WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

WikiLeaks released thousands of documents yesterday that it claims detail methods used by the CIA “to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions,” reports The New York Times. According to WikiLeaks, the CIA and allied intelligence services bypassed encryption on messaging services including Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. WikiLeaks also suggests that agencies can collect audio and messaging data from Android phones “before encryption is applied.” The Wall Street Journal notes that such activities, if actually taking place with consumer electronics, could fuel tensions between intelligence agencies and the tech industry, which has been concerned about customer privacy. Mobile devices are a major concern; NYT published an article detailing potential smartphone vulnerabilities. Continue reading WikiLeaks Claims of CIA Hacking Could Impact Tech Industry

Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

In April, Microsoft sued the federal government for intercepting its customers’ emails and preventing Microsoft from alerting them. Now, U.S. District Judge James Robart has ruled that Microsoft made a viable argument, but rejects its contention that the government interception is an unlawful search and seizure of property. At the time, federal courts issued Microsoft about 2,600 so-called secrecy orders, and the tech company could not inform its customers, even when the search was over. Continue reading Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

Documentarians Entreat Camera Manufacturers for Encryption

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who shot the Oscar-winning “Citizenfour” about Edward Snowden, along with 150 other documentary filmmakers, signed an open letter from the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) asking camera manufacturers Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Fuji, Kodak and Ricoh to add encryption features. The fear is that thieves, law enforcement or agents of authoritarian governments can access footage by simply taking possession of the camera, and the documentarians want protection. Continue reading Documentarians Entreat Camera Manufacturers for Encryption

Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

The free encrypted messaging app Signal is gaining users, not just because privacy advocates and security researchers have all given it a seal of approval. The app, available for smartphone and computer, is a bulwark against hacking, which got a national spotlight when WikiLeaks posted emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Others fear increased government surveillance under the incoming President Donald Trump, a reaction to Trump’s choice of CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, who advocates just that. Continue reading Signal Emerges as a Must-Have Hacker-Proof Messaging App

In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

In response to a classified edict from the National Security Agency or the FBI, Yahoo scanned all of its users’ incoming emails for a specific “set of characters,” keeping the scans and the software system it built to do so a secret. Millions of emails were scanned, but neither federal agency nor Yahoo will say if they found what they were looking for. Experts say this is the first case of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to search all arriving emails, rather than stored messages or a small number of email accounts. Continue reading In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

Security Alert: Apple Urges iPhone Users to Update Their iOS

The NSO Group, an Israeli firm that sells software for invisibly tracking mobile phones, is believed to be responsible for leveraging three security vulnerabilities in Apple devices to spy on journalists and dissidents. The software can reportedly be used to access passwords, emails, text messages, calls, contacts and more. Apple fixed the security flaws 10 days after two researchers provided the tip. The company urges all users to download the latest version of iOS. “Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5,” reports The New York Times. “Users can get the patch through a normal software update.” Continue reading Security Alert: Apple Urges iPhone Users to Update Their iOS

Panasonic Revives 8K Research, New Cameras Slated for 2018

Panasonic has renewed its efforts to develop 8K image sensors for video. The company had stopped R&D in this area in 2011, in response to financial considerations, but as its earnings increased, it revived its work in this sector, now pledging to invest $80.8 million (10 billion yen) into R&D. Production of the sensors is likely to be outsourced, and production models are expected on the market by 2018. The first targeted use for the 8K sensors will be consumer and broadcast cameras. Continue reading Panasonic Revives 8K Research, New Cameras Slated for 2018

TPP Trade Agreement Sparks Response from Tech Community

With the publication of the Trans Pacific-Partnership (TPP) international trade treaty, numerous technology and privacy rights groups are speaking up over a range of issues. Non-profit consumer rights organization Public Citizen decries what it says is “serious implications for online privacy.” Others note that the TPP would prevent member countries from requiring that companies from other member states hand over the source code of their products. And some activists believe TPP could help further net neutrality. Continue reading TPP Trade Agreement Sparks Response from Tech Community

DARPA’s Brandeis Project Focuses on Technologies for Privacy

At a three-day DARPA conference, the agency highlighted Brandeis, a project to develop technology with plans to protect individual privacy. The move is a 180-degree turn from the post September 11 focus on Total Information Awareness, a program that developed digital surveillance. DARPA has already selected the companies and universities joining the program, among them SRI International and Stealth Software. The meeting to kickoff Brandeis is scheduled to take place in October. Continue reading DARPA’s Brandeis Project Focuses on Technologies for Privacy

Tethered Drones Offer Longer Flight Times and Better Control

Since most UAVs are limited by short battery lives and face the possibility of flying into other aircraft, some companies have introduced tethered drones that are connected to the ground by ultrastrong, lightweight cables. These drones offer longer flight times, more control, and faster data transmission. Several industries have plans for these drones: CNN plans to use them for news coverage, the military for surveillance, and industries such as construction and agriculture for data gathering on their operations. Continue reading Tethered Drones Offer Longer Flight Times and Better Control

Tech Companies Urge White House to Leave Encryption Alone

Tech companies in the U.S. are urging the Obama administration not to impose policies that could potentially weaken encryption systems created to protect the privacy of consumers. “We are opposed to any policy actions or measures that would undermine encryption as an available and effective tool,” stated a letter to President Obama this week from the Information Technology Industry Council and the Software and Information Industry Association, representing companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft. Continue reading Tech Companies Urge White House to Leave Encryption Alone

NSA Preps Shutdown of Controversial Phone Tracking Program

After the Senate declined to reauthorize the bulk collection of phone records, the National Security Agency began shuttering its controversial counter-terrorism program over the weekend. The Senate failed to reach an agreement to extend the program beyond May 31, when the law used to authorize it will expire. Some intelligence and law enforcement officials have argued that the program is crucial to tracking terrorists. While the Senate rejected two bills that would have continued the program, some believe an agreement could still be reached before the deadline. Continue reading NSA Preps Shutdown of Controversial Phone Tracking Program

Tech Groups Express Their Support for the USA FREEDOM Act

Technology trade groups — including TechNet, the Internet Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association — have joined the Reform Government Surveillance group in support of the USA FREEDOM Act. The bill intends to limit federal government bulk surveillance programs in an effort to protect privacy while still addressing national security. The consortium supports more transparency and a change to the collection of bulk data. Continue reading Tech Groups Express Their Support for the USA FREEDOM Act

Samsung Clarifies its Policy Regarding TV Voice Recognition

Samsung updated its privacy policy to explain that the company would not be eavesdropping on viewers when they use the voice controls on their Samsung smart TVs. The previous version of the policy suggested that recorded audio could be transmitted to a third party through the television’s voice recognition software. Samsung clarified that only words spoken into the remote would be recorded and sent to the outside company. Users can also opt to turn off the voice recognition feature. Continue reading Samsung Clarifies its Policy Regarding TV Voice Recognition

French Term for American Tech Giants Reflects Resentment

France has an acronym for the American tech giants that they often criticize for privacy and tax issues. GAFA (as “Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon” are now known as in France), are the latest companies under fire in a long history of French resistance of American cultural imperialism. The French have little sympathy for these massive companies that often invade personal privacy, either for profit or for government surveillance, and try to find ways around the country’s taxes. Continue reading French Term for American Tech Giants Reflects Resentment