Thursday, October 03, 2013

Not much of a surprise...
The U.S. Justice Department has told a secret surveillance court that it opposes a request from technology companies to reveal more about the demands they receive for user information, according to court papers released on Wednesday.
Read more on Reuters.

(Related) But then, asking permission to reveal what they are giving law enforcement is not the same as resisting any disclosure.
Kevin Poulsen reports:
The U.S. government in July obtained a search warrant demanding that Edward Snowden’s e-mail provider, Lavabit, turn over the private SSL keys that protected all web traffic to the site, according to to newly unsealed documents.
In an interesting work-around, Levison complied the next day by turning over the private SSL keys as an 11 page printout in 4-point type. The government, not unreasonably, called the printout “illegible.”
Read more on Wired.
I really admire Levison for trying to protect all users.
[From the article:
Hilton ruled for the government. “[The] government’s clearly entitled to the information that they’re seeking, and just because you-all have set up a system that makes that difficult, that doesn’t in any way lessen the government’s right to receive that information just as they could from any telephone company or any other e-mail source that could provide it easily,” said Hilton.
… The complete document set follows.

No harm no foul? “Our whole business model is designed around that loophole.” (Behold the value of lobbyists!)
Wendy Davis reports:
Hulu argues in new court papers that a lawsuit accusing it of violating a federal video privacy law should be dismissed on the ground that the Web users who filed suit didn’t suffer any injuries.
Read more on MediaPost.
[From the article:
“Congress could have worded the VPPA to provide monetary relief merely on a showing of an improper disclosure,” Hulu argues in a motion seeking summary judgment. “But it did not do so. Instead, it required that, to obtain an award of damages, the plaintiff be 'aggrieved' by the disclosure.”
Hulu previously acknowledged in court papers that it discloses data to third parties, but says that it never linked users' names to their movie-watching history. Instead, it assigns users a seven-digit User ID, and then transmits data about that User ID.

(Related) No harm no foul? This is so obvious it only took us 2 years to figure it out! (That's practically instantaneously in legal years.)
Mark Walsh reports that EPIC’s lawsuit against the U.S. Education Department has been dismissed for lack of standing:
A federal judge has a thrown out a lawsuit challenging 2011 regulations for the main federal education privacy law that added student identification numbers to the “directory” of information that may be disclosed by schools and colleges.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center and four individuals sued the U.S. Department of Education over the latest rules for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA.
But Judge Amy Berman Jackson of U.S. District Court in Washington issued summary judgment for the Education Department, ruling that the plaintiffs have not suffered any real legal injuries stemming from the regulations and thus they lack legal standing to bring their suit.
Read more on Education Week.
In noting the dismissal on its own web site, writes, ”EPIC intends to take further steps to safeguard student privacy.” It does not indicate what those steps might be and whether there will be any additional legal challenges to the 2011 regulations.

(Related) No harm no problem! No worries dudes and dudettes, if you think it's a bad thing we'll assume you are correct!
Julian D. Perlman of BakerHostetler writes:
California has moved one step closer towards amending its Constitution to create a presumption of harm whenever personal data is shared without a consumer’s express opt-in, a change that would clear a significant hurdle to many privacy breach lawsuits.
On Thursday, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen approved steps necessary to bring the Personal Privacy Protection Act to California voters. The effort to bring this initiative to the ballot, led by former state Sen. Steve Peace (also co-writer and co-producer of 1978′s cult classic “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”) and retired litigator Michael Thorsnes, will require 807,615 signatures from registered voters by February 24, 2014. (The complete Ballot Initiative Request is available here) If its proponents succeed, voters will face the issue in November 2014, with any approved change to the law taking effect in January 2016.
Read more on Mondaq.

For my Ethical Hackers. Be careful who you irritate.
Iranian cyber warfare commander shot dead in suspected assassination

Not current, but still available...
Internet Archives Maintaining copies of offline e-gov sites
Via Jeff J. Berns: “Per, the Internet Archive grabbed copies of a number of federal agency websites just before they were taken offline due to the lapse in appropriations. You can access the archives through the links on the blog entry. The databases, search engines, etc. may not work, but the static pages should be there.”

For everyone who needs (should be using) secure chat! I wonder if the NSA has deep cover hackers working on projects like this. Or have we given up completely on humint?
BitTorrent Chat Seeks To Bring Free P2P, Secure, User-Owned Instant Messaging
With growing concerns over how secure your online data is from intelligence organisations like the NSA, the makers of BitTorrent are looking to roll out a new instant messaging app that protects your privacy using the same infrastructure as the file-sharing network. BitTorrent Chat, an experiment in BitTorrent Labs, is currently in private alpha.
… The biggest sell here is that BitTorrent Chat is completely server-less. By not storing your messages on any servers, they are safe from snooping eyes. Instead, it uses a decentralized system that works akin to its BitTorrent Sync technology. Much like torrenting itself, it uses an encrypted peer-to-peer network.
… BitTorrent Chat will be free to all users with no limitations. It would likely hit Windows, Mac and Linux, although that has not been confirmed yet. The service is also eventually expected to work with other instant messaging accounts, and will have mobile apps as well.
This isn’t the first chat service being built with the premise of security. Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde is working on a messaging platform that he claims will be impossible to spy on, even by the people who run it.
To try out BitTorrent Chat, you can sign up for an invitation to the private alpha and hope to get lucky and be one of those selected.

For all my students (because it supports so many devices)
Simplenote for Android is a Free, Fast and Fantastic Notepad
Good apps like to show off their many features. Great apps get out of the way and let you do what you came to do. And that’s what Simplenote has always been about. It has been the best note-taking app on the Web, Windows, Mac or iOS, and new owners Automattic (the same company behind WordPress) has now brought this same simplicity to Android for free.

Still looking for the perfect tool for my students to create their textbook with. Or at least a few articles on new technologies...
Lucidpress is a slick new service from the same team that developed Lucidchart. Lucidpress is a slick tool for collaboratively creating multimedia documents.
If you watch the video below you'll notice that Lucidpress has some similarities to Google Documents. In fact, you can use your Google Account to sign into Lucidpress and you can use items stored in your Google Drive account in your Lucidpress documents. Lucidpress has commenting and sharing features that are similar to Google Drive too. What makes Lucidpress different from Google Documents is the selection of layouts and the layout customizations available to you. I look at Lucidpress as being the best of Apple's Pages and the best of Google Documents combined into one slick service
In the email that I received from the Lucidpress PR department I was informed that accounts for students and teachers will be free just as they are in Lucidcharts.
Lucidpress could be an excellent tool for students to create multimedia documents as reports or to tell a creative story. It is possible that your students could use it to create a multimedia online yearbook too.

Do students still read Shakespeare?
A Brief Tour of the Digital Delights of the Folger Shakespeare Library

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