Since his nomination to be the EU?s digital commissioner, Germany?s GŁnther Oettinger has suggested hitting Google with a levy for displaying copyright-protected material; has raised the idea of forcing its search results to be neutral; and voiced concerns about its provision of software for cars.If they were alleging real consumer harm, that would be one thing, but no one seems to be discussing that.
The language in the draft resolution calling for the break up of powerful search engines does not attack Google directly. Instead, according to a version seen by The New York Times, the resolution calls on the European Commission ?to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services? to introduce more competition into online search in Europe.If true, then it seems that Microsoft -- one of the leading drivers behind antitrust actions in Europe -- may have shot itself in the foot here, since it, too, is a "search engine" that has plenty of other "commercial services."
The resolution was written by Andreas Schwab, a member of the center-right European People?s Party from Germany, where powerful publishing groups have strongly campaigned for measures to rein in Google?s market power.
The CIA and Senate have found more to fight about. With the "Torture Report" mostly in the hands of the White House at this point, the two are now battling over the CIA's planned alterations to its email retention policies.
Key senators are pushing back against a CIA plan to destroy older emails of “non-senior” agency officials.The senators are asking the National Archives to step up and somehow prevent this from happening -- most likely by declaring "non-senior" emails to be retainable records that must be turned over rather than destroyed. The CIA would prefer to destroy the emails of all but the top 22 employees three years after they leave, or when "no longer needed, whichever is sooner." Unfortunately for the senators making this request, the National Archive has already signaled its agreement with the CIA's proposed retention schedule changes.
The heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday sent a letter opposing the proposal, under which only the highest ranking CIA workers would have their email correspondence permanently saved.
The plan “could allow the destruction of crucial documentary evidence regarding the CIA’s activities that is essential for Congress, the public and the courts to know,” Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) wrote to the National Archives...
In tentatively approving the request, the National Archives noted that the emailed information “is unlikely” to exist in other forms that will be marked for permanent storage.Senators Feinstein and Chambliss -- in rare agreement with transparency and government accountability activists -- disagree with the National Archives' assessment.
Any information not found in those other files likely “has little or no research value,” it added.
“In our experience, email messages are essential to finding CIA records that may not exist in other so-called permanent records at the CIA,” Feinstein and Chambliss wrote.Longer retention is needed, especially for an agency as secretive as the CIA. The standard wait period for sensitive document declassification is 25 years. Correspondence related to declassified documents will be long gone by that point.
"While we had significant victories in the federal district courts in New York and Boston and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the reversal of the Second Circuit decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court has proven difficult to overcome. The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo?s technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."While the blog post is entitled "The Next Chapter," this is most likely game over for the disruptive upstart.
A case involving Microsoft that is currently before the US courts has raised important issues between the respective legal regimes in the European Union and the United States, particularly in relation to the protection of personal data."Existing legal mechanisms" presumably means the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that would allow the US to request the data it wants from the Irish government. The "fundamental issues at stake" refer to the fact that by trying to take a more direct route, without involving the Irish government, the US authorities are likely to fall foul of European data protection laws, which do not allow personal data to be handed over in this way. The Irish minister is clearly asking the European Commission to support Microsoft in its fight against the US court's decision:
The case in question has given rise to a degree of legal uncertainty and the outcome could have potentially serious implications for data protection in the EU.
By seeking direct access to data held in the EU through the US judicial system, existing legal mechanisms for mutual assistance between jurisdictions may be being effectively bypassed. There are fundamental issues at stake here as regards the protection of personal data that is held within the European Union.
I urge the Commission to consider the arguments that Microsoft are making with respect to this case.That's an indication that the Irish government -- and doubtless those elsewhere in the EU -- really want Microsoft to win. If it doesn't, there is going to be a clash of jurisdictions that could get very messy as both US and EU insist that their laws must take precedence, with serious consequences if they don't....
The Government Accountability Office has taken a look at the DHS and its handling of FOIA requests, and it doesn't like what it sees. There are plenty of numbers in the report but the most incredible number is this: 23,000 FOIA requests mishandled by a single agency under the DHS's control. [pdf link]
Nonetheless, CBP experienced a large increase in the number of its backlogged requests from fiscal year 2011 through fiscal year 2013—from 4,356 requests to 37,848 requests. According to CBP officials, two problems, in particular, contributed to the higher numbers. First, approximately 11,000 FOIA cases that were improperly closed in 2012 had to be reopened and reprocessed. Second, after its reorganization, a new manager found a stack of boxes containing 12,000 paper requests from 2012 that had never been entered into their processing system. The officials stated that CBP subsequently cleared all of these requests.Unfortunately, the report doesn't contain any further details on how these events occurred. The preceding paragraph notes that the CBP has taken steps (hiring/training additional staff, extending agreement with USCIS to handle FOIA processing) to tackle its backlog of requests, but there's nothing explaining how 11,000 requests were "improperly closed" or how 12,000 requests managed to bypass the FOIA system completely, only to reappear in a stack of boxes located elsewhere.
