China has banned live streaming services because it's becoming difficult for the government to censor the content of it. It was estimated last year that the live streaming industry is worth $9 billion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed anti-terrorism legislation, including increased electronic surveillance of Russian citizens. This effectively removes all privacy as telephone companies and internet providers will save and store private communications of its customers and make it available to the government upon request. Phone calls, text messages, and emails will be kept for 6 months, and all metadata will be kept for up to 3 years. This also will outlaw encryption.
An obscure committee wants to grant the government with more hacking abilities. It comes from the advisory committee on criminal rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States. The amendment would update Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Von is wondering why technology doesn't allow for us to vote on things over the internet. Leo says that there is a movement to do that, but the first step to get everything online is a huge hurdle. Companies that publish all the laws in paper are suing to prevent it. The larger issue is security and accuracy of the electoral process. Voting machines are notoriously unreliable and easily hacked. Online would be even worse. Check out public.resource.org.
Before the holidays, Congress slipped CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, into a budget bill. It allows companies to share information with the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and NSA. And more importantly, it prevents companies from being sued by consumers for sharing information.
Read more at wired.com.
The US Government issued a subpoena to Reason.com for the information on six commenters on an article about the Silk Road. The article was about the judge's harsh ruling on Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht. The government also issued a gag order that kept Reason.com from disclosing anything about the situation. Reason.com successfully had the gag order lifted with help from the US Attorney's Office.
Read the full story at Reason.com
Mark says if the government wants to make broadband internet a utility, the FCC should regulate it like a utility. He makes the point that the reason it's a utility is because there's only one place to get it, like the gas or electric companies. Leo says we can blame the FCC for giving the cable companies a monopoly years ago. But he says they had been more or less blackmailed into that decision because the cable companies told the FCC they wouldn't build out the infrastructure otherwise.
Citizenfour is an Academy Award winning documentary on the story of Edward Snowden. He was a contractor for the NSA as a systems administrator working out of Hawaii, and that's how he was able to obtain information. What he did with that information is what became so controversial. He went to Hong Kong, and contacted journalists to give them this information he had collected, but didn't want anything released that would risk the lives of government operatives. Instead, he wanted journalists to tell the world, Americans in particular, what the NSA had been up to.
News broke this week of the U.S. Marshals Service program that's been ongoing since 2007 to gather information from Americans' cellphones. It uses small fixed-wing Cessnas equipped with 'dirtboxes' that imitate cell towers to get identifying information from citizens. According to those familiar with the program, these planes make regular flights and can scoop up data from tens of thousands of phones in densely populated areas. The program is meant to locate individuals under investigation and fugitives, but it collects information from all cellphones.
Pending appeal, Microsoft has refused to turn over emails stored in Ireland to the US government. If Microsoft loses on appeal, it'll have to turn over the emails however. This is a scary thing because it could mean that the reach of the US courts extend beyond our shores, and around the world. In the view of Microsoft and many legal experts, federal authorities have no jurisdiction over data stored in a foreign country, and this would violate the sovereignty of Ireland.
Leo thinks that companies like Microsoft and Apple will see this as an opportunity to fight for user privacy.