Microsoft worked with the government, producing both chats and e-mails.
Skype audio and video chats, widely regarded as resistant to interception thanks to encryption, can be wiretapped by American intelligence agencies, according to a new report in The Guardian. The report appears to contradict claims by Microsoft that it has not provided the contents of Skype communications to the government.
In a story published Thursday, based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, The Guardian offers some detail about extensive cooperation between the FBI, the National Security Agency, and Microsoft to enable government access to user communications via the intelligence tool known as PRISM. That cooperation included, according to the leaked NSA documents, enabling access to Outlook.com e-mails and chats, the SkyDrive cloud storage service, and Skype audio and video calls.
The Guardian hasn't published the documents on which this story is based but has instead quoted from them.
NSA leaker Edward Snowden read a short statement at Moscow's Shermetyevo Airport today, where he has been holed up in a transit zone for nearly three weeks.
Snowden said he has accepted "all offers of support or asylum I have been extended," and specifically cited Venezuela as a nation where his "asylee status is now formal." He asked several representatives of human rights organizations to help him request "guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations" in getting to Latin America. In the meantime, Snowden said he will formally request asylum from Russia until safe passage is secured.
Snowden's statement in part:
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice—that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
Genetic traits, like a bulbous nose or balding, give some people reasons to moan about what they inherited from their parents. But more serious genetic flaws can cause debilitating disease. Now, Italian researchers have come up with a way of treating one such inherited disease and reversing another using a promising new method of gene therapy.
The idea behind gene therapy is to replace a faulty gene with a shiny new version that works properly. Modified versions of viruses, which have been sculpted by millions of years of evolution, perfectly penetrate human cells. They act as courriers delivering DNA payloads to defective cells and ensure they are stably inherited.
This deceptively simple idea, though, has been challenging to achieve in practice. The first commercial gene therapy product, Glybera, only received regulatory approval in 2012.
Part of the reason for this is the difficulty of successfully clearing three hurdles at once: delivering replacement genetic information to the exact cells that need help, getting this information safely translated in high enough volumes to overcome the defects, and stopping the immune system from reacting to “normal” genes when it has grown used to only seeing mangled ones.
Now, a team led by Alessandra Biffi at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, reports in Science that they have developed a new approach that navigates each of these hurdles to treat three children with metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a devastating inherited disease that affects around 1 in 40,000 people.
The first-class Maps app from Google has gotten better. Too bad you need Google+ to enjoy all the new features.
Google announced today that an updated Maps app would be rolling out to Android smartphones and tablets beginning today. iOS devices will be getting the update “soon,” according to Google. The Maps app now includes dynamic navigation rerouting, an Explore feature that uses Google Now cards for restaurant discovery, and Zagat and Google+ friend reviews of restaurants and other businesses.
Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of Google’s friend-tracking feature Latitude, get ready to do all of your location-sharing and checking-in with Google+, because Latitude is being pulled from Google Maps. Also changing in this update is the way you save a map for offline browsing. Now, you just enter “OK Maps” into the search box whenever you’re looking at a map you want to access offline. Curiously, that’s the same language Google Glass uses for voice commands (“OK Glass, take a picture”)
Bambi Note: Google can keep their G+ integration. Shouldn't need to have G+ to use a bunch of map functions.
A federal judge today ruled that Apple is guilty of violating antitrust law by conspiring with major publishers to raise e-book prices. The Justice Department originally brought charges against five publishers and Apple in 2012. All of the publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster — agreed to settlements in early 2013, leaving Apple alone to face trials.
“The Plaintiffs have shown that the Publisher Defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy,” federal judge Denise Cote stated in her ruling. “Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded.”
Cote goes on to further detail how Apple and its co-conspirators aimed join forces against Amazon, who had cornered the market with its standard price of $9.99 per book. Apple and publishers agreed to use a so-called agency model, which gave publishers, not retailers, the power to determine e-book prices. Along with the agency model, Apple introduced a “Most-Favored-Nation” clause, which would guarantee that Apple could match the lowest price of e-books available on competing stores and also impose fines on publishers if they could not get Amazon and other retailers to agree to the agency model.
Bambi Note: Much more in the article.
On July 10, 2008, Apple launched the App Store, an online hub where iPhone owners could browse and download apps from third party developers. More than anyone could have expected, this became a defining moment in the history of personal computing.