Responsibility for processing FOIA requests is decentralized among DHS’s Privacy Office and component agencies...In addition, each of the selected components has its own program and procedures for processing, tracking, and reporting FOIA activities... Further, while the selected components report their FOIA processing costs to the Privacy Office, which then aggregates this data, these reported costs are incomplete, thus hindering accountability for the total costs incurred by the department and the components in managing and processing FOIA requests. Also, duplication exists in the processing of certain requests for immigrant files that are handled by two of the selected components.This table highlights part of the problem:
Due to the non-reporting of particular cost categories and concerns about the accuracy of certain reported cost data, including data with obvious errors and inconsistent accounts of how data were collected, we concluded that, overall, the cost data provided were not sufficiently reliable, based on federal management cost accounting standards, to determine DHS’s total FOIA costs, but that our analysis allowed us to conclude that overall costs were underreported...When it's all said and done, the DHS accounts for nearly half of the government's 95,000-request backlog. Part of it is due to its size, which encompasses some agencies (CBP, ICE) many Americans are seeking more and more information from. But the rest of it is on the DHS itself, which has been informed of its deficiencies since 2008, but has made very little forward progress.
In examining reported data on the volumes of FOIA requests made to DHS, we found two data reliability issues of concern. First, we found that a FOIA request may be recorded and counted more than once… Similarly, a request sent to more than one component may be entered separately by each component that responds. Nonetheless, while this double counting may result in an inaccurate number of total requests received by DHS, it did not affect our findings, since we have no findings related to the overall volume of requests handled by DHS.
"Lets call it like it is: in most of America, we?ve got a broadband duopoly at best. And it?s simple economic theory and best-practice capitalism that in an unregulated near-monopoly, you will see manifestations of policies, practices and behaviors that are not always customer friendly. If we accept that high speed Internet access is essential for modern life, the fact that we need a set of controls that assure that an entrenched operator won?t use their captive audience in an unreasonable way shouldn?t come as a surprise.This isn't just a pipe dream. While we pretended to try open access as a concept, we never tried very hard. For the few years it was attempted, incumbent ISPs repeatedly made cooperation impossible for a smaller carriers, intentionally sabotaging installs, delaying support calls, and generally doing their very best to make sure that the concept didn't work. Carriers paid regulators to nap on these issues before then FCC boss Michael Powell (now the top lobbyist for the cable industry) ultimately decided to kill the idea for good. This is, opponents of the idea will insist, somehow proof positive that the concept of open access doesn't work.
While neutrality is the topic of the day, the real fix is to reinvigorate competitive Internet access in America. Competitive access in Europe supported by legislation similar to The 1996 Act has resulted in lower costs for consumers and far more choices in Europe. What Michael Powell decided to do hasn?t worked out as well for Americans. Today?s FCC should return to the roots of the Telecom Act, and reinforce the unbundling requirements, assuring that they are again technology neutral. This will create an investment ladder to facilities for competitive carriers, opening access to build out and serve areas that are beyond our reach today."
"Now we live in the city center of Toulouse, France, in an apartment where I?m a broadband customer of a company called Numericable. Here?s what I get for $63 per month: 100 Mbps download speed, 250 cable channels, a home telephone with unlimited international calling, and a mobile phone that includes unlimited minutes and 3GB of data usage each month. (The only tradeoff was losing my unlimited AT&T data plan; but I also never come close to using 3GB.)...Separately, I?m getting ready to sign my wife up for a $20-per month mobile plan with mobile provider Free that comes with unlimited calling and 3GB of data."Despite the fact this model clearly works, it's never considered in policy discussions as a serious possibility. Why? Quite simply because the incumbent providers don't want it. Through the use of their various PR folk, astroturfers, think tankers, fauxcademics and assorted hired mouthpieces, they've successfully managed to utterly vilify the concept, painting it as the very worst sort of government meddling in (not actually) free markets. Instead, we've chosen to head down the path of letting the nation's duopolists dictate telecom policy, and the end result should at this point be painfully obvious to everyone. Well, except the industry lobbyists who still somehow insist we're all living in a competitive broadband Utopia.
AT&T, of all companies, has just handed in an amicus brief challenging the warrantless acquisition of cell site location data. At the center of this discussion is Quartavious Davis, who was sentenced to 162 years in prison for his involvement in a string of seven robberies, and his cell location records -- 67 days-worth which were obtained by investigators without a warrant.
