Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts

December 14, 2016

Yahoo Gets Hacked Making All-time History with Billions of Accounts Compromised

This morning my phone kept waking me up with a beep which should only happen on my down time if something horribly is happening. War war 3, wait Donald is not president yet. The message had to do with something to do with Yahoo but I could not understand it unless I went to my computer. It doesn’t happen once Im in my deep sleep. Would rather hear the beep every hour or so than get up. When  I got up and was able to go into the net I saw Yahoo was being hacked or was hacked. I could not believe it was happening again. Today I got the story and what was happening already happened months ago. Not only was Yahoo allowed to be caught with its pants down, worse is that it kept it quiet.

More than 1 billion Yahoo user accounts — including phone numbers, birthdates, and security questions — may have been stolen by hackers during an attack that took place in August 2013, the company revealed on Wednesday.

The announcement of what could represent the largest hack of all time is a separate incident than the one Yahoo disclosed back in September. In that hack, Yahoo said that at least 500 million user accounts were compromised.

"The company has not been able to identify the intrusion associated with this theft," Yahoo said on Wednesday about the new incident.

News of the breach sent Yahoo shares sliding about 2.5% in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

The revelation of the hack could have implications for the $4.8 billion sale of Yahoo to Verizon, which has yet to close. Yahoo disclosed the previous hack to Verizon only after agreeing to the deal, and Verizon has since said that it considers the hack a material event that could affect the terms and price of the acquisition.

"As we’ve said all along, we will evaluate the situation as Yahoo continues its investigation," Verizon told CNBC on Wednesday, regarding the latest hack.

Forged cookies
With a billion accounts at risk, that would make this the biggest breach of ever — bigger than the Myspace breach of 360 million user accounts and 427 million passwords.

Yahoo said that payment card data and bank account information were not stored on the system the company "believes" was affected.  But the hackers may have collected a trove of other valuable personal information, such as user names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords  and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.

Yahoo said that it now believes an "unauthorized third party accessed the company's proprietary code to learn how to forge cookies." It was not clear which incident the forged cookies related to. But Yahoo said that "the company has connected some of this activity to the same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the data theft the company disclosed on September 22, 2016."

Here's the entire message from Yahoo:
"Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) has identified data security issues concerning certain Yahoo user accounts. Yahoo has taken steps to secure user accounts and is working closely with law enforcement.

"As Yahoo previously disclosed in November, law enforcement provided the company with data files that a third party claimed was Yahoo user data. The company analyzed this data with the assistance of outside forensic experts and found that it appears to be Yahoo user data. Based on further analysis of this data by the forensic experts, Yahoo believes an unauthorized third party, in August 2013, stole data associated with more than one billion user accounts. The company has not been able to identify the intrusion associated with this theft. Yahoo believes this incident is likely distinct from the incident the company disclosed on September 22, 2016.

"For potentially affected accounts, the stolen user account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (using MD5) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. The investigation indicates that the stolen information did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information. Payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system the company believes was affected.

"Yahoo is notifying potentially affected users and has taken steps to secure their accounts, including requiring users to change their passwords. Yahoo has also invalidated unencrypted security questions and answers so that they cannot be used to access an account.

"Separately, Yahoo previously disclosed that its outside forensic experts were investigating the creation of forged cookies that could allow an intruder to access users' accounts without a password. Based on the ongoing investigation, the company believes an unauthorized third party accessed the company's proprietary code to learn how to forge cookies. The outside forensic experts have identified user accounts for which they believe forged cookies were taken or used. Yahoo is notifying the affected account holders, and has invalidated the forged cookies. The company has connected some of this activity to the same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the data theft the company disclosed on September 22, 2016.

"Yahoo encourages users to review all of their online accounts for suspicious activity and to change their passwords and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which they use the same or similar information used for their Yahoo account. The company further recommends that users avoid clicking links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails and that they be cautious of unsolicited communications that ask for personal information. Additionally, Yahoo recommends using Yahoo Account Key, a simple authentication tool that eliminates the need to use a password on Yahoo altogether.

