Koozoo: New Iphone Live Streaming App

From The Verge:
Drew Sechrist . . . is today launching a free app called Koozoo that turns any old iPhone into a 24 / 7 livestreaming video machine. "We found RicksLine and that was exactly the problem," he says. "People don’t have the time, patience, or technical aptitude to put this together." Once you download Koozoo to an old iPhone or iPod Touch (and soon, Android devices), setting up a video stream over either Wi-Fi or 4G takes less than a minute. The company will even mail you a window suction cup mount to give your old device the best possible view. Sechrist envisions a future where it’s easy to open the app, search for a place, and see a live video feed of traffic, parking spots, lines for bars, surfing conditions, and more.

Anything on Your Phone May Be Used Against You in a Court of Law

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is pretty clear: 
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The right to be secure in one's person, houses, papers and effects has been effectively eviscerated in the United States.  Do you think all that information on your smart phone is secure?  Think again.  From Ars Technica:
The courts have traditionally allowed the police to inspect any items a suspect is carrying when they arrest him or her. But in the past, the information the police could obtain in this fashion was fairly limited. The advent of the smartphone has changed all that.

A new document uncovered by the ACLU provides insight into just how aggressive law enforcement agencies have become about obtaining the contents of seized cell phones. Last fall, writes the ACLU's Chris Soghoian, "officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized an iPhone from the bedroom of a suspect in a drug investigation."

A document filed in court shows that police extracted a wealth of personal information from the device, including call records, contacts, stored text messages, photos, videos, and passwords. They also obtained "659 geolocation points, including 227 cell towers and 403 Wi-Fi networks with which the cell phone had previously connected"—a detailed record of where the device had been in previous weeks. Soghoian says law enforcement agencies can buy portable devices that extract this kind of information from smartphones in a matter of minutes.
As in the Republican and Democratic parties, the quasi-fascist mentality that grips the leadership in the nation's law enforcement agencies is a grave threat to the rights and liberties of the people of the United States.  But it appears few people give a damn.  

Mega to Offer Encrypted Email

From The Guardian:
Kim Dotcom, the German-born internet entrepreneur fighting extradition from New Zealand over US claims of "criminal" copyright infringement, says he plans to launch an end-to-end encrypted email service to go with his Mega encrypted file storage offering.
Speaking from New Zealand via a Skype video link to London, Dotcom said that his new Mega file storage service which launched in January now has more than 3 million registered users who have stored a total of 125m files in the first month of operation.
"It took [US cloud storage company] Dropbox two years to achieve that," Dotcom, 39, said. "We can see really high demand for this storage."
Next, he said, "we're going to extend this to secure email which is fully encrypted so that you won't have to worry that a government or internet service provider will be looking at your email."

Corporate Internet Usage Monitoring Regime Begins Today

From The Daily Dot:
 most U.S. Internet users will be subject to a new copyright enforcement system that could slow the Internet to a crawl and force violators to take educational courses.  A source with direct knowledge of the Copyright Alert System (CAS), who asked not to be named, has told the Daily Dot that the five participating Internet service providers (ISPs) will start the controversial program Monday. The ISPs—industry giants AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon—will launch their versions of the CAS on different days throughout the week. Comcast is expected to be the first, on Monday.
The control of the internet by big business in collusion with big government should worry everyone who believes in a a free and open net.  From the Financial Times:
[Comcast's] meteoric rise in the past decade parallels the relative decline of internet service in the US. In the late 1990s the US had the fastest speeds and widest penetration of almost anywhere – unsurprisingly given that it invented the platform. Today the US comes 16th, according to the OECD, with an average of 27 megabits per second, compared with up to quadruple that in countries such as Japan and the Netherlands . . .
The FCC has been a good friend to Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the two largest cable providers that dominate US broadband. In contrast to the spread of electricity and telephones, where the US was far ahead of the rest of the world, Washington has abjured the same regulatory promotion for the internet. Through brilliantly effective lobbying, US cable companies have escaped the universal access and affordability clauses that were imposed on telecoms and electricity companies in earlier eras.

NH: Politicians Seek to Criminalize Aerial Photography

From Tech Dirt:
Some politicians in New Hampshire have put forth a bill that would make it illegal to do aerial photography of any "residential dwelling." The key text of HB-619-FN is as follows:
A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects.
If you're thinking that this would make it a misdemeanor (which is still a crime...) for people to work on things like Mapquest, Google Maps and Bing Maps -- all of which have "aerial" views (often called "satellite view," though some are assisted by airplanes as well) -- to even exist, well, then, you have a point. . . .

