Tag Archive | "guardian"

BlackBerry Sued An Executive Who Defected To Apple

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The story goes BlackBerry senior vice-president for software Sebastian Marineau-Mes resigned from his post in late December 2013 after Apple offered him a position as vice president of Core OS. But BlackBerry wouldn’t let him go and sued for breach of contact. Marineau-Mes alleged his contract is not a valid and enforceable contract. The Guardian reports that a court sided with BlackBerry… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Change In UK Tax Law Could Raise The Price Of Music And Apps In The Country

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A change in UK tax law that may take force at the start of 2015 would push the price of apps, music and other downloads and “e-services” higher in the United Kingdom. The legal shift would see downloads in the United Kingdom charged the value added tax (VAT) of that country. Currently, The Guardian reports, companies like Apple and other digital store owners “are allowed to sell… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

UK Spy Agency Collected Webcam Images From Yahoo Users With The Help Of NSA, Report Says

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In yet another stunning revelation about digital espionage (though how stunned can we continue to be at this point), The Guardian reports that British surveillance organization GCHQ ran a program between 2008 and 2012 that collected images from Yahoo chat users’ webcams. The program managed to collect a high volume of webcam imagery, including sex chat content, from over 1.8 million global… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

The Government Really Isn’t Sure What Snowden Took

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Out this morning is in the New York Times is a stark tale: The United States intelligence apparatus has little idea what Edward Snowden took, despite spending a half year trying to find out.

As the full scope of what Snowden absconded with likely can’t be known, the government is forced to operate on its toes, unsure of what might be coming next. And that could be anything. From the phone metadata program, to PRISM, to work on ending everyday encryption, to the pervasive XKeyscore, to MUSCULAR, the Snowden revelations have been as broad as they have been deep.

The facility that Snowden worked in was behind in its update cycle to better protect government information, an effort that kicked off following the Wikileaks episode.

That the government can’t assess what Snowden did or did not take has led to internal division inside the NSA: Is it better to buy Snowden off with a shot at amnesty? It depends, it would seem, on whether Snowden has any documents in reserve.

As quoted by CBS News, current NSA boss General Keith Alexander views giving Snowden amnesty in exchange for concessions similar to hostage taking:

This is analogous to a hostage-taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, “If you give me full amnesty, I’ll let the other 40 go.” What do you do?

Also quoted by CBS News in the same article is Rick Ledgett, an individual currently working to prevent another Snowden-like leak from happening, concerning the offering of legal reprieve in exchange for return of information:

So, my personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about. I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.

Ledgett went on to note that his view is not “unanimous” among the agency.

Does Snowden have more documents on his person or in his care that he could return in exchange for amnesty? As the Times reported today, he may, or may not:

[I]n October, Mr. Snowden said he had given all of the documents he downloaded to journalists and kept no additional copies.

In recent days, a senior N.S.A. official has told reporters that he believed Mr. Snowden still had access to documents not yet disclosed.

So, its a muddle. If Snowden is lying about what he has, he could be limiting his ability to come home, something perhaps similar to cutting off his nose to spite his citizenship. However, the idea that he has more documents could be simple spin from the government to give it moral and legal freedom to pursue Snowden as an active threat. Without the documents, the importance of his person greatly declines, which could irk the government if it wishes to continue its aggressive pursuance of the man.

Like the government, we’ll find out more of what Snowden took as Glenn Greenwald, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel and others report on the revelations.

The folks that claim they are smart enough to determine just how much privacy we need and deserve can’t keep their own house in order. That’s something to dwell on.

Top Image Credit: Flickr

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

PandoDaily Acquires Paul Carr’s NSFW Corp

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Paul Carr

Tech news site PandoDaily is acquiring NSFW Corporation, the humor- and politics-focused publication founded by former TechCrunch columnist Paul Carr (pictured), according to a story in the Guardian.

The NSFW Corp team will reportedly form an investigative unit at PandoDaily, which will be renamed Pando.com. Like Carr, Pando founder Sarah Lacy left TechCrunch after Michael Arrington was pushed out by acquirer AOL. (In fact, PandoDaily launched on my first day at TechCrunch.) Both companies raised money from Arrington’s CrunchFund.

Carr had earlier written on Pando that he had to raise funding quickly to keep the company alive, an effort that he later said had succeeded.

In her own post about the deal, Lacy said that she isn’t just bailing out a friend:

It was NSFWCORP’s shift towards focusing on the rising power and influence of technology entrepreneurs that ultimately made this deal happen. At lunch a few weeks ago, Paul told me NSFWCORP was considering moving more aggressively in the direction of tech-related, long-form, investigative reporting. I was struck by how similar our editorial mandate was becoming. Stories like Silicon Valley’s increasing power in Washington and the NSA scandal were broadening our coverage at the same time NSFWCORP was seeking to narrow its coverage. We were meeting in roughly the same place.

