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Justice Department to Apple: ‘Never Mind’

Tim Cook

The Justice Department is expected to withdraw from its legal action against Apple, as soon as today, as an outside method to bypass the locking function of a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone has proved successful, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

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[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the method brought to the FBI earlier this month by an unidentified entity allows investigators to crack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by Syed Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out the December mass shooting that left 14 dead.

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Monday’s withdrawal would culminate six weeks of building tensions.

The foes were poised to exchange legal body blows in a court room in Riverside, Calif., last week before the Justice Department belatedly asked for — and was granted — a postponement.

“It’s not about one phone. It’s very much about the future. You have a guy in Manhattan saying I’ve got a hundred and seventy-five phones that I want to take through this process. You’ve got other cases springing up all over the place where they want phones taken through the process. So it’s not about one phone, and they know it’s not about one phone.”

— Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with Time last week.

Since a federal magistrate in California in mid-February ordered the company to assist the FBI in gaining access to San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook’s seized iPhone, the legal filings and rhetoric between the world’s most valuable technology company and one of the largest crime-fighting organizations in the world had sharpened into verbal vitriol.

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This month, Apple said the “Founding Fathers would be appalled” because the government’s order to unlock the iPhone was based on non-existent authority asserted by the DOJ. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Chilling Effect’ of Mass Surveillance Is Silencing Dissent Online, Study Says 

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A new study shows people may be censoring themselves without realizing it.

Nafeez Ahmed reports: Thanks largely to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, most Americans now realize that the intelligence community monitors and archives all sorts of online behaviors of both foreign nationals and US citizens.

But did you know that the very fact that you know this could have subliminally censored-hand-overstopped you from speaking out online on issues you care about?

“What this research shows is that in the presence of surveillance, our country’s most vulnerable voices are unwilling to express their beliefs online.”

Now research suggests that widespread awareness of such mass surveillance could undermine democracy by making citizens fearful of voicing dissenting opinions in public.

paper published last week in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), found that “the government’s online surveillance programs may threaten the disclosure of minority views and contribute to the reinforcement of majority opinion.”

The NSA’s “ability to surreptitiously monitor the online activities of US citizens may make online opinion climates especially chilly” and “can contribute to the silencing of minority views that provide the bedrock of democratic discourse,” the researcher found.

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The paper is based on responses to an online questionnaire from a random sample of 255 people, selected to mimic basic demographic distributions across the US population.

[Read the full story here, at Motherboard]

Participants were asked to answer questions relating to media use, political attitudes, and personality traits. Different subsets of the sample were exposed to different messaging on US government surveillance to test their responses to the same fictional Facebook post about the US decision to continue airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

They were then asked about their willingness to express their opinions about this publicly—including how they would respond on Facebook to the post; how strongly they personally supported or opposed continued airstrikes; their perceptions of the views of other Americans; and whether they supported or opposed online surveillance. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hill: ‘We Buried the Lede’

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The aggressive posture is becoming a political problem for the White House. Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton is becoming a political problem for the White House.

Source: TheHill


FBI San Bernardino iPhone Case: Apple Officially Responds to Court Order to Comply

Apple has officially filed its mandatory response to the court following an order to comply with the FBI and unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter from December. Unsurprisingly, Apple has filed a motion to vacate the order which would force it to comply, telling the court that it shouldn’t have to unlock the iPhone using a modified and insecure software version.

[Also see: Report: Google & Facebook to file court motions officially supporting Apple in FBI fight]

In the response, Apple has referred to the version of iOS that it would need to create to allow the FBI to unlock the iPhone in question using brute force as a Government Operating System, specifically GovtOS.

[Read the full story here, at 9to5Mac]

In the document, Apple maintains its position that the request to unlock this specific iPhone isn’t actually about just one iPhone and would set a dangerous precedent that could be used by governments around the world.

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Apple’s position has also been to explain that creating this insecure version of iOS to be used in this case would be all customers at risk assuming the operating system fell into the wrong hands and was passed off as the real thing. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Space Gray Gadget Review: Apple Watch Hands-On and First Impressions

Dom Esposito writes:

…Apple Watch is finally available to preorder, but if you missed the mark at 12:01 a.m. you might be waiting quite a while to get your hands on one. Luckily, Apple is providing try-on appointments that will allow you to get a taste of the experience and feel one out for yourself. Recently, we took that opportunity to get our hands on a few and offer some initial impressions on the hardware and software…

In the video below, we take a look at three Apple Watch models and the widely popular Apple Watch Sport in Space Gray. Along with that we took a tour of the software available on the demo models and it was quite interesting. Apple Watch is definitely a very different product from anything we’ve seen the company offer, but along with that it brings a unique experience that no other product can match up to.

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We got our hands on the 42mm Apple Watch with the Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and Link Bracelet band styles. Each band really does bring an entirely different look, feel, and experience to the table. The Apple Watch Sport comes along with a “custom high-performance fluoroelastomer,” but don’t let the generic term “rubber” turn you away. It actually feels very nice.

Is it all worth the hype? Well, that’s somewhat subjective, but check out our hands-on and first impressions video above for a closer look at Apple Watch hardware and software:

We also took a brief look through the software UI and features with the demo models. While these demos are running loops throughout various portions of the interface, there’s still quite a bit that you can do to test out its functionality. It’s smooth overall, but we noticed a bit of lag here and there. Read the rest of this entry »