Probably not, if you have an Android phone.
According to malware researchers at F-Secure Labs, the number of active mobile threat families and variants initially spiked in the winter quarter, with Android’s share jumping from 49 out of 74 known threats to 96 out of 100, with the balance being related to Nokia’s essentially mothballed Symbian platform.
That was enough to rouse a tweet from the rarely used account of Apple’s head of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, who linked to the report with the brief admonition “be safe out there.”
However, F-Secure’s new report for the latest quarter shows Android now accounts for 136 out of 149 known threats, or 91.3 percent of all malware activity (up from 79 percent in 2012).
The other threats remained related to Symbian, with zero discovered for Blackberry, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile/Phone or Apple’s iOS. The research noted that mobile threats are overwhelmingly motivated by profits, with 76.5 percent designed specifically to con users out of money, rather than seeking to just cause damage.
(via Apple Insider)
There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the news gathering activities undertaken by The A.P. during a two-month period, provide a road map to A.P.’s news gathering operations, and disclose information about A.P.’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.
– Gary Pruitt, President and CEO of the Associated Press, outraged by the seizure by the Federal government of the records for more than 20 telephone lines of its offices and journalists, including their home phones and cellphones. It said the records were seized without notice sometime this year. The ability and willingness of the government to seize data and records without notification must stop. Particularly, in the case of journalists, seizures adversely affect free speech and freedom of the press.
Seal of the United States Department of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Department of Justice is seeking to keep secret a memo written by the Office of Legal Counsel which claims that the FBI can request records from telecommunications companies without issuing national security letters or warrants in advance. In other words, the DOJ claims a right to side-step both the warrant and NSL process based on a memo which is not public. In effect, the DOJ is relying on secret law, which is among the techniques of repressive, totalitarian regimes. It is simply wrong to continue to create such secret laws in a democratic country supposedly governed by the rule of law.
They do this notwithstanding a redacted a DOJ Office of Inspector General report questioning the legality of such information requests. Check out page two of the text of the report. You can read chapter and verse of this action which is being challenged by the EFF.
In a brief filed on [in March] (PDF), EFF continued its fight against secret surveillance law, asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to order the release of a secret opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).
The opinion was generated as part of a lengthy Inspector General investigation (PDF) into the FBI’s use of unconstitutional National Security Letters, so-called “exigent letters,” and other illegal methods of obtaining customer records. The OLC’s opinion provides the federal government with the authority to obtain private call-detail records in “certain circumstances,” without any legal process or a qualifying emergency, and despite federal laws to the contrary. So far, the DOJ has refused to disclose what those circumstances are, and has even refused to disclose the statute on which the government bases its purported authority.
EFF has long argued that, when the government interprets a law in a way that shapes or affects the rights of the public, the public is entitled to know what that interpretation is. Hiding the government’s interpretations of public laws – especially when those interpretations are unlikely to be tested in court – constitutes the perpetuation of “secret law.” But secret law has no place in a democracy; on Friday, we asked the D.C. Circuit to affirm that simple principle and to order the government to disclose the OLC’s legal interpretation.
The formal opinions of the OLC are among the the most obvious, and pernicious, examples of government secret law. OLC has the authority, delegated by the Attorney General, to issue legal opinions and interpretations that are binding on other Executive branch agencies. Over the past decade, OLC opinions have provided the legal authority for some of the federal government’s most controversial (and, ultimately, illegal) practices: torture, warrantless wiretapping, and – more recently – the targeted killing of American citizens have all found legal “justifications” in OLC opinions. The Executive branch has also shrouded these opinions in secrecy.
Logo of the FBI Counterterrorism Division (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Based on the remarks made by a former FBI counterterrorism agent, it appears so…
Over the past couple days, cable news tabloid shows such as CNN’s Out Front with Erin Burnett have been excitingly focused on the possible involvement in the Boston Marathon attack of Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of the deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As part of their relentless stream of leaks uncritically disseminated by our Adversarial Press Corps, anonymous government officials are claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.