By the way, when I emailed Lacy about the news, she wrote back that “there’s not a lot of truth to the meme that either of us ‘hate’ tc.”

Well, maybe we can agree that it’s a complicated relationship. When asked by the Guardian about the criticism that Pando panders to Silicon Valley (a criticism that’s certainly been directed at us, too), Carr replied, “If you want to see Silicon Valley friendly, go to TechCrunch and see press release after press release after press release written up by children.”

image via PandoDaily

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Facebook isn’t suited for teens … yet

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Facebook has an issue with teens. CFO David Ebersman even admitted it in the most recent quarterly earnings call, saying that the site has seen a dip in daily active teen users. Regularly, studies and stories come out about how Facebook will fail in the future because of its declining use among teenagers. An article in The Guardian points to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and KakaoTalk as the preferred method of communication among high school-aged students.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook is doomed long-term. Just because someone is using Snapchat at 16 doesn’t mean that they will use it at 25 and so on. Facebook has grown and adapted, but it seems many people still think Facebook is what it was in its infancy — a private way to connect with classmates and close friends.

The newest report in The Guardian points out that teens are scared about oversharing through Facebook and feel more comfortable with private messaging apps that don’t broadcast things to the world (or to family and random Facebook friends). Facebook isn’t the “cool” place that it once was when you needed an .edu email address to access the site, but the social network had to adapt to a different type of “cool” and open more broadly in order to be financially viable.

The Guardian sheds light on where these teenagers are going, other than Facebook:

Their gradual exodus to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk boils down to Facebook becoming a victim of its own success. The road to gaining nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users has seen the mums, dads, aunts and uncles of the generation who pioneered Facebook join it too, spamming their walls with inspirational quotes and images of cute animals, and (shock, horror) commenting on their kids’ photos. No surprise, then, that Facebook is no longer a place for uninhibited status updates about pub antics, but an obligatory communication tool that younger people maintain because everyone else does.

All the fun stuff is happening elsewhere. On their mobiles.

The narrative that Facebook will fail in the future because teens are not using the site as often seems flawed. Facebook might not be cool at 16, when many people just want to message their close friends and not broadcast messages to the world. However, teen users do grow up. Once these younger users start going to college, getting jobs and having kids, their outlooks on sharing may change. These same users who prefer messaging apps might want some kind of way to connect with a broader range of people, such as relatives and co-workers — groups of people who either don’t exist yet for teens or who aren’t well known.

Facebook is a living, breathing product. It started out as a way for college classmates to connect, with strict privacy controls. Now, as Mark Zuckerberg says repeatedly, Facebook’s goal is to make the world more open and connected. Maybe some teens aren’t ready for that yet.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Article courtesy of Inside Facebook

Guardian Uses Bluetooth Low Energy Tech To Keep Your Child Safe

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Guardian bracelet on wrist

Despite the best efforts of vigilant parents, small children are like magicians with their ability to slip away unnoticed. BeLuvv, a startup in Taiwan, has created Guardian, a small wearable device that can be combined with a smartphone app to track your kid’s movements and prevent them from going into stealth mode. Guardian is currently available for pre-order and scheduled to start shipping at the end of November.

There are already several child safety devices and apps on the market (ones covered by TechCrunch include Alert.Us and Filip). Guardian hopes to stand out by using bluetooth low energy (BLE) tech, which has the advantage of being smaller, lighter and consuming much less power than GPS devices. BeLuvv CEO Johnny Fong says the Guardian tracker’s battery can last for four months to a year, compared to about 24 hours for most GPS trackers. The device’s $29.95 retail price ($24.95 for pre-orders) also make it considerably less expensive than most GPS trackers.

The Guardian device is paired with an iOS app (an Android version is in the works) that can be used to set a perimeter for each child, as well as a network of “co-guardians” ranging from one or two people to a wider group of family and friends. If a child goes missing, an emergency notification can be sent out to everyone who has downloaded the app.

The the device isn’t just for worse case scenarios, Fong says. Parents can use it to make sure their kids don’t wander too far away while playing in parks or at birthday parties. The Guardian tracker also works indoors. Fong was inspired to create the device after losing track of his child in a department store.

“I’m the father of two sons and I’m always concerned that my children will get lost in a public space. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. The bluetooth technology is mature now and that’s the reason I wanted to enter this market,” says Fong.

He adds that BeLuvv will continue to focus on creating wearable device that take advantage of the hardware manufacturing capabilities in Taiwan. The next product in the Guardian series is a tracker for cats and dogs that uses the same combination of BLE tech and smartphone apps.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Bradley Manning Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison

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Bradly Manning

The long-running trial of WikiLeaks informer Pfc. Bradley Manning has come to an end. A military judge sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison. On July 30, Manning was found not guilty of ‘aiding the enemy,’ but was still found guilty on 19 lesser counts, including six counts of espionage.

