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NY Times Bits Update

 

 

Monday, May 9, 2016

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The New York Times

Monday, May 9, 2016

Daily Report
The Clash of Privacy, Legislation and Software | Digital encryption, with its mind-numbing mathematics, is hard to do. It’s almost as tough as the arguments on what to do with it.
As Cecilia Kang writes, the United States government is facing off with the American technology industry over a bill that would require tech companies to comply with court orders seeking access to people’s encrypted data. The two sides are engaged in heavy and vigorous behind-the-scenes lobbying.
On first pass, the government has a good point: In moments of grave danger, or to establish a chain of evidence, there are good reasons to think authorized warrants should not be limited by actions taken by companies.
But the companies have their own points: If they build software that can be cracked or opened, they are building flawed products that hackers know they can exploit.
Moreover, these are multinational companies that might have to grant the same secrets-reading powers to totalitarian states where they also do business. Whether the companies are giving up people’s privacy to foreign or American police, many of their top engineers might leave instead of abetting.
Turning to the general public for guidance will not make this easier. Some people are for absolute personal privacy, no matter whether you are a piano teacher or an ISIS recruiter. Others think the government should be able to see your every move — after all, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, what have you got to hide?
The great middle, however, doesn’t like ISIS, or living in a world where a police officer reads our love letters (or notes on organizing an antigovernment protest).
What seems to bother the government as much as the problems of cheap, plentiful and effective electronic secrecy is the new militancy companies are bringing to the issue.
It’s not just that Apple and Google are lobbying against this bill. In April, Microsoft suedthe Justice Department, challenging secrecy orders that keep Microsoft from telling people the lawmen have a warrant to see their email.
Meantime, software development is moving faster than lawmaking. Last month, Viber, a free communications app owned by Japan’s Rakuten, said it had put full encryption on every message. The app, which is popular internationally, was previously considered to have weak security. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook and used by one billion people globally, did the same, and published a white paper on just how good it is.
That’s another casualty of modern tech: It’s hard to control information when it’s hard to see national borders.
— Quentin Hardy
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., in New York in February. Last month, he met with lawmakers in Washington, telling them that encryption needed to be diminished during criminal investigations.

Police and Tech Giants Wrangle Over Encryption on Capitol Hill

By CECILIA KANG

Behind-the-scenes lobbying heightens in this next phase of a divide over digital security that erupted when Apple refused to help unlock an iPhone used in a mass shooting.

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More From The Times
Chris Morrow, chief executive of the Loud Speakers Podcast Network, said, “I think everyone who’s seriously involved in this space, they’d at least like to know what the endgame is.”

Podcasts Surge, but Producers Fear Apple Isn’t Listening

By JOHN HERRMAN

The podcast has soared in popularity. But there’s not much money in it for Apple, the genre’s creator, leaving many in the community feeling neglected.

What Do Consumers Want? Look at Their Selfies

By COURTNEY RUBIN

Companies are paying to have people to take selfies with their products to learn about consumer behavior, and marketers say the insights are eye-opening.

The drone pilot Ken Loo with antenna-equipped goggles that provide a view from the machine’s perspective.

Drone Racing Seeks Attention With a Speedy Flyby

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Drone racing, in which miniature aircraft maneuver through obstacle courses in at up to 80 miles per hour, is attracting competitors and fans, but sponsors have been slower to jump on board.

Patnaree Chankij, center, the mother of a pro-democracy activist, at a military court in Bangkok on Saturday.

Thai Activist’s Mother Faces Prison Term for One-Word Facebook Reply

By RICHARD C. PADDOCK

The woman had sent the reply “Ja,” similar to saying “Yeah,” in response to a private message that the police say insulted the monarchy.

Policemen near a house where a 15-year-old girl was set on fire after being raped in Tigri, India, in March. “Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister of communications and information technology.

India’s Answer to Sex Attacks? Panic Buttons and GPS on All Phones

By KATIE ROGERS

The policy change would require new phones to allow users to press a number that alerts the police and loved ones in an emergency.

Some of the Apple computers that Alex Jason has collected in his basement.

15-Year-Old’s 200 Vintage Apple Computers Are Now a Mac Museum

By CHRISTOPHER MELE

Alex Jason has 200 vintage Apple computers, including a rare Apple I model from 1976, that he hopes to display in a new technology museum in Maine.

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Personal Technology

Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’?

By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG

About a quarter of most people’s energy bills come from devices in idle mode. A reporter took a power meter around with her to locate the hidden power drains.

TECH TIP
An up-to-date antivirus program on your PC or Mac can help warn you of attempted ransomware infection.

Dodging the Computer Kidnappers

By J. D. BIERSDORFER

Malicious programs are locking up files and demanding money, but awareness and antivirus software can help protect your PC.

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