Business Insider

Additional information is available on the Yahoo Account Security Issues FAQs page:

October 2, 2016

Did The US Give Away The Internet ? It’s Complicated

A judge in Texas has put the kibosh on a last-minute legal attempt to block the controversial decision for the US to give up control of one of the key systems that powers the internet.
It's a move being breathlessly described by some as the US "giving up the internet" to the likes of China, Russia and the Middle East.
It’s the weekend, so if you’re keen to save yourself several hundred words and get on with whatever you like to do with your free time, then here we go: No, the US hasn’t given away the internet. Don’t be absurd.
The long answer, naturally, is more complicated than that - and one mired in mistrust of one of the internet’s key organisations, the detail of which I’ll dig into in a moment.
Let’s start with the basics. 
For starters, while they can take the credit for inventing the underlying technology, the US never “had the internet” to begin with. Nobody did. It’s a, duh, network. Decentralised. That’s what makes it so powerful.
But there are bits of internet infrastructure that some people and governments do have control over, and that’s what this row is all about.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers handles the system for domain namesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers handles the system for domain names

One of them is the DNS -  Domain Name System. This is the system for looking after web addresses. Thanks to the DNS, when you type, you’re taken to the correct servers for the BBC website. It saves you the grief of having to remember a string of numbers. 
That pairing of names and numbers is kept in one great big master file, the land registry of the web. The only organisation that can make changes is Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
As of Saturday 1 October 2016, Icann will no longer be under US government oversight. 
Instead, it’s now a fully “multi-stakeholder” non-profit that will take on board the views of companies, experts, academics and, yes, nation states, in how the naming system of the web is run.
Here’s a crucial bit: as a user of the internet, you won’t notice any difference whatsoever. And that’s because Icann isn’t a new entity. It’s been doing precisely this job since 1998 before the vast majority of us were even online.
The switch ends a transition that has essentially been in the works for around two decades, removing a dominant power the US had by circumstance rather than intention, and one which was causing friction in the international community.

God of the internet

Back when there were only a handful of websites, a man named Jon Postel - nicknamed “god of the internet” - was in control of DNS.
His task was assigning the easy-to-remember names to those bothersome numbers. It was a crucial step in accelerating the popularity of the world wide web.

The domain name system makes it easier to remember how to access a websiteImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionThe domain name system makes it easier to remember how to access a website

When it became clear this was clearly not a job for one man, however godly, a new body was set up to take over the task. They called it the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, IANA.
In 1998, control of IANA was given to the newly-formed Icann. It was given the power over internet naming globally. Experts saw Icann as a good blend of interests and expertise. One which they felt would keep the internet as open and useful as possible.
One quirk of this set-up, though, was that all the while the US’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the Department of Commerce, kept its final say over what the IANA did.
In short, if Icann did something the US government didn’t like, it could step in and knock it on the head.
With the handover, that power is lost -  though it was very sparingly used.


As with most political tussles in the US, both sides say they are fighting for freedom.
Opponents of the plan, the likes of which include presidential candidate Donald Trump and his former rival Ted Cruz, say giving up the power amounts to handing it over to countries like China and Russia. 
In one hearing, Senator Cruz asked if Icann - an international organisation - was bound by the First Amendment to the US constitution defending freedom of speech. No, came the reply from Icann's chief executive, Goran Marby.

Senator Ted Cruz has spoken out strongly against the handover planImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSenator Ted Cruz has spoken out strongly against the handover plan

Evidence enough, the senator argued, that by giving Icann complete control over the internet’s naming system, it could use that power to disrupt and censor communications online.
And so this week, at the eleventh hour, district attorneys representing four US states filed a legal challenge in Texas.
They had hoped to argue that the root file, the big directory of domain names and their associated servers, was US government property - and therefore required congressional approval before being "given away". 
In court documents filed on Thursday, they also argued that without US control, well established domains like .gov and .mil (for government and military-related websites, respectively) could be tampered with. 
In other words, a fully independent Icann could not be trusted and may act unpredictably once free of US oversight.
But others, including some of the web’s founding fathers, believe blocking the handover is a far bigger risk to the internet’s long term well-being.

Diplomatic headache

Because if the US didn’t handover its power to Icann, it may have been cornered into doing something far riskier.
Unnerved by US power, many countries, particularly Russia and China, have pushed for the DNS to be looked after by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which is part of the UN.
This came to a vote in 2012, but failed. The US, UK, Canada and Australia were the dissenters, refusing to back a new treaty on the grounds it could be abused to affect internet governance, and by extension, content. 

