Saying that the federal government has demanded personal data of their customers over 2500 times this year, Microsoft has sued the federal government demanding that the court rule on how the company must provide the information. According to the complaint, Microsoft is not allowed to tell their customers of the action, nor is there any expiration on the demands, effectively tying up the company forever. Microsoft is asking the court to rule and provide a level of transparency, and to act as a hedge against an overreaching government.
If you're concerned about using your credit card online, the website Privacy.com will keep your personal data private and make the transaction more secure. This site will give you a new virtual card for every transaction you make. Privacy.com can be used everywhere that Visa debit cards are accepted.
Naomi has been helping a senior with surfing the net through a Chromebook. Leo says that Chromebooks are a great option for people that have limited uses like just checking your email and Facebook. It's a solid option, especially for retired people. It's more secure, reliable, and far less expensive than a general purpose computer which is really overkill for most people's needs. A Chromebook is fantastic in that regard.
Apple continues to resist a court order to alter iOS 9 in order to crack open the phone of a terrorist in the San Bernardino shooting. Leo says it's very important for Apple to make this stand because it sets a very dangerous precedent that can be abused, not only by the federal government, but any government that Apple does business in.
Michael says that the longer Apple can appeal and resist the court order, the better it looks for Apple. Leo says yes and no, because we now know that Apple's encryption isn't one way and that they can open any phone if they choose to give in to the FBI's demands. Leo suspects that Apple will eventually give in and when they do, there are encryption programs in 70 different nations that are uncrackable.
Janice is hearing that her school may be getting Chromebooks. But Janice is worried the school might not want to get them because of privacy concerns with all data being stored in the cloud. Leo says that the data will be in the cloud whether it's with Google or not. And it's understandable to be concerned. The EFF tells us that we should be. So it's a legitimate issue.
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.
Starting Monday, anyone who operates a drone from 0.5-55 pounds will be required to register that drone with the FAA. Leo says that the problem is that everyone's personal information will be publicly available, which is not a good thing. And the Academy of Model Aeronautics is encouraging drone operators not to register until the privacy issues are addressed. That kind of civil disobedience will get attention, but the fines of up to $25,000 and 3 years in jail for failing to do so is a steep one.
Kevin is worried that the government is pushing to weaken encryption and that will make it far less secure. Leo agrees. He understands why the government is worried about encryption, but at the same time, weakening it helps nobody. Is it too easy to get encryption and use it? Leo says that's an interesting point. Especially since all mobile phone communications are encrypted now. Leo says that maybe the solution is that companies should hold the keys and have the power to decrypt if the law enforcement provides a warrant.
Juan is looking to use Tor for encrypted security. Leo says that Tor was invented by the US Navy and it works by making your traffic obscure. Tor is used for anonymity, and it's a bit difficult to set up, but using a Tor browser makes it a lot easier. If Juan is concerned about privacy online, Tor is a good option to look into.