Thursday, April 21, 2016

Another swing of the pendulum.
Cyrus Farivar reports:
A federal judge in Massachusetts ruled Wednesday in favor of a man accused of accessing child pornography through Tor, finding that the warrant issued by a Virginia-based judge was invalid.  The evidence of child pornography the government claims it found on the man’s computers is suppressed, which likely makes continuing prosecution of this case significantly more difficult.
Read more on Ars Technica.
[From the article:
"It allowed government agents to conduct a borderless dragnet search with no geographic limitation," J.W. Carney, Levin’s lawyer, wrote in a court filing.  "Rule 41 simply does not permit a magistrate judge in Virginia to authorize the search of the defendant’s computer located in Massachusetts."

Tom Randall reports:
On April 6, during a panel discussion at the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ Global Privacy Summit, officials from the Attorney General offices of New York, Illinois and the District of Columbia highlighted the evolving focus of state Attorneys General from high-profile retail data breaches to breaches involving more sensitive personal data.  Matthew Van Hise, an official with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, noted that as retailers are becoming more sophisticated in implementing their payment card infrastructures, through chip-and-pin and other methods, state AGs are turning their attention to breaches of personal health information, Social Security numbers, and other highly sensitive data.
Read more on JDSupra.

Of course they will.  After all, “we gotta do something” to address this symptom of a bad tax code.  (The code itself is too complicated and too heavily lobbied to change.)  Isn’t all of this data attorney-client communication?  Wouldn’t that complicate thigs? 
U.S. launches ‘criminal investigation’ involving Panama Papers
   In a letter to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote that his office had “opened a criminal investigation regarding matters to which the Panama Papers are relevant,” and he asked to speak with someone who had worked on the project. [Rather wimpy.  If they say no, is that the end of the investigation?  Bob]  The Guardian newspaper, which was among those to analyze the materials, posted a copy of the letter on its website.
   President Obama has noted, too, that those who want to find loopholes in U.S. tax laws generally have not had a problem doing so.
“It’s not that they’re breaking the laws, it’s that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they’ve got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by,” Obama said. 

(Related) Do you suppose Mr Bharara knew about this?  Or did he deliberately not know about it? 
New York Wants Foreign Banks to Hand Over Panama Records
   New York’s Department of Financial Services asked companies including Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, Commerzbank AG, ABN Amro Group NV and Societe Generale SA to provide communications, telephone logs and records of other transactions between their New York branches and employees or agents of the law firm, Mossack Fonseca & Co.  The banks aren’t accused of wrongdoing.  [Yet.  Bob]

Good to know that some technology works as promised. 
Visa: Some merchants see dip in fraud thanks to chip cards
  Among the 25 merchants who were suffering the most instances of counterfeit fraud at the end of 2014, five that began processing credit and debit cards equipped with the new EMV technology saw those infractions fall 18.3% as of the final quarter of 2015, says Stephanie Ericksen, vice president of risk products at Visa.  Meanwhile, five of those merchants who were not yet equipped to handle chip-enabled cards saw an increase in fraudulent transactions of 11.4%.

Security (and Privacy) have become selling points.  The FBI is going to have to learn to live without being able to read the messages (email, phone calls, texts, etc.) it intercepts. 
Viber Joins WhatsApp With End-to-End Encryption Protecting Privacy For Its 700 Million Users
It doesn't matter if you're chatting with a co-worker about a sensitive business proposal you're putting together or bantering about basketball playoffs with a group of buddies, the idea that a third-party could be intercepting and reading your communication is creepy.  Messaging providers are taking a privacy stand against such things, including Viber, which is adding end-to-end encryption to its popular platform.
Over 700 million people use Viber, more than enough to make it a target for spying from hackers and even government organizations.  But just as WhatsApp has done for its more than 1 billion users, Viber's roll out of end-to-end encryption will help keep prying eyes from seeing private communication, whether the government likes it or not.

(Related) The more security the better?   
Opera Browser Piles On More Privacy With Free VPN Feature
The Opera OPESY 1.90% browser last month gained a built-in ad-blocking feature to help set it apart from the pack, and now it has made itself even more distinctive with a free virtual private network (VPN) feature.
VPNs are handy security and privacy tools that route your Internet activities through a distant connection — this can be useful for protecting your browsing while you’re on public Wi-Fi, or accessing region-restricted content from somewhere outside that region.
There are plenty of VPNs out there, and many can plug into your browser to allow easier use, but Opera’s version is baked in from the start.  What’s more, it’s free and it offers unlimited data usage.

For my Computer Security students. 
Quick Tips and Facts That’ll Help Avoid Vishing and Smishing Scams
Have you heard of vishing or smishing?  Essentially, they’re both forms of phishing — vishing is done over the phone, and smishing is done through text messages.  Both scams are designed to steal the victims information or money from them.
Thankfully, these scams can be avoided if you know what to look for.  The infographic below will tell you everything you need to know to make sure you don’t become a victim.

As a Math teacher, I love to see Venn diagrams that summarize litigation.
Tech coalitions pen open letter to Burr and Feinstein over bill banning encryption

Tempting.  I could call all my students at once and tell them what I think! 
Facebook Messenger Rolls Out Group Calling: You Can Now Phone Everyone In A Group Chat
Facebook Messenger has launched a group-calling feature that allows users to simultaneously dial up to 50 friends online.  Messenger's top executive, David Marcus, announced via Facebook that the free service is rolling out globally over the next 24 hours to all Messenger users with the latest Android and iOS app updates.

Smart.  But I bet I can name the companies the “anti” lobbyists work for. 
WiredWest: a Cooperative of Municipalities Forms to Build a Fiber Optic Network
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on
Western Massachusetts Towns Create a New Model for Last-Mile Connectivity, but a State Agency Delays Approval and Funding – A case study by David Talbot, Waide Warner, and Susan Crawford –
WiredWest is a legal cooperative of 31 western Massachusetts towns that has put forward a detailed proposal to provide “last-mile” high-speed Internet access connections to homes and businesses in a rural region suffering from poor Internet access.  The project has encountered delays in obtaining approvals and funding from a state agency called the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), which is responsible for providing $50 million in subsidies to solve the region’s Internet access problems.  In this case study, we detail how WiredWest plans to finance the construction of a state-of-the-art fiber optic network and then operate and provide services over that network.  WiredWest has already secured deposits in the amount of $49 from more than 7,100 pre-subscribers, developed a financial model, and drafted an operating agreement.  It has taken a regional approach to spread risk and achieve economies of scale, making the model nationally relevant.  (Another prominent example of a telecommunications cooperative providing high-speed Internet access is RS fiber, formed by 17 townships and 10 cities in Minnesota.  RS Fiber is subject of this report by The Institute for Local Self Reliance.)  The WiredWest cooperative network would connect to an $89.7 million “middle-mile” fiber optic network built by MBI to connect community institutions such as libraries, schools, hospitals, and government buildings in 45 towns considered “unserved” (because they lack any cable service), plus 79 other towns that had partial or full Internet access services.  While the middle-mile network was meant to be the starting point for last-mile networks serving homes and businesses, at the time of this report’s publication, only one of the 45 unserved towns, Leverett, had built such a network.  WiredWest would extend fiber’s benefits to a far wider region.  So far 24 of WiredWest’s member towns have authorized borrowing a total of $38 million and most of those towns support going forward as part of WiredWest.  Under the plan, they will pay about two-thirds of the network’s costs.  To cover the remainder, they will need to receive a portion of the $50 million in available subsidies.  But at the time of this report MBI had tabled any decision on the project amid a wider review of the last-mile program by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker.”

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