Government

Tue
28
Jan
John Lister's picture

State Could Ban Gov't Ransomware Payments

New York state senators want a legal ban on local governments paying ransomware demands. The bipartisanship move is based on the idea that paying up simply incentivises the attacks. Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts files on a hard ... drive so that they become unusable. Cyber criminals then demand a hefty ransom to unlock the files. Two state senators, one Democrat and one Republican, have each proposed broadly similar bills. They are currently in the committee stage and its likely that one will go ahead to a full vote of the New York State Senate. Both bills are based on similar ... (view more)

Wed
22
Jan
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Apple Drops Plan to Tighten iCloud Encryption

Reports suggest that Apple has been pressured by the FBI to drop plans to improve the security of its customer backups. The plan was to better encrypt backups on the iCloud service. iCloud serves two purposes: it's a way for Apple users to store ... data and documents online and access them from anywhere (from any Apple device) with a password; it's also a way to automatically backup the contents of iPads and iPhones. Data from the iCloud is stored on Apple servers in an encrypted format, which means that if somebody gained access to the files (either through a remote hack, or a physical breach ... (view more)

Wed
11
Dec
John Lister's picture

House Passes Robocall Bill (Finally)

A bill to tackle unwanted "robocalls" looks likely to become law in the US. It would use a range of approaches to tackle misleading or annoying automated calls. Robocalls are automatically-dialed marketing (or scam) phone calls - the same calls made ... by Indian tech support scammers . Using computers to place the call greatly increases the number of homes a company (or scammer) can attempt to phone - and in turn the number of calls the average home is likely to receive. The House of Representatives has now passed the proposed Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and ... (view more)

Wed
07
Aug
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Tech Giants Could Face Massive Fines

A proposed law would dramatically increase maximum fines that can be imposed on companies that break monopoly rules. Tech firms would be among the most likely to be affected in the admittedly unlikely event the law was enacted. The proposed bill ... would be known as the Monopolization Deterrence Act of 2019. It's designed to change the current system by which the maximum penalty for violating the main US antitrust law, the Sherman Act, is $10 million. That applies regardless of the size of the company or companies involved. Critics say such penalties are little deterrent to major companies, ... (view more)

Thu
15
Mar
John Lister's picture

Trump Blocks Broadcom, Qualcomm Tech Deal

President Trump has blocked a Singapore-based company from taking over a major American tech firm. He says the proposed Broadcom buyout of Qualcomm posed a credible national security risk. The deal would have been the biggest in tech history. ... Qualcomm makes a wide range of computer and gadget components with a particular emphasis on those used in communications devices such as phones. It helped develop key systems used to carry data over cellphone networks, allowing smartphones and tablets to get Internet access without relying on WiFi. Broadcom had offered $140 million to buyout Qualcomm. ... (view more)

Wed
07
Mar
John Lister's picture

Net Neutrality Now State vs Federal, but Will it Last?

Washington State has passed a law enforcing net neutrality. It could prompt a legal battle over state versus federal rulemaking power. The state law, which takes effect in June, is based on the net neutrality principle that all Internet data (except ... for illegal content) should be treated equally. The new law bans three specific behaviors by Internet providers who offer service in Washington state, namely: blocking users from accessing any legal service, content or application; slowing down transfer speeds for specific types of content; and giving favorable treatment to particular data in ... (view more)

Tue
02
May
John Lister's picture

NSA To Scale Back Email Snooping

The National Security Agency (NSA) is to revise a controversial program that let it read emails from US citizens without a warrant. It also says it will delete many of the messages it collected in this way. The program has been dubbed "Section 702 ... activities", named after the relevant part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such activities are significant because they are an exception to the general principle that the NSA doesn't carry out surveillance within the US, something that would normally bring constitutional rights to privacy into play. Section 702 allowed ... (view more)

Thu
09
Mar
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Report: CIA Hacking Smart TVs, Listening In

Leaked documents suggest the CIA has a program for spying on people through home devices such as Smart TVs. However, it appears such attacks are highly targeted and often require physical access to the TVs. The claims come through a batch of 8,761 ... documents released by WikiLeaks, which says they come from the CIA. That agency has yet to comment on their authenticity and have not yet been independently verified. The documents are said to detail some of the tactics the CIA have used to improve digital surveillance. The overall message is that the agency appears to be concentrating more on ... (view more)

Thu
15
Dec
John Lister's picture

Google Publishes Previously Secret FBI Letters

Google has published eight letters sent by the FBI demanding details about its users. Normally the company isn't allowed to even acknowledge the letters exist. The letters, known as National Security Letters, are formal demands from the FBI for ... details about users - in this case, Google users. The letters are controversial for two reasons; first, the demands can be made without a specific search order, something that raises constitutional issues. The second is that Google isn't normally allowed to tell the user about the demand. While it's been argued that doing so may tip off a ... (view more)

Thu
13
Oct
John Lister's picture

Social Media Monitoring Service Sold Data to Cops

A company accused of selling social media data to the police has been blocked from accessing some or all content from three major sites. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter made the move after complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.) ... According to the ACLU, Geofeedia markets its social media monitoring product to police forces as a way to monitor people who may be involved in protests. In one marketing message, a company representative specifically cited the use of the service during the high-profile unrest that followed the shooting of a man by police officers in Ferguson, ... (view more)

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