On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.“
Full details at The Guardian.
With each new eyebrow-raising court judgment and federal fine levied against Google, it becomes ever more clear that this is a company hell-bent on innovating first and asking questions later, if ever. And its vision, shared with other California technology companies, is of corporate America redefining societal privacy norms in the service of advertising companies and their clients.”
– Milo Yiannopoulos, in the article Google Glass and Surveillance Culture.
Surveillance is harmful because it can chill the exercise of our civil liberties, especially our intellectual privacy. It is also gives the watcher power over the watched, creating the the risk of a variety of other harms, such as discrimination, coercion, and the threat of selective enforcement, where critics of the government can be prosecuted or blackmailed for wrongdoing unrelated to the purpose of the surveillance.
– Neil M. Richards, the article The Dangers of Surveillance, published in the Harvard Law Review. (via The Quotation of the Day Mailing List)
Reuters is reporting the following:
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
Enough is enough. There is no legitimate reason for allowing intelligence agencies full access to every American’s financial transactions. How is such sharing not a violation of citizen’s rights to privacy? Financial crimes can be investigated by financial regulators and the FBI. Opening the books to the CIA and the NSA is another matter entirely.
An en banc Ninth Circuit 8-3 ruling on Friday held that border agents may not perform forensic searches of travelers’ laptops and other electronic devices absent reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. Currently, the Federal government claims that it can search such devices without any suspicion of illegal activity, and they do so routinely.
Here is an excerpt from the ruling:
The relevant inquiry, as always, is one of reasonableness. But that reasonableness determination must account for differences in property. Unlike searches involving a reassembled gas tank, or small hole in the bed of a pickup truck, which have minimal or no impact beyond the search itself—and little implication for an individual’s dignity and privacy interests—the exposure of confidential and personal information has permanence. It cannot be undone. Accordingly, the uniquely sensitive nature of data on electronic devices carries with it a significant expectation of privacy and thus renders an exhaustive exploratory search more intrusive than with other forms of property.
After their initial search at the border, customs agents made copies of the hard drives and performed forensic evaluations of the computers that took days to turn up contraband. It was essentially a computer strip search. An exhaustive forensic search of a copied laptop hard drive intrudes upon privacy and dignity interests to a far greater degree than a cursory search at the border. It is little comfort to assume that the government—for now—does not have the time or resources to seize and search the millions of devices that accompany the millions of travelers who cross our borders. It is the potential unfettered dragnet effect that is troublesome.
We have confidence in the ability of law enforcement to distinguish a review of computer files from a forensic examination. We do not share the alarm expressed by the concurrence and the dissent that the standard we announce will prove unmanageable or give border agents a “Sophie’s choice” between thorough searches and Bivens actions.
More here and here.
Your TSA is intimidating and scaring children. Watch this video of a 3 year old disabled child being told she will need a pat down and her wheel chair will have to be tested.
And notice that the agents immediately say it is illegal to film what happens at a checkpoint. This is not true, although the TSA has now removed the page on their website that provided the following:
TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down.
Further, in a ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011, the right to film government officials was affirmed.
The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].
Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs.
It takes quite a lot of fear to make a child say repeatedly that she really doesn’t want to go to Disney World.
Full details here.
The Department of Homeland Security is claiming that it is fine for DHS to stop anyone within 100 miles of the US border, without any suspicion or warrant, and search all the data on all their devices. And this decision was made by the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is supposed to protect civil liberties, not grant carte blanche for invasions of privacy.
Are you kidding me? I wasn’t aware that the requirements of the Constitution are “blacked out” in a 100 mile ring around the US border. I live within 100 miles of the Canadian border so I assume DHS could come to my house and scan my computers, tablets and phones without specifying any cause whatsoever.
The ACLU did an analysis of the number of people living within this border zone.
What we found is that fully TWO-THIRDS of the United States’ population lives within this Constitution-free or Constitution-lite Zone. That’s 197.4 million people who live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.
