out of hand?"
Man, oh man. To use the vernacular, "You ain't just whistling Dixie!" Yes and yes, the "Right To Be Forgotten" (RTBF) is going completely off the rails, and the French government is indeed now claiming that it has the power to control what Google users see around the the entire globe. But it's actually even worse than that. Much worse. Because other countries have already or will soon follow France's lead, triggering the most expansive and potentially damaging quagmire of censorship in the history of civilization — a "race to the bottom" aimed at destroying free speech planetwide.
Lauren Weinstein writes: "I've been locked out of my Google account! What can I do? How can I prevent this in the future? HELP!"
When it comes to avoiding problems with accessing your Google account, planning ahead and taking advantage of the many features and tools that Google makes available for this purpose, makes a great deal of sense...
Lauren Weinstein writes: Why does Google's YouTube seem so biased against ordinary users who upload videos? I've unfairly had my videos blocked, received copyright strikes for my own materials, and even had my account suspended — and it's impossible to reach anyone at YouTube to complain!
No, YouTube isn't biased against you — not voluntarily, anyway. But it could definitely be argued that the copyright legal landscape — particularly in the mainstream entertainment industry — is indeed biased against the "little guys," and Google's YouTube must obey the laws as written. What's more, YouTube exists at the "bleeding edge" of the intersection of technology and law, where there's oh so much that goes bump in the night...
Lauren Weinstein writes: Lots of people have lots of questions about Google policies, products, and services. Most of these questions are serious, some are silly, various are confused, a scattering are paranoid, and quite a few are the result of misinformation. Let's try unofficially answer some of these queries in this community.
Lauren Weinstein writes: We begin with a stipulation. Google has world class privacy and security teams. I know many of the Googlers on those teams. There just ain't no better this side of Alpha Centauri. They want what they feel is best for Google's users.
That said, one of Google's institutional weaknesses — improving but still very much present — is (in my opinion) a recurring lack of clarity when it comes to understanding the impacts that some of their design decisions have on ordinary, non-techie users with busy lives that don't necessarily revolve around the nuts and bolts intricacies of these systems.
Last June, in "When Google Thinks They're Your Mommy" — http://lauren.vortex.com/archi... — I noted some concerns regarding how particular aspects of the Chrome browser security model can negatively impact ordinary users.
Today let's look at a specific interesting and current related example...
Lauren Weinstein writes: Passwords were changed under FBI orders that should not have been. San Bernardino officials did not avail themselves of common device management software that could have prevented this entire problem — software of a sort that most responsible corporations and other organizations already use with company-owned smartphones in employee hands.
Add to these facts the reality that virtually every expert in the encryption field agrees that backdoor access to these devices' crypto systems puts all honest users' personal data at risk from black-hat hacking — including from terrorists and other criminals — and the possibility that any new crypto commission would quickly find itself at loggerheads seems very high indeed.
That all said, a truly representative crypto commission including a wide variety of participants — not necessarily only the usual folks who seem to always turn up on government-sponsored commissions — could still (at least in theory) serve a useful purpose in helping the community at large better understand these highly technical and complex issues that do not have simple solutions.