An attempt to give naming control to the UN failed after a vote in 2012Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAn attempt to give naming control to the UN failed after a vote in 2012

In other words, the four countries were worried by sharing out ownership of the internet’s core systems, more states could act like China and clamp down on internet use on their own countries - and all would be fair under the UN.
The US opposition drew heavy criticism - as it was essentially saying no countries can be trusted to look after the internet. Except the US. That didn’t go down well.
That said, given the US was responsible for creating the internet, it did have a valid argument in taking its time in handing over DNS. But it knew time was running out - ownership of the internet’s naming system was fast becoming a diplomatic headache the US needed to solve sooner rather than later.
The handover to Icann is a compromise that appears to suit the country very nicely, and not just because Icann will remain in Los Angeles.
It has the backing of many influential experts who, to counter the likes of Senator Cruz and Mr Trump, argue those opposed to it simply have no clue what they’re talking about.
On Friday, an amicus brief was filed to the Texas court by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a group which represents the tech industry en masse. Its president, Dean Garfield, said: “This effort by a small number of attorneys general is misguided and inconsistent with the founding values of the Internet.
“It is an ironic endeavor because the transition will actually keep the internet an open and flourishing engine of innovation and open global communication.”
The judge agreed.
So when it comes to domain names, it's true. The US no longer has the keys to the kingdom. 
But the important thing to remember is: neither does anyone else.


Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC and on Facebook

September 22, 2016

Internet Control Transfer: Putin UN-Like, Ted Cruz US, Obama Ind., Who Won?

Congressional Republicans have recently taken a new hostage in their never-ending stream of threats to shut down the government. This time, their target is the transfer of control of usually unseen clerical functions that keep the internet working. Somehow this arcane transition has become one of the major hurdles to funding the government. So how did we get here?

The story actually started two decades ago when the federal government announced that it would step away from running the technical functions of the internet. Since then the Department of Commerce, under the watch of three Presidents, including administrations of both parties, has been living up to this commitment.

The Obama administration then announced two years ago that it would complete the transition by transferring control of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (or IANA) functions.

These are the functions that allow us to use web addresses rather than long sequences of numbers to find a website — it’s essentially the internet’s phonebook.

The announcement was praised by everyone from the Chamber of Commerce and the Internet Association to public interest groups. But after the administration announced its intention, dictators like Vladimir Putin and his cronies launched a whisper campaign against the U.S.  We could not be trusted, they alleged, to follow through with our plan.

Instead, Putin and other like-minded leaders urged the world to have a governmental body such as the United Nations take control of the internet. They would have more sway over internet policy if the internet was regulated by a global governmental body such as the UN than if we are successful with this transition, and the internet becomes fully managed by a global community of experts, led by private businesses.

Fortunately, most of the world dismissed these accusations, choosing instead to believe in the honesty of the United States.  A governmental power grab was not necessary.  The administration’s plan was better than the risk posed by more Russian control of the internet’s functions.
But some fringe American politicians, led by Senator Ted Cruz, saw the transition as an opportunity to undermine the President.  Despite the widespread support for the transfer, they are trying to block it.

As the election approaches, their claims are becoming more outlandish—the transfer would lead to a loss of free speech online (it won’t); it risks national security (it doesn’t); it is against federal law (it’s not).

Most outlandish of all, these Republicans claim that the U.S. is ceding ownership of the internet to the international community.  But the U.S. does not own the internet.  It never has.  In fact, the transition protects the internet from authoritarian control.

This is not just our opinion, as members of Congress who have held hearings on the IANA transition.  Nearly every technical expert agrees that Senator Cruz’s claims are simply not true.  As the professionals explain, administration of the domain name system is clerical and has nothing to do with manipulating content.

Republicans claim that the U.S. is ceding ownership of the internet to the international community. But the U.S. does not own the internet. It never has.

As Assistant Commerce Secretary Larry Strickling recently testified, the Senator’s claims just don’t comport with the facts.

Until recently, Senator Cruz’s crusade has been a lonely one—nearly all of Congress from both parties saw through his over-the-top assertions.  Congress held a nearly unified front against his attempts to upend the transfer.

But this political season, anything can happen.  During this month’s budget negotiations, Republican leadership took an about-face and is now threatening to fulfill Putin’s Prophecy by postponing the transition.  They seem to view a delay as an easy way to mollify their extreme colleagues.  But this cynical trade is not worth the risk—the possible consequences are just too great.

If the Republicans successfully delay the transition, America’s enemies are sure to pounce.  Russia and its allies could push to shift control of the internet’s core functions to a government body like the U.N. where they have more influence.

Moving internet management to a government-led organization would, over time, politicize how the internet functions, allowing foreign governments, for example, to veto free speech online.