Mozilla Introduces Firefox PDF Viewer

From Mozilla:
Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux introduces a built-in browser PDF viewer that allows you to read PDFs directly within the browser, making reading PDFs easier because you don’t have to download the content or read it in a plugin like Reader. For example, you can use the PDF viewer to check out a menu from your favorite restaurant, view and print concert tickets or read reports without having to interrupt your browsing experience with extra clicks or downloads.

Government Claims Right to Illegally Search All Your Electronic Devices

The Democratic and Republican parties and their leadership continue to promulgate a dangerous war against Constitutional rights and liberties.  The Department of Homeland Security should be immediately eradicated.  From Computer World:
Two out of every three people reading this could have your electronic devices searched, without there being any reasonable suspicion, because the Department of Homeland Security has decided that such search and seizures do not violate your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Border agents don’t need probable cause and they don’t need a stinking warrant since they don’t need to prove any reasonable suspicion first. Nor, sadly, do two out of three people have First Amendment protection; it is as if DHS has voided those Constitutional amendments and protections they provide to nearly 200 million Americans.

IL Lawmakers Draft Bill to Prohibit Anonymity Online

Illinois Senate Bill 1614, sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein, from Legiscan:
Creates the Internet Posting Removal Act. Provides that a web site administrator shall, upon request, remove any posted comments posted by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate. Effective 90 days after becoming law.
Here is the top comment on the site:
We may have an early candidate for Worst Illinois Senate Bill of 2013.

First of all, Illinois does not have jurisdiction over the entirety of the internet. Illinois has jurisdiction over Illinois. Geographic location isn't all that important to the web hosting industry - for the most part, a datacenter in Chicago is just as good as one in, say, Dallas or Seattle. This means that the only thing this bill would actually succeed in doing is driving internet-related business (both individual online businesses, as well as the infrastructure that supports them, ie, webhosting companies and datacenters) out of the state.

Good job representing our interests there, Ira.

More importantly, though, this is plainly unconstitutional. It's absolutely embarrassing that any elected representative of US citizens would suggest that there should be a host of state-defined rules that must be met before one is allowed to exercise their first amendment right to free speech.

The Revolving Door Between Congress and the Industry Lobbies, Chris Dodd Edition

Since leaving the US Senate in 2010, Chris Dodd has been whoring himself out for Hollywood as the head of the Motion Picture Association of America.  Tech Dirt deconstructs the stump speech in his campaign to save the dinosaurs of the entertainment industry:
Ever since the failure of SOPA, MPAA boss Chris Dodd has been making the rounds, giving the same damn stump speech over and over again. We've reported on it before, but he's done it again, this time at the National Press Club. As the transcript shows, it's the same old story . . .

Microsoft Changes Office Licensing Conditions

From The Age:
In the push to shift customers to the Office 365 subscription model, Microsoft has rejigged the licensing conditions on retail copies of Office 2013 such as Office Home & Student 2013. People tend not to read this sort of fine print, but this bit is kind of important.
According to the fine print, retail copies of Office Home & Student 2013 are now single-license, so you can only install them on one computer. Some people interpret this as meaning that the retail license is now similar to the OEM license, which covers copies of Office that come pre-installed on a new computer. Under an OEM license you can only run Office on that specific computer. If you buy a new computer, you can't uninstall that OEM copy of Office from your old computer and reinstall it on the new one.
You could transfer a retail copy of Office from your old computer to your new computer, at least you could until now.  If you read fine print, the licensing conditions have clearly changed between Office 2010 and Office 2013. 

ISPs Want to Prevent Towns from Providing Internet Access

From Ars Technica:
Incumbent broadband providers are pushing legislation that would restrict Georgia towns from building municipal broadband networks. Under the proposal, if a single home in a census tract has Internet access at speeds of 1.5Mbps or above, the town would be prohibited from offering broadband service to anyone in that tract.

State-level restrictions on municipal broadband networks are not a new idea. Last year the South Carolina legislature passed a similar proposal with the support of AT&T. North Carolina passed similar legislation in 2011. The idea has been shot down in Indiana and a number of other states.

