Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For your amusement...
EFF has produced a great timeline of NSA’s domestic spying, here.

“They made me do it!”
Google sent a letter to the Attorney General and FBI this morning:
Dear Attorney General Holder and Director Mueller
Google has worked tremendously hard over the past fifteen years to earn our users’ trust. For example, we offer encryption across our services; we have hired some of the best security engineers in the world; and we have consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for our users’ data.
We have always made clear that we comply with valid legal requests. And last week, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that service providers have received Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests.
Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.
We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.
Google appreciates that you authorized the recent disclosure of general numbers for national security letters. There have been no adverse consequences arising from their publication, and in fact more companies are receiving your approval to do so as a result of Google’s initiative. Transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security.
We will be making this letter public and await your response.
David Drummond
Chief Legal Officer
Of course, Google has nothing to lose by this publicly disclosed request. They get brownie points for trying, even if the government says no.
Will the government agree? If the President is serious about having a debate and more transparency, they should agree to the request. Somehow, though, I’m not holding my breath.

(Related) “We use the old, obsolete and uncool technologies because the government can't keep up with us.”
Kim Zetter got a great scoop today:
Google does not participate in any government program involving a lockbox or other equipment installed at its facilities to transfer court-ordered data to the government, a company spokesman says, refuting with some finality one of the lingering theories about the NSA’s PRISM program.
Instead the company transmits FISA information the old fashioned way: by hand, or over secure FTP.
“When required to comply with these requests, we deliver that information to the US government — generally through secure FTP transfers and in person,” Google spokesman Chris Gaither told Wired. “The US government does not have the ability to pull that data directly from our servers or network.”
Read more on Wired.

As Mark said last week, we strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. In the past, we have questioned the value of releasing a transparency report that, because of exactly these types of government restrictions on disclosure, is necessarily incomplete and therefore potentially misleading to users. We would welcome the opportunity to provide a transparency report that allows us to share with those who use Facebook around the world a complete picture of the government requests we receive, and how we respond. We urge the United States government to help make that possible by allowing companies to include information about the size and scope of national security requests we receive, and look forward to publishing a report that includes that information.

I'm not going to post any more of these, but iuf anyone knows where I can find a quick count from time to time, I'll post as the numbers grow...
… An interactive graphic examining the secret FISA Court order revealed last week is available here.

Worth a read.
Phil Ciciora writes:
When Web surfers sign up for a new online service or download a Web application for their smartphone or tablet, the service typically requires them to click a seemingly innocuous box and accept the company’s terms of service and privacy policy. But agreeing to terms without reading them beforehand can adversely affect a user’s legal rights, says a new paper by a University of Illinois expert in technology and legal issues.
Law professor Jay P. Kesan says the current “non-negotiable approach” to user privacy is in need of serious revision, especially with the increased popularity of Web-based software that shares information through cloud computing.

Only in Massachusetts? (and Califirnia?)
Amy Crafts writes:
In January 2011, David Cheng (Plaintiff) filed a lawsuit against his former co-worker and fellow radiologist, Laura Romo (Defendant), alleging a violation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and Massachusetts privacy law. After the U.S District Court of Massachusetts denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on both counts, the case went to trial and the verdict came down at the end of April. The jury found that Defendant violated both the SCA and Massachusetts privacy law, and awarded Plaintiff damages totaling $325,000. This case is significant in that courts have struggled to interpret the language of the SCA yet the jury very clearly decided in favor of Plaintiff.
Read more about this case and ruling on Proskauer. As Crafts explains, the case isn’t quite over yet.

De-clutter the sky?
Queenie Wong reports:
The Senate approved a bill Monday that would limit the use of unmanned aircraft called “drones” by law enforcement and government bodies amid growing privacy concerns.
House Bill 2710, which passed on a 23-5 vote, was sent back to the House for concurrence on changes made to the bill.
Read more on Statesman Journal.

Somehow, I think NOT...
… This bill would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how broad of a legal authority the government is claiming to spy on Americans under the PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Sure we “can” the question is “may” we?
Orin Kerr writes:
Google argues that the answer is “yes,” in this oral argument today in the Ninth Circuit in Joffe v. Google. It’s an interesting question as a matter of statutory interpretation, largely because Congress wasn’t thinking about wireless Internet networks when it was writing about “radio communications.” The statute reflects different carve-outs from different eras that each reflected technologies of its era, all of which now are now barnacles on the hull of the statute that exist decades later when the technologies are very different. As a common sense matter, it would be surprising if the courts hold that anyone can intercept unencrypted wireless communications. It would be the kind of surprising interpretation that I suspect Congress might revisit if the courts reach it. But purely as a matter of statutory interpretation, it’s an interesting and difficult question.
Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Perspective: I predicted this some time ago. (But of course, no one ever listens...)
Cisco Report – The Financial Impact of BYOD
“To help companies determine the current and potential value of BYOD, Cisco IBSG conducted a detailed financial analysis of BYOD in six countries. Our findings show that, on average, BYOD is saving companies money and helping their employees become more productive. But the value companies currently derive from BYOD is dwarfed by the gains that would be possible if they were to implement BYOD more strategically.”

Perhaps a first step on the road to students creating their own textbooks...
Collaboratively Create an iPad or Android Magazine
Last month Flipboard made it possible for anyone to create digital magazines about their favorite topics. You can do this with the Flipboard iPad app, the Android app, or in your web browser. Yesterday, Flipboard made this service even better by allowing you to invite other Flipboard users to collaborate on magazine creation with you. Learn how to co-create Flipboard magazines in the video below.
Applications for Education
Co-creating Flipboard magazines could be a great activity for students studying current events. Your students could share the articles that they're reading and put them into one magazine for the whole class to read.
As a professional development activity co-creating Flipboard magazines could be a great way for teachers to share articles with each other.

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