An earlier appeals court ruling found that cell location records are sensitive enough to be afforded Fourth Amendment protection. The government sought a rehearing and so there's now an en banc rehearing of the case before the full slate of judges from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
AT&T has normally been very cooperative with law enforcement and national security agencies. This filing may look like a shift in loyalties, but what AT&T is asking for isn't exactly revolutionary, or even in line with the panel's previous decision regarding cell site location records.
AT&T said in its filing that it wants the courts to set a clear standard for the type of approval the government needs in order to obtain cellphone location data, and that it isn't taking a position on whether the standard should be a warrant.While this lack of solid stance may be only minimally encouraging, AT&T's challenge of the government's Third Party Doctrine rationale is a bit more weighty.
AT&T, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed Monday in an appeals-court case, said the high court's reasoning applies poorly "to how individuals interact with one another and with information using modern digital devices."This echoes the arguments presented by a few federal judges. While the government clings to the Third Party Doctrine and the assertion that the public "voluntarily" turns over this data, the courts have noted that the dynamic has changed. Cellphones are utilitarian at this point, and not some sort of purely voluntary luxury the public can do without. And what the public very certainly isn't doing is creating a wealth of information for law enforcement and investigative agencies to access without a warrant.
"Nothing in those [prior court] decisions contemplated, much less required, a legal regime that forces individuals to choose between maintaining their privacy and participating in the emerging social, political, and economic world facilitated by the use of today's mobile devices or other location-based services," the company said.
QUOTE:¬† Hundreds of thousands of Android phones have been infected with malware that uses handsets to send spam and buy event tickets in bulk.
Mobile security firm Lookout said the virus, called NotCompatible, was the most sophisticated it had seen.
The cyberthieves behind it had recently rewritten its core code to make it harder to defeat, it said.
.........Phones infected with NotCompatible were enrolled into a network that is now being rented out to any crime group that needs a ready source of Android users.
Mr Linden said compromised phones had been used in a variety of scams including sending spam, attacking Wordpress blogs and buying tickets for popular events in bulk that would then be resold at a significant profit.
"This is the most technically sophisticated threat we are facing and it's the most worrying to us," said Mr Linden.
NotCompatible is being spread via spam and websites seeded with booby-trapped downloads, he said and urged Android users to be wary of any app that required a security update to be installed before it was run..............
Read the entire article in link above[...]
The discussion over cellphone encryption continues, with much of the "discussion" being FBI director James Comey's insistence that Apple and Google simply can't do the very thing they're doing... and offering zero legal reasons why they can't. There have been a lot of horribles paraded around during the past few weeks, mainly of the terrorist or pedophile variety. None of it has been very persuasive to anyone not wearing a badge. The converts continue to love the preaching while those on the outside look on in bemusement.
It's not just Apple and Google at this point. Whatsapp, the messaging app Facebook recently purchased, will be providing end-to-end encryption. Twitter is fighting National Security Letter gag orders in court.
The Wall Street Journal's recent article provides a closer look at the reactions of the upper echelon of law enforcement (DOJ and FBI) but only finds more of the same.
The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc. executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting."A child would die." That's the argument. That's almost the only argument.
I'd hate to have people look at me and say, 'Well how come you can't save this kid,' 'how come you can't do this thing.'" (Sept. 25)
Smartphone communication is “going to be the preferred method of the pedophile and the criminal.' [Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier] (Sept. 30)
Eric Holder: 'When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child...' (Oct 1st)
As a result, child predators, terrorists, and other criminals could go free, he [James Comey] warned. (Oct. 30)Unsurprisingly, when the subject was first broached in this fashion, Apple reacted as any company would when faced with the insinuation that its latest feature would kill children.
The meeting last month ended in a standoff. Apple executives thought the dead-child scenario was inflammatory. They told the government officials law enforcement could obtain the same kind of information elsewhere, including from operators of telecommunications networks and from backup computers and other phones, according to the people who attended.There are other options, but the FBI and DOJ only want the easiest route. To get it, the same argument is presented again and again. The FBI, along with other law enforcement officials, have accused Apple and Google of marketing to criminals. The companies have reasonably responded by presenting the alternatives the FBI and others are willfully ignoring. Files stored on phones are often stored elsewhere. Talk to service providers. Demand the information from the suspects themselves.
[Deputy Attorney General James] Cole predicted that [law change] would happen, after the death of a child or similar event.So, it would appear that both sides of the argument are waiting for a watershed event to prove their respective points. Apple's Tim Cook believes "something major" will happen that will prove to customers that his company's decision to provide encryption by default was the right one. The DOJ and FBI, on the other hand, are apparently waiting for something much more tragic: the severe abuse and/or death of a child at the hand of criminal in possession of an encrypted phone.