Foremost, it profoundly changed the smartphone. Apple’s handset was able to finally take on the multitude of functionalities we now expect of all touchscreen phones: Sharing photos, posting to Facebook, finding a place to grab dinner, composing music, and playing every kind of game, from word puzzles to first-person shooters.
But while this simple digital storefront forever changed the iOS experience, it also changed the way we think about software distribution and valuation.
Best Buy wants to be the go-to destination to trade-in your electronics. Late last month the retailer offered a free iPhone trade-in deal -- you bring in your old iPhone 4 or 4S and you can get a new iPhone 5 for free. Now, it is offering a deal on your old iPad.
On Friday and Saturday you can bring in your iPad 2 or the third-generation iPad into any Best Buy location and receive a minimum of $200 in Best Buy credit in exchange. If your iPad is in better than regular working condition, Best Buy says you may receive additional cash. iPads with cracked screens or with water damage will not be accepted.
However, Gazelle, a consumer electronics trade-in website, which specializes in Apple gear, does accept broken iPads. A broken Wi-Fi, 16GB model should get you about $60 on the site.
There's been speculation that Apple may to start its own in-store, trade in program, which would presumably offer customers a discount on new phones and tablets in exchange for older devices.
Will the Microsoft Surface tablet be remembered one day as a noble but failed experiment?
Microsoft announced Surface last summer to great fanfare. It was, after all, historic and surprising for the company to get into the computer device business, especially for Microsoft OEMs whose longtime partner suddenly became a competitor. Microsoft rolled out the Surface RT tablet, running on ARM chips, last fall and the more powerful Surface Pro followed in February.
But the devices have fallen flat, even with relentless advertising. Consumers, already comfortable with myriad tablet options from Apple, Google and Amazon, were confused by Windows 8's tile interface and had trouble discerning the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro. Meantime, enterprises were already reluctant to move to Windows 8, as many had taken Windows 7 as the natural upgrade path following the Vista debacle.
A May report from IDC reveals that Surface shipments totaled 900,000 units (700,000 Surface Pros and a meager 200,000 Surface RTs) in the first quarter, capturing only 1.8% of the tablet market. When measured by operating system, only 3.7% of the tablet market went to Windows 8/RT tablets, a distant third place behind Android (56.5%) and iOS (39.6%).
A study has shown for the first time that starfish use primitive eyes at the tip of their arms to visually navigate their environment.
Research headed by Dr. Anders Garm at the Marine Biological Section of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, showed that starfish eyes are image-forming and could be an essential stage in eye evolution.
Bambi Note: Wow! Who knew?
If you're determined to live through any possible doomsday scenario, the thought of climbing into one of those deep underground shelters might give you pause. After all, who wants to live dormitory style with a bunch of strangers when you've become accustomed to the comforts of your own double-wide at the RV park?
Dug over 100 years ago as part of a limestone mining operation, this bunker in Kansas covers 45 acres sitting 100-150 feet below ground. Developer Robert Vicino says that the structure can withstand a 1 megaton nuclear blast just 10 miles away...
Bambi Note: Might remember Robert Vicino from the 2010 article about the luxury bunker condo missile silo, but considerably less expensive.
Russia's agency responsible for the Kremlin security is buying typewriters - a move reportedly prompted by recent leaks by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden.
A 486,540-rouble (£9,860) order for electric typewriters has been placed by the FSO agency on the state procurement website.
The source added that typewriters were already being used at Russia's defence and emergencies ministries for drafts and secret notes, and some reports had been prepared for President Vladimir Putin by typewriter.
Unlike printers, every typewriter had its own individual typing pattern which made it possible to link every document to a particular machine, Izvestiya said.
Bambi Note: There is a security saying that has been has been poo poo'd by government and corporate interests in the world: what part of critical systems should not be on the Internet do you not get?
It's no secret that the citizens find it hard to feel anything beyond phantom intestinal discomfort when "government authority" mixes with "Internet stuff." And if the U.S. government's recent efforts to connect with the populace by expanding its social media presence are any indicator, Americans are about to feel a lot gassier.
Bambi Note: Yep these are the ways: 4. Police Departments Have Begun Live-Tweeting Patrols, 3. The White House Has Begun Using Memes, 2. The TSA Is Instagramming Things They Confiscate, and 1. The State Department Has Been Buying Facebook Likes. Unbelievable.
