Sunday, July 28, 2013

“Well, we can't divide markets by talking directly with our competitors...”
How America’s Top Tech Companies Created the Surveillance State
“The saga of the private sector’s involvement in the NSA’s scheme for permanent mass surveillance is long, complex, and sometimes contentious. Often, in ways that appeared to apply indirect pressure on industry, the NSA has demanded, and received, approval authority—veto power, basically—over telecom mergers and the lifting of export controls on software. The tech industry, in more than a decade of working-group meetings, has hashed out an understanding with the intelligence community over greater NSA access to their systems, including the nation’s major servers (although it is not yet clear to what degree the agency had direct access). “I never saw [the NSA] come and say, ‘We’ll do this if you do that,’ ” says Rebecca Gould, the former vice president for public policy at Dell. “But the National Security Agency always reached out to companies, bringing them in. There are working groups going on as we speak… Most of this co-opting of the private sector has happened with the full-throated support of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, again behind closed doors. Today, Hayden says, the agency itself is all but indistinguishable from the private sector it has exploited. Its best technology is designed by the private sector—“There isn’t a phone or computer at Fort Meade that the government owns,” he says—and its surveillance systems are virtually interwoven with their products. The huge controversy over Snowden’s employment by one of these private contractors, Booz Allen Hamilton, was just the barest tip of the iceberg, according to intelligence and industry officials. One by one, [former NSA Director Michael] Hayden says, the NSA contracted with companies to “make them part of our team,” as he puts it.”

This got me thinking, perhaps what this country needs is a Chief Surveillance Ombudsman.
Annual Report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner to Prime Minister and to Scottish Ministers
“The powersand duties of the Surveillance Commissioners in scrutinising and deciding whether to approve authorisations under PA97 (property interference) and under RIPA and RIP(S)A (intrusive surveillance) have been explained in earlier reports and are publicly available on our website. For reasons explained later in this report, necessary legislation is not yet implemented to enable the Commissioners to give prior approval to some authorisations relating to a law enforcement Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS–commonly termed an undercover officer). My Inspectors continue to scrutinise the authorisation of any such undercover officer who has been authorised for an uninterrupted period exceeding 12 months.”

How should I classify this? Unintended good from an evil malware scheme? Just another dumb criminal?
Man gets fake FBI child porn alert, arrested for child porn
As far as I am aware, the FBI doesn't usually send you a pop-up online notice, asking if you could kindly pay a fine for child pornography.
Perhaps I should check with Edward Snowden to be sure.
Still, 21-year-old Virginian Jay Riley was sufficiently stunned to receive a pop-up "FBI Warning" telling him to pay a fine for child pornography that he went to his local police station in Prince William County.
As WJLA-TV reports it, Riley asked if he was, indeed, wanted on child pornography charges.
In what seems like a helpful and open frame of mind, he allegedly offered the police his computer for examination.
There, the police allegedly found child pornography.
… The pop-up was an example of Reveton ransomware, which monitors those who might log on to a questionable Web site and then tries to extort money from them.
It claims to lock the user's computer unless a fine is paid.

For my Website Development students. Sometimes you want to reverse engineer a site.
… Cyotek WebCopy is a free to use desktop application for Windows computers. The app is sized at nearly 4 MB and is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7. The function of the application is to let you download entire websites onto your local storage device.
… In addition to these features, the app lets you analyze websites and also specify passwords for any secure site areas.

Always looking for storys about applications for Math. (Esp. from respectable sources)
The Science of Winning Poker
… The U.S. government's ban on the major online poker sites in 2011 reined in enthusiasm, but the game has continued to grow in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
This growth over the past decade has been accompanied by a profound change in how the game is played. Concepts from the branch of mathematics known as game theory have inspired new ideas in poker strategy and new advice for ordinary players. Poker is still a game of reading people, but grasping the significance of their tics and twitches isn't nearly as important as being able to profile their playing styles and understand what their bets mean.

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