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First POST: Security Insecurity

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, November 14 2014

Security Insecurity

  • Pew Internet's new study of American attitudes toward privacy in the post-Snowden area has some strong findings: 43% have heard "a lot" about "the government collecting information about telephone calls, emails, and other online communications as part of efforts to monitor terrorist activity,” and 80% say Americans should be concerned about those programs. 91% say they “agree” or “strongly agree” that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies, and 2/3 say the government should do more to regulate advertisers' use of their data.

  • Majorities also said they feel insecure sharing private information with trusted people or organizations on social networking sites, chatting, texting or emailing. And the more that someone says they have heard about government surveillance programs, the less secure they feel about sharing private information with other trusted parties. Only 1/4 believe it is easy to be anonymous when online.

  • In sum, government mass surveillance in the name of protecting national security makes people feel more insecure about the government, while private corporate mass data usage in the name of making money makes people want the government to do more to protect them. But either way, they feel more insecure. Perhaps there is something wrong with this whole paradigm?

  • By deploying airplane with devices that mimic cellphone towers, the Justice Department is "scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones" and "snagging a large number of innocent Americans" in the process, reports Devlin Barrett for the Wall Street Journal. the ACLU's chief technology, Chris Soghoian, called it "a dragnet surveillance program." Notably, it cuts phone companies out of the process of surveillance.

  • The New York Times is pledging to shift all its web services from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS by the end of 2015, and is issuing a "friendly challenge" to other news sites to do the same by then.

  • "You can't throw a rock these days without hitting a surveillance art project," blogs The Intercept's Peter Maass, offering a guide to many recent (and not so recent) works. Most impressive: the collage of more than 70,000 photos from self-surveillance artist Hasan Elahi.

  • Under President Obama's proposed approach to net neutrality, "zero-rated" phone apps--ones where the user doesn't pay a data charge because the provider is subsidizing the cost--might run afoul, Nancy Scola reports for The Washington Post.

  • Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, a vocal champion of internet freedom and net neutrality, is returning to day-to-day management of the social sharing site, The New York Times' Mike Isaac reports.

  • More turnover at First Look Media: John Cook, the editor-in-chief of The Intercept, is resigning and going back to Gawker Media. According to this story by Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald, the parting was amicable.

  • Boston has a new chief digital officer: Lauren Lockwood, who is currently a product manager for HourlyNerd.

  • has been redesigned under the guidance of the state's chief digital officer, Rachel Haot, and it shares a lot with last year's redesign of (which Haot also oversaw), reports Miranda Neubauer for Capital NY.