If the transition fails, some governments may also try to create a new numbering system, fracturing the internet as we know it.  Such an approach would effectively destroy the “world-wide-web” by creating walled-off pieces of the internet in countries that want to prevent their citizens from communicating with the free world.

Finally, by preventing this transition, we will have failed to keep our long-standing and public commitment to the global community to keep the internet open and free.  In short, delaying this transition is a threat to online freedom, global commerce, and American interests broadly.

We urge our colleagues to give up on this ill-conceived attempt to block the transition.  Now is not the time to walk away from our convictions.  Congress should allow the Department of Commerce to do its job.   It should keep the internet intact, and it should maintain America’s integrity.

Editor’s note: Frank Pallone is a U.S. representative from New Jersey and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Brian Schatz is a U.S. senator from Hawaii and ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet; Anna Eshoo is a U.S. representative from California; Chris Coons is a U.S. senator from Delaware and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts; and Doris Matsui is a U.S. representative from California.

September 3, 2015

Russia Tightens Internet Makes it Easy to Spy on Citizens

A new law which makes it mandatory for companies to store personal data on Russian citizens on local servers has sparked fears, as critics say it gives the government easy access to sensitive data.

That view is echoed by Laura Reed, a research analyst for Freedom Houses' Freedom on the Net department. "There's evidence that the government has been using [its] surveillance capabilities to target human rights activists and opposition figures," she told DW.
So far, it's unclear whether companies have indeed agreed to move personal data about Russian citizens to servers on Russian soil. Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor announced it would be checking some 300 companies this year, but told DW in an email that search giant Google and social media platform Facebook would not be part of that group.
'System based on intimidation'
"The idea of this law is not immediate implementation. The idea of the legislation is to have something at hand to put more pressure on the Internet in Russia and specifically on global platforms," Soldatov said. "The Russian system of managing the Internet is based on intimidation." 

The Kremlin had invited companies for talks, he added. "And the Kremlin was quite successful. Over the last two years, all three [major] companies - Twitter, Facebook and Google - sent their high representatives to Moscow for secret talks with the Kremlin."
Meanwhile, Facebook has reportedly told officials it would not comply with the new law, whereas Google reportedly moved some servers to Russia.


Facebook declined to comment and Google did not respond to interview requests. A Twitter spokesperson sent a link to a Roskomnadzor statement saying that federal censors don't consider the kind of user data Twitter collects as personal information under the law.
A move that's indeed surprising, says Freedom House's Reed, "because Twitter is a company the government has pressured in the past". Just last year, she recalled, the Russian government requested that anyone who had more than 3,000 followers had to register their real name with the government.

"With laws like this, the fear is that the government will use it selectively," she added.
'Constructive conversations' with Facebook
In a recent interview with Russian online newspaper Lenta, Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov confirmed that the watchdog had met with representatives of Twitter and Facebook, but declined the notion that Facebook refused to transfer personal data to Russia.
"The conversation took place in a constructive manner, and we expect that Facebook in the nearest future will fulfill the promise to announce a formal position on the transfer of databases with personal data of Russian users on servers located in Russia," Roskomnadzor said in an email.

Soldatov says the law is rather vague and it was also unclear how companies were supposed to distinguish personal data on Russian citizens from personal data from other non-Russian citizens. For instance, how are social media sites supposed to know whether a person with a Russian-sounding name living in Germany is a Russian citizen?
Latest move to tighten grip

In November 2012, after protests when Putin returned to power, Russia introduced its controversial system of Internet censorship that allowed authorities to blacklist websites without a court decision. Just last week, Russia briefly blocked access to the Russian-language version of Wikipedia because it failed to take down an entry about a drug. Russia has also blocked access to opposition websites as well as blogs of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

"We saw the same thing happening on Facebook as Russian authorities tried to block some of the groups on Facebook last year when Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was due to face a new court verdict. And people tried to gather in Moscow to protest. Immediately ,Roskomnadzor attacked Facebook and required them to close down event groups devoted to protest," Soldatov said.
And Russia is set to tighten its grip even more: Come 2016, a new "right to be forgotten" is due to come into effect. It will go well beyond the European legislation of the same name as the Russian version doesn't exclude public figures. "There is concern that it is going to be used as a free pass for local politicians and others to get information about them removed from search results online," Reed said.
According to a statement by Roskomnadzor, the “law will not apply to information about events that contain signs of criminal acts, terms of criminal responsibility which have not expired, as well as information about crimes, which are not removed, or outstanding previous conviction."

Putin with one his non official “enforcers”

What's next?