I impulsively bought one of the $199 Acer C7 Chromebooks, specifically to find out if I could successfully put pure Linux on the Android Chrome OS laptop. I know Chromebooks run on Linux, the kernel, but I wanted KDE, which is what I normally run. I wanted both, and I thought it'd be fun. I also thought it might be an easier way to get around Microsoft's Secure Boot, which makes it hard to install a GNU/Linux environment on new laptops. Microsoft never runs out of ways to make it inconvenient to use Linux, of course.
Then, once I got my new Chromebook home, I realized it only had 16 GB of storage, which I hadn't noticed in the store. Like I say, it was an impulse buy. I didn't think that'd be enough room for a dual boot. But just as I was giving up, a friend told me about crouton. Oh, my! A chroot so you don't have to dual boot but can just switch back and forth between Chrome OS and KDE or whatever you like.
Bambi Note: And pj did it. And we can too. All we need is a $199 Chromebook.
Since its founding in 1992, DefCon has been a venue where anarchists, geeks, and employees of three-letter federal agencies became unlikely comrades under a live-and-let-live credo that placed the love of computer tinkering above almost everything else. No more. As tensions mount over the broad and indiscriminate spying of Americans and foreigners by the National Security Agency, DefCon organizers are asking feds to sit out this year's hacker conference.
"For over two decades DEF CON has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics, and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory," Jeff Moss, aka The Dark Tangent, wrote in a blog post published Wednesday night. "Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect."
DefCon, which is scheduled to run August 1 through 4 this year at the Rio, has almost always gone out of its way to welcome federal agents. The annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas during the dead of summer has long been famous for its "spot the fed" contest. Former federal prosecutor Curtis Karnow spoke at the inaugural event, according to this DefCon press archive. US Department of Defense Director Jim Christy has been attending since 1999 in an open campaign to attract top hacker talent to the ranks of military and federal agencies. Still, many more agents prefer to attend under the shadow of anonymity.
Bambi Note: I can't say I blame the folks that put on and/or attend DefCon, but I wonder if they are being naive to think that they won't still be able to see/hear everything that goes on in DefCon? Hope they have some serious ways of determining if there are audio/video bugs in the rooms if they want to feel safer.
Legislation hurriedly written -- and approved by the governor -- appears to ban any "system or network of devices" that may be used in a game of chance. Oh, oopsie.
Writing legislation isn't easy.
You might have to employ dozens of interns, forgetting to pay them any money, and hope they can write -- and even spell.
Please, therefore, indulge Florida, which seems to have written legislation banning every single smartphone and laptop in the state.
According to the Huffington Post, Florida's overly stressed politicians recently banned all slot machines and Internet cafes, which might annoy a tourist or two in Miami.
Bambi Note: Too funny. Could happen to anyone I guess, at least on a first draft ... but didn't they have enough legal beagle eyes on the legislation to preclude this from happening? Here's a bit of the actual text:
The Miami Herald obtained a copy of a lawsuit (PDF) brought by Incredible Investments against the state. It pleads that the legislation is incredibly unconstitutional.
It says in part that the new Floridian definition of a slot machine includes...
any machine or device or system or network of devices that is adapted for use in such a way that, upon activation, which may be achieved by, but is not limited to, the insertion of any piece of money, coin, account number, code, or other object or information, such device or system is directly or indirectly caused to operate or may be operated and if the user, whether by application of skill or by reason of any element of chance or any other outcome unpredictable by the user.
Well, let's stop there. The drift is clear.
Bambi Note: Yep, just about any laptop, smartphone, tablet, you name it type of computer ... which would also mean internet cafes too it would seem.
Many human diseases are due to defects in the RNA code. Cracking the code is crucial to creating new treatments for many conditions.
An international team has unraveled most of a code that controls how DNA becomes the proteins that make up cells and – in the process – uncovered a possible cause of autism. The discovery cracks the “RNA control code,” which dictates how RNA — a family of molecules that mediates DNA expression — moves genetic information from DNA to create proteins.
“For the first time, we understand the language of a code that is essential to gene processing,” said Morris, a professor in U of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research. “Many human diseases are due to defects in this code, so figuring out what it means is crucial to creating new treatments for many conditions.”
