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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar


Smári McCarthy, in his Twitter bio, describes himself as a "Information freedom activist. Executive Director of IMMI. Pirate."

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On Friday, two Icelandic activists with previous connections to WikiLeaks announced that they received newly unsealed court orders from Google. Google sent the orders earlier in the week, revealing that the company searched and seized data from their Gmail accounts—likely as a result of a grand jury investigation into the rogue whistleblower group.

Google was forbidden under American law from disclosing these orders to the men until the court lifted this restriction in early May 2013. (A Google spokesperson referred Ars to its Transparency Report for an explanation of its policies.)

On June 21, 2013, well-known Irish-Icelandic developer Smári McCarthy published his recently un-sealed court order dating back to July 14, 2011. Google sent him the order, which included McCarthy's Gmail account metadata, the night before. The government cited the Stored Communications Act (SCA)(specifically a 2703(d) order) as grounds to provide this order.

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Original author: 
Megan Geuss

The Guardian

The Guardian released an interview today with the man who has been the paper's source for a few now-infamous leaked documents that revealed a vast dragnet maintained by the NSA for gathering information on communications in America. That source is Edward Snowden, 29, an employee of American defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and a former technical assistant for the CIA.

When The Guardian published a leaked document on Wednesday of last week that showed a FISA court granting the NSA power to collect the metadata pertaining to phone calls from all of Verizon's customers over a period of three months, it became one of the biggest exposures of privacy invading actions taken by the government without the public's knowledge.

That is, until the next day, when The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed slides pertaining to another NSA project called PRISM, which apparently gathered vast swaths of information on users of Google services, Facebook, Apple, and more. While the companies named in the PRISM slides have all denied participation in such a program, President Obama and a number of senators confirmed the collection of phone call metadata on Friday.

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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar

The Washington Post

It’s worse than we thought.

Just one day after disclosing a secret court order between the National Security Agency (NSA) and Verizon, The Guardian and The Washington Post both published secret presentation slides revealing a previously undisclosed massive surveillance program called PRISM. The program has the capability to collect data “directly from the servers” of major American tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo. (Dropbox is said to be “coming soon.”)

The newspapers describe the system as giving the National Security Agency and the FBI direct access to a huge number of online commercial services, capable of “extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.”

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Original author: 
Russell Brandom

At_t_large

Check your cell phone contract, and you might come across the following turn of phrase: "We do not sell your personal information." Some version of that phrase is in nearly every carrier Terms of Service, and divides the world’s data into two camps: the kind that personally identifies you and the kind that doesn’t. Your phone, your address, and your social security number all fall into the first camp: if Verizon’s caught trading them, they’ve got a lawsuit on their hands. Your zip code and your birthday, on the other hand, are fair game.

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Claudio-guarnieri_large

Above: Claudio Guarnieri of IT security firm Rapid7

Italy's Hacking Team is like most any software company: worried about market demand, creating desirable features, and not being too buggy. But their product, called "DaVinci," is something no one ever wants to find on their computer.

"They sell software that helps people break into people's computers and spy on them," explains Morgan Marquis-Boire, a researcher with University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.

Hacking Team develops targeted malware for use by nation-states.

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Syria’s Internet infrastructure remains almost entirely dark today. Almost.

The folks at Renesys, who were the first to notice that something was amiss with the telecom infrastructure of the war-torn Middle Eastern nation, have been hard at work sifting through their data — and they’ve found something interesting.

At least five networks operating outside Syria, but still operating within Syrian-registered IP address spaces, are still working, and are apparently controlled by India’s Tata Communications.

These same networks, Renesys says, have some servers running on them that were implicated in an attempt to deliver Trojans and other malware to Syrian activists. The payload was a fake “Skype Encryption Tool” — which is, on its face, kind of silly, because Skype itself is already encrypted to some degree — that was actually a spying tool. The Electronic Frontier Foundation covered the attempted cyber attack at the time.

Cloudflare has also been monitoring the situation in Syria and has made a few interesting observations.

First, pretty much all Internet access in the country is funneled through one point: The state-run, state-controlled Syrian Telecommunications Establishment. The companies that provide this capacity running into the country are PCCW and Turk Telekom as the primary providers, with Telecom Italia and Tata providing additional capacity.

There are, Cloudflare notes, four physical cables that bring Internet connectivity into Syria. Three of them are undersea cables that land in the coastal city of Tartus. A fourth comes in from Turkey to the north. Cloudflare’s Matt Prince says it’s unlikely that the cables were physically cut.

Cloudflare put together a video of what it looked like watching the changes in the routing tables happen live. It’s less than two minutes long.

For what it’s worth, Syria’s information minister is being quoted in various reports as blaming the opposition for the shutdown.

So the question is: Why now? Clearly, the Syrian regime is under more pressure than ever before. Previously, it tended to view the country’s Internet as a tool to not only get its own word out to the wider world, but also to try and spy on and monitor the activities of the rebels and activists.

With fighting intensifying in and around the capital and the commercial city of Aleppo, the decision to throw the kill switch might indicate a decision to try to disrupt enemy communications. Or it might mask a seriously aggressive military action that it wants to keep as secret as possible. We don’t know yet.

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0-Day Art

With online storefronts dominating the mobile market, it’s safe to assume that most people who own digital devices have some experience with the concept of micropayments. But now that we’ve grown accustomed to the idea of shelling out tiny nuggets of tribute for things like apps, games and music, are we willing to do the same for art?

Art Micro Patronage is hoping for the best. The website, an online gallery experimenting with new methods of monetizing artwork that uses the internet as a medium, recently launched C.R.E.A.M., its last in a series of online exhibitions of animated GIFs, web pages and other net-based artwork that asks visitors to contribute small amounts to individual works. In doing so, patrons are granted access to...

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Supreme Court Courtroom

Abstract ideas, laws of nature, and mathematical formulas can't be patented under US law, and both Google and Verizon want the US Supreme Court to better define the bounds of that legal tenet as it applies to Internet technologies. Google and Verizon recently filed a joint amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the case of WildTangent v. Ultramercial, asking America's highest court to formally clarify that an unpatentable abstract idea, such as a method of advertising, can't magically become patentable subject matter by simply implementing it over the Internet. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also filed an amicus brief in the case similarly asking the court to assign understandable boundaries to patentable subject matter.

U...

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