It's unclear if and when the government will fully enforce its new data localization law, but it seems the scare tactics are working. "It's much easier to intimidate companies than, say, to intimidate thousands of users," Soldatov said. "Because if you are going after users, you need to be technically advanced. But if you are dealing with companies, all you need is to do is find pressure points for these companies.”

Will we do the same or have we already done it??????????????????????

May 30, 2014

How We Lost The Internet to Big Brother

An Internet cafe in northern China's Liaoning province (AP Photo) 
This article originally appeared at To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from
Internet Class of 2014, I’m in awe of you! To this giant, darkened auditorium filled with sparkling screens of every sort, welcome!
It would, of course, be inaccurate to say, as speakers like me once did, that after four years of effort and experience you are now about to leave the hallowed halls of this campus and graduate into a new and adult world. The odds are that you aren’t. You were graduated into that world long ago. I’m not sure that it qualifies as adult at all, but a new world it surely is, and one I grasp so little that I feel I should be in the audience and you up here doing what graduation speakers normally do: offering an upbeat, even inspirational, explanation of our world and your place in it.
Honestly, I’m like one of those old codgers I used to watch in the military parades of my 1950s childhood. You know, white-haired guys in open vehicles, probably veterans of the Spanish-American War (a conflict you’ve undoubtedly never heard of amid the ongoing wars of your own lifetime). To me, they always looked like they had been disinterred from some museum of ancient history, some unimaginable American Pompeii.
And yet those men and I probably had more in common than you and I do now. After all, I don’t have a smartphone or an iPad. I’m a book editor, but lack a Kindle or a Nook. I don’t tweet or Skype. I can’t photograph anyone or shoot video of anything. I don’t know how to text or read my e-mail while walking in the street or sitting in a restaurant. And when something goes wrong on my computer or with the Internet, I collapse in a heap, believe myself a doomed man on an alien planet, mourn the passing of the typewriter and call my daughter and throw myself at her mercy.
You were “graduated” long ago into the world that, though I live in it after a fashion as the guy who runs, I still find as alien as a Martian landscape. Your very fingers, agile as they are with little buttons of every sort, speak a new and different language, and a lot of the time it seems to me that I have no translator on hand. Your world, the sea you swim in, has been hailed for its many wonders and miracles—and wonders and miracles they surely are. Dazzling they truly can be. The tying together of the planet in instantaneous communion as if space and geography, distances of every sort, were a thing of the past still stuns me.
Sometimes, as in my first experience with Skype, I feel like a Trobriand Islander suddenly plunged into the wonders of modernity. If you had told me back in the 1950s that someday I would actually see whomever I was talking to onscreen, I doubt I would have believed you. (On the other hand, I was partial to the fantasy that we would all be experiencing traffic jams in the skies over our cities as we zipped around with our own personal jetpacks strapped to our backs—a promised future no one ever delivered.)
There’s a book to be written on just how disorienting it is to live into the world of the future, as at almost 70 years old I now find myself doing. There is, however, one part of our futuristic world that I feel strangely at home with. Its accomplishments are no less technologically awe-inspiring, no less staggeringly sci-fi-ish than the ones I’ve been talking about and yet, perhaps in part thanks to a youth heavily influenced by George Orwell’s 1984 and other dystopian writings, it seems oddly familiar to me, as if I had parachuted from a circling spacecraft onto an only slightly updated version of my own planet.
The Sea in Which You Swim and They Phish
That bright and shiny world of online wonders has—as no one could have failed to notice by now—also managed to drop the most oppressive powers of the state and the corporation directly into your lap, or rather your laptop, iPad and smartphone. You—yes, I mean you with that smartphone in your pocket or purse—are a walking Stasi file. “Your” screen, in fact, all the screens on the walls of this vast room and in your hands really belong to them. It’s no more complicated than that. The details hardly matter.
Yes, you or this college paid for them. You yak endlessly with your friends on them, do your business on them and pay your bills with them. You organize, complain and opine on them. You find your way around and connect with acquaintances, friends, lovers, even strangers, via them. You could no longer imagine living without them. And yet the much-ballyhooed techno-liberation they offer you is actually your prison.