One protein they looked at may explain some of the symptoms in children with autism. The researchers found that RBFOX1, a protein often turned off in the brains of patients, ensures the activity of genes important for the function of nerve cells in the brain.
The team is now working with autism experts to assess the potential of RBFOX1 in autism therapies, and exploring promising leads on the roles of unstudied proteins in many other diseases.
This week a European Earth-observing satellite confirmed that a large iceberg broke off of Pine Island Glacier, one of Antarctica’s largest and fastest moving ice streams.
The rift that led to the new iceberg was discovered in October 2011 during NASA’s Operation IceBridge flights over the continent. The rift soon became the focus of international scientific attention. Seeing the rift grow and eventually form a 280-square-mile ice island gave researchers an opportunity to gather data that promises to improve our understanding of how glaciers calve.
Although calving events like this are a regular and important part of an ice sheet’s life cycle—Pine Island Glacier previously spawned large icebergs in 2001 and 2007—they often raise questions about how ice sheet flow is changing and what the future might hold. Computer models are one of the methods researchers use to project future ice sheet changes, but calving is a complicated process that is not well represented in continent-scale models.
The IBEX spacecraft has now mapped the structure of our solar system’s comet-like tail. Photos in this post can help you picture how our sun carries you through space.
NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft recently provided the first complete pictures of the solar system’s downwind region, revealing a unique and unexpected structure.
Researchers have long theorized that, like a comet, a “tail” trails the heliosphere, the giant bubble in which our solar system resides, as the heliosphere moves through interstellar space. The first IBEX images released in 2009 showed an unexpected ribbon of surprisingly high energetic neutral atom (ENA) emissions circling the upwind side of the solar system. With the collection of additional ENAs over the first year of observations, a structure dominated by lower energy ENAs emerged, which was preliminarily identified as the heliotail. However, it was quite small and appeared to be offset from the downwind direction, possibly because of interactions from the galaxy’s external magnetic field.
File this one among the stories that fell through the cracks due to the 4th of July holiday in the U.S. According to a July 3 advisory from the Department of Homeland Security’s ICS-CERT, the Root SSH Key for Monroe Electronics emergency alert systems has been compromised.
The private SSH key used in firmware images prior to version 2.0-2 of Monroe’s DASDEC-I and DASDEC-II, which are emergency alert system (EAS) encoder/decoder devices used to broadcast EAS messages over digital and analog channels, has been compromised – though how it happened exactly remains a puzzle.
"The EAS is designed to enable the President of the United States to speak to US citizens within 10-minutes of a disaster occurring," IOActive explained. "In the past these alerts were passed from station to station using the Associate Press (AP) or United Press International (UPI) 'wire services' which connected to television and radio stations around the US. Whenever the station received an authenticated Emergency Action Notification (EAN), the station would disrupt its current broadcast to deliver the message to the public."
According to an advisory from the company, most (but not all) of their customers have installed the updated firmware.
"For any of these issues to be resolved, we believe that re-engineering needs to be done on the digital alerting system side and firmware updates to be pushed to all appliances,” Davis said.
[Lhasa, China, July 2, 2013]: Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, today announced the successful deployment with China Mobile of 4G coverage atop Mount Everest, 5,200 meters above sea level.
At a June 11 ceremony marking the launch of the service, China Mobile demonstrated a series of new 4G technologies to more than 200 guests including live HD video streaming from a Mount Everest base camp to the event venue. Huawei has already delivered 4G solutions to other parts of the region including EPC, integrated equipment rooms, BTS, microwave transmission and 4G devices.
In 2007, Huawei worked with China Mobile and others to realize GSM coverage on Mount Everest to ensure mountain climber safety and to prepare for a leg of the 2008 Olympic Games torch relay. Huawei’s GSM base stations at the Mount Everest base camp have operated smoothly ever since and continue to provide visitors with mobile services.
David Wang, President of Huawei Wireless Networks, said: “Bringing 4G to Mount Everest marks an important milestone in global LTE TDD development. We are very excited to make this possible, and look forward to working with more operators worldwide to bring high-speed mobile broadband services anytime and anywhere.”
By May 2013, Huawei has deployed LTE TDD solutions for nearly 40 operators in Asia, the Middle East, North America, South America, Western Europe, Russia and Africa.