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The NSA Wants a Skeleton Key to Everyone’s Encrypted Data 

Francisco Seco/AP - In this October 2013 file photo, a man looks at his cellphone as he walks on the street in downtown Madrid. The NSA’s ability to crack cellphone encryption used by the majority of cellphones in the world offers it wide-ranging powers to listen in on private conversations.

Encryption can protect personal data from government intrusion, which means the government wants the key to break it.

reports: Like it or not, you are your data. In this day and age, your receipts, social media activity, public records, GPS data, and internet search history are the proof of who you are. And while you may have thought you had secrets, the Federal Government would like the rest of them.

The seemingly innocuous pieces of information we trade away every day create a detailed mosaic of our lives used to target advertising and create personality profiles that are exploited by the FBI, political operatives like Cambridge Analytica, and Russian propagandists.

And those are just the legal shenanigans! Instances of malicious hacking that jeopardize social security numbers and other important data are on the rise as well.

But all hope is not lost! There is but one meaningful defense against such intrusions, one used by whistleblowers, banks, the government (often poorly), and college students: encryption.

Encryption, to oversimplify, is the process of putting your data in a combination locked safe, and it’s becoming more popular. Like all passcodes, these combinations are best stored non-electronically.

Automatically encrypted search engines and internet services simplify the process for users. They protect individuals’ data from hacking, theft, and even the government, but they also retain a repository for all the combinations they use to lock data up.

This is the Trojan horse the NSA means to use to gain access to your private data even when it is encrypted.

But that may soon change.

If the executive agencies have their way, the NSA will have a record of every lock combination in use by every company—a skeleton key, if you will, to gain access to your digital home, papers, effects, and aspects of your person without warrant or probable cause—effectively mandating that companies hand over skeleton keys to the locks that they provide to their users, at any time: what they call “exceptional access.” Read the rest of this entry »

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BIG DATA: A Tale of Two Campaigns

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[VIDEO] How Government Lost the Crypto Wars (At Least for Now) 

Forty-two years after unbreakable encryption was first conceived, these tools are more widespread than ever before. One milestone came in 2016, when the world’s largest messaging service—WhatsApp—announced it would offer default end-to-end encryption on all communications. In other words, the messages can be read only by the senders and recipients; even the platform provider can’t access them.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are still reckoning with this new reality. For decades, they demanded that tech companies hand over private data on their users, sometimes without obtaining warrants. So companies like Apple changed their policies so individual users were the only ones holding the keys to their data.

This new era of consumer privacy led to a standoff in 2016, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) demanded access to an encrypted iPhone belonging to Sayed Farook, a deceased terrorist from San Bernardino, California. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, had killed 14 people at a holiday office party in December 2015.

The FBI wanted Apple to write software that would weaken the iPhone’s built-in security. Apple refused, saying that such flawed software would jeopardize the security of its customers, who number in the hundreds of millions. Once a back door was created, the company claimed, the FBI could use it on similar phones—and it could be leaked to hackers or foreign enemies. “It is in our view the software equivalent of cancer,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told ABC News. Read the rest of this entry »


Study Finds Mass Killings Not On The Rise Over Past Decade 

Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.

CHICAGO (CBS) Nancy Harty reports: Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.

Contrary to what you might think, mass murders are not on the rise, according to computer science professor Sheldon Jacobson.

Jacobson said there were 323 such killings – in which four or more people are killed in one incident – between January 2006 and October 2016. The mass killings appeared to be evenly distributed over that time, meaning their rate remained stable over the past decade, and did not spike during any particular season or year.

“The data doesn’t lie. The rate of these events just is not increasing as the perception is given in the media. This is just what it is,” he said.

The professor used a decade’s worth of data from USA Today that was cross-checked by the FBI. He said his analysis also found public shooting sprees like the Las Vegas massacre are not the most common type of mass killing. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] NASA’s First Asteroid-Sampling Mission Lifts Off 

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NASA on Sept. 8 launched the first U.S. mission to collect and return an asteroid sample, in hopes of learning more about how the solar system coalesced and life came to be.


The 10 Most Liberal and Conservative Cities in the U.S. – as Judged by Campaign Donors 

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Chart of the Day: What Americans Blame Most for Mass Shootings (Hint: it’s not gun laws)

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63% blame unaddressed mental health problems, 23% blame gun laws.

Source: The Washington Post


China’s Creepy New Form of Oppression

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‘Authoritarianism, Gamified’

China’s Communist government is rolling out a plan to assign everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, ‘authoritarianism, gamified.’ ”

“Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.”

In the system, everyone is measured by a score ranging from 350 to 950, and that score is linked to a national ID card. In addition to measuring your financial credit, it will also measure political compliance. Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.

“When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative.”

This horrifying plan is to be administered by Alibaba and Tencent, companies that run much of China’s approved social networks and already have tremendous stores of data about what Chinese citizens are saying. When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] NASA Satellite Sees Holiday Lights Shine Bright from Space

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U.S. Rape Rate Reality Check: Declining for last 20 Years and was Lowest Last Year Since 1972