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First POST: Trust Deficit

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, June 5 2014

Trust Deficit

  • Today marks exactly one year since Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified NSA documents to the media. In an e-mail letter sent through ACLU Action, Snowden admitted his initial worry that his leaks would be met with "collective indifference." One year later he says, his fears were unfounded and that there has been "the very discussion the U.S. government didn't want the American people to have." He expressed his hope the momentum would continue and culminate with "legislative reform that truly reins in the NSA and puts the government back in its constitutional place."

  • A band of Internet companies, including Reddit, Mozilla and Google are going to protest mass surveillance by "Resetting the Net," a move Edward Snowden says "will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale."

  • Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith chastises the U.S. government for creating a "technology trust deficit" and then doing nothing about it. Though Smith's advice to the NSA reads like a how-to for kicking a bad habit ("commit not to hack data centers or cables"), he does point out that surveillance is a global issue that cannot be resolved without some sort of international framework.

  • Her Royal Majesty came down hard on hackers in her Queen's Speech yesterday, proposing life sentences for cyber attackers in the UK who cause "loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof." Activists say going extreme could harm security research that involves mimicking cyberattacks. A former hacker from the hacktivist group LulzSec says the extreme cases mentioned by the Queen have "only been seen in Hollywood movies."

  • Is the TSA's new security measure a NSA meets "stop and frisk"? The TSA has just announced a new electronic screening system that will label passengers' baggage with a real-time security rating based on a cross check of their passport and flight data, their luggage and the "No Fly list."

    The announcement came just after the TSA failed to detect two empty assault rifle clips in the checked baggage of a Yemeni national with a one-way ticket back to Yemen. He was later found innocent of terrorist activity but has been arraigned on criminal charges with a bail bond set at $5,000. In a similar incident, an American flier from Tennessee was released without bail after being found with empty clips in his baggage.

  • Google's ethics advisor Luciano Foridi weighs in on the "right to be forgotten" in a Guardian op-ed: "The temptation is to portray the debate in terms of a zero-sum game: Team Privacy vs. Team Free Speech, only one of them can win. [...] But this World Cup mentality is exactly the wrong way of conceptualising the issue. It is also a dangerous distraction, because it blinds us towards alternatives for reconciliation."

  • EU Commissioner Viviane Reding has a more straightforward analysis. On BBC Radio, she says, if Google currently handles millions of requests to take down content that violates copyright, it can surely handle a few thousand requests to take down harmful private data.

  • On the other hand, Google is going to sift through billions of tweets for its new disaster app. Along with public security announcements, the new app will provide a curated stream of relevant and localized tweets, like on rescue and relief.

  • The Taliban's video of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release to U.S. authorities went viral and became so popular the site temporarily crashed. It comes with all the trimmings: music, narration, and colorful fonts. The New York Times reports that the video is part of Taliban's publicity campaign to brand themselves as the legitimate but exiled government of Afghanistan.

  • Reporters Without Borders tells Sudan, please do not create your own censorship bureau.

  • If you're unable to shake your clickbait addiction but can't stand the letdown of a click that didn't live up to its bait, David Pogue offers a solution with his second installment of Clickbait Spoilers. You can now satisfy your clickbait fix with just one click. There's also "SavedYouAClick," created by a "guy who reads crap on the web so you don't have to."

News Briefs

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In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

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