Download a free app for secure messaging

Signal – Private Messenger is a free app for iOS, that allows fully encrypted text and voice communications. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Of course, both ends of the communication must be running the app. But if you are serious about protecting your privacy this is a highly recommended app.  Given the price, you would be wise to take the download.

More info available here.

Hypocrisy quote of the day

Virtually every US Federal law enforcement and intelligence agency has been demanding that backdoor access to user communications must be built-in so the Federal government can “collect it all™”.

Glenn Greenwald calls out the hypocrisy in this approach:

How can we demand of China the stated approach of the US? The fact of the matter is that “backdoors” are fatal to Internet security regardless of who imposes the requirement.

Tim Cook on privacy

None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information. This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn’t give it up. We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.

* * *

Terrorists will encrypt. They know what to do. If we don’t encrypt, the people we affect [by cracking down on privacy] are the good people. They are the 99.999 percent of people who are good. You don’t want to eliminate everyone’s privacy. If you do, you not only don’t solve the terrorist issue but you also take away something that is a human right. The consequences of doing that are very significant.

(via Apple Insider)

Hayden claims he is a libertarian

This is hilarious. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, claimed at the CPAC gathering that he is a libertarian. His management of the massive data collection activities of the NSA and his work for the CIA most certainly denies him the right to make such a claim.

Former NSA Director Michael Hayden Mocked at CPAC from The Intercept on Vimeo.

Surveillance state quote of the day

…this is not “surveillance,” it’s “data collection.” They say it is done to keep you safe. They’re wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement — where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion — and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.

– Edward Snowden, via Quotation of the Day Mailing List

Net neutrality victory

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and the director of the Poliak Center for the First Amendment at the Columbia Journalism School, writing in The New Yorker, has penned one of the best takes on the likely implementation of network neutrality. He explains why he thinks most people believed that it would never be approved.

Here is an excerpt:

The theory of the wisdom of crowds suggests that the markets have noticed something: the broadband industry hates net neutrality, but its existence has always had a huge and unnoticed upside. Selling broadband is a great business: Moffet has pointed out that the margins are north of ninety-seven per cent. Stated simply, a strong net-neutrality rule locks in the status quo for the most profitable part of the cable industry’s business.

Looking to the future, there’s one last thing that everyone might be wrong about. The general assumption is that the new rules will be met with fierce and protracted litigation (perhaps decades of it, warn the greatest doomsdayers). I’ve said myself that there will be litigation, and it is true that, in our times, most serious regulation is immediately challenged in court, almost as a kind of corporate reflex. Verizon and A.T. & T. have both already threatened to sue. But maybe this prediction is wrong, too.

For one thing, given the jump in stock prices, filing a lawsuit will technically be suing to invalidate rules that seem to have created billions of dollars of shareholder value for the broadband providers. For another, suing the F.C.C. tends to annoy the agency, meaning that you might count out A.T. & T. and Comcast, both of whom have pending mergers before the commission. Sprint has already said that it doesn’t mind net-neutrality regulation, and it is hard to imagine a smaller company really wanting to bother. So it probably comes down to whether Verizon or a trade group like the National Cable & Telecommunications Association thinks that it is worth the time, money, and continued uncertainty inherent in trying to knock out the new rules.

A suit becomes less likely because any such challenge is likely to fail. Unlike in 2010, the F.C.C. has written an exceptionally well-defended rule that depends on its broadest grants of authority to regulate “communications by wire.” Predicting the outcome of an unfiled suit is hazardous business; but it is fair to say that knocking out the rules will be rather hard.

Three Brooklyn men charged with ISIS related charges

The FBI is back in action. Consistent with a long-standing process, the agency used a paid informant to lure individuals into a conspiracy to aid ISIS. The conspiracy would not have occurred but for a paid informant. The three individuals in this case seem to be wholly incompetent and would likely have been unable to take action absent the FBI’s involvement in luring them to take action. One of those accused had his passport taken away by his mother. How bad ass could he have been. In effect, the conspiracy was created by the FBI itself. Entrapment anyone?

From The Intercept:

One can, if one really wishes, debate whether the FBI should be engaging in such behavior. For reasons I and many others have repeatedly argued, these cases are unjust in the extreme: a form of pre-emptory prosecution where vulnerable individuals are targeted and manipulated not for any criminal acts they have committed but rather for the bad political views they have expressed. They end up sending young people to prison for decades for “crimes” which even their sentencing judges acknowledge they never would have seriously considered, let alone committed, in the absence of FBI trickery. It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking this is a justifiable tactic, but I’m certain there are people who believe that. Let’s leave that question to the side for the moment in favor of a different issue.

We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of home-grown terrorists, “lone wolf” extremists, and ISIS. So intensified are these official warnings that The New York Times earlier this month cited anonymous U.S. intelligence officials to warn of the growing ISIS threat and announce “the prospect of a new global war on terror.”

But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target, recruit and then manipulate into joining? Does that not, by itself, demonstrate how over-hyped and insubstantial this “threat” actually is? Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fueled without the help of the FBI, that the agency should devote its massive resources to stopping?

Behind the scenes in Modern Family episode recorded on Apple devices

In an earlier post, I noted that the TV show Modern Family filmed an entire episode using Apple devices.

Here is a behind the scenes look at how it was done, via Buzzfeed:

Net neutrality “wins”

Republicans have apparently decided that they cannot block the new rules created by the FCC to protect network neutrality. The rules would reclassify the Internet as a public utility, in the same way that mobile telephone services are currently treated.

From The New York Times:

Senior Republicans conceded on Tuesday that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.

* * *

The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.

In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks.

However, it is virtually certain that the large ISPs and cable companies will quickly challenge the new rules when the go into effect. The battle is only half over.

Tesla wins best overall car rating by Consumer Reports

For the second year in a row, Consumer Reports named the Tesla Model S the best overall car of the year.

Tesla Motors’ electric Model S sport sedan won overall honors in Consumer Reports’ selection of the best car models. This was the second consecutive year Tesla charged to the top.

Although there were many “impressive” new models this year, the magazine said, “none was able to eclipse the innovation of the Tesla.” The $89,650 Tesla that Consumer Report tested is “a technological tour de force, a high-performance electric vehicle with usable real-world range, wrapped in a luxury package.”

(more at The Los Angeles Times)