True or not, I remember being told long ago that certain tribal peoples on first contact with the camera refused to be photographed, fearing that those photos could take possession of and steal their souls, their spirits. In the twenty-first century, thanks to the techno-wizardry of both the state and the corporation, what once might have been dismissed as superstition has become a kind of reality. Thanks to those ubiquitous “private” screens that you’re under the impression you own but that are in most ways that matter owned by others, “they” can possess “you.” Without your feeling the pain of it, you are constantly being observed, measured and carved up into your many discernable traits. Those traits are then reassembled, corporately bundled like so many financial derivatives and sold off to the highest bidders. Your soul, that is, is being corporately possessed and disassembled into a bevy of tastes, whims, typologies and God knows what else for the marketplace.
Meanwhile, the national security state has your number, too, and it won’t hesitate to come calling. It doesn’t matter whether you’re phoning, e-mailing or playing video games—the national security state wants YOU. Again, details aside, it isn’t all that complicated. The ever-expanding post-9/11 apparatus of surveillance and power has come to treat Americans as if we were a foreign population. It’s all being done in the name of your safety and of security “threats” that only grow, as that national security apparatus continues to engorge itself on your communications, while becoming ever more technologically skilled and inventive.
You are officially what it must protect, which also means that you are officially its target. To protect you, it must know you. I mean really know you, lest you turn out to be what it’s protecting Americans from. It must know you every which way, whether you want to be known or not, and above all, for your own safety, its access to you must be untrammeled, while—it’s your safety at stake!—your access to it must be nonexistent. Hence, the heavy-handed use of classification, the endless attempts to cut down on unsupervised contactbetween members of the US intelligence community as well as retired brethren and the press, the muzzling of thousands of people a year by the FBI, and the fierce campaigns that have been launched against whistleblowers and to prevent whistleblowing. Above all, you must not know what your government knows about you.
It doesn’t matter whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge in Washington, whether the politicians in question happen to be chanting “big government” or “small government.” No matter what they say, almost all of them bow down before the oppressive powers of the state. They worship (and fund) those powers and, in the process, grant that state-within-a-state ever more powers lest they someday be blamed for another 9/11. Any attempts at “reforms” that might limit those powers turn out, in the end, to be just window dressing. You, the once-upon-a-time citizen, now prospective subject and object of the national security state, are at least theoretically the ultimate grantor of these powers, even if you now seem to have no control over them whatsoever.
This, then, is the sea in which you swim and, in case you hadn’t noticed, the nets of corporate and government phishing are in the water, already being drawn up around you.
The Big Brotherness of It All
What I’ve been wondering recently is why, in a world that usually boggles my mind, this bleak side of it seems so relatively unsurprising to me. Part of the answer may be that the means of tracking, listening in on and getting to know everything about you, the technological process of creating your dossier (in the case of government) and your profile (in the case of the corporate world), couldn’t be newer, but the urge to do so couldn’t be older. In my own life, decades before the Internet or e-mail arrived on the scene, I encountered it up close and personal.
Here’s a little story about a time when I could still be shocked by such things. Sometime in the late 1960s, at a large demonstration, I turned in my draft card to protest the Vietnam War. Not long after, my draft board called me in. I knew I had a right to look at my draft file, so when I got there, I asked to see it. So many decades later, I have no idea what I thought I would find in it, but I remember just how naïve I was. At 25, despite my antiwar activism, I still retained a deep and abiding faith in my government. When I opened that file and found various documents from the FBI, I was deeply shocked. The Bureau, it turned out, had its eyes on me. Anxious about the confrontation to come—the members of my draft board would, in fact, soon be shouting at me—I remember touching one of those FBI documents (what exactly they were I no longer remember) and it was as if an electric current had run directly through body. I couldn’t shake the Big Brotherness of it all, though undoubtedly my draft card had gone more or less directly from that demonstration to the Bureau.