Manning faced up to 90 years in prison. He apologized for his actions in front of the court. As he has already spent more than 3 years in prison and was given 112 days of credit for harsh treatment, his stay in prison will be shorter than 35 years.

He is no longer considered as a private first class as judge and colonel Denise R. Lind reduced him to private E-1, the lowest rank of private. According to the New York Times, prosecutors requested 60 years in prison in their closing arguments in order to discourage any potential future leak.

Most of the sentencing phase was spent trying to determine whether Manning’s actions had had damaging consequences on international relations between American diplomats and foreign officials. The case will now move to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

In 2009, Manning had access to multiple databases of classified information while serving for the U.S. Army in Iraq. He leaked thousands of diplomatic cables, a video of a Baghdad airstrike, the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Logs and field reports to the organization WikiLeaks. These documents were later sent to multiple newspapers, including the Guardian and the New York Times, between April and November 2010. The impressive leak led to many revelations on American diplomatic activities.

As expected, Manning’s lawyer justified the leak by arguing that the public had the right to know what was happening in Iraq. Manning admitted as well that he had “hurt the United States.” The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the decision.

(Image credit: Truthout.org)

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

UK Govt. Destroyed Journalists’ Hard Drives In Failed Attempt To Stop NSA Story

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The plot thickens. British authorities reportedly destroyed hard drives in an attempt to stop the Guardian from disseminating stories about classified mass-surveillance projects. Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger details how security experts from British intelligence agency, GCHQ, told him that the Guardian would have to either hand over their information or have their hard drives destroyed.

The revelation is especially damaging to British authorities after yesterday’s international incident, where they detained David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, in London’s Heathrow airport and confiscated his laptop and camera.

The story has an aura of dark humor, as the agents apparently didn’t understand that the Guardian could report on places outside of London and that a destroyed hard drive won’t stop information from getting out.

Quoting from the article in full:

“I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?

The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.”

Unlike the United States, Britain does not have a constitutional right to “no prior restraint.” Except under extreme circumstances, the government is forbidden from stopping the flow of information, even if they wish to prosecute journalists after the fact.

Still, the idea that destroying a hard drive would stop the spread of information is kind of silly. Twitter, of course, had the best reaction to this laughable ignorance

Here's exclusive video of UK officials searching the @Guardian hard drives youtu.be/ZkwrIZQDt50

Britain Detains Partner Of Journalist Who Exposed NSA Spying. Are They Crazy Or Stupid?

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The partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published classified information on U.S. government surveillance, was detained for 9 hours in London’s Heathrow Airport. On Sunday morning, David Miranda was detained for the maximum allowable time under British Law; his property was confiscated and has yet to be returned, according to Greenwald.

Miranda was visiting Laura Poitras, a documentarian who has also worked on exposing classified intelligence practices. However, there is no indication that Miranda, who was transferring in London en route to Brazil from Berlin, should have been subject to Britain’s Terrorism Act of 2000.

Greenwald’s response, in the Guardian, is admirably measured and worth quoting in full:

“If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world”.

In a separate statement to his newspaper, Greenwald said, “This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process.”

Greenwald, who first interviewed rogue whistleblower Edward Snowden, has been ground zero for the international attention brought upon the National Security Agency, which is suspected of monitoring millions of Americans, by collecting data on phone and Internet browsing behavior. Details of the interrogation are still unknown, as Miranda has no way of contacting Greenwald.

I can’t tell if British authorities are crazy or stupid. On top of being horribly anti-democratic, how could authorities think it was a smart idea to detain the family members of a critic with the largest soapbox on the planet. Immediately, on the usual lull of a Sunday afternoon, the story is front page news at every major news outlet, as both British and Brazilian lawmakers express outrage.

“Never connect at Heathrow if you can possibly avoid it” is right up there with “never get involved in a land war in Asia”


Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) August 18, 2013

Intimidating journalists by detaining their family is what China and Russia do. And now UK. All perfectly legal. theguardian.com/commentisfree/…


Pierre Omidyar (@pierre) August 18, 2013

If authorities were brazen enough to detain someone so closely connected to the leaks, it means they’ve probably extended their legal powers to intimidate others with less fame. Now a bright and unwavering spotlight is on their questionable tactics.

Even worse for authorities, most of the debate around NSA spying (and proposed legislation to limit their authority) has been whether agencies have too broad of a definition for who qualifies as a suspect. As the New York Times points out, Miranda’s detention is legal under British law, which means the definition of ‘terrorist threat’ is most definitely being abused.

This reflects badly on both British authorities’ general competence and their regard for the freedom of the press. Heads are going to roll.

[Photo Credit of adorable couple, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian]

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

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