Municipal broadband opponents tried and failed to ban towns from building broadband networks in Georgia last year. But their case wasn't helped when AT&T's CEO said in a conference call: "we’re looking at rural America and asking, what’s the broadband solution? We don’t have one right now."

Who Will Protect the People from State-Sponsored Hackers?

In his State of the Union Address last night, President Obama emphasized the importance of protecting the country's computer networks from hackers "who steal people's identities and infiltrate private email."  But who will protect the people from US government agencies which are reading their emails, conducting illegal searches of their papers and effects, and engaging in warrantless wiretapping?  From the President's State of the Union Address:
America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.  

Canadian Public Deafeats US Style Warrantless Wiretapping Bill

While many among the US public appear to be glad that the federal government is illegally wiretapping their electronic communications, the same cannot be said of the Canadians.  From the CBC:
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says the controversial Bill C-30, known as the online surveillance or warrantless wiretapping bill, won't go ahead due to opposition from the public.

The bill, which was known as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, was designed to help police combat child pornography. But civil liberties and privacy groups — even the federal privacy commissioner — said the bill violated the rights of Canadians.

Opponents lobbied strenuously against C-30, saying it was an overly broad, "Big Brother" piece of legislation that would strip all Canadians of the right to privacy.
The bill would have required internet service providers to maintain systems to allow police to intercept and track online communications without a warrant.

Business and Government Collude Against the Consumer

Why is internet access more expensive and why are connections slower in the US than elsewhere?  The answer is the same as for virtually every conceivable industry: because of collusion between big business and big government.  From Gizmodo:
Here, Bill Moyers interviews Susan Crawford—former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation . . . During the interview, she explains how the US government has allowed media organizations to put profit ahead of public interest—through price hikes, rigged rules and stifling competition. As she explains, "the rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, and this means that we're creating, yet again, two Americas, and deepening inequality through this communications inequality."

CISPA: Lawmakers Plan to Reintroduce Anti-Privacy Bill

Many Republicans and Democrats  are avowed enemies of the US Constitution, and of basic rights and liberties.  From The Hill:
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he plans to re-introduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) with Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) this year . . .

CISPA aimed to thwart cyberattacks by making it easier for private companies to share information about cyberthreats and malicious source code with the intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security. The bill enjoyed support from a broad swath of companies, including Facebook and AT&T, because they said legal hurdles slowed down information sharing about cyber threats between industry and government.

Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates launched online protests against the bill because they argued that it lacked sufficient privacy protections and would increase the pool of people's electronic communications flowing to the intelligence community and the secretive National Security Agency (NSA).

LibreOffice 4.0 Released

From Ars Technica:
LibreOffice version 4.0 came out today, with project organizers boasting a "cleaner and leaner code base" along with various new features and greater interoperability with business systems and document formats.
LibreOffice was launched in 2010 to overtake OpenOffice as the preeminent open source office suite. Google Docs may still be the biggest threat to Microsoft Office, but LibreOffice has carved out a niche for itself, becoming the default productivity software on many popular Linux distributions.
Cleaning up the code has been a major focus. "The resulting code base is rather different from the original one, as several million lines of code have been added and removed, by adding new features, solving bugs and regressions, adopting state of the art C++ constructs, replacing tools, getting rid of deprecated methods and obsoleted libraries, and translating twenty-five thousand lines of comments from German to English," the Document Foundation said in its LibreOffice 4.0 announcement.
"All of this makes the code easier to understand and more rewarding to be involved with for the stream of new members of our community."

New App Protects Users from Prying Eyes

From Slate:
Back in October, the startup tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts easily. Now, the company is pushing things even further—with a groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app that will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button. (For now, it’s just being released for iPhones and iPads, though Android versions should come soon.) That means photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.
“This has never been done before,” boasts Mike Janke, Silent Circle’s CEO. “It’s going to revolutionize the ease of privacy and security.”

Public Wifi Coming to a Town Near You?

From the Washington Post:
The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.

The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.

US Government Seen as Threat to Data Security

From Slashdot:
Leading privacy expert Caspar Bowden warned European citizens not to use cloud services hosted in the U.S. over spying fears. Bowden, former privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe, explained at a panel discussion hosted at the recent Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels, that a section in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act 2008 (FISAAA) permits U.S. intelligence agencies to access data owned by non-U.S. citizens on cloud storage hosed by U.S. companies, if their activity is deemed to affect U.S. foreign policy. Bowden claimed the Act allows for purely political spying of activists, protesters and political groups . . .