Nine of the top 10 largest metropolitan areas as determined by the 2000 census, fall within the Constitution-free Zone. (The only exception is #9, Dallas-Fort Worth.) Some states are considered to lie completely within the zone: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Is this really where we want to be as a country?
More from Wired.
At a time when there’s a virtual arms race of church leaders trying to redefine their theology and ecclesiology better to fit a series of demographic shifts and cultural transformations, why have I not heard any of the soi-disant pioneers call attention to the tremendous loss to the internet’s future, to the beneficiaries of digital innovation, to the ‘public’ of the public domain? Why have they not soberly and humbly taken up the question of where the churches stand relative to the enclosure of common goods by indefinitely-extended copyright periods? Why have they not, at the very least, reminded their blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, tumbling, pinboarding, SMSing, iPod-listening audience that Aaron was agitating on behalf of the very digital affordances that have made their movements possible?
* * *
The theological ramifications of technology are only just beginning to receive searching theological attention. My colleagues Jana Bennett and Brian Brock have written books about it, Alan Jacobs has been at it for a long time, and I pitched in my essay; but when a force of digital nature (as it were) falls silent, stills, stops, one might anticipate at least a murmur of theological deliberation about what’s at stake, how we cane to this pass, how churches might take a deep breath and rethink their relation to copyright and the commons, to digital technology and the increasing centralisation of digital power (exemplified by the intensification of government authority to examine, collect, and redeploy all manner of digital data from emails to browser histories, without a warrant). Without for a moment minimising other concerns about other dimensions of human well-being — does not this concern touch the lives of far more people than are even inchoately aware of it, who are at risk of being made an example by a zealous investigator or a self-righteous media corporation?
– from an essay written by A. K. M. Adam. It is time for morality to have a seat at the IP table. For example, why should publicly-funded scholars and researchers allow their work to exist solely behind paywalls?
There’s nothing like a debate over warrantless wiretapping to clarify how the two parties really feel about government. On Friday, the Senate voted to reauthorize the government’s warrantless surveillance program, with hawkish Democrats joining with Republicans to block every effort to curtail the government’s sweeping spying powers.
As the Senate debated the renewal of the government’s warrantless wiretapping powers on Thursday, Republicans who have accused President Barack Obama of covering up his involvement in the death of an American ambassador urged that his administration be given sweeping spying powers. Democrats who accused George W. Bush of shredding the Constitution with warrantless wiretapping four years ago sung a different tune this week, with the administration itself quietly urging passage of the surveillance bill with no changes, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accusing her Democratic colleagues of not understanding the threat of terrorism.
“There is a view by some that this country no longer needs to fear an attack,” Feinstein said.
– Adam Serwer, writing in Mother Jones.
If you are interested, here is the floor statement by Senator Ron Wyden who argues for reasonable limitations on the powers of the bill, and a transparent discussion of how the bill is actually being implemented.
A new (at least to me) window into the TSA is called “Taking Sense Away” and is authored by a former TSA screener. Great inside stories including submissions from other screeners. Here is short example:
This one comes from Eric, who I believe is a current or former screener, given the very insider-y feel of his proposed addition to the Insider’s TSA Dictionary (I will update all the best proposed additions to the Insider’s TSA Dictionary in one lump post somewhere down the road). At any rate, after his proposed dictionary entry, he went on to say:
…I can’t argue with anything you say on your blog, and even if I could, I probably wouldn’t. However, I do feel like it’s akin to poking a crippled, retarded bear with a sharp stick.
The Wall Street Journal conducted an investigation that shows that many online retailers access information about visiting customers, including their locations, and use that information to set the price that each customer pays. In addition, the Journal says that on average, customers visiting a website from a high income location tend to get lower prices than those visiting from a low income location.
I tend to think that this is unfair, unless the difference in prices reflects actual different costs of doing business. So, a price might be higher in high tax areas, for example.