By the time those years were over, I had worked as an editor (and writer) for a small antiwar news service in which there turned out to be an informer who was reporting on us to… yep, you guessed it, the FBI. I had become intensely aware of clicks on my phone that might or might not have been government wiretaps, and it no longer seemed strange that “my” government was intimately interested in guys like me and was out to track and constrain, if not suppress, dissent.
The story of the anti–Vietnam War movement was in significant ways—and we knew it then—a tale of wiretaps, widespread government informers and commonplace agents provocateurs. Of course, the urge of the FBI, under its Director J. Edgar Hoover, to listen in on dissidents of every sort (as well as politicians of every sort) then is too well known to repeat. And as it turned out, the CIA and god knows what other agencies were knee-deep in the Big Muddy of “domestic intelligence” as well.
The problem for the national security state at the time was that the means to listen in, observe everyone, collect dossiers on anyone’s communications, contacts, acts and life were still limited by relatively crude technologies and relatively crude, not necessarily reliable human beings. No longer. Among the many ways the Internet has connected people across the planet, there may be no greater wonder than the intimate ways it has connected governments and corporations to the rest of us. Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations are stunning for the sense they give us that a global surveillance state capable of gathering just about any communication or interaction on the planet is not only plausible, but already a reality.
Similarly, the ability of giant Internet companies to learn about your tastes, buying habits, dreams, medical problems, faults, secrets, fears and loves, and then sell all of the above and more to the highest corporate bidders continues to grow by leaps and bounds. And yet compared to what’s coming—compared, for instance, to the smart machines that will inhabit your future house, watch you, and record endless information about you for marketeers (and someday perhaps, for the government as well)—the remarkable ways the powers that be can now possess you remain crude indeed.
Heading Out of a World of Shadows and Into a Shadowy World
This was hardly the revolution promised us when the Internet arrived, but it’s no less revolutionary for all that. The issue at stake is generally still referred to as “privacy,” but I suspect that, in the new communications world, that term is already on life support in an emergency room somewhere. So what does it mean to live like this? What, if anything, is to be done?
I’m hardly an expert on the subject. It’s your generation, not mine, that will be forced to make something of this particular mess, if anything is to be made of it and we are not to become the possessions of the national security state and our personalities and traits turned into the personal equivalents of financial derivatives. Still, for what it’s worth, I have a feeling that answers won’t be found in the river of shadows that is the online world. I doubt you’ll be able to encrypt your way out of our present dilemma or hack your way out of it either; nor will you be able to simply ignore it to death. There is, I suspect, only one way to change our lives when it comes to the increasingly oppressive powers of the surveillance state and its corporate doppelgängers: you’ll have to step out of that world of shadows and into the increasingly surreal and shadowy world that surrounds and feeds on them.
Screens aren’t going to offer you the necessary answers. You won’t be able to ask Siri for guidance. No Google search will get you where you need to go. If you want a different world, one in which you can’t be taken possession of via your screen, in which you don’t more or less automatically come with a dossier and a profile, I think you’re going to have to slip those screens back into your pockets or, given that you can be tracked via your smartphones wherever you go (even if they’re turned off), maybe into a desk drawer somewhere.
You can’t fight a national security state or a corporate selling state, both operating in the shadows via the shadowy world of the Internet—not when so much of their power, their essential structures and their operations are located in the perfectly surreal world beyond the screen, the one that they would like to put beyond your reach. That’s why, on this grey and overcast day outside this auditorium, my urge is to graduate you from the world of shadows where you’ve spent so much of your last years into the increasingly shadowy off-screen world where what matters most still exists.
Unfortunately, there is no obvious gate off this campus. When you’ve snapped the last graduation selfie on that smartphone of yours, when your gowns and caps are returned and your schoolbooks sold off, you’ll have to find your own way into our confusing world amid all those shadows. All I can do, graduates of the Internet class of 2014, is wish you luck and say that what you do (or don’t do) will matter.

