Facebook has a long and checkered past concerning the way the company decides what a user sees in his or her timeline. Now, the social media giant is changing the formula again, and this time it will impact whether or not users will see articles shared by their friends. The method by which Facebook will do it involves another controversial issue that has dogged the company: data-mining.
When FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler launched the opening salvo in the battle to regulate the Internet, he said time and time again that Net Neutrality would not be used to regulate rates. Now he is arguing that restricting the FCC from regulating Internet rates will kill Net Neutrality. Brace yourselves: Rate regulation is coming and Net Neutrality and those who supported it are to blame.
The release of Ubuntu 16.04 last week is good news for computer users who are upset over the recent development of Microsoft turning Windows into an operating system that is essentially spyware. As an open-source Linux distribution, Ubuntu is a great operating system for users concerned about privacy.
After months of legal battles, a public relations war, and congressional testimony over whether Apple should help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI accessed the iPhone without Apple's assistance. And — as The New American predicted — the agency has now admitted that nothing of value was found on the phone. While that was being reported, an anti-encryption bill was introduced in the Senate.
Last week, a major player in the social media forum world used a legal hack to alert its subscribers that it had been served a National Security Letter (NSL). NSLs are a legal tool used by federal agencies when those agencies are seeking information about an American company's customers or subscribers. Part of all such letters is a “gag order” forbidding the company from disclosing the existence of the NSL.
After a month of claiming — in court documents, sworn testimony, and public statements — that “Apple has the exclusive technical means” to access the data on the encrypted iPhone 5C used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI has now dropped the case. The agency claims it “discovered” a “new” method that allowed investigators to access that data without forcing Apple to build a backdoor into the iOS platform.
The FBI and Apple will not get their day in court. At least not yet. The hearing over whether Apple must weaken the safeguards around its own encryption at the behest of the government — scheduled for Tuesday — was postponed by the Justice Department at the last minute. The FBI is now saying what tech experts have been saying all along: There may be a way to get into the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter without forcing Apple to create a backdoor.
In the FBI vs. Apple battle over encryption, Apple's lawyers have said that the company will take this all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. The big question looming over the case is: What will Apple do if it loses before that court? The answer is that the company will obey the order, but its engineers may not.
As the FBI and Apple wage battle over the rights of private citizens to protect their data and communications by using encryption, both the FBI and the White House have said the FBI has “the full support" of the president. Last week, President Obama made that support clear in a speech in Texas.
The FBI said it had no choice but to seek a court order to force Apple to create a backdoor into the iOS platform. But there are some facts of this case that — when seen together — paint a clear picture of the FBI creating and exaggerating the problem it says it can't solve without a backdoor into the iPhone.
As the Apple/FBI case heats up, the surveillance hawks continue to insist that backdoors into the encryption that protects smartphones are necessary to address the threat of terrorists and other dangerous criminals “going dark.” But one of the most respected voices in computer security says that “solution” is more dangerous than the problem it proposes to solve.