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First POST: Too Big to Read Our Mail

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, February 21 2014

Too Big to Read Our Mail

  • Security expert Bruce Schneier writes an oped for CNN arguing that the NSA should be broken up. Diverging from some anti-surveillance activists, he praises the agency's "Tailored Access Operations" group for its ability to secretly break into "the enemy's computers," but blasts NSA's dragnet collection of domestic and foreign civilians communications data and its "deliberate sabotaging" of once-thought-to-be-secure commercial encryption systems and the like, which "destroys our trust in the Internet…and makes us more vulnerable."

  • The most interesting part of of Schneier's piece is his suggestion that instead of focusing on breaking online security (the "signals intelligence" gathering role) it instead emphasize communications security. He writes:

    Computer and network security is hard, and we need the NSA's expertise to secure our social networks, business systems, computers, phones and critical infrastructure. Just recall the recent incidents of hacked accounts -- from Target to Kickstarter. What once seemed occasional now seems routine. Any NSA work to secure our networks and infrastructure can be done openly -- no secrecy required.

  • "Millions of Americans are now virtually incarcerated in algorithmic prisons," writes Bill Davidow in the Atlantic. How so? Through data-driven profiling that corporations and government use to predict everything from our credit worthiness to our behavior.

  • Eric Lipton details Comcast's "web of lobbying and philanthropy" for the New York Times.

  • Not included in Lipton's list of the ways Comcast has cultivated Washington powerbrokers and grassroots organizations alike: the time the company promised to expand its partnership with the nonprofit Common Sense Media as part of a list of "public interest commitments" that it made as part of its FCC filing seeking approval of its purchase of NBC Universal. As noted by Susan Crawford in her book Captive Audience, Common Sense Media was "a pet charity of [then-] FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski…whose board he had helped form years earlier."

  • Twitter says the Venezuelan government is blocking the posting of images from the opposition protests surging across the country.

  • Matthew Ingram reports that "for those inside and outside of Ukraine and Venezuela, social media is the only media that matters."

  • The Times' Jen Preston reports that a 22-year-old Venezuelan beauty queen, Genesis Carmona, who is one of five protesters killed in anti-government demonstrations there, is rapidly becoming an icon, thanks to social media.

  • The Open State Foundation has launched Diplotwoops, which tracks deleted tweets by diplomats and embassies. Here's their gleanings of what various diplomats have retracted related to the Ukraine crisis.

  • Ur-tech blogger Om Malik has announced that he's retiring from the news business to join the early stage VC firm True Ventures, though he will continue to occasionally contribute to Gigaom, the site he started. "Living a 24-hour news life has come at a personal cost," he notes, and "it is time for me to opt out." We'll miss your sage voice, Om!

  • "Citing the scandals embroiling Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the Republican Governors Association today ordered its members to discontinue the use of e-mail, 'effective immediately',” Andy Borowitz "reports" for The New Yorker.