Read Next: Should the government legally treat “smart” computer programs as people?

March 15, 2014

US Will Relinquish Remaining Control of The Internet

 U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.
Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.

 The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete.
“We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan,” Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement.
The announcement set off a passionate response, with some groups quickly embracing the change and others blasting it.
In a statement, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WVa.) called the move “consistent with other efforts the U.S. and our allies are making to promote a free and open Internet, and to preserve and advance the current multi-stakeholder model of global Internet governance.”
But former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tweeted, “What is the global internet community that Obama wants to turn the internet over to? This risks foreign dictatorships defining the internet.”
The practical consequences of the decision were harder to immediately discern, especially with the details of the transition not yet clear. Politically, the move could alleviate rising global concerns that the United States essentially controls the Web and takes advantage of its oversight role to help spy on the rest of the world.
U.S. officials set several conditions and an indeterminate timeline for the transition from federal government authority, saying that a new oversight system must be developed and win the trust of crucial stakeholders around the world. An international meeting to discuss the future of Internet is scheduled to start on March 23 in Singapore.
The move’s critics called the decision hasty and politically tinged, while voicing significant doubts about the fitness of ICANN to operate without U.S. oversight and beyond the bounds of U.S. law.
“This is a purely political bone that the U.S. is throwing,” said Garth Bruen, a security fellow at the Digital Citizens Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group that combats online crime. “ICANN has made a lot of mistakes, and ICANN has not really been a good steward.”
Business groups and some others have long complained that ICANN’s decision-making was dominated by the interests of the industry that sells domain names and whose fees provide the vast majority of ICANN’s revenue. The U.S. government contract was a modest check against such abuses, critics said.
“It’s inconceivable that ICANN can be accountable to the whole world. That’s the equivalent of being accountable to no one,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a trade group representing major Internet commerce businesses.
U.S. officials said their decision had nothing to do with the NSA spying revelations and the worldwide controversy they sparked, saying there had been plans since ICANN’s creation in 1998 to eventually migrate it to international control.
“The timing is now right to start this transition both because ICANN as an organization has matured, and international support continues to grow for the multistakeholder model of Internet governance,” Strickling said in a statement.
Although ICANN is based in Southern California, governments worldwide have a say in the group’s decisions through an oversight body. ICANN also in 2009 made an “Affirmation of Commitments” to the Commerce Department that covers several key issues.
Fadi Chehade, president of ICANN, disputed many of the complaints about the transition plan and promised an open, inclusive process to find a new international oversight structure for the group.
“Nothing will be done in any way to jeopardize the security and stability of the Internet,” he said.
The United States has long maintained authority over elements of the Internet, which grew from a Defense Department program that started in the 1960s. The relationship between the United States and ICANN has drawn wider international criticism in recent years, in part because big American companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft play such a central role in the Internet’s worldwide functioning. The NSA revelations exacerbated those concerns.
“This is a step in the right direction to resolve important international disputes about how the Internet is governed,” said Gene Kimmelman, president of Public Knowledge, a group that promotes open access to the Internet.
Verizon, one of the world’s biggest Internet providers, issued a statement saying, “A successful transition in the stewardship of these important functions to the global multi-stakeholder community would be a timely and positive step in the evolution of Internet governance.”
ICANN’s most important function is to oversee the assigning of Internet domains — such as dot-com, dot-edu and dot-gov — and ensure that the various companies and universities involved in directing digital traffic do so safely.
Concern about ICANN’s stewardship has spiked in recent years amid a massive and controversial expansion that is adding hundreds of new domains, such as dot-book, dot-gay and dot-sucks, to the Internet’s infrastructure. More 1,000 new domains are slated to be made available, pumping far more fee revenue into ICANN.

Major corporations have complained, however, that con artists already swarm the Internet with phony Web sites designed to look like the authentic offerings of respected brands.
“To set ICANN so-called free is a very major step that should done with careful oversight,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers. “We would be very concerned about that step.”


March 9, 2014

Slowing Down The Internet to see Moving Details it Makes it Unique {No Boundaries}

by Felix Esser
 Yesterday I posted about the US having the slowest Internet. Now I give you an example of the many things that can be accomplished with a fast Internet. Last post you can find at :
Americans Have the slowest internet
We've seen high-speed photography and slow-motion video footage of birds in flight. We've seen high-speed photography and slow-motion video footage of water balloons popping. What we haven't seen so far is a bird of prey eviscerating a water balloon with its claws mid-flight in slow-motion. Until now.
Thanks to the brilliant folks over at Earth Unplugged, a YouTube channel maintained by BBC Worldwide, we can now gaze in awe at the first high-definition slow-motion footage of a goshawk ripping apart a yellow water balloon in flight.
During the six-minute video, we get to see the bird of prey from various angles in various takes, revealing not only the beauty and grace of the goshawk's movements, but also the deadly precision with which it attacks its prey. In those shots where the bird is approaching the camera, it becomes evident that up until the last moment, its eyes stay fixated on its prey – in this case a piece of meat attached to the water balloon in order to attract the bird. Only in the final fractions of a second, the bird moves its feet forward, and as soon as they hit the ballon, it drives its talons into the balloon's yellow skin.
What then happens has been filmed and photographed multiple times before, but seeing it happen as the result of an attack by a bird of prey takes it to a whole new dimension. First, we see ripples forming on the balloon, until the incision caused by the goshawk's talons causes the balloon to rip apart, revealing a ball of water that then slowly disintegrates into thousands of individual drops. All this was recorded with a high-speed camera at 4000-5000 frames per second, revealing details that the human eye wouldn't be able to perceive under normal circumstances.
In addition to the slow-motion awesomeness, we also get to see some behind-the-scenes coverage of how the footage was achieved, showing how goshawk, bird handler, equipment and people behind the camera all work together to make these incredible images possible. Thank you, Earth Unplugged. The internet is now, finally, complete.